wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Dark Days, Dark Nights

I thought it was cloud cover and the potential for rain at last, but no such luck. This blanket of cloud was not made of water. Smoke from California wildfires filled our atmosphere all along the Canadian south coast, and inland through the southern half of British Columbia. The air quality rating goes to 10 but today it was 10+. It was darkish all day.

The sun tried to come out, but isn’t it supposed to be yellow? It was red! Just like it was two years ago when we had wildfires all over BC.

After a dark day, the pitch blackness of night set in, and I took the dogs outside for last call. Above me in those trees in picture one, sat Einstein, screeching to the Junior Professor who was someplace deeper in the woods. They shrieked to each other every 10 to 15 seconds.

For the video clip below, I tried to hold a flashlight in my left hand and the camera in my right, and somehow bring the camera’s lens to focus on the owl in the beam of light. Then came the challenge of turning the video button on with one hand.

Later when I looked at the video, I thought the owl was probably doing that circular motion with his head trying to follow the movement of the light and the camera, which  were casting about all over the place. As always, apologies for the blurriness, but it was pitch black and I was struggling to get a picture with both hands full. But you may be able to see the owl’s head swiveling around. Did you know they have a range of about 270 degrees? 360 makes a full circle.

Also, you can hear their shrieking, screeching call, so different from the soft hoo-hoo-hooing call they use later in the winter. Einstein must have gotten something on his bib from his last meal, or maybe it was pitch from the trees. He is pulling on it to tidy himself up for the camera.

Einstein, perched high in the tree,

Poses unafraid,

Lovely, big-eyed gorgeous me,

For the camera made.

Shrieks and screeches I can make

Scaring little mice,

Keeping nearby folks awake,

Judging by the lights.

Smoke-filled air will hide me more

When I’m on attack,

And while folks at last do snore,

I will nab my snack.


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Not “Hoo” but Where?

It was an owly night. I couldn’t sleep for the sounds of hooting and hissing and screeching right outside my bedroom window. But WHERE were they? I needed them to get rid of those pests.

Owls are not the only animals on nightshift.

Look what that destructive little bunny did to my front yard. I don’t know what he’s digging for. I suspect it’s the roots of those tiny dandelion-like flowers (weeds). He must have heard the owls, but these roots are so yummy (I guess), it’s worth the risk of becoming dinner himself.

He deposits some tiny raisins of fertilizer – a snack for Emma and Ruby –  to show his appreciation for the midnight snack, but … those huge holes are everywhere.

Einstein and the junior professor are asleep at the switch. I guess that’s what happens when you stay up all hootin’ night.

 

 

The night was black until the moon

Lit up the darkness and the gloom,

“Soft lighting on our dinner plate,”

The old owl says, “It’s getting late.

Glide down with me. I’ll show you how

To catch this rabbit. Come! Right now!”

 

As Einstein swooped on silent wings

He thought, Tonight we’ll dine like kings.

The bunny leapt, he heard the whoosh,

As talons missed his ears and tush.

Into the hedge he slipped away

“I’ll eat those roots another day.”

 

 

“The holes I’ve dug will still be there

I’ve dug so many everywhere.

I know that Anne-li will be mad

And curse me out for being bad,

But everybody’s got to eat,

As long as I’m not Owl Meat.”

 


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Lincoln Hears a “Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo”

Well, owl be darned. Look hoo’s here. If it isn’t Einstein….

And he’s brought the whole hootin’ family. See them both in that tree?It’s not even completely daylight yet but he’s probably promised the junior professor some fresh squirrel for breakfast. Well, I’ve been told I’m a bit “fresh” but owl be darned if I’m going to be their breakfast.

These guys are sneaky. To be honest, they have me shaking in my boots. But I’m going to make a quick getaway into this woodpile. As if I give a hoot what they eat for breakfast … as long as it isn’t me, that is.

I’ll just scold them while you watch these videos. The little birds are a bit upset too this morning. No wonder! If you think the pictures are a bit shaky, that’s probably from my boots as I shiver until Einstein and the junior professor go away. Excuse me while I yell at them. “Why don’t you two professors go do something useful and go kill a rat?”


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Finicky Finch

This female house finch has just had a bath and is now looking for a snack on my brussels sprouts plants.

These tasty sprouts are still so small,

That’s not much food for me at all,

To peck them isn’t worth the work,

I’ll have to find some other perk.

So many pairs of pears I see,

Too many hanging in one tree,

Too big for tiny little finches,

I’d get fat and put on inches.

The sunflower seeds will soon be ripe

And then I’ll have no cause to gripe,

They are my favourite snacking food,

To nibble them improves my mood.


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Tony the Towhee

Lincoln was minding his own business when he thought he heard a soft, croaky voice calling, “Eh?”

“Who’s that talking to me?” Lincoln asked. “Oh, NO! It’s Tony the Terrible. I don’t mind sharing a bit of the food but he’s so messy!”

“Who’re you calling messy? It was like this when I arrived.”

“Now, let’s see … is that a good one or another empty hull…?”

“Found one, but what’s the taste going to be like?”

“Meh! Just as I feared. These ones that are lying around are getting a bit stale. So much for cleaning up.”

“Tony, I swear, if you mess up my lunch, I – I – I – …. Well, just don’t make me come down there, or it’s Ta-ta, Tony!”

“Oops! I think lunch is over. I’m going to get a quick ‘Take-out’ and skedaddle. I don’t think Lincoln cares about social distancing and I don’t like him when he gets mad.”

“How do you like that? He’s cleaned me out! No wonder they call him Tony the Terrible.”

“Guess I’ll just have to go harvest some more fir cones. But what a lot of work!”


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A Case of Harassment All Around

It was a glorious morning, very early.

Ruined!

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” came the ugly croaking call of a crow, summoning his cohorts to make a try for the breakfast that was about to happen when Robbie, Ryan, Ross, and Roberta left their robin’s nest.

I picked up some pebbles from the yard, grabbed the slingshot and went looking for the murderers who threatened to skewer the baby robins with their sharp beaks, much like hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.

As I walked down the path in front of my house, the crows flew away, and I stood a moment to admire the view.

I took a few breaths of fresh sea air and turned to go back home. Just then, something burst out of the two-foot-high St. John’s wort shrubbery at the side of the road. It flew up onto a fence rail about ten feet away and stared down at me.

It stared and stared and stared, for maybe 30 seconds, and then it flew up into a nearby fir tree.

I hurried into the house and traded the slingshot for a camera.

It was much farther away now, and I had to zoom the camera. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I was still thrilled to get any kind of a picture of this great horned owl.

Later I saw what it might have been after.

Looking back, I was harassing the crows who were harassing the owl who was about to harass the rabbit who was about to harass my garden which held the worms that the robins were about to harass. And what was harassing me? The backyard supervisors, wanting their breakfast.

Sorry for the blurry picture of Emma. She can NEVER sit still.

And Ruby, patiently waiting for her breakfast.


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New Beginnings

“C’mon down, Robbie.” Harriet’s soft voice was barely audible.

Farther along, on the same branch, Harry, the hairy woodpecker, edged closer to Robbie’s nest. “You guys should get out while you can. Don’t you know there’s crows around? We got out a couple of days ago and they’re still hovering near us.”

“Naaah! They wouldn’t bother me. I’m big and tough. See how tall I can be?”

“Brother Ryan left the nest this morning. I guess I’m next. Not sure what these little guys are going to do.”

“Roberta’s not looking too happy, but I think Ross will fly out with me. See him right here next to me. He’s ready.”

And in fact, that’s just what happened. The big goons left little Roberta alone in the nest, crying her eyes out.

Then finally with one panicked PEEEEEP, she leaped down out of desperation and flapped her wings with all her tiny might.

And a new adventure began.

****

It’s crowded in the old homestead

With only one small room,

Roberta being tiniest, 

Her outlook full of gloom.

 

When Ryan flew, the other boys

Just couldn’t wait to leave,

Roberta stood there all alone

And all she did was grieve.

 

She called her mother loud and clear,

She called her father too.

They heard her but said, “Berta, dear,

You know it’s up to you.”

 

“It’s so far down and I’m alone

With no one helping me,

I do not want to die so soon

By falling from this tree.”

 

“Just take a leap,” her mother said,

“And flap your wings like mad.

Your other option is to stay 

And be forever sad.”

 

Roberta plucked her courage up,

She shrieked and then she leaped,

She flapped her wings and on the ground

She fluttered, “Peep, peep, peep!”

 

With happiness and wonderment

At being on the ground,

Roberta blinked her eyes and said,

“I’m happy to be down.”

 

“My whole life lies ahead of me.

I have to do my best

To make it last a long, long time

Before my final rest.”

 

 

 


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Housebound

“Throw your head back, open your mouth wide, and look hungry,” chirped Robbie Robin. “And, oh yeah, peep as loud as you can.  Ya gotta sound desperate … like this: PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!”

“Is that you making trouble again, Robbie? You know I can only feed one of you at a time. Maybe two. Good thing your father is helping out for a change.”

“Sorry, Mom! But we’re all kind of hungry here … not to mention BORED! We’ve been in this one-bedroom nest for over 10 days now. It’s so bohhhhh-ring.”

 

“Hah! Four more days, she says. We’re going to be falling out of the nest by then. I mean there’s hardly room for me, and then there’s Ryan, Ross, and Roberta. I don’t even know if Roberta’s going to make it. She’s kind of small and getting squished. Can you blame me for being a bit grumpy these days?”

“Hey! There’s Anneli with her shaky video camera. Maybe I’ll show her how I can do my exercises and stretches, and scratch my itches. ”

“Oh Robbie, you’re so boring. You put me to sleep.” Roberta yawned and nodded off.

 

See for yourself. Roberta nods off and so does Ryan.

 


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Weeding Words

Here is my garden, looking a little bit neglected as I spend more time copy-editing than I do gardening. I suppose you could say I’m weeding, but it’s words I’m weeding out, not “weed” weeds.

A western flycatcher flew over to the fence and gave me a condescending look.

 

Ooooooh! Anneli! That doesn’t look good. You’ve got to get out there and clean up that mess you call a garden.

 

So I asked if he’d like to help me weed.

“Tell me you’re joking!” he said.

“I don’t think so!” he said. “… Awww … don’t look like that. You should have gotten on top of the job right at the start!”

 

Call me when the work is done.

“Weeding words,” she calls her job,

Didn’t know she’s such a snob.

Doesn’t get her hands too dirty

Asks for help from this lil birdie.

 

I’m no weeder, I must say,

Must learn that another day,

Weeding plants is bad enough,

Weading books is way too tough.

 

 

 

 


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Brave or Foolish?

Mother merganser had her hands full. Her brood was something to be proud of, but the full-time babysitting was nerve-racking to say the least. It was especially bad when one (there is always one!) had to march to his own drum.

“I just saw a little fish go by. See him there, just under the surface? He flipped me the fin and said, ‘Bite me!’ So I thought, ‘Why not? It’s what mergansers do.'”

“Seems he got away, but wait a minute. Where’s my mother?”

And yikes! Look who’s giving me the hairy eyeball.

“Muh – muh – muh – mu-u-u-u-um! Help!”

“Oh whew! Those people in the boat scared the eagle away. Wait up, Mom! … What’s that? I should stick with the group?  But, er … I was … just trying to catch us a fish.”