Animal House

Last night we had a very special visitor. I got up to let our dogs out at about 1 am and did not turn the lights hoping to not really wake up. I opened the door, my dogs ran out like crazy and suddenly very slowly showing off his beautiful tail walked in a Skunk. I was hoping that I was still asleep… but a horrifying stench started to prove the opposite. I was afraid to move and turn the lights on hoping that this thing would disappear and not spray me. There we were, a skunk and I, in a total darkness playing hide-and-seek. My brave dogs were long gone. After a few terrifying moments in the dark, to my great relief, I saw IT walking outside without losing its sense of dignity. I shut the door. Needless to say, we washed the floors, the dogs, our clothes, our beddings, our couches and our thoughts. Our dogs are clean as never before, but the stench occasionally reminds us about that special guest.

Rufous Hummingbird Musical Bridges

Photo Copyright Robert Michaelson

A few days ago Rob heard a disturbing noise from the back kitchen door reminding him of a gunshot. He came to check it out and found three hummingbirds laying on the ground after colliding with our glass door. They had a mild concussion and were a little woozy. He grabbed them from the ground to save them from our cat and very brave dogs, who prefer woozy half dead birds to a very much alive deer. He placed them on a tree branch checking for the life signs. Humanity of a medical professional and curiosity of the artist were fighting in him for a moment and the artist won. He picked up his camera and shot pictures of the half dead birds until he got a perfect picture. In a few hours the birds were gone and Rob had a fabulous portrait of a humming bird. We can only hope that the birds made it to Argentina and did not become a midnight snack for our half stray cat.

Last Wednesday we came home after dinner and were greeted by our German Shepherd Buddy, whose face looked like a little porcupine. Long black and white needles were sticking in all directions from his nose his mouth and on both sides of his face. He felt guilty and did not look us in the eye. He is a smart dog who understands human language, but to learn that porcupines are bad for him is beyond his intellectual abilities. Rob, who just got home from treating patients, silently got out his special surgical instruments and one-by-one pulled out porcupine needles until Buddy was as good as new. It was painful for the dog but he knew it needed to be done and he has blind trust in Robert.

Deer Antlers

Photo Copyright Robert Michaelson

We have a big family of deer living on our hill. They feel this is their property more than ours and always welcome my new effort to grow new species of plants. If I plant something that deer supposedly do not eat, they have a tasting party. Last spring I proclaimed a war on the deer and installed heavy duty plastic around every freshly planted Italian Cyprus. Believe it or not, one day I saw a handsome buck, a 10-point gentleman, effortlessly lifting my sophisticated covers and hospitably inviting all his girls to enjoy the feast. I am against guns, but at that moment if I had one in my hands we would be eating deer meat for the rest of our lives and I would not even feel guilty, at least for a while. They are beautiful animals but very much lack a sense of ethics…

I have lived in this house for the last 15 years. Over this time I have witnessed the drama of Cardinal chicks born in my hanging baskets, saw a Ringtail cat that very much reminded me of a monkey, accompanied a family of Armadillos, seven little babies and mama and papa on their casual mid-afternoon walk under my bedroom window and hosted a family of vultures on my roof while they were giving flying lessons to their young. I have cat allergies and our cat lives outside. Raccoons and opossums love cat food. Blue Jays and Cardinals actually prefer it to bird food. One day we will have a new species of the bird, the meowing ones. We are good neighbors and now, five of us (Rob, two dogs, a cat, and I) are sharing our Animal House with the lively stinking, singing, flying, crawling and hopping hill country animal community.