THE WATCHERS

Pat Fish

They all know me.  They have always known me.  The difference is that I didn't know them.  And I didn't know that they knew me.  Now that I comprehend it all, my life is richer indeed.

It never fails to amaze me that even the tiniest field mouse knows of our presence and monitors it diligently.  Yet the humans run the errands and mow the lawns with not a centimeter of that field mouse's awareness.

Just as soon as the screechy screen makes its sound on the track, all of the birds and creatures in the eco-garden note that I am about and retreat to monitor what I might be about to do.  Such a statement may sound self-centered when it is, in fact, a truth and has  always been a truth.  For them, it's a simple matter of survival and opportunity. For us, it may  be of no mind.  We do not need them to give us food or a chance to obtain it.  We have no fear of the animals and birds in our garden.  We need not worry that they may step upon us or run over us with their mowers.  They are small and hide behind the leaves and foliage so they are out of our sight and our minds.

Yet they  mind our movements  scrupulously.  Lawn mowers have a particularly appealing sound to the robins.  Short and freshly-mown grass allows for easier worm fishing.  And if our lawn mowers aren't running, the robins are quite content that we might be doing some gardening.  Our hoes and rakes turn over the soil and dislodge the worms.  The day the compost pile is to be tossed is an especially fine day for the robins. Compost-fattened worms are prized.

So the robins of our gardens pay attention to our human activities that we may mow, hoe, or toss -- any activity of which will bring them opportune worm food.

It is not only the robins of our eco-gardens that regard our human outdoor activities.  All of the lot's avian inhabitants enjoy when the humans toss the dirt about in the gardens.  Many bugs are startled from their homes when we muck about.  Blue jays will often sit on a branch over my head to await the appearance of a succulent bug.  Behind me, the robin will hop along.  I do all the work and they eat.

Then we tromp about our lots with our big feet and unaware minds and the denizens of the lot must mind our movements lest we trod upon their young or destroy their nests.

If we make any food offering, the animal inhabitants most certainly know us and greet our feeder-stocking movements with unbridled enthusiasm. I've had chickadees land on my head and squirrels climb my leg while stocking the feeders.

There's not a whole lot new stated here, at least from the animal and bird perspectives. They have always known us.

Now, I know them.  I know where they have built their nests or spun their webs or burrowed their burrows.  I know to expect a robin as a gardening partner when I pick up the hoe.  I listen for the bird screams to monitor the whereabouts of the snakes.  I smile at their incredibly busy lives, smiles once lost to me.

Soon I find myself engaged in human activities and worrying human worries.  They too will continue to build their nests or acquire their mates.

It is truth that we are animals, all living together and performing the activities of our species,  all aware and appreciative of the opportunities provided us by the others' presence.

I speak to them and they know my sound.



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