I caught movement from the corner of my eye, and saw numerous shadows cross the trees and yard. Sometimes when that happens, it’s troubling, like seeing a shadowy figure in the night. A few beats later, I saw the flock of geese fly low over my house, and if the windows had been open, I could have heard their calls. No cause for alarm.

Both resident and visiting geese, primarily Canadian, inhabit our parks as well as the athletic fields associated with the nearby college and public schools. Actually, they frequent most open grassy areas, but I seldom see them in people’s yards.

The small weir on the creek down by the brewery creates a spot of flat, relatively still water, so the geese spend time there or on the adjacent lawns. But since they mostly graze at points upstream, the flyway between food and water is over our neighborhood. When they fly above the creek, they are scarcely higher than our second story windows or the tops of the trees that dominate the neighborhood.

Geese are messy and leave lots of goose poop on the lawns and sidewalks, but I find it hard to begrudge them their routines — indeed, their rights of way are equal to ours. It’s not unusual to see traffic stopped on one of the parkside streets, allowing a handful of geese to leisurely cross. There may even be some “Goose Crossing” signs in place. Most people tolerate the minor traffic disruptions; I actually enjoy them.

We have plenty of critters around here to remind you that nature is not off somewhere else — it’s all around. Our yard is home to quite a few squirrels, there are some resident bunnies under the shed and even occasional raccoons. I’ve noticed that the rabbits spend a fair amount of time fertilizing the lawn with small pebbles of poop that are interesting to our dog. (She of course makes her own contributions.)

Our dog likes to chase the squirrels that haunt the ground beneath the bird feeders, scrounging for the spilled seed. I believe that the bigger birds — Jays, Doves, Flickers and Magpies — push out the millet and other small seed to get to the sunflower seeds, so there is always enough for the squirrels and the few mice that (intermittently) inhabit the flower boxes below the feeder. The smaller birds, referred to by my birder friend as LBBs or LGBs (Little Brown Birds or Little Grey Birds), also feed off the ground as well as on the feeder, but risk encounters with the cats that assume strategic positions nearby watching for the birds or mice.

It’s only natural that I occasionally find a bird or mouse carcass in the yard, sometimes partially eaten. I have hunted geese and other birds and animals, and eaten my share of those killed, so can relate somewhat to the cat behavior.

Nature can be hard and cruel, but also beautiful and captivating. It’s important to watch and listen, and be in it. After all, humans are animals and human nature is included in the bigger scheme of nature. Who knows, you might learn something from our animal buddies.

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