I began my career as a warehouse laborer this past Monday. But I don't feel like writing about that. Instead I want to tell you about the animals in our backyard, which we name. They are

Skitch the chipmunk
Earl and Pearl the squirrels
Sedgewick the wren
Cecil and Robert the downey woodpeckers
Maggie the rabbit
Guillermo the baby cardinal
Fred and Martha the adult cardinals
Walter and Edna the hummingbirds
Romulus the nuthatch
Estaban the bluejay
and, finally, Horton the elephant.

For most of these species the same individual probably doesn't keep coming back, but we still call them all by the same name.
The hummingbirds chase each other all day because they're territorial. They'll zip and squeek right past your ears if you sit on the porch long enough.
Currently the cardinals are molting, so some of them have ugly, skeletal black heads, like buzzards.
Nuthatches spiral headfirst down a tree looking for insects.
Wrens don't do anything special, but they're spry and pretty. And in fifth grade, I wrote a poem about a wren who was my friend. I asked him if he was in a fen or a forest glen.
Bluejays immitate hawk calls to scare the other birds away, or they just bully them all 'til they leave.
When Earl is eating at our feeder I try to step slowly toward him. I want to get close enough to touch him, because squirrels look so soft. If that works out, maybe I'll teach him how to play Uno, or something. I whistle regularly as I move his way, thinking maybe over time he'll associate me with the whistle and that will...do something, I'm not sure what, now that I think about it. I've gotten pretty close, but no consistent progress.
We also dog sit an old, white terrier named Dusty who lays at my feet as I type this. By that I mean that he lays where my feet would be if he weren't laying there. He is the most static, unexcitable dog I've ever met, and he won't move when he's in your way until you begin shoving him.
About my job: I wake up before six. Numbers like 17700-U2230 and 16711-16630 mean specific things to me. I get time-and-a-half for overtime. I'm required to wear a hard hat when operating a fork-lift. The first couple of days were rough because it was new and the guys I work with cussed a lot and told filthy jokes. But as I didnt't cuss and and didn't laugh at their jokes, things got cleaner. The guys are good hearted.



Chan said...

For the record, I indented all my paragraphs, but the indents didn't show up.

Leanna said...

What about Horton the elephant?? My curiosity is peaked!

Chan said...

The cat's out of the bag. There isn't really an elephant in our backyard. I just thought it sounded funny. But Horton the elephant is a character in a Dr. Suess book, soon to be made into an animated film with Jim Carrey playing the voice of Horton.

Sky Scatcher said...

Awwwwh, shucks, I was just on my way to buy a plane ticket to see Horton! You got me all excited. Hey, Chan, have you ever considered working for the forest service or as a biologist or geologist? (msp?)You have a spiritual love for animals that most people lack. You'd be a great nature writer also because you SEE them clearly. I'd read anything you write. (Is there a @*#(%># SPELLCHECK anywhere here?)

Chan said...

There's no @*#(%># SPELLCHECK on this thing that I know of, or even a regular spellcheck, for that matter.

Dan Sorensen said...

Mozilla Firefox has spell check. It's nice. Y'all should try it.