Trouble in Paradise

nibbled tomatoThough the garden is bunny-proofed and deer-proofed, there is no proofing against squirrels. They leap around in the treetops as a feint, then parachute into the garden. Though they mostly confine themselves to planting and digging up acorns and walnuts, this is the second year in a row that I’ve had them marauding among my tomatoes.

guarding the gardenSo I was pleased to go out the other morning and find Juvie Eagle sitting on one of the fenceposts, peering into the garden. I didn’t see him make any squirrel strikes, but I didn’t see any squirrels, either. Not anywhere in the whole yard. There were only the usual jays and robins making a racket and dive-bombing Juvie, who shrugged them off. After a while he spread his glorious wings and flew up onto the roof of the house, out of sight from where I stood.

It seems to me the birds have the best case to make for their behavior. The squirrel doesn’t need to be snacking on tomatoes when he should be stashing nuts for the winter, and I won’t exactly starve if I have only a small crop of tomatoes to eat. But the jays and robins are protecting their offspring. The eagle, though they’re naturally suspicious of him, is not attacking them or their nests. In fact, I don’t know what he’s doing. What goes on in the mind of an eagle when it sits on a fencepost for half an hour, turning its head up and back, flicking its wings a little, on a day in summer when the temperature and humidity are human-perfect? I tend to fill the mouths of all these critters with my thoughts, but they sing, and whistle, and screech, their own tunes.

It reminds me of this poem by my friend Alicia Ostriker. I wonder if my eagle would agree with her dog.


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