Inez Castor

This time of year, the population of Gopher Gulch is so large that we keep bumping into each other. Birds are the most numerous, some year 'round residents and others just passing through.

There's a rufous hummingbird laying claim to the front feeder. He looks like a jeweled thimble and has the disposition of a range bull. He's a transient, but refuses to share with the locals. The other morning, when I took the feeder down to clean and refill it, he hovered so close my eyes crossed, threatening to take me out.

At the other end of the size scale among the feather folk are the flying pigs, aka band-tailed pigeons. A huge flock floats silently to the ground, virtually carpeting the feeding area, and then explodes into the air with the sound of a nearby helicopter every time a car passes. The thundering racket causes Shadow and I to levitate as well, but we don't remain airborne very long.

There's a young buck wandering around the yard with velvety nubbins

between his ears. He's accompanied by a doe with eyelashes most women

would kill for. They know their plants, bypassing the toxic foxgloves

and bleeding hearts, going straight for the delicate new foliage of wild

azalea and flowering current.

I've tried shooing the doe away from my favorite plants, but she just

bats those huge lashes at me and keeps chewing. If I get too close, she

executes a couple of spectacular leaps and gazes back at me

reproachfully. Watching her, I think of the grace exhibited by the Del

Norte High dancers at their recital last week. Perhaps she's an

assistant coach in her spare time.

I didn't get the laundry finished and some was left on the back porch

by the washer. This morning, there are towels and T-shirts strung all

the way from the porch to the woods. The culprits are probably raccoons.

Dan and Katy found a home for their last chicken before they moved,

which was a blessing. I really don't want a chicken, but this is

sanctuary for anything that makes it here alive, and she was definitely a


When I came out to feed the birds one morning she was waiting,

shivering, nearly naked. Most of her feathers were scattered in the

road, and it must have been a terrific battle. Having made it over the

fence, she decided to stay. I hope she's happy in her new home.

She scratched mulch out of beds in search of bugs and worms, the same

bugs and worms the mulch was intended to protect. Now that she's

loosened the soil, the beds are in need of compost and fresh mulch.

My arm is nearly healed and soon Dr. Meyers will release me to start

shlepping home bags of compost on every trip to town. There's a whole

summer ahead, and it's all mine, even if I can't leap like a teenage

dancer or hover like a hummer.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at