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ChickadeesOne year, when I was a ten year old boy, we had a very hard winter in Connecticut, with temperatures well below zero, high winds and deep snow. The radio told us to put out seed to keep the birds alive, and for the first time in my life, I did. My bedroom window opened to a widow's walk where I laid out a wooden tray which I filled with black oil sunflower seeds, blindly, not knowing if any bird would like them, or even find them there.
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Two days later, there were about a hundred (how could one count them if one tried) black capped chickadees speeding from railing to tray and back to grab, shell, and eat the seed.
The old farm house had steam heat which I turned off in my room. I closed the door and shoved the window up and sat beside the sill. The tiny birds would hop right up as if it were no thing at all to be untamed and wild. Into the room they flew, and the boy became a naturalist, completely enthralled by chickadees. They had brought the wilderness to him, and filled his bedroom
The Dog and Her Man and Two BearsThe dog hugged my shoulder as we stared at our fire.
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I was naked, save for shotgun, with her fur on my skin. Her eyes glowing amber, as she said, "Man, we did well tonight."
"You were a sight to see," I agreed, "when I finally got out of the tent."
"It took you a while,"
"I was scared."
"So was I," said she. "Those bears had me outmatched and cornered, outnumber by tooth and by paw. I was barely holding them off."
"Girl, you were. I saw. I saw. It took me a while, I know," I confessed. "I was moving like ice, but I could sure hear the fight, that horrible sound of bear jaws clicking and clicking. I feared for your life, so I got the gun loaded, at last, and crawled naked out of the tent."
"And what exactly, dear Man, was your next intent?"
"To manfully stand, gun aimed and steady, and to shout, 'Go away bears, or I'll shoot!"'
"That's not what came out," said the dog with a grin, and with a thought that amused her deeply within. "You squeaked like a mouse."
Then she gave me a lick.
Regarding a MouseSomething with warm paws stepped on my forehead last night. A cat? I went downstairs and counted cats as they came in. Two cats came in, so it wasn't a cat. I sat them down for a chat.
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"Do you two realize that there is a mouse in the house?"
"Feed us our kibble," they said.
I woke up the dog for a talk.
"There's mouse in the house," I said.
"Did you speak to the cats?"
"I spoke to the cats," I said.
"And what did they say?"
"That's not the point."
"What's the point?" asked the dog.
"Where were you last night? You're the guard of the house."
"I don't guard against mice. That's the job of a cat."
"But had you been by the bed," I countered, "a mouse would not have dared jump on my head."
"That depends on the mouse," said the dog. "A bold mouse," he continued, "might think he's a pet."
"I have enough pets," I said. "Two cats and a dog."
"I'm not a pet," said the dog, "I am the best friend that you have, aside from the Boss. Did you ask her why there's a mouse in her house?"
"That's not a t