I might have, had I imagined, known that the Steller’s Jay and I had not yet reached the limits of what our new friendship might hold. But I missed it, as, while I have years of experience raising and caring for canaries, and finches, and chickens, and a duck named Peggy (which ended very badly a long time ago in Sausalito and let’s just leave it that it involved a raccoon, boo hoo hoo) all of which I found amazingly enriching, but even though I befriended the scrub jays and fed them for years, I have never, ever, had an experience with a wild bird like the one I’m having this spring with my Steller’s Jay friend, whom I’ve now named Pretty (and, actually, had last year). It’s endearing and almost a little unnerving, so unexpected is the level of contact and communication, and we are so not at the end of this, God willing.
I think I noticed the shift at the beginning of the week, when I was alerted that I was not alone on the front porch as I sat in the early morning sun doing a bit of meditation, taking in the sun’s warming rays while I focused inside, grounding and centering in preparation for the day’s work. No. Something was moving about. What? I laughed when I opened my eyes and found the Steller’s Jay, Pretty, sitting in a nearby camellia bush, but not passively. Oh, no. Actively trying to get my attention. Hop. Hop. Hop. From branch to branch and all the while watching me. Clearly a calling for delicious peanuts. What have I done?
I abandoned my perch and obediently went inside to husk a few treasures for him, knowing full well he would not abandon his endeavor, but, most likely would be in the back garden, anticipating my return. Indeed.
But, come on. This needs to be a two-way street. So if I’m going to be at the beck and call of a brave and bold Steller’s Jay, I want something in return. Photo shoots. A subject. Oh, yes. So I did not come with simply shelled peanuts. I came with my Pentax, opened and ready to go.
I had begun experimenting with putting peanuts up higher now that Pretty was more familiar with me, because it was the most practical way of getting closer shots without my having to, oh, say, lie on the ground. So he already knew compromise was afoot. And he had been cooperating. He was a bit wary, but his love of the peanuts and the growing trust won out.
Feeling that I no longer need be so cautious, I decided to experiment with backgrounds and surfaces once again. How about the picnic table? He had to consider for a moment.
But not that long!
I am finding this exchange inordinately wonderful, a true blessing. I will treat as gently and carefully and lovingly as I can, and learn what I may and pass along as the story unfolds. I enter knowing that all such interspecies exchanges are tenuous, especially with birds, but I also know I’m witnessing the (current) end result of a creature whose history lies within the dinosaur kingdom, many many millions of years ago. We are just the next on stage in this lovely dance.
Love and garden blessings,
Book News: I had the most lovely surprise this week when I received a tweet from a gardening blogger in Georgia whom I had thanked in previous days for recommending the indie bookstore BookPeople in Austin, Texas, where copies of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy have just gone on sale. Garden designer Nancy Wallace pinned and tweeted me thusly, which I found very kind: @KathrynHallPR a post about your book video trailer & how your book got to BookPeople http://bit.ly/J3ZmvB #gardening
Posted on April 21st, 2012 by Kathryn
Filed under: Animals