first light, first bird, first book of the season

up early this morning even thought Jojo had a pretty hard night.  up early courtesy of the scrub jays who live in the front yard and the crows who live in the back yard.  the scrub jays were being noisy neighbors; they were upset about something.  this wasn’t their normal reep-reep.  it was more like they were the peasants in Monty Python and The Holy Grail crying out, “She’s a witch.”  so i had to get up to see what was making them so angry.

i went out the front door because it’s a little quieter, hoping to keep the sleeping house sleeping for a little while longer.  one of the jays met me at the door.  then the bird led me just like Joseph does–he gave his distressed call, then hopped a few feet away and gave it again.  i followed and he led me straight to the witch!  a fluffy calico cat who we’ve seen in the yard before.  she left as soon as i arrived, and everyone quieted down.  i went and got a handful of peanuts to put out for all the jays’ trouble.

Urban Bestiary Cover

i just received the most wonderful gift in the mail this week!  Lyanda Lynn Haupt sent me a copy of her new book called The Urban Bestiary: Encountering the Everyday Wild in honor of Joseph’s birth!  i’ve talked plenty about Lyanda and her work as a naturalist here (writing about the book reading where i first met her and her family’s journal keeping).  she has influenced me and taught me so much about this green world.  she has enlivened and enlarged my sense of myself as a mother, a writer, a scientist.  as you can see the book has a wonderful illustrated cover. there are line drawings throughout, and such treasures within.

i started reading as soon as i had book in hand.  but i have a feeling it might take me a while to get through the book.  just a few pages in and i had learned just enough about tracking and reading animal signs that i wanted to tell the children about it.  a casual reading, a casual conversation, and an afternoon in the backyard yielded feathers, scratches on the juniper bark, half-eaten walnuts, and most curious of all muddy tracks on the fence.  did they belong to a cat or a racoon?  only four toes, so i think it might have been the same very scary calico i met this morning!

in the book Lyanda writes that it’s just a small shift in attention (and maybe intention too?) can bring us closer to the wild that lives all around us. even here at our place on a regular urban lot on a pretty busy street in the middle of the city.  we’re keeping our eyes + ears open!


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