Aug 25th, 2006 - 18:57:10
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Voices of Spencer Creek
Sasha and the Vole
by Lois Barton
My four-year-old granddaughter, while outside the other day, took a small rodent away from our cat who was playing with it. Sasha came into the living room where I sat on the sofa with this soft, warm, fuzzy thing cradled in her hands, wearing a big smile. She was very pleased with herself for having saved its life. She cuddled it on the coffee table in front of me, stroking it and sheltering it in a small pen with her hands and arms placed gently around it.
As I sat nearby I wondered whether the creature was still alive or had been seriously injured by the cat. I watched the child and the vole for several minutes, not clear in my mind about the best response to this unexpected and unusual development. Presently I could see small movement in its front feet and knew it was still living.
I said, "The cat hoped to eat that."
Sasha said scornfully, "Patches can eat cat food." She had been helping me feed the cat morning and evening for a few days.
Some errand took me out of the room briefly. I was startled when Sasha suddenly screamed and began crying. When I got back to her she was squeezing her index finger, waving her hands wildly around.
"It bit me," she yelled. I could see no sign of the little creature who had apparently revived, bitten her, and run to hide.
She was unwilling to let loose of her finger for me to look, but said there was blood. So we went for a bandaid while she continued her shocked outrage at such traitorous behavior at the top of her voice.
Sasha's mother, Rachel, came inside about then and helped me explain that this wild creature couldn't understand what was happening and was afraid.
I said, "Maybe it thought you were just a bigger animal that would eat it when you were ready." We spotted the vole hiding among some toys on the floor. I was reluctant to pick it up, not wanting to be bitten, so I got a cloth to wrap around it. But it ran quickly under a nearby cabinet. Rachel soon got it wrapped in the cloth and ready to go outside. Even in her distress Sasha was clearly opposed to letting the cat have it, so we put it out the door on the other side of the house away from the cat.
The bite was painful. Sasha kept waving her hand around all evening to ease the hurt. A spot of blood had appeared through the bandaid which she kept in place for another day or two.
I would not have supposed a child that age would interfere with the family cat outside where he had caught something to eat. I was surprised at the intensity of her protective attitude toward an unfamiliar rodent in peril. She obviously has received loving training to develop her sense of unity with all nature.
Visit Lois Barton's regular WxNW.org column Sunnyside of Spencer Creek.
Joy of Living: Spring Things
February 14, 2006
by Edie Self
The scent of honey is in the air. Somehow it always catches me unexpectedly--wafting on a soft breeze in early February. Here we are in the middle of winter, and cottonwoods are exhaling the smell of spring. Soon it will be time to watch for the sticky bits underfoot, and later the fluff will blow--now it is just a passing reminder that spring is not far away.
Cottonwood is not alone it its blooming. Violets are a riot of purple outside my kitchen window. Honeysuckle leaves are growing rapidly, and lilac buds swell daily. The native "squaw bush" is in full bloom, and weeping willows are showing their ribbons of chartreuse, while pussy willows turn golden with pollen at the top of the tree.
The birds are showing signs of spring, too. Juncos and chickadees, bush tits and robins, the varied thrush, the Anna's hummingbird, even the stately crow stalking along the curb, are all acting more animated. The juncos fly their rapid whirling duets as the chickadees watch and comment. The hummingbird gets testy and chases them all out of his tree. Thrushes work under the apple trees, turning leaves in search of tasty bugs.
I watched the other evening as smoke rose from a country fire against the glowing bark of a cottonwood tree, golden in the setting sun. The sky behind was a clear blue, promise of summer skies to come. This week or more of sunshine we almost always have in February is such a relief from the weeks of rain and fog and clouds that are the usual fare of a Willamette Valley winter. Last month we had so much rain the rivers ran high, wide and muddy most of the month. Culverts spouted forth horizontal spews, gravel and trees alike were washed away, and new channels were formed where the ground could soak up no more.
This week frosty mornings have given way to sunny afternoons, and the rivers are back between their banks. Crocuses reach for the sun, early daffodils blow in the breeze, and a few early plum and cherries are alive with bees on their blossoms. The weatherman is talking about snow down to the valley floor by this weekend, so this is a good time to gather violets, sit out on the deck in the sunshine, and enjoy February's gift of early spring--the promise of another summer to come.
Visit Edie Self's Joy of Living series including Northwest Bloomin' Useless and follow the links!
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