Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Betty Allison
A year ago, my nephew brought me a gift to pleasantly while away extra time achieved at eighty-one. It was a bird feeder.
After two weeks of not being able to interest any bird in my fancy feeder, we discovered that it needed a smaller seed. I adjusted all around and finally interested some smaller birds: chickadees, sparrows, and so forth. This left me with hungry larger species unable to use the small feeder. Next to the feeder, I noticed a four-by-sixteen-inch railing where I could place handfuls of loose feed. The bigger birds caught on to this system nicely. Cardinals, bluebirds, and even some woodpeckers came by.
Then came the enemy - the squirrel! At first, it wasn't too bad, as they would come early, leaving the afternoon for my bird friends to forage and me to observe. However, there were soon more squirrels enjoying my largesse - and not a bird in sight. When I had started this little venture in early spring, I was enthused between plantings for my flower boxes, repainting a comfy chair, and in general, getting ready for long summer afternoons and late fall evenings on the patio. I had not reckoned with squirrels. Nor their voracious appetites.
Then I attacked. I would quietly slide open the patio screen door and the wildlife would scatter. After a little of this process, I noticed that they would hesitate to see if I was coming out to chase or threaten them with my cane. My gosh, they were tricky. Until now, they had dashed when I pounded my cane. Now, they wait and watch and make me "put up or shut up" - so to speak.
I'm not an unsympathetic opponent. I could quite understand their hunger for I've always had a healthy appetite myself. Until late summer when I learned I have liver cancer. I am no longer hungry - even for sweets.
So now I just let them all eat what I put out. Not without a little battle, when I'm in the mood, however. The other day, I went out on the patio and banged the rail rather forcefully. They scurried down the large tree next to the railing.
I'm almost positive that one little fella turned around, looked me in the eye, put his paw to his nose, and bade me farewell.
Betty Allison was married and planned to live in the country, paint pictures, and write books. After a busy life raising six children, she has painted eight passable oils and, with The Winner, has finally been published.
Editor's Note: Regrettably, Betty Allison died before she saw this piece posted online. On April 25, 2008, her son, Gregory Gerard, a winner in last year's Tiny Lights essay contest, carried on with the publication party they had planned. A tribute to Betty can be found at Greg's website
Back to Flashes