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Photo Opportunity

Eve West Bessier delights in abundance of nature, vulnerable to development, in her backyard.

Submitted by:  Eve West Bessier, 9/26/07
This entry relates to past and present
Category(ies) of this entry:  Nature, Neighborhood

"… if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard…"
-- Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz, Screen Play by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf

          After a brief spring rain, my window fills with sunlight and frames the elm in our backyard, its branches crowded with birds.
          There are goldfinches, flashing chartreuse bellies in the now backlit brilliance. There are robins fluffing juvenile feathers. The rust flutter of the undersides of a flicker’s wings sweeps across my view. The flicker, its light gray back spotted with darker charcoal, is a gift I hold as a sign that our three-quarter acre of wildness in the heart of Davis is a refuge.
          A barn owl lived in our cypress last year. I have not seen its pellets this spring, but often catch its white-winged flight at sunset just east of us. Last week, I was sitting on the patio and it flew directly overhead, a white blessing, almost close enough to touch. A mated pair of Swainson's hawks also frequent our airspace. Last summer, these hawks resided in a centuries-old oak just beyond our fence. Raccoons nest in the flowering palm next to the garage. Feisty jays, raucous mockingbirds, and oil-blue blackbirds are also regulars.
          Last night, with a full moon rising on indigo, we discovered a baby owl and its mother in the branches of a younger oak. With astronomy binoculars, we were able to see the baby's huge eyes and round, flat face in detail. These new inhabitants are Western Screech owls, their monotone rhythmic call a flute-like mantra.
Still, their residence is as precarious as our own. We are only renters. Someday the property owner may decide to tear down this drafty old house, clear the trees and build apartments.
For now, I watch these first robins of spring, the sky to the east still a bruise of unfinished winter business. Sunlight reflects off water droplets and fills the air with sparks of color. I am content as I wait for this photo opportunity to fade, as the rain returns to draw a curtain over this proscenium of momentary light.

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