I’ve only just recently started calling my apartment “home” and meaning it. The process is slow, and I’m still not completely finished, but it’s becoming what I always envisioned it would be: my place. I love many things about it, but the thing I love most is my porch. I got really lucky when I got the place, because I was able to land an apartment at the very back of the property facing the woods behind. It’s so much better than having a scenic overlook of the parking lot, trust me. For one thing, it’s great that I don’t have to get dressed to go sit on my porch (I’m not in the habit of sitting out there nude but it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to). What I really enjoy is watching the woods.
From my porch, I have a great view of a fairly dense patch of trees and the tall, wooden fence that marks off the complex’s property. The squirrels are rambunctious and very active throughout the day, and the trees right on the edge make good homes, apparently. They scamper right along the top edge of the fence and jump from the branches and dive bomb one another from incredible heights, and I’m never at a loss for entertainment. I’m not a casual observer, though. They have marked me, and they watch me just as I watch them. Earlier this year, I was pretty sure there was a nest of baby squirrels very close to my enclave, because every time I came out, a squirrel, who I very uncreatively named Mama, would come bounding down from some unseen place and bark at me in that high-pitched, yet oddly unexpected, yip that squirrels have. At first, it was unnerving, because I kept expecting her to leap at my throat in a fit of paranoia and rage, and… that’s really not the way I want to go. But luckily, she was all bark and no flying berserker. I will say, for the record, though, that squirrels do in fact throw things. When I was going to school at Furman, we always had an inkling that the squirrels enjoyed throwing acorns on us as we walked beneath them, but we could never prove it. Well, I’ve seen it first hand, and… they most certainly do. The good news is: they have sucky aim.
The birds also play a vital role. I’m not a birdwatcher or anything, but I have enjoyed seeing cardinals, bluejays, robins, woodpeckers, and doves and other breeds I can easily identify twittering about. I also see lots of crows. I don’t know the difference between crows and ravens, but these creatures are the big ones. I swear, I’ve seen some as big as turkeys, except I wouldn’t want to eat one. They harass the squirrels viciously, and I’ve witnessed several nasty altercations from my private box. One incident, which was actually kind of frightening, occurred not too long ago. I was sitting inside with the blinds open, and suddenly, a dark shape was flapping very close to my window. I jumped up to see what was going on, and apparently, the crow had attacked one of my squirrel friends. I should say now, before I proceed, that I’m a vehement squirrel supporter. I don’t know if it’s because I’m also a mammal or what, but I always pull for them in these disputes. Anyway, the poor squirrel was on the ground with a massive crow hovering menacingly above her. After a few moments of posturing, the battle proper began, and I quickly become worried for the squirrel’s life. The crow was hitting her with claw and beak, not to mention it was easily twice as big, but the squirrel gave back as much as she took. The fight was epic, ya’ll. I believe it ended in a stale mate, once the crow realized my friend wouldn’t be an easy snack, but I’m pretty sure they don’t sign peace treaties. Hopefully, that crow moved on for good.
A bird I do happen to be fond of lives in the pond at the center of my complex. The “fishing hole,” as we affectionately call it, was one of the main reasons I decided to move into the place. It’s a very well-kept, very pretty artificial lake with a fountain that is kept stocked with fish. People really do fish in it, although, I can’t imagine the fish would be any good to eat. Maybe they catch and release. Anyway, the keeper of the pond is a mallard duck named Rufus (Li’l Sis named him). It’s a mystery why Rufus has decided to make this pond his permanent abode, because it’s rare to see a duck living alone. At first, we thought maybe he was crippled, or really old, and that’s why he didn’t migrate with the rest of the ducks. Well, he isn’t crippled because he flies just fine, and it’s rude to ask his age, so I guess we’ll just never know. Anyway, every time I leave and every time I return, I always look for Rufus to see what he’s up to. Usually, he’s cruising lazily in the pond, but he’s been known to venture forth on webbed feet into the inner reaches of the apartment complex. He enjoys socializing with the many dogs that take their walks around the complex, and he isn’t afraid of people at all. I’ve only discussed Rufus with a handful of my neighbors, but everyone knows him and loves him, though they may call him by a different name. I’m embarrassed, but I find myself worrying about Rufus quite a bit. I worry about visitors to the complex not watching for him on the roads. I worry that he might be lonely. I worry when I don’t see him as I come home in the evenings. I worry about myself and my irrational attachment to a duck.
Back to my porch. As I mentioned, my porch faces the back of the property, and the lay-out works out just so that my porch provides a very cozy shelter from wind and rain. While this is great for watching a thunderstorm pass (one of my favorite things), it also means I have a great many creepy crawlies setting up residence. I’m not a huge fan of spiders, but I appreciate them for what they do. But, I have to admit, the situation I’m currently living with makes me uncomfortable. I have spiders on all four corners of my porch, and they don’t look they’re going anywhere. My relationship with them follows the same set of rules I have with all insects, which is based on mutual respect; I won’t bother them if they don’t bother me. Thus, if feels wrong to murder them if they’re outside, which is where they’re supposed to be. Now, if they come inside, into my space, all bets are off… may the best bottom part of my shoe win. Of course, my porch presents a conundrum. It’s my space, but it’s outside. After deliberation, I’ve decided to leave them be, if they stay still and don’t get up on me. I’ve named them Terror, Horror, Panic, and Eeeeeeek! Our arrangement seems to be working, although I do feel like I’m getting the bad end of the deal. They get their corners, and I have to stand, like, right in the center of my own porch, all nervous like. They’re lucky I’m so diplomatic.
I can’t begin to tell you how eager I am to contribute my own animal life to the complex. I have decided that I will get a dog, and to be honest, I’m not sure how much longer I can wait. A lot will ride on how my job negotiations go at the end of this month, but no matter what, I’m pretty much set on having a puppy of my very own by Christmas. I’m super-pumped about it. Before you know it, this blog will cease to be about anything except picture spam of my beautiful new lab, or cocker spaniel, or collie, or mutt… I haven’t decided. The point is… get ready.
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