We share this place

Dear President Biden,

So, we topped out at 100 yesterday. The forecast for today is 99 but since yesterday was only supposed to get to 91, I’m thinking we’re likely to blow past 99. We’ll see.

Before I got up this morning Laura did all sorts of things to mitigate the heat build up – every window in the house is covered in some way. The “big” fan is blowing marginally cooler outside air in through the front door and she has a dishtowel draped over it that periodically gets spritzed with water to create some evaporative cooling. It’s still going to be unbearably hot in the house, but as we’re learning, there are degrees of unbearableness and I’m grateful she’s so invested in minimizing where we are on the continuum.

Before she left for her Sunday morning walk we discussed how to determine when the front door should be closed – check the temp inside and on the phone AND stand outside on the porch and try to ignore any stray breeze that might fool me, and if out feels warmer than in, close the door. Seems super basic, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve done this three times since she left and I just can’t tell.

I finally gave up and opted to just sit still in the shade of the house in the front yard, having spied a bunny that seemed to want to have a staring contest with me. I planned to commune with the still bunny for a bit and ended staying out there for an hour watching the bird show, starting with two male juncos that alighted on the same fence where the squirrel unearthed its two nuts the other day. Well, actually, one alighted while the other one chittered angrily and tried to grab the fence-sitter’s tail feathers and feet. The alighted one was fairly impassive for nearly a minute and then it seemed to get fed up and flew in under the rosebush with the bunny. The other one took up a post out on the sidewalk, but seemed to decide pretty quickly that it was much too hot to perch there and flew off. It was pretty darn exciting!

And then the female juncos started flitting by, zipping from one side of the yard to the other, scrounging around on the ground for little sticks and dried grass and then zipping over to the neighbors’ rosebushes for nest building. It might have been just one female junco – I’m really not a bird watcher and don’t (yet?) know how to distinguish individual birds that I only catch moving glimpses of – but over the course of an hour, she/they made over a dozen trips from the far side of our yard to the nest site. It was really cool because at first, as mentioned, she/they were toting various sticky/straw-ish bits of debris but at the end of the watch-time, she/they were transporting bits of springy moss, signaling that the basic construction phase was over and she/they had moved onto nest lining.

One of the more adorable things the female junco(s) did was stop atop the fence just before diving into the nest-building area, sometimes making a show of dropping the sticks and straw on the horizontal top board and then fussily gathering them all back up. Our bird-knowledgeable friend who stopped in on her way home after walking with Laura not only set me straight that these were juncos and not chickadees, but said that they were pausing to make sure that no predators were watching them go to their new nest. Totally makes sense!

Toward the end, one or the other original male juncos (or a completely new little guy – hard to say, really) came back to our yard and hung out in the Russian Olive oriented toward the nest, closing the loop, at least for me.

May we all be safe and mindful of predators.
May we all be willing to sit really still sometimes and just see what there is to see.
May we understand that nest builders carry strong wisdom that would be healthy for us to emulate.
May we accept that we share this place.

Tracy Simpson

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