Friday, February 23, 2007

A Hawk at Sunset and an Emu at Breakfast

Once again making the trip from the nursing home in Edgerton back to the house in Milton on 59, we discover one of the hawks from yesterday in a spot close to where it hunted previously. the setting sun gleams orange on his feathers. He turns and is keeps an eye on the back tree line where I would hazard a guess his mate has already arrived for the night.

Then it's time to prepare for the night himself or perhaps we've gotten just a touch too close and it is late in the day. There is no guarantee of a bulging crop before bed around here. The cold wind sweeps by and I think of how much harder it must be for country hawks. No big flocks of pigeons foraging about on a daily basis. No big fat garbage fed rats at dusk. Off he goes towards the trees. We trundle back to the car and I think not only about how different this hawk is compared to our urban ones but also the differences with the tame exotic we'd watched earlier in the day.


9AM Sam and I arrive at Harry's Yard to watch Emmie the Emu being fed. Here comes Harry in his fluorescent orange jacket with Traveler the Sheltie at his heels. One can tell that this is a ritual. Though little, Shetland Sheepdogs are working dogs and Traveler believes he has responsibilities. He sits ears pricked alert to any possible threats while Harry takes the big bucket from the cart and fills it from the water spigot on the back of the house. Traveler trots beside Harry down the neatly shoveled path, trot, trot, wag, wag, down to the animals. He has never been happier, there might just be an intrusive squirrel that must be dealt with, one never knows. Traveler runs the perimeter of the pens. He's back: all is well. The water goes into the big flat bowl and Emmie's pen mates a couple of amiable ducks come over and sit in it. Emmie doesn't seem to mind this. It must also be part of their ritual: the morning toilet for duckies.

Emmie on the other hand has noticed Sam and I and is a touch suspicious. A change isn't always a good thing. If Harry isn't around and another member of the family is doing the feeding, Emmie gives them the treatment. Once they come into the pen Emmie walks up behind them, places his chest against their back, curls his neck around in front of them and suddenly they have an emu face, with those black shiny eyes a few inches from their own.

Hi. At that point, Emmie may well decide to remove their jewelry by force.

Food dispensed, the bucket goes upside down and it's time for Harry to sit on it and give Emmie some attention while he tells us about the oddities of Emus.

Emmie rests her head on Harry's knee and her bottom eyelid rises and falls with the pleasure of being scratched.

When it's time to go, I remember we've brought some chopped carrots and we scatter them for Emmie who looks interested but doesn't move until we turn our backs. Once again it is that cross species bird habit of being very aware of which way eyes are pointing.

Traveler having run out of territory to patrol near us has taken off to patrol the neighbor's yard though he's supposed to stay close, which seems to be what he does every morning, and just like every morning, he's called back...all part of the way a day should begin here in Harry's yard.

Back up the path we go for a visit inside to see the petrified kidney that's 18 inches long, the buffalo skulls, the Ho Chunk grinding stones, 150 year old bells,a specially padded with straw bull harness, arrow heads, train lanterns, peace pipes, tomahawks, a pair of tongs with which a bull's nose was pinched so it could be led,a wagon brake found on land my great grandparents farmed, a collection of giant hornet's nests, hundreds of sleigh bells on harness, branding irons, rug beaters, an antique ice skate, a collection of safes and cannon balls, a hundred gallon wooden wine barrel, a petrified mastodon tooth, and an amazing old hand written map of the places the local Indians camped, hunted, fished around Lake Koshkonong...and that's just one room in the basement. There are many more rooms chock full of things as are the out buildings and ...the yard. Harry's Yard. That's where one finds the plows, manure spreaders, several big red British telephone booths, antique gas pumps, scales that could weigh heifers, turn of the century just never know what you'll find in Harry's Yard. And I hear that just that morning before we arrived there was a Red-tail in the tree next to the house.
Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Betty Jo said...

Donna, I've been thinking of you when I hear on the news of new storms; as a long time resident of a warm place, I just start shivering when I think of where you are. I am glad to note that Sam is with you and wonder who is taking care of Silver. I so loved your News Years Silver story. I also have strong feelings of compassion and admiration for what you are doing now--as it seems you are giving your cheerful and loving presence to those who need you. We have migrating redtails every where here--probably making their way back north for breeding season.
Love Betty Jo