Dear Janna, Dear Clarke and Grace, Dear Frankie, Dear Red Charlie, Dear White Eagle, Dear Cinder, Dear Rockie Lee, Dear Susi, Dear Mel, Dear Esteban, Dear Juan Sanchez, Dear Poage, Dear Rachel, Dear Prudence (I could go on), Dear Everybody--

So, late at night, the paranoiac and dyspeptic possum cruises through. The more hilarious raccoons follow close behind. Around four-thirty, the birds start in with their happy crappy: the red finches, the goldfinches, the rarely seen but jovial blue jay, the grackles--damn their hides, the redwing blackbirds, the holy little mourning doves, the tenacious red robins, the juncos, the chickadees, the scruffy and optimistic sparrows, and very rarely, a woodpecker and the blessed hummingbirds. The married couples show up--the cardinals and the mallards. The rogue male, our freakish neighborhood turkey, wanders along. Then there's the neighborhood hawk, who delights in leaving headless vermin inside Chayo's climbing gym. There's an owl that whoo-whoots at dusk sometimes. And a coyote who leaves tracks in the snow, but nobody ever sees him.

Squirrels and chipmunks steal my bird seed. Field mice scurry away with the sunflower seeds the grackles scatter. Those doggoned gophers and voles tunnel around under my bulbs and my columbines. And rabbits! Rabbit scum! We need a rabbit border patrol to deport them so they stop eating all my flowers!

Down the block, the geese hang out at the pond, threatening everybody and crapping on the grass. Sometimes they fly right up the street like commuters, skronking. And if you listen, you can hear the bizarre fluty scrabble of voices in the sky. Cranes! Like a Japanese painting! On their melancholy aerial wanderings. Vast white wings. Cranes migrate right over our house. They fly in a swirl. They look like leaves in an eddy of wind, circling and calling, circling and calling.

It's the Wild Kingdom around here.

You know, I'm goofy. I pray for the bees. You know what's happening to the bees all over the world. No bees--no life. However, I was delighted to learn that of all the places where bees are in danger, there is one where they are doing fine--Illinois! In my goofier moments, I think it's the spirit of Tomas Urrea, Heaven's beekeeper, keeping the hives around me alive. Our medicine is powerful, we of the Hummingbird family. Bees. My yard has bees and a thousand happy millipedes. That, to me, is a perfect church service.

Hey! Do you know what David Grayson said? He said this:

"To live interestingly and deeply, and to tell oneself about it afterward, is to squeeze the last drop of nectar from the wild grapes of experience."

The day is burning away--drink up, amigos.

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