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Another Day in the Country

A trip to the puddle spa

© Another Day in the Country

With great glee the other day, we drove in the rain from Ramona to Salina.

At first it sprinkled, and we were surprised at the moisture.

“A fleeting fantasy,” I said to my driver.

The farther we drove down K-4, the harder it rained, until it felt like being in a car wash.

Mother Nature had turned the automatic watering system on full force, and it was aimed straight at the windshield.

Whew, this was something! A delightful something, that’s for sure because we have been needing rain so desperately.

The next morning I sat on my porch, eating breakfast, and I spied the Puddle Spa.

It’s a depression in the remaining asphalt at the corner of 5th and D Sts. where water collects.

A sleek black bird with iridescent feathers found it first and went to get his wife. He fluttered around it, dipping his head in the water, showing her how lovely it was, and waited for her to take the hint.

She finally walked carefully into the deepest part of the puddle, scrunched down, and fluttered her wings, fluffing her feathers, delicately, allowing the water to penetrate to her skin.

“Ahhhhh, it’s delicious,” I’m sure she said to him.

He flew off, up on a branch, watching her enjoy the Puddle Spa.

I thought she would probably fly off right away, but she didn’t. She preened her feathers, dipped her head over and over, letting the water run down her back, and finally stepped to the edge of the water, shook herself and flew off. Later, I saw them on top of a morning glory stand talking about their experience.

Lady Robin came next, having evidently hired a babysitter. She got right down to business taking a bath. No dawdling for her. She flew up into the ash tree on the corner and evidently said to her husband, “Your turn,” because he flew right down.

It took him lots longer to get his bathing routine completed. I thought he was perhaps one of those guys who shaves in the shower because he kept dipping his head over and over, fluffing his feathers, spreading his wings, taking a sip or two, obviously pleased that he’d located this Puddle Spa on a bright sunny morning.

My cousin Gary got a wildlife camera for his birthday a few weeks ago and he set it up in a spot where he could watch for wild turkeys.

He’s seen a lot of wild activity on quiet country nights, but the other morning he got to watch a male pheasant doing his mating dance.

He had two girls enthralled at the same time as he strutted toward them, lowering his wings, dancing around them.

“And then he’d puff his chest feathers way out,” Gary said. “I’d never seen anything like it. This must have gone on for an hour or more.”

I imagined it was something like a young male suitor strutting around his new convertible, inviting a couple of girls for a ride.

A house finch couple made a nest again this year in a basket of flowers that I have by my front door.

Last year, I removed the nest to discourage them because our cats had noticed the activity and I could just imagine them trying to raise a family while the cats were literally climbing the wall.

However, Marshmallow, our big old hunter-cat, is no more, and Skeeter, who prefers snoozing on the back of the couch indoors, wasn’t interested. So I let them complete the nest.

They were so skittish that every time the front door opened they’d swoop out like a shadow and watch from the bald cyprus in the front yard.

“How are you ever going to get those eggs incubated?” I said to the prospective mother. “They have to be kept at a consistent temperature in order to hatch, and I’m worried about you.”

Never no mind, because she hatched those babies with aplomb. Both mother and father were busy feeding, but we rarely caught sight of them.

These babies weren’t like some who open their gaping mouths at any rustle of the foliage. They hunkered down in that little nest and kept their mouths shut. All you could see when you peered over the edge of the fake flowers were little black beady eyes in a flurry of feathers.

Right before the babies were ready to fledge, our cat decided that outdoors was more interesting than indoors, and she sat on a porch railing watching those birds for hours like cat TV/

Mrs. Finch kept saying to me, “Not to fret; we’ve got this covered,” as she sat on a nearby branch.

A couple of days ago, Jess was checking on the birds when she cried, “Oh, there’s only one left in the nest.” She jumped back in surprise as that last little bird took flight. It flew like quite the little pro over to join his family in the cyprus tree. For them, it was just another day in the country. For us, it was a miracle!

Last modified June 7, 2018

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