Drunken Squirrels

And so my husband is a nut, we all know that. He was telling me last night about squirrels and the availability of fermented berries and pumpkin? Yes, fermented pumpkin, and the rise of alcoholism in squirrels.

I googled this nonsense and came up with a story about country clubs in the south and how the alcoholic squirrels there, yes by cracky, here we go again, alcoholic squirrels have been harassing club-goers begging for sips of their mint juleps and spiked sweet teas.

I declare! In all my born days.

Squirrels are not only friendly and cute. They are also the animal you’re most likely to see wasted in your yard. Squirrels get intoxicated from ingesting fermented crab apples, squash, magnolia petals, and cherries among other delicacies.

Oh fiddle dee dee, Magnolia petal wine! We could be missing out here kids.

And so all these good-intentioned, well-meaning homeowners are being a bit lazy and leaving their backyard fruit to ferment. Not knowing that they are practically providing an open bar to the neighborhood squirrels along with any raccoons, stray cats or rodents that may show up.

This would explain a lot of the loopiness common in squirrels and other animals. I sure as heck know how silly even the most serious humans can get when they are “feeling no pain.”

I am fine with our backyard squirrels imbibing. It might make them more fun. As long as I don’t have to live with them lying on my couch all day and complaining about a wicked hangover and wanting sympathy and their nuts shelled for them.

 

The squirrels who inhabit our backyard are definitely peanut happy. Unfortunately there are no fruit trees or liquor stores nearby but they are content, and probably better off, with the nuts and seeds we feed them. They also like the clean water we give them in one of our cat’s old kitten dishes.

They have trained us to do this and we have found we like it very much. My husband plays music on his guitar and we dole out the peanuts. The squirrels run around and our cat Mocha loves to watch them and the many birds that visit us too.

These little creatures just bound up and they are so happy to see us. You can see it on their faces; the look of happiness and that little happiness spreads to us too. It’s “like a little jolt of electricity, a little high” as my husband put it.

This is our kind of partying.

 

 

What I am really trying to say, as nutty as it sounds is: We need more “drunken squirrels” in our lives. Fun little interactions with nature. Connections with other lifeforms other than ourselves. These creatures share our environment with us. Even if its just a cute squirrel in the park. I think we humans are becoming more and more separated from that connection with nature everyday. This makes it all the easier not to notice it all trickle away.

~SBI

“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”
Steve Irwin

 

The Birds of Westmoreland Park

 

Westmoreland Park is a lovely park in Southeast Portland, Oregon.  It encompasses roughly 42 acres in the Westmoreland neighborhood. The park has many features including sports fields, a playground, and ponds. 

Today we just visited one of the smaller ponds in the restored wetlands area of the park. This part of the park was revamped adding the wetlands which is allowing for the return of migrating salmon to the stream. 

We didn’t see any salmon today but we did see other urban wildlife

 The much larger rectangle pond has been drained for the season but there are still places to swim. 

This Mallard was particularly friendly. 

He swam right next to me and I started talking to him and he just kept getting closer and closer. I could see the water droplets on his feathers. He seemed to like my voice so I just kept talking. I told him how handsome he was and “Wow! What a good swimmer.” and all that. 

Someone high above my head watched it all play out. Little did the crow know that I had peanuts for him. Sorry nothing for you ducks, not today.

Crow got his peanuts and the Mallard and one of his cohorts followed along.  

I hope this family has food for them although there is a sign that states “Do Not Feed The Ducks”. I think people do anyway. 

I googled what to feed ducks. Don’t feed them bread!!

Don’t feed bread to Ducks
So, if you  feel compelled to feed your local ducks, try these instead of bread:
  1. Corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
  2. Duck pellets (sold online and at pet stores)
  3. Lettuce, other greens (torn into small pieces)
  4. Frozen peas (defrosted)
  5. Oats (rolled or instant)
  6. Seeds (including birdseed or other varieties)

from The Mother Nature Network 

This is my daughter Sara. She loves animals too. That makes her all the more lovable herself. 

 We will revisit this place, much more to see as the weather warms. 

 

❤  SBI

 

 References and related articles 

Westmoreland Park    

 

The world between two pines

A mystical magical foray through the foggy forest

“The richness of a moment comes when it’s both full and empty at the same time. The truth is, we live simultaneously in time and timelessness.” ~ Ram Dass

Where does reality leave off and imagination take over? Does it matter?


All at once the light of overcast day turns to fog as we step between the two tall pines and descend into into darkening wood.

I proceed with an uncharacteristic reverence, my steps slow and deliberate.  

The air is damp. Tufts of fogginess elongate, curving and curling between the trees trunks like an asp lending an air of mystery to the atmosphere. Although I am inside a natural area that’s inside a large park, I could be anywhere. 

There is a sense of timeless here, of ancientness. I can smell it. The pine needles, the mud, the old leaves, the moss. Ancestral memories encoded in my DNA have been awakened. I feel oddly at home, every twist and turn takes me deeper and deeper in. 

My usual gleefulness is gone, replaced by a watchfulness. Where my causal romp through the woods has become more than causal. I notice my steady breaths and I notice the birds are quiet. It seems as everything is at a standstill, but me.

It’s as though I am walking through a dream. The haze grows murkier with every step, my footing has been lost in the fog. The path twists and turns and suddenly I find I have lost the path altogether. The mossy floor feels like soft clouds and I imagine I am high in the sky feeling the cool fresh air. I feel so relaxed and at ease , I am compelled to sleep…

Then I spy glossy black wings in the corner of my mind’s eye and hear the cawing of the crows…
…suddenly I’m back on the ground slipping in the mud, catching myself in dreamland and jolting myself awake. 
Better watch my step…haha.

 

~SBI
All photos taken by me on The Wildwood Trail in Washington Park in Portland, Oregon. 

 

 

 

 

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Muddy trail kind of life

The air is fresh and chill. The wind blows tiny droplets of rain onto my face. I close my eyes and it feels like I am flying but the honking of geese above me remind me that I am not. I am walking, and walking on a muddy trail at that. My eyes quickly scan the ground and I scamper up a rocky hill like a little mountain goat.

These trips have gotten me in great trail shape. I spend a good portion of my free time out here in the wildish trails around my home in Portland, Oregon. It is a necessary component of my life to get out in whatever nature I can get to. We have no car, by design , my husband and I. We walk, bike or take public transit which is pretty good here. We like this sort of life, this muddy trail kind of life. I am very fortunate to have found someone who likes this as much, or more than I do. We are best friends, pals and companions as well as a loving married couple. He encourages me to be me and he smiles and shakes his head in amusement as I run up and down hills and even sometimes climb into the trees to snap pics and talk to the animals, real and imaginary. This is great fun to us and we are lucky to live where we do. So in spite of the rain or maybe because of the rain we are here at one of our favorite spots.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a swampy, wetlands area smack daub in Portland, Oregon. Lots of birds live here especially ducks. I like to greet them as we pass by. We see lots of animals on our adventures. We have seen deer, beavers and nutria,  possums and a plethora of birds especially the waterfowl.  This is one of the places we go in all kinds of weather. Today it is super rainy and the trail is super muddy but we love this.

Pluviophile. a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

 

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~ John Muir

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a city park of about 141 acres in southeast Portland, in the U.S. state of Oregon. Located in a floodplain along the east bank of the Willamette River near Sellwood, the park is known for attracting a wide variety of birds. Wikipedia

 

Errol Heights Natural area is cute in a boggy sort of way. This is a short walk  but has become a favorite of ours since it is so close in the city.  On our first visit we met a curious man who popped out of the bushes.  He told us in breathless Kiwi accent about the 10 beaver dams there as he was running around trying to photograph all of them in order before the sun set.

One meets all sorts of interesting people in places like this.

Beaver Dam

 

The beavers are pretty shy but you can see evidence of them not just by the dams but but by the trees they are in the process of cutting. Many of the tree trucks are protected by wire netting but there is still ample wood available. The birds are typically out in full force here as it is a haven for waterfowl and songbirds. I love to just stop and listen to their beautiful music. Today the soundtrack is dominated by geese who fly overhead in their famous V formation. It is amazing a place like this exists in the middle of the city.  We are lucky to live here.

Dusk at Errol Heights Natural area

Errol Heights Park & Community Gardenlocated at SE 52nd Ave & Tenino St, is 12 acres acquired by Portland Parks in 1996. Its amenities include a great walking path through the site with views of the Errol Creek wetland area. Many native plants and shrubs thrive in Errol Heights – part of the Johnson Creek Watershed.

The Voice of the Universe

The voice of the universe is everywhere.
In the trees. In stars. In the air.
In my heart. In my hair.
Within.”

—Jonna Jinton

 

I listen to the wind move through the trees tickling leaves along the way. I hear the loneliness in them, the smallness of them. The universe is made of these. Bits and parts of somethings that make a whole.

We are one together. A breathing being is the universe. I witness its breath in the clouds. I feel the beat of it’s heart in the river. I touch its profoundness in the soft moss under my feet.

I feel so alive in this one very moment; I take in the million joys that spill over like a wave. It fills my valleys and makes them green again.

The voice of the universe speaks to me. Not in words but pure emotion. It speaks to me in brilliant birdsong and in the roar of the sea.  It whispers in the Sunday breeze, knocking down fence posts to make me listen.

Once in a while the universe sends something so absolutely exquisite I can’t help but pause in splendid wonder. Once in a while can be everyday if I let it…

 

~nlm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden of the Mind

 

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece

~Claude Monet

 

We all engage in self talk. A running inner dialog that writes the script of our lives.

Seldom are we completely aware of just how influential we are on ourselves. We definitely live up to our own expectations. Positive or negative.  Problems arise when insecure feelings begin to dominate the conversation. And rarely do we share these dark thoughts with others. They are hidden behind a wall of bravado we put up between each other. This causes us to see only the exaggerations put together by our imaginations not the full scope of reality.

Insecurities are kept in a secret place locked inside ourselves in that dark closet of pessimism, where fear lives. It is fear that leads us to lie to ourselves in the first place. Much of the negative crap that our own insecurities whisper to us is not accurate or realistic at all, but these hidden feelings do have a profound effect on our behavior. Only when we can forgive ourselves for not being perfect can we begin to rebuild and replace all that negative crap with good crap.

I liken a life to a garden. What grows in our garden is what has been planted.

 

 

The lives which we are living now are the result of our past actions and those past actions were the result of our past thoughts. The seeds we planted long ago are sprouting now.

We truly are what we have cultivated. We can thrive in a colorful vigorous and sunny garden or we can wallow in the dark. and it is that simple… of course surprises can spring up

Life is random and certainly not fair. We are subject to the whims of that randomness…

…and no matter what we do surprises can spring up…

Sometimes squirrels can dig up your tulip bulbs and plant them in your neighbors backyard…sometimes a spring hail shower can wreck havoc on your tender pansies. There have been times when a black cloud descended into my garden and left it cold and dark. There have been times when I thought that the sun would never shine again…

And then I found the sunshine within myself and lit up my garden with hope, faith and blind determination.

 

 

These are the times when we have to rely on that sort of sunshine to make our gardens grow.

…that’s why you need a good dose of it stored up in your pocket for a rainy day.

 

 

Determination: Yes. Work: Most certainly. Anything worth anything takes work and belief. That is your sunshine and nothing will shine without it.

Gratitude is like water. It nourishes life in our garden. It makes what grows grow. Without gratitude we will never find the happiness and contentment we seek.

Attitude. How we frame the picture we see.

What some may interpret as a raging storm can seem like a gentle shower watering a summer flower.

 

Seeds are the ideas we present to ourselves. We can plant what we want.

 

Being afraid; having social anxiety…the alien-ness I felt being on the autism spectrum…my alcoholism.. these were symptoms of a greater problem these were/are my challenges. I on instinct planted seeds to counteract the ones planted many years before which led me to feel so sad.

How do I do this? I change my inner dialogue. I forgave myself. I saw myself as a poor damaged thing that needed sympathy, love and understanding.  I began to treat myself more kindly; I began to lie to myself but in a good, encouraging way.

I told myself wonderful things about me; things I didn’t believe. But I kept planting and counting.

I counted reasons to be grateful. I thanked God or the spirits that be. I thanked the universe for my good fortune. I embraced mindfulness and tried to enjoy every passing moment for what what it is without expectation. I found worthiness in contentment and strength in humbleness.

 

I wrote words like”optimistic” ,”happy”and “Yes” in bright colors and tapped them around the house.

I found solace in the colors of music and the sound of the rain.

I refused to be daunted by a reluctant sun so I made my own.

 

What began as a tiny spark has grown larger and my garden is growing with colorful, green, growing wild things.

I continue to plant seeds whenever I can. My garden is a work in progress. Always planting something, digging, weeding, taking it all in.

Despite changes and setbacks I am here to encourage other gardeners who may be discouraged. Maybe to make myself feel a bit better too.

 

As Ram Dass once said: We’re all just walking each other home.”

And I say that it’s damn good to have a friend to walk through the rain with. 

 

~nlm

 

 

 

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Fresh Quotes: Mary Oliver

I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.

~Mary Oliver

Coming in whispers that speak to that child that lurks within

the one that plays in grassy fields and kisses the sweet spring wind

she who laughs at chickadees and muses with birds

Quietly knocking one over the head with her simple earthy words.

I have been literally brought to tears on more than one occasion by this immensely talented writer and poet.

Mary Oliver is an artist who more than paints pictures with words. She illustrates profound feeling in vivid and not so vivid colors and hues. They hit me deep down in my soul.

Never before have I so connected with another’s words. It reinforces to me the greater connection we all have with each other and our beautiful planet.

What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this Pulitzer Prize winner.

MARY OLIVER

 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

“Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.”

There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty. 

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

 

 

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.”

 

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.”

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

 

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

 

 

Do you love this world? Do you cherish your humble and silky life? Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath? Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness, fill your arms with the white and pink flowers, with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever?

 Yes…yes I do Mary Oliver… thank you for your inspiration. 

~nlm

MARY OLIVER

Mary Oliver was born in 1935 in Maple Heights, Ohio.  She attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College.  As a young poet, Oliver was deeply influenced by Edna St. Vincent Millay and briefly lived in Millay’s home, helping Norma Millay organize her sister’s papers.
  Oliver is notoriously reticent about her private life, but it was during this period that she met her long-time partner, Molly Malone Cook. The couple moved to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the surrounding Cape Cod landscape has had a marked influence on Oliver’s work.  Mary Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001. In addition to such major awards as the Pulitzer and National Book Award, Oliver has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also won the American Academy of Arts & Letters Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Prize and Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 
(Excerpt from the Poetry Foundation Bio)

Mary Oliver (Poetryfoundation.org)

(Great site chocked full of resources including full-length poems)