Friday, July 23, 2010

Creatures Know

I've always quietly believed that our identities aren't at all fixed in time and space, but that who we are this moment is entirely different than who we are the next.

Animals seem to know this quite clearly, as they treat me much differently when I'm in the role of gardener. It's not always fondness I'm feeling from animals, but I do know that I'm a different being altogether when I'm gardening.

It's as though gardeners are somehow kindred spirits to creatures in the garden. Normally, animals sense the innate animosity of the human species to their kind, and react defensively, or with fear, toward us. Gardeners, though, get treated differently. For example, I've never, ever been stung by a wasp or bee when puttering around the garden, even though that's normally where I come across stinging insects. Put me in a car, though, at a picnic, and I'm just as likely to get stung as the next fellow.

Squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, birds of all types might be startled and flee from me if I come upon them on my walk to the bus stop in the morning, but when I'm tending the garden, it is largely as though I'm invisible. I've had squirrels run over my feet on the way to the birdbath to drink. Chipmunks have run up my legs to sit on the end table next to the armchair on my patio when I'm sitting there quietly reading. Voles come up from the ground to look at me. Birds actually flock to me when I'm watering the garden, as they know the moisture will raise worms and other invertebrates out of the soil for them to eat. One robin, when it spots me, will come and scold me severely until I spray the water for her.

Rabbits have no fear of gardeners. Though we hate them passionately for the mayhem they inflict on the lilies, they know full well that no gardener is capable of violence against them. Once, a mother raccoon came down out of the ash tree in the yard with her baby gripped in her mouth, paused in front of me to allow me to compliment her family, then scurried back up the tree to the hollow spot where she nested.

Alas, though, the mosquitos haven't yet learned that I am their friend.

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