So… I’m out playing caretaker here at the Manse and I’m deciding that what we’re running at this location is the animal equivalent of the food court at the mall when a whole cohort of teenagers–boys mostly–shows up to attempt to fill their hollow legs.

The “water feature” is bubbling its little heart out and any creature passing by can hardly resist stopping for a sip…or a dip.  A troop of starlings has obviously found a berry patch–probably my groundcover strawberries–to their liking and left restaurant reviews of their dining experiences on the white porch rail(They also come up there to scout out the possibility of leftover cat food).  The squirrels have apparently found most of what they buried back in the day because around virtually every good-sized tree with comfortable seating about fifteen feet up there are emptied-out butternut hulls on the ground…not gnawed-open ones, just halves; very dainty these rodents are.  No sign of  returned beavers, there must be enough greenery down in the creek for them to snack on.  There are also some apple shoots coming back up from trees that earlier bit the dust.  Maybe they’re being saved for a Fourth of July picnic.

John Brock(my long-suffering next door neighbor) and I decided that we have a rust-type blight of some sort that’s attacking the black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) bushes in the back yards; I had one turn up its little thorny toes in the front too.  As near as I can figure, after perusing the information on Wikipedia, we’ve got a raging case of Raspberry Mosaic Disease Complex–orange rust.  Red raspberries (Rubus ideaus) are immune but the blackcaps have to be mercilessly eliminated–burned, most likely– to put the brakes on the contagion.  I guess that cancels my plans to make bootleg Chambord Liqueur Royale de France in a bathtub down in the basement…or its Korean equivalent, Bokbunja.  The trick is going to be differentiating the red ones from the black ones for the final destruction after the berries are gone.  Makes me think of a particularly brutal saying during the Viet Nam conflict.

The flowers are doing their thing, the ones that survived, and I’ve been putting in new ones at a great rate.  Do NOT ask me what they are, because if I didn’t remember to leave their store tags, I don’t have a clue about most of them.  My usual strategy is to wait until the flats or pots or whatever are discounted down to the bone then I sort around and pick up the ones that look like survivors.  Their survival rate has been pretty good, better than the Dutchman’s Britches bulbs that I got for top dollar two autumns ago. I’ll say this for Bob the Landscaper Dude, he hasn’t wept yet at where I’ve plunked little green (Just barely) orphans in his grand scheme of things.

And I’m doing much of this while on the receiving end of a considerable amount of unsolicited feline commentary.  There’s one new guy in the area–tailless and sort of washed-out orange, biscuit-color–who does nothing but yowl–softly for the most part but yowling, nonetheless–at me and the other cats around.  He likes to sleep on the porches or under the ferns in back of the garage.  Black Bart II has been around for a while and shows up for breakfast mostly but is perfectly happy to offer advice on anything else that’s going on.  He follows me around, giving  suggestions, and occasionally throws himself on his back just in case I might feel the necessity of  giving a belly-rub.  His usual side-kick, the gold-and-white, Scotchie, generally disappears during the day; so does the morals-challenged calico that keeps leaving litters of kittens all over the neighborhood.

The real hoot is the latest arrival, Bob, he of the half-missing tail.  He seems to be a sort of semi-dwarf cat because he’s still about kitten-size although he’s probably a year or so old (Not sure about that, he came as a temporary boarder and turned into a fixture).  Bob thinks that he is a puppy.  He runs around, jumping on things that look like they might move, he attacks my shoes (not easy with Crocks, easier with tennis shoes–laces).  He flings himself at my ankles and rolls onto his back just in case there might be a belly-rub in it for him.  If Labs came in this size, he’d be one.  He’s the only one of the resident felines who will deign to wear a collar (So far, at least, I haven’t given up hope on the other youngish one) and it has a bell so I can hear when he’s hiding out in the tall grass or playing with the weeds that I’ve pulled up.  He’s a funny guy.

Animals around here are pretty normal but I was listening to a radio interview on Friday  where a woman named Jenny Lawson (She’s just written a book called Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and also writes a blog) was describing her fascination with “taxidermied animals wearing clothing”…yup, that’s what she said…and her favorite–or at least, first–one was a mouse with a cape and a pose and a tiny skull on its upraised paw a’ la Hamlet in his “Alas, poor Yorick” speech.

I think that I’ll just stick with the dust bunnies.