Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On August 22nd, 2012, the 64th day of summer, I counted more than twenty bird feeders or baths in the Nut Hatch prairie. On the day of the mole, get out and look around because you can for 28 days remaining of summer.


Today, I had noticed a window in the back of the Nut Hatch, a retail
store servicing the bird feeder supporters of Muskegon, Michigan. The
owner had filled the yard with a number of bird baths, bird feeders
and hummingbird feeders, all of them attracting a variety of birds.
The Nut Hatch specializes in premium bird seeds, so Jays get sunflower
seeds and finches get thistle. The couple that own the store have
allowed the field in back to grow wild, without intervention, not so
much as an attempt to plant a pyracantha. The grass had grown long and
by the shrubs, a thicket of sumac had made an appearance. A gray
squirrel had the run of the parking lot and the prairie, and it was
scampering around pulling nuts out of the thick grass. A mourning dove
departed a feeder and flew into a cedar near the back wooden fence.

The store has occupied the building for three years now, and nothing
has been cut back in the meadow. The trucks delivering more feed have
left tire ruts in the field. I find myself thinking of returning
monthly to see the progress. Maybe I'll sneak in at night to toss a
handful of pyracantha berries around back to assist nature.

Definitely, animals are digging under that grassy cover, and perhaps a
mole can be counted among one of those burrowing creatures. The mole
is a great example of how nature makes creatures stranger than
fiction. It's more than the double thumb on the mole. It's more than
the hemoglobin protein that allows moles to keep inhaling its breath
again and again as carbon dioxide builds up. Moles scamper through
their burrows capturing worms that fall into their burrows, and
paralyze them with a toxic saliva. Still living, a thousand worms or
more often are stored up in a worm larder for later consumption.
Before a mole consumes a worm, the worm is emptied of dirt by the
mole, who runs the worm between squeezed front paws. I have to wonder
how all that would look animated. A mole can see and devour food
faster than a human eye can follow.

I lived in an apartment with my former wife, in the second summer of
our marriage, and I had dug up beds for impatiens and petunias, which
I edged with old brick from a demolished Detroit factory. I had also
given her a cat, which she named Peaches, a free cat that brought home
an infestation of fleas. I had to flea dip her, and she bit me badly
enough to require a doctor's visit, a rabies shot and a tetanus
booster. I took my former wife away for a getaway in London, Ontario,
which had Victorian houses from the late 1800s, made of a yellow
brick, and my former wife adored seeing them. During that weekend, I
flea bombed the house. The cat had an amazing ability to pluck birds
out of flight near bushes and bird feeders. One day, it brought in a
quite quick, as in alive, mole into my front room for my examination.
Peaches had dug it out of the rich soil I had laid down for the
annuals. I got it away from her fangs and put the mole in a box to
take elsewhere on the property, near the creek. The mole didn't move
fast at all, but maybe it was snapping up worms as I blinked? I
imagined what the mole must have thought as Peaches took him into her
mouth: "The dark has teeth!"

My favorite journal has the name of the mole, called the Moleskin.
Moles constituted a nuisance in Scotland. The fur of the mole has a
smoothness no matter which direction the fur is rubbed. The wife of
Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Queen Alexandra, started a trend by
ordering a garment made of mole-fur. What the queen wears, all the
fashionable women of the empire tend to wear also. This created a
demand for the nuisance moles of Scotland. The Australians have
declared the fur of the possum to be fashionable, and the nuisance
species has a legion of hunters after their pelts. The subjects of the
British crown have a cleverness that amazes Americans.

Although moleskin as a protecting bandage for blisters with a doughnut
hole might not be made of a mole's furry skin, it is still available
to hikers and runners who wish to protect a blister against friction
without applying pressure to the blister. I was so excited at Philmont
when I got a blister that actually required a doughnut moleskin
bandage. I had packed a box specially.

The Nut Hatch is near the Fish Monger's Wife, making a nice blend of
water animals and animals of the air:

The ideal bush for getting Robins inebriatedly

Peaches was on mole patrol:

I still write in a moleskin journal, although my Android phone
captures most of my prose and notes.

Photography Credit
Close-up of mole

Suomi: Myyrä lähikuvassa
Deutsch: Nahaufnahme eines Maulwurfs
Photograph by Michael David Hill, 2005. Original uploader was
Mikiwikipikidikipedia at en.wikipedia

CC-BY-2.5; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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