In Our Own Backyard….You gotta have high hopesDetermination will get you everywhere.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Determination will get you everywhere. Any of you who were around in the Fifties, or those of you who simply like the music of that era, will no doubt remember Frank Sinatra’s recording of “High Hopes”:
“Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant.
Anyone knows an ant, can’t
Move a rubber tree plant.
But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes.
So any time you’re gettin’ low
’Stead of lettin’ go,
Just remember that ant.
Oops – there goes another rubber tree plant!”
The song describes a couple of improbable scenarios where an ant and a ram succeed in doing seemingly impossible acts through sheer determination. It’s one of those catchy songs that kind of gets inside your head and sticks with you for a long time afterward.
Hence it was that old tune came to mind when the wild critters in our yard proved to me what it was all about.
I’d long been watching with satisfaction as the red squirrel that hangs out in our front yard attempted to raid our supposedly squirrel-proof bird feeder. He’d creep out along the metal swivel arm that the feeder hangs from and twirl around upside down, scaring himself and leaping to safety.
Occasionally, he’d finally make it out to the feeder, only to discover that he couldn’t reach his muzzle inside the feeder’s metal grate to get to the cylinder inside that holds the bird seed. He’d circled around and around, sniffing and fussing and twitching his tale in annoyance. His patience and determination were admirable, but I was exceedingly grateful that he didn’t get through to the sunflower seed – which at last check was running about $20 a bag!
Every day that red squirrel came back to the feeder, sometimes just sitting on the rail of the deck and scolding loudly, and sometimes managing to work his way out on the pole to the feeder. Every day he was forced to retreat without actually getting anything to eat, but the next day there he was, back again trying.
It was hard to be mad at him, then, when one morning I looked out the window to discover the raccoons who plagued my hummingbird feeder all summer had made a midnight raid on my sunflower feeder and managed to knock it onto the ground in the process. And there on the ground next to the broken feeder, happily feasting on a mound of spilled sunflower seeds, sat the red squirrel!
And then there was the case of the mysterious pumpkin thieves. We’d put the two pumpkins we carved for Halloween on two log posts outside the front entry to our house. Since the weather hadn’t yet managed to shrivel them up yet, I’d simply left them there ever since Halloween.
Last Thursday I was headed out to get the morning newspaper when I discovered that someone or something had knocked one of the pumpkins onto the ground and it had broken in half. I suspected that my friends the raccoons had decided to go after something a bit more substantial than sunflower seed, but I decided to leave the pumpkin where it was, thinking I might catch one of the little rascals in the act.
I had pretty much forgotten about it by the time I headed into town later that morning to get groceries. But as I drove back down the driveway a couple of hours later, I startled a large doe and two of last spring’s fawns, hovering over the remains of the broken pumpkin! They darted off into the woods when they saw me, but it wasn’t quite 15 minutes later, as I was unpacking groceries in the kitchen, that I looked out through the window and saw that the deer were back.
As I watched, I had to grin to myself as the deer virtually chased the pieces of pumpkin around the driveway. The pumpkin was frozen so hard, and was so slippery with frost, that every time one of them tried to bite into it, it would skitter and slide out of their reach. They were having a hard time getting their teeth into it. At last the deer family finally retreated into the woods, leaving the pieces of mashed up pumpkin behind.
That night I decided to take the second pumpkin off its perch and set it on the ground, just in case the deer came back. And the next morning as I headed out the door, I was astounded to discover the entire pumpkin was completely gone! I walked out to see if perhaps they had skidded it over to the edge of the woods, or if it had possibly rolled down the hill toward the lake. But there, on the very spot where I had left it, sat only the stem!