Sharing the bountyA stream splashes down several steps into a pool that is home to at least one growing bullfrog. For the past hour, Old Sol has worked mightily to climb over the oaks and maples that line the ridge.

A Mourning Dove serenades a mate, while in yon garden, tomatoes prepare to be fried green, and the zucchini vines show no sign of my bulk having crashed among them, now two weeks hence. Clearly, I came out the worst in that encounter.

Sometimes, as I sit out under the trees watching a variety of critters go about their daily business, I think about whether we might be in a huge spacarium, like a terrarium only containing multiple planets. We could be, in that imagined universe, like Charlton Heston in the original “Planet of the Apes.”

Reality, it has been said, is an illusion totally dependent on perspective.

In the early morning, a half dozen Gray Squirrels paw through the grass in search of seeds obligingly showered down by sparrows and House Finches from the feeders we have hung on cast iron poles, some of which we originally chose because they seemed too skinny to be easily climbed. Silly humans we turned out to be.

I open the door and the gray platoon comes to attention. I step out on the brick decks and most of them don’t even move, though two start ambling toward the woods. Just in case. I step to the grass and they’re, like, “If he comes over here, probably we should get out of the way.”

Then Grady the Golden steps out for his morning duty. He pays them no mind, but still they scatter. His mission accomplished, Grady returns to his indoor recline, and the squirrels to their incessant forage, probably longing for the days when one could climb the pole, stretch like a Roman emperor on the shelf and gorge until gravity asserted itself.

I once hung a bird feeder from an eight foot pole into which I had bent a 90-degree arm. I installed an eyelet at the apex of the bend, and another at the end of the arm, about 18 inches away – too far, I thought, for a bushy-tailed rodent to reach. I threaded steel-core fishing line to allow me to lower the feeder for filling.

The squirrel handily climbed the pole, walked out the length of the arm, and dropped onto the feeder like an eye-patched pirate slipping aboard to raid the treasure.

So I cut a piece of metal roofing and attached it to the pole, forming a roof over the makeshift pulleys. Squirrel shinnied up the pole, reached for the horizontal portion of the line, and pulled himself, upside down, hand over hand, to the end, where he dropped to the feeder. To a watcher on the pier, the stunt was at least difficult. To Graybeard, easy-peasy.

At the local building supply store, I found a plastic cone-shaped squirrel guard. The description said to attach the clamp to the feeder pole, then slide the guard down on the clamp. The guard floated free, waiting for a bushy-tailed rodent to try climbing around it.

It worked, for about a week, until one of the more clever critters discovered the “hat” was plastic. Any squirrel worth a handful of bird seed can chew through plastic.

But finally I came across a hat made of steel. Chew through that, me hearties!

Thus the bushy reliance on winged friends, mostly messy eaters who for each morsel pecked scatter at least a dozen to the ground below, and I am adequately entertained.

I wonder who I am entertaining.