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February 3, 2014

Stalking the Stalkers

The snow in the winter carpets the ground. I stay in bed for as long as possible. Finally, some time around 2 in the afternoon.

The winter snows channel the birds to my black oil sunflower seed feeders. The feeders are in a poor state. Probably they're all 13 years old and every fall the bears rip them down from the eaves - straightening out the hooks that suspend them, and smashing them to bits on the ground. They want the seeds so they can sleep through the winter.

I glue them back together, and hang them back up. But in the summer, the raccoons come, and rip them down as well. Smashing them to pieces. And I put them back together with nails, screws, staples, and glue. Too cheap to replace them.

The animals can't be reasoned with. They show no remorse for the state of my feeders.

The cats, also, don't seem to care that the feeders are barely hanging in there. Perched behind large picture windows, staring at the birds on the feeders. Pine Siskins. Mountain Chickadees. House Finches. Pygmy Nuthatches.

Safe behind glass, the cats chatter like squirrels for reasons no one truly understands.

I have to do something. Must escape from this frigid morass. Put on a pot of coffee, and start putting together some cameras. Mount up my largest Canon lens on a Gitzo Carbon Fiber tripod with a Wimberly head.

Throw on some clothes. Jacket. Boots.

"Come on cats. Let's go," I call, in that sort of delusional state one falls into after 9 months of solitary confinement.

Outside, I fret with all of the little tedious settings until I'm happy with the images.

The bird bath is frozen solid, and topped with 4" of snow.

The cats come out into the fading afternoon sun to hide behind large stones in the barren gardens. Stalking the birds.

Some lady once tended these flower beds, but that was long ago. I've never paid them any attention. Never showed them any affection.

The birds, noticing the cats, fly away across the yard in short staccato busts of energy. The cats, resolved to the hunt, remain still behind the rocks. Indifferent to the birds' retreat. Committed. Stoic.

I try to refill the bird bath, but the hose is frozen solid.

The birds return to flit through the barren branches of the Mountain Lilac bushes. I'd once planned to cut them down, but my neighbors put me off. "Wait until the spring. You'll die when it blooms," they cautioned. They were right, of course.

Finally, the cats gave up on the birds, and went into the yard to climb the trees. I promptly gave up on the birds and focused on shooting the cats. The cats don't like they snow, but they resign themselves to winter's pains, as a young man resigns himself to suffer a woman's wrath. Nothing comes easy. Everything has a cost.

I shoot the cats with a smaller lens until the sun goes down. Now, the coyotes and the foxes come out in search of food.

"Let's go, cats. Time to get inside."

As if they truly understand me, they surrender their positions in the trees, and run to the front door. And we slip inside together, to warm up from the frozen fields, and dream of what comes tomorrow.

Posted by Rob Kiser on February 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM


Thanks. Well said and lovely.

Posted by: Lurking on February 4, 2014 at 11:24 AM

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