This morning while washing the late-night edition of yesterday’s dishes I was looking out the window above my kitchen sink. The view is not particularly inspiring. There are shapeless, overgrown holly bushes on either side of the window and a little ‘V’-shaped island a few feet away which separates our yard from the neighbor’s. As much as I love to garden, I’ve failed miserably at creating anything of beauty in this particular area of our yard. The sun plants don’t get enough sun and the shade plants don’t get enough shade. Hmmmm. However, in spite of all my digging, planting, killing, digging, planting, and killing, there is one small hosta plant that seems to make its way up out of the ground about this time every year.
As I looked up from my soapy water I noticed a fat little chipmunk making its way across the railroad tie border into the island. He moved so fast and was so dark brown that I almost had trouble keeping up with him. Mr. Chipmunk darted around in no apparent pattern stopping here and there to sniff or dig through the mulch, raising his head every few seconds to watch for predators. He would then scurry back across the railroad ties and disappear; I assume he has made his home somewhere behind or under the railroad ties. This pattern continued for several minutes. I was quite amused and thankful for the mental vacation as I neared the end of the dish pile. Then I looked just beyond the island to see a large gray fur ball making its way toward the island. You guessed it, a cat was headed straight for that railroad tie wall. Well, I was hooked now! National Geographic’s got nothin’ on what was about to happen outside my window.
With amazing premeditation, Miss Kitty stepped gingerly into the island and settled herself on the high side of my stubborn little hosta plant. Tail curled up and still as a statue, she waited. And I stood frozen at the window, willing that little chipmunk not to stick its head out. In hindsight I should have just bumped my fist against the window and scared her away but for some reason I just stood there watching. Waiting. Just like Miss Kitty.
Well, you guessed it. Mr. Chipmunk stepped out, climbed up on that railroad tie wall and wham! It was all over. In one graceful, quick-as-lightning moment, Miss Kitty caught her brunch. I felt sorry for the chipmunk but in awe of the cat. I know, I know, survival of the fittest and all. But it somehow seemed unfair that Miss Kitty had a huge advantage to be able to use my hosta plant as stealth cover! She sauntered off to enjoy the fruit (or meat) of her kill and I let my hands – which had a death grip on the edge of the sink – fall to my side.
Am I worried about the family Mr. Chipmunk left behind? A little. Am I impressed with the instinct, speed, and agility of Miss Kitty? You bet. I know in theory that it is the ‘circle of life’ and that some animals have to die for others to live. Nature at its honest-authentic-and-real best. How strange that the “ewww” and the “ahhhh” can co-exist in my brain, in nature, and in life.
It is indeed life in all of its (sometimes) miserable glory.