The mulberry tree which shades the southwest corner of our house has begun its yearly transformation into a restaurant. Its branches are now dragging on the ground, burdened with what must be a million pale green berries nearing ripeness. The call has gone out into the forests and the creatures are coming in droves to munch on the sweet fruit. The berries don't look that appetizing, and their texture leaves something to be desired as far as I'm concerned, but their juice is both fragrant and delicately sweet.
This morning, as we had that first lifegiving coffee on the deck at seven, before the world turned into a sauna, we spotted a pair of shy catbirds, and a group of waxwings in their geisha-like perfection. They made the robins look lumpen and clumsy as they flitted from branch to branch doing their best to remain unseen. In the distance, I could see the inevitable black squirrels hugging the trunk. The hummingbirds, who believe that tree to be their property, gave the occasional buzz of annoyance and decided to use the feeder nearer our table instead of the one by the tree. Its not that they couldn't take all comers with one wing tied behind their iridescent backs, its just that in their wisdom, they take the path of least resistance. When you have a metabolism revving as fast as theirs does, you don't need any extra stress in your life. This is fine by me, because next to crows and ravens, hummingbirds are my favourites and I like to see them up close.
At night, the raccoons will come. We'll sometimes hear them squabbling, which sets the dog off. In the morning their leavings will wreathe the trunk of the tree. Going barefoot is not an option at this time of year. Occasionally, the adults will leave their babies in the tree for the evening while they go off hunting for something with a little more protein, confident in the tree's ability to babysit. Sometimes, we're lucky enough to catch them on film (well, you know what I mean).
Red squirrels also favour the tree at this time of year, though our chipmunks don't seem to. Too much competition, maybe?
For the birds and animals, the tree is food. For us its like a great program we look forward to every summer. I prefer Mulberryvision to Television, any day of the week. Stay tuned!