Monday, July 30, 2012

Water for King Sun

Living in the woods means living with wildlife. Our garden plots are not landscaped works of art. They are usually dotted with tomato cages, covered with screens and surrounded by chicken wire to discourage deer, keep out rabbits and baffle raccoons.

Even so, the fennel was mowed down once and sprang up again — after which it was apparently inhaled, leaving taproot-shaped holes in the soil. Diggers uprooted the new lemon balm not once but four or five times. Deer may not actually eat coral bells, but this didn’t stop somebody from yanking a new plant up and tossing it across the garden — three times. Early one morning two fawns and their mother came within yards of my window and breakfasted on the last of the struggling pepper plants. They also munched up the begonias and oxalis and grazed on hackberry leaves. Times are tough.

This summer all of us are dealing with a drought. As water becomes scarce, wildlife becomes bold. I left three small water jugs by the driveway one evening, planning to pour them into birdbaths the next day. I found them opened and spilled in the morning. Raccoons have no problem manipulating twist-off caps. I’ve regretted buying a squat seven-gallon water container because it’s difficult to carry. Now though, I’ve discovered the beauty of its cubic design. It’s raccoon-proof. They had a go at it, punching it a few times and peeling its label from three sides in a single long strip. I found the label wrapped around a tree trunk, but the container and the awkward valve on its top were intact.

In Julius Lester’s wonderful retelling of the Uncle Remus stories, King Sun sends his servant Raccoon to the spring for drinking water. “Three times a day he’d climb down with a bucket in his hand and climb back up with the bucket on his head . . . He brought the bucket of water to King Sun, who grabbed his dipper and drank and drank until it looked like his fire might go out.” *

Perhaps I should provide a bucket of water three times a day for Raccoon to carry to King Sun as an offering to break the drought. I think the raccoons in my timber could handle the job.

*Uncle Remus: The Complete Tales as told by Julius Lester

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! Love all the wildlife observances. Something I truly miss now that we live 'in town'.

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