Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I was a bit late in planting a flower border by my kitchen door this year. My faithful sage and rue, catmint and daylilies stood tall, dwarfing St. Elisabeth (she of the bread and roses) but no flowering border softened the edge of the dooryard garden. From Howard Hill Farm I bought several exquisite, striped, lavender Petunias. I sweltered through the planting as soon as I brought the pretty things home --- plenty of water to compensate for the hot sun---I broke all the rules of ideal planting time.

Work completed, perhaps ten minutes passed before I looked out the kitchen sink window to admire my handiwork. WHAT! I suddenly froze at the sight of a brown ball of fur with a pointy snout, partly hidden beneath the sage, munching vigorously on my just-planted Petunias. I flew to the door, raced out screaming at our resident Woodchuck, but not before he denuded an entire plant of its lovely blooms. Heartbreaking!

About three weeks have now passed since this incident. I was certain that all my flowers were doomed to meet the same fate. But incredibly, not another Petunia has been touched, and the plant nibbled nude has recovered with no sign of trauma. It has puzzled me. It occurred to me, and I have chosen to believe, that my screaming at my plump little neighbor left him feeling as bad as I did that our formerly pleasant relationship had been severely wounded. For months I have spoken to him through the window as he munched his clover meals --- “Hello, Mr. Woodchuck”, and such silly soft murmurings. He clearly paused, briefly at attention, before going on with his business. We know each other. I know where he lives; his front door is at the wall 50’ from my door. He is aware of my movements at the windows. We had lived together in peace. But, after the Petunia incident, he dove under the deck whenever I spied him in the backyard. He had come to fear my wrath. Yet --- not one more blossom has been touched!

My wild neighbor and I have now resumed our former relationship. Is it possible that we can communicate with the wild creatures with whom we live, in like proximity to city dwellers in their tenements? I think it is so --- I believe that my little furry brown friend left me my Petunias ---as I have always believed St. Elisabeth’s bread for the hungry turned to roses at the approach of the King. Who can really define the borders between nature and faith, or the mind and the soul?

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