left_turns (left_turns) wrote,

The other day I sat and watched a pair of house sparrows have dueling dust baths in the gravel driveway across the street. Apparently there was a larger and more choice little hollow of dust at the end of the driveway and one next to it. After some hopping and fluttering and shouting, one would dash into the better pit and start to roll around and shake its wings and body in these little staccato burst--wrrt vverrt vverrt--(I don't know why a bird rolling around in the dirt sounds like a vibrating phone in my head. It just does)--while the other one hopped around the edges and yelled at it. Then the other sparrow woulld show him, boy howdy, and jump into the other dustbath and start ffloofing its feathers out. Once or twice one rushed the other and took its spot, and every so often they'd jump out of their baths and hop around and scream at each other. But mostly they sat there and went VVRRT VVRRT and FLOOF FLOOF and screeched.

I'm sort of surprised how much wildlife there is in our neighborhood, which is mostly all the sort of old-and-plain-but-decent neighborhood you get on the outskirts of campuses, where the grad students and some locals live. Our house was built in 1931 or 1932 and we're across the road from a church built in 1951. I suppose part of it might be the big old trees all over the place; I think the two in our back yard were probably planted at the time it was built, and they're doing just fine. But we have bluejays all over the place, and crows and cardinals and pileated woodpeckers and some sort of phantom hawk I've never seen but hear all the time. I wrote a metadata schema for classifying birds (and I called it the Bird Recognition Data Schema--BRDS--and thought I was terribly clever) as my metadata class final project, and I was inspired to choose birds because of the mourning dove that likes to sit on our porch. He just plops himself down on the concrete and goes HOO GOOOOO right outside my window at the crack of dawn.

There's a morning glory vine that started growing along our porch railing just last week that's halfway along the porch by now. Apparently there was also a wasp nest in the porch swing next to our front door. Which I walk past every time I go out to my car, and stand right next to every time I have to unlock the front door. I didn't even know about it until I stepped out onto the porch and both my roommates were right outside the door. Because they'd tried to sit on the porch swing and discovered that there was a wasp in the bit of wasp nest in the porch swing and... apparently poured water all over it? I guess? Because that side of the porch was very wet.

Our house was built in 1931 or 1932 and has the problems that a lot of houses that age do. When I unlatch the windows, the casement slides down at least as far as the lower window, so my room is full of bugs. The cat adores it. For some reason a lot of big grey moths come in through the crack at the top of the window at night. Olive, who is afraid of toys, is both delighted and rendered into a homicidal killbot by the moths. She chases them all over and leaps up walls and smacks them around like fluttery little hockey pucks. Then she eats about half of them and leaves me the other half-a-moth to find later. She's terribly generous that way. The one time I saw her lose one, she sat and stared at the Magic Window all the rest of the night like it was really good kitty porn, and even asked it to give her another moth once or twice.

But last night I found a firefly inside the house. It was on the woodwork of the doorway between the kitchen and dining room. It looked big for a firefly, so I stood there a minute trying to figure out if it really was one or if it was some other kind of beetle. I'd just leaned in to poke it when it started flashing its light very fast. So I turned out the light and watched it flash in the dark.

It seems early for fireflies to be out, but I guess it's better than the kitchen moths we have all over the place.
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