Two deaths, and other observations

Today was about as perfect a spring day as you might imagine–blue skies, sun, 67 degrees. I had all the plants I bought a couple of days ago to deal with, so I had a perfect excuse to go grub in the dirt.

But the day was marred by the death of the little falcon who moved in a few days ago. The songbirds knew it before we did. They suddenly reappeared, the juncos, the kinglets, the robins, they were all back in place. Ben said, “The merlin must have moved on.” Then he found her body.

She was lying unmarked near our garden. She obviously had a broken neck, but there was no indication of how it might have happened. I had seen her earlier in the day swooping and diving on the hill across the river. The body was fresh, no bugs, even.

She was very lovely. I kept a few of her feathers to make some powerful dreamcatchers, and Ralph gave her a decent burial down by the river so Coyote wouldn’t carry her off. We all felt sad.

I found a white violet blooming about halfway down the hill below the house. I thought I had lost all of my white violets. This one must have seeded from another plant. Two of my old-fashioned violets were blooming, and of course I had the two new ones. So in the warm afternoon, I spaded up an area, created a violet bed under the trees off the back deck, and planted them. I found a baby trillium in the mess (first year) and moved it into the violet garden and staked it so no one would step on it.

The violets hadn’t been in the ground two hours when I looked out to see a huge banana slug, antennae waving, headed right for my favorite. Now, I hate slugs. But I generally let them alone as long as they stay up in the forest degrading the duff. This one had been floating in and out of the yard for days. I did my best to ignore it, but when it threatened my new violet, I’m afraid I lost my tolerance. I didn’t torture it with salt. I just quickly decapitated it and disposed of the body. My karma is probably ruined for some time, but my violet is still beautiful.

Ralph cooked corned beef and cabbage (a day early, admittedly, but I have to be gone tomorrow evening). It was superb. All in all, a most satisfactory day.


6 Responses to “Two deaths, and other observations”

  1. ombudsben Says:

    The Hindus who don’t eat beef are kinder creatures than I, as are the Buddhists who practice killing nothing.

    That banana slug was as ominous to your violets as Billy the kid riding into town on payday with both pistols loaded. You did the right thing.

    Am very puzzled about your falcon, however. First, I’m assuming you looked at a field guide, and know whether it was a merlin or kestrel (sparrow hawk, to me) or some other. I can find some online pic’s, if you’d like.

    Second, the death is very odd. It wasn’t like it even ran into anything?

    I’ve heard of other raptors killing the competition, but you’d see marks, for that.

  2. mklekacz Says:

    Yes, ombudsben, we did confirm the identification with our field guide. And you are correct that there were no woulds or apparent marks of another culprit. And there was nothing close enough or overhead that she might have struck and landed where she did.

    However, I thought a lot about this last night, and I’m wondering if our poor little merlin was the victim of risky sex. Many raptors mate in the air in a sort of diving freefall. If she didn’t pull up in time, well. . .Kind of like those idiots who accidentally hang themselves.

    But I’m sorry she’s dead, anyway.

  3. wildiris Says:

    Sad about the merlin. But I’m glad your violet survived.

  4. mklekacz Says:

    Me, too. It’s extraordinarily beautiful, sort of red-purple and green foliage and dark true purple blooms. Best of all, it came in its pot with a little bed of Corsican mint (no extra charge ;^} ) that I hope will spread through the bed and perhaps ultimately through my little forest garden.

  5. whitishrabbit Says:

    For a moment, just a moment, I thought you might have renamed me the ‘Cornish Pasty Blog’.

    This is all very shocking: Mysterious dead bodies, decapitations and risky sex. I almost feel like I’ve just watched Basic Instinct.

    Now, where oh where is that hottie Michael Douglas?

  6. mklekacz Says:

    Rabbit, you wouldn’t think there’d be so much sex and intrigue out here in the boonies, but as I think I mentioned once, nature isn’t always pretty and bucolic.

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