Sunday, February 19, 2006
Undaunted by cautionary statements of neighbors, I continue to buy old loaves of whole-grain bread from the local bakery. They're concerned that my feeding the wild critters could create trouble. It's hopeless. The sun goes down and I'm rustling around in the freezer. It's been an open winter, but at times, a bitterly cold one. From my back porch I watch the woodland critters emerging from under sheds and shrub piles. How to explain the guilty, teary rush I get when watching them sniff the air while scrambling, waddling or creeping to my frozen substitute for the farmer's fields? To watch their twiggy, furred or naked pink fingers lift the morsel into their lives is, well - all I need of happiness at that moment. This morning, though, as I stood outside broadcasting scoops of seed to the daytime diners, a chunk of frozen bread dropped from the sky, missing my glasses by a few inches. A squirrel had lost his grip on a slice of rock-hard bread, high in the oak tree. When it thudded to the ground at my feet, it occurred to me that the old wisdom about casting your bread upon the waters could be more than a lovely metaphor. Perhaps I've discovered a hybrid of the 'Cast your bread . .' exhortation and the folk wisdom cautioning that 'The path to hell is paved with good intentions . . . ' Still, a beaning with a frozen slice of bread is a small price for the heaven of peeking at the mystery around us. It's as close as the tool shed or the crack in the sidewalk where the abundant universe of the ant begins and ends.