Greeting to all and welcome my new friends to the East Wing.
She came back again, my little girl hummingbird. Came back right on time. Just a few days before her return, I’d said to the She, “ ’bout time for the hummingbird girl to come back to the valley.” The very next morning Regina saw her first, behind the house, looking into the kitchen window.
I put out the feeder before work that day. Stuck the feeder underneath the front garden maples, right outside the south East Wing Windows. When I came home that evening, there were four hummingbirds at the feeder. Two girls and two boys.
Those little boys and girls are drinking 40 ounces of nectar a week. Why I’d bet these little birds are eating their own weight in nectar ever day. that’s Kinda like a 200 lb man eating eight 25 lb watermelons a day, every day. That’s a lot of watermelon eating every day.
When watching the hummingbirds, it’s real easy to tell the boys from the girls. It’s the same in most every species, telling the boys from the girls. Don’t care if you’re watching little birds, little dogs, little cats, little goats, little bears, or even little people. Ya can just tell little boys from little girls. It’s not so much what the little girls do, it’s that little boy stuff that sets ‘em apart.
When ya look real close at any group of babies ya can see that sugar and spice thing and even easier, ya can for sure see the hammers and nails and puppy dog tails. One of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever seen when it comes to watching a group of babies of a single species, was when Johnny and I had the pleasure of being entertained by a couple dozen or so baby bears just outside Custer South Dakota on a really hot, humid August afternoon.
Now I’m not too big on going to zoos. I just don’t like to see animals caged up. It bothers me to see anything confined, be it animals or people. God didn’t make creatures to be put into cages, and so I don’t impound those around me. Even those who live with me at the East Wing, Mustina, also known as the Pup Baby, The Gray Lady James, Bentley, Spike and most of all Sophia, The Republican Cat, they all have their freedom to leave every time they go outside the East Wing. Yet every time they return of their own freewill. I’d have it no other way.
Though I sometimes wonder if Sophia the Republican Cat only comes back to the East Wing ‘cause it’s such a pain to find somewhere else that’ll give her free access to a computer, the internet, and most of all the email, her precious email. Wow! Does that cat ever love email. She can’t text, claws, ya know, so she emails. I’m telling ya, that cat gets more email than I do by a large margin, every week.
It was a typical August afternoon with no wind to move the flags. As Johnny and drove onto the property of a place called Bear Country USA, the temperature inside the SUV read 70° and the outside temperature read 91°. Ya know how when it’s really hot, ya can look down the road and can see wavy air lines coming right up out of the road. It was doing that when ya looked down the asphalt when we go to Bear Country USA. It was hot outside.
High School girls were the ticket agents at the front gate of Bear Country USA. They tried their utmost to impress upon us the importance of not getting out of our vehicle while driving thru Bear Country USA. These little girls also stressed the importance of keeping all our body parts inside our vehicle and keeping all windows rolled up at all time.
Right outa the gate, there were signs all over the place warning not to feed wild animals. Now I’m thinking with all these instructions from the little girls, and the don’t feed the wildlife signs everywhere, this may be an interesting trip. And so it was to be, but I didn’t find out how interesting until the very end of the trip.
I’d never been to a drive thru zoo before, it was a different feeling than any other zoo I’d visited. It’s kinda hard to remember you’re inside a zoo when you’re on a one lane road a few miles from the front door.
We saw mountain goats, big mountain goats. Deer and antelope, and guess what, yep they’re playing, right out there in front of God and everybody, that deer and antelope, they’re playing. Of course there were buffalos. There was even a white buffalo. I’d heard ‘bout those such things, didn’t know if they existed or not.
White buffalos are real, ‘cause I saw one in South Dakota. Kinda felt sorry for that big white buffalo, from my vantage point , inside the SUV, with the windows rolled up, thank you very much, it seemed the rest of the herd shunned the big white feller, or else he have chosen not to associate with what he considered to be just plain buffalo trash.
In any event, the white buffalo stayed apart from the rest of the herd by ‘bout 150’ or so for all the time we watched the herd. They all moved in concert all the while keeping that same 150’ distance, and so the white buffalo walked alone. It’s important to always remember, if ya feel ya need to be somebody’s friend, choose a white buffalo, ‘cause they sure need ‘em. They don’t have any in the herd.
As we came over a little hill and rounded a curve to the right the road was full of donkeys, yep donkeys. Little fellers just the right height to look right into the car window at ya. After all the warnings at the front gate and signs everywhere, a car in front of us had stopped in the middle of the road .
With all the windows down, they were feeding the donkeys. I could only conclude that all the occupants of the car were both deaf and unable to read English. After all, I’m sure the little girls at the front gate told ‘em the same thing they told Johnny and me. Johnny and me, yeah, we read all the signs ‘bout animal feeding, NOT!
After a few minutes one of the donkeys came back to our car for another snack. Wanting to obey all rules as were instructed to do so when we entered, I hastily wrote on a note pad “NO DONKEY FOOD ON BOARD” and held the note to my side window. Donkeys must be near sited ‘cause his nose touched the window with my message, he paused just enough time to read the note, and then left. I didn’t know that donkeys could give finger signals with their tails.
It was maybe a mile or so after the donkeys where we encountered the bears. It was at a bear swimming pool. It was hot that day we first saw the bears and most every one of ‘em were going swimming. Lots of cars were stopped along the road winding round the bear swimming pool.
The bears filled the swimming pool as they walked among the cars as if we weren’t even there. At the swimming pool, we were the intruders, and it showed. If ya’ve never been shunned in your whole life by anybody, then ya need go watch the bears at the swimming pool, there at Bear Country USA, ‘cause we were shunned by the bears. I’m sure they also shun all those who may come to gawk while they swim.
Sure didn’t see anybody with windows down feeding these animals. A large population of bears, from teenagers to full-size bears of 300 to 800 lbs and one which ya could just tell by the size, were even bigger. I took that one to be Papa Bear, yes the very same Papa Bear of literary fame. Mama Bear was nearby, as Baby Bear swam in the pond.
It was at the end of the road trip where ya could visit the walk thru zoo. I almost turned this part down, l ‘cause I didn’t want to see caged animals. All animals on display were outside with adequate shelter when needed, along with a constant water source and food. The thing that impressed me most of all was the space available for each animal to roam. Large, large spaces to roam free, with food, water and shelter. Life is good for those lucky enough to live in Bear Country USA. I had the distinct impression life there was much better than in the wild.
And then we saw the baby bears. In an area I figured to be no less than 2 acres, the baby bears ran free. They ran, they chased each other, the wrestled and rolled all over the ground.. The rolled down a little hill, ran back up to the top and rolled down again. They grabbed each other and rolled down the hill as a team.
This was the place where ya could truly tell the baby girls from the baby boys. The little boys done the “mean boy” stuff” like sneaking up from behind and jumping on someone’s back and both go rolling down the hill. Climbing a tree right behind someone else, then try to push ‘em out of the top of the tree, “mean boy stuff”, those baby boy bears.
The little girls played in a much more gentle tone. It was not like they had tea parties, the just tended to stay more as a group, to touch and pat, rather than hit, to walk rather than run. Even as baby bears, the girls were a little bit smaller, and a little bit prettier, and overall, a little bit more well behaved.
There was one little group of four baby boy bears that seemed intent on making life hard for the baby girls. These little boys would fight each other, run circles ‘round the little girls, sneak up and grab one from behind then run away. Sneak up and push ‘em down, then run away.
Bears have two means of locomotion. They can walk on all four feet, or can stand upright and walk quite well on two feet. Most of the time the baby bears, like their adult parents, walk on all fours. It was when one of the little girl bears was fed up with the shenanigans of one particular little boy bear, that the separation of baby girls and baby boys became obvious.
After three times being pushed to the ground by attacks from behind, the little girl decided to take matters into her own paws. As she picked herself up off the ground, all fours were not the mode. She stood upright, walked over to the group of four little boys, huddled close by. The one little feller who’d made life miserable for this little girl bear, turned toward her as he too stood upright.
She waited until he was fully erect, and then she hit ‘em. Slapped the crap out of that baby boy bear with one mighty swing of an open paw, she hit ‘em hard. He fell backward as if a stunt man from the movies had taken the shot, ‘cept it wasn’t the movies. It was the baby bear world. It was a little girl bear talking ‘bout the law.
When that little feller got up he never looked toward the girl bear still standing over him. He ran away, not with his friends running behind him, but chasing his friends as they all ran away. Ya see, those friends of the little baby boy bear, well they started to run away just as soon as the slap made contact.
There’s no such thing as “come to the aid of your brother bear” when a little girl bear walks upright on what almost seemed to me to be a mission from God. If not a mission, then certainly a lesson to be delivered. Ya don’t tug on Superman’s Cape or push little girl bears to the brink. They’ll slap the crap out of ya.
Sugar and spice and everything nice that’ll slap ya up the side of the head. Hammers and nails and puppy dog tails with a sore head. We seen ‘em both on that hot August afternoon at Bear Country USA, Just outside Custer South Dakota.
Stay safe in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From the East Wing, Watching Hummingbirds, White Buffalos, Donkeys and Baby Bears
I wish you well,