By Phyllis Galowitz

I can see his pointy snout and bright eyes peering over the step to the porch. He looks around cautiously. He sees me looking at him through the glass doors but I guess he doesn’t consider me a threat, so up he comes, his big bushy tail arched up and over his back. This gray squirrel knows that breakfast is waiting for him. The black-capped chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers are at the feeder, carelessly showering sunflower seeds down to the floor as they peck away happily. The gray squirrel slithers round and round the large planter that holds the pole that holds the feeders. He’s like my DustBuster®, his snout vacuuming the seeds as they fall. Soon, his slightly smaller mate appears. She looks at him. He turns menacingly to her. “ This is my territory”, he says, as he leaps at her, and she runs away. He chases her around the yard, under bushes, up and down hills, and finally she climbs into the branches of a tree. He goes back to his breakfast.


Black-capped chickadee, alone at last, at  the feeder

Now he bravely decides to master the pole. Up he goes, and attaches his claws to the wire cage of the feeder, his tail forming a collar around its base. He settles into a comfortable position and leisurely devours half of the seeds in the feeder. The birds have scattered to a nearby tree, where they watch and wait for him to leave.

Mahler’s Ninth Symphony is on the record player (Yes, some people do still use them!) in the living room. The music seems to keep the rhythm of the birds’ flying and the squirrel’s movements.

It’s my favorite time of the day: breakfast with Alan, watching this daily performance. It changes with the seasons. This past summer, there was no feeder because it would tempt the black bears, but there were plenty of good things to eat in the garden and many creatures to amuse us. The hummingbirds and chipmunks and butterflies each have their dance.

This has been an unusual January. There should be snow on the ground. Maybe it will come tonight. The juncos like to wiggle their bottoms in the snow. I haven’t figured out what that’s all about.

The summer before last, I did leave the bird feeders out. A big, black bear, meandered up onto the porch and saw us having our dinner in the kitchen, on the other side of the glass doors. Luckily, he was not impressed with what was on the table. He just turned around and ambled down the hill to my neighbor’s house. I never seem to have my camera ready at such momentous times but that picture will remain in my head forever. We’ve lost a few feeders to the bears and by now I’ve learned my lesson.

Breakfast is finished for us and for the birds. It’s time to close the curtain and get on with our day.  ~