I usually cut through the edge of the park on my way to Safeway. It’s an ever-so-slight shortcut down some steps and a long a little gravel path that takes me past the windmill and deposits me at the crosswalk directly across from the store parking lot.
I like it because the path is flanked on either side with big trees and sheltered from the wind, and often there’s nobody there. It’s a nice little flavor of a nature walk too. I saw a prairie dog a week or two ago.
I saw a prairie dog here a few days ago. I heard movement in the undergrowth off the path, so I stopped to look. I watched the end of a small low-hanging branch being tugged insistently down a hole. It was still attached, so it resisted being pulled down, just the tip of it. I crept closer to watch, curious. Eventually the branch was released, revealing a small hole in the ground, and as I stepped closer still, careful to move slowly and without sounds, a little face appeared in the hole, teeth first: big yellow rodent teeth. Then he lowered his face to look at me. A little prairie dog. And then he was gone.
Recently, on my way back from Safeway I was greeted on the ground by a raven who came fairly close to me, giving me this skittish but expectant look. It’s funny because, while I’ve thrown peanuts to ravens on the beach and on our windowsill at home, I’ve never interacted with any ravens here, though there have been ravens around many times when I’ve been pacing circles around that little path on phone calls to my parents.
Did he recognize me? How would he know to expect anything from me?
I put my groceries down and started rooting around for some sort of loose food item to give him, because I never seem to remember to bring peanuts with me on my trips to Safeway. The raven stayed, watching me, and a second raven fluttered down a few feet away. They both watched me and didn’t fly away, even when other people passed us on the gravel path, giving us curious looks.
I didn’t have much to offer, so I tossed the raven a strawberry. I’m not sure if he was impressed with it, because he took it, and then I think he put it back down. The two ravens watched me as I gathered up my groceries and retreated into the woods.
And then today, on my way to Safeway again, at my parky shortcut I encountered two ravens waiting for me, one on either rail on the steps leading down to the path. How funny. I have really got to start remembering to bring peanuts with me!