Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is the City. Nature is supposed to stay away.

I suppose this is the problem when you've got a pops who used to grow up on a farm and has a green thumb. Even if you live in smoggy, congested Los Angeles, you're going to have a little bit of a farmer's paradise in the backyard. It's a necessary evil. Thanks to my father, we have avocados, plums, figs, persimmons, pineapples, chilies, lemons, oranges, tomatoes, jalapenos, and God knows what else growing behind our house, which, I have to admit, can be very nice.

It attracts a lot of wildlife to our backyard that we normally wouldn't see in the city, and it's not uncommon to see a menagarie of birds and squirrels in our trees, fighting to get to the fruit before we can.

This morning, however, I got a close encounter of the natural kind that was both breathtaking and frightening.

Running late, I was jogging into the backyard to go to the backhouse for a frozen meal for lunch. We do this because our freezer in our REGULAR house is stuffed, and so any frozen meals get regulated to my grandmother's freeezr because she has the room (I know. It's fascinating.). On my way, I passed underneath the avocado tree, and was startled when I heard the massive flutter of wings and branches above me.

I glanced up and stopped dead in my tracks. On the lowest branch, no more than four feet above me, I was staring straight at a hawk. A huge hawk. A beautiful, majestic bird of prey.

Hawk in Los Angeles - Urban

"Oh my God," I found myself breathing out loud. "You're a long way from home, aren't you?"

Immediately, I backed away, and scrambled into my house for my camera (Because I'm a geek, and the first thing I thought was, 'This is SO going in my blog!'), but when I returned, the bird was nowhere to be found.

Saddened, I began to circle the avocado tree, and stopped short when I came across a mess of feathers and flesh on the ground. I glanced up, and again, on the lowest branch, I discovered the picked over, freshly eaten carcass of a pigeon, feet attached.

Bird of Prey

Naturally, I took pictures. There's something wrong with me.

But it was at that time when I heard the jingle of a collar, and I looked back to the house and realized my Chihuahua had followed me out.

My little chihuahua. Who, at 6 pounds, is a fat chihuahua, and yet, still no bigger than a pigeon.


"Oh..." I breathed. "Crap."

This is the problem. My dog is an indoor dog, but she absolutely LOVES the backyard. She loves to sit out there and sun herself, to bark at squirrels and birds, and every morning she goes out first thing to take care of business.

Because the backyard is closed off from everything, at times we just let her roam out there with Lucy, our poodle.

Finding a hawk in our backyard is the equivalent of discovering a serial killer in your kid's playground.

Thalia went about her business, and I stepped up the search, walking around my backyard in my work clothes (a snazzy sweater and black pants with Harley boots, cause I like to keep it real) and my camera, and moved over to where my dog was peeing, and glanced up.

Sure enough, there was the beautiful, dangerous, killer bird, cocking it's head and looking down with interest at the fat teeny dog moving happily around.

I reached up and with a flash, took a picture. It took offense, and with a graceful expanse of its wings, soared above us over the backhouse and out of the yard.

Concerned about the potential horrible death my dog would face should the hawk decide it was an easy meal, I gave my dad a call on my cell phone and related the news. His response?

"Oh. So that's what's been killing the birds. I thought it was the cats."

Reassuring, Dad. Reassuring.

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