Some days in early fall when being in the sun will actually feel good can be so peaceful. One such day I watched the neighbor's horse - I call her "Black Beauty" because of her charcoal gray coat and white mark on her forehead - relaxing in the sun. She lay flat on what was probably warm dirt and grass. She stayed that way so long I began to worry, but then I saw her head lift, and soon after, "Black Beauty" got to her feet and shook dust from her coat.
The two calves in the pasture seen from my front porch spend hours resting, probably sleeping and chewing cud. Usually they pick a shady place, but lately I've seen them lie in the sunny grass. Even a butterfly in the backyard seemed to be relaxed as it flapped and coasted, flapped and coasted, over the ground. A male cardinal, bright red and easy to see, soaked in a water dish as though no hawks existed on this peaceful day.
Are you feeling relaxed yet? Observing these creatures on a peaceful day certainly lowered my stress. I sat on the front porch and sighed. How quiet the day felt. Then-some blue jays, which appear to be flocking together and vocalizing more than in the summer, began racketing about in the trees nearby. Their loud screeching jangled my nerve endings. Every other time when I've heard this kind of noise coming from blue jays I wasn't in view of the birds. I always thought a hawk had grabbed an unlucky jay. I'd rush out and look for feathers. Now I know why I never found any. Two blue jays fighting with each other make that kind of distress call-a kind of scared complaint. This time I observed the scrapping jays lash at each other with wings, claws and beaks, only breaking apart when they hit the ground and then flew away.
Often I've heard a similar kind of sound, a scared, fussy, scolding, made by squirrels. Hawks, snakes, owls, cats, always played the part of villain in my mind. From my place on the porch I saw the cause, at least in this case, of the sounds. A squirrel, for some reason evident only to its rodent brain, jumped out of a tree onto another squirrel walking on the ground. This did not look like an amorous advance-I've seen those before-this appeared more like aggression, a fight that broke up the peace of the day.
Blue jays, squirrels-what next? If I hadn't already let go of my vision of peace, I finally did when I watched one cardinal, a female this time, chase another female cardinal away from the water dishes. "Be nice to each other." That's what I tell my two parakeets when they get to fussing at each other. I said the same thing to these two cardinals, probably siblings, as I observed them from my spot at the kitchen window. They ignored me.
Beside observing the peaceful, disruptive back and forth of animals around my home, I've continued to check the wood for new fall plants. On my last walk, I found more types of yellow aster. The one kind favors the section of wood where mature turkey oak and young longleaf pine grow. Another common weed of sandhills called wireweed has pretty white pink clusters of flowers. I also found a few lopsided indiangrass flowers just beginning to emerge from their stems. A catbird, or perhaps more than one, made peevish meow noises at me from brushy areas. Some of these slim gray birds will spend winter with us. Until next time, good observing.