At first I thought it was a bird. Just a shadowy movement beneath the fall-dying sage, a shape that darted forward cautiously, then back behind a rock. But I knew it wasn’t a bird. Birds don’t move backward.
The binoculars threw it into sharp relief. A pocket gopher, who kept a careful eye on my cat crouched behind the patio door watching him as well. The digger’s nose pushed a small mound of finely sifted garden soil ahead, and then with a curious pounce he would flatten it. The next push would be to the opposite side, almost as a prisoner carving a tunnel blends in the dirt to hide evidence of the digging.
I must have watched for a half an hour as the mound gradually grew in a semicircle about the rock. Then all activity froze, and into my binocular’s eyeview rose the velociraptor shape of a roadrunner. Setting each clawed foot precisely, his long beak shifted back and forth, methodically seeking out what he sensed was there.
I was torn. To save the gopher who was destroying my garden, to chase off the predator? I waited, joined by my near motionless cat, her tail twitching just at end tip. But neither of us was as quiet as the gopher, just out of reach of the questing beak.
And then the roadrunner vanished, as suddenly as he had appeared. The gopher resumed his digging and yet another Dutch iris bulb disappeared, harvested neatly from below. Its small finger of winter growth vanished beneath the dirt as I watched.
When I was a little girl, I would trail after my dad at the farm watching him plant seed corn in the spring. He always told me to plant enough to feed the birds, as well as for our own harvest.
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