Tea Time Stories
A short distance beyond the stone terrace in front of Tasha’s house where the land tilts south and the jewelweed and nettle possess the ground between lawn and woods, a population of creatures surprising in variety has taken up residence. A doe and her fawn wait out the heat of the day in the shade where the moss grows, along with several porcupines. The porcupines make their appearance at dusk, generally near the crown of the pear trees where the leaves are especially to their liking, or else in the raspberry patch where this year’s canes are on the menu. It is harder to keep porcupines out of a garden than deer.
To the north of Tasha’s house where the bee balm blooms red in the summer and beech leaves rattle in the winter wind sits the old birdfeeder. It rests atop a cedar post about six feet high, and has for many years, been the center of activity for chickadees, blue jays, and red squirrels. It was even used as a scratching post by Tasha’s one-eyed cat Minou, who preferred canned sardines to birds. The feeder is a six by fourteen-inch platform with wooden sides six inches high on each end and a glass roof, and there are even two narrow strips of wood running the length on each side to keep the birdseed from blowing away.
Some chickens are real individuals. The most notable chicken Tasha ever knew was Chickahominy. His mother was a bearded Belgium bantam that started her clutch of eggs early in spring, and failed to hatch any save one, at which point she abandoned the effort. Rescued by Tasha from the cold, and thawed atop the double boiler on the woodstove, Chickahominy soon demonstrated his penchant for woodstoves, tea, gardening, scrambled eggs, traveling and people, especially Tasha.