My grandmother, whom we all called “Ba,” was a magnet for animals of all kinds. The birds were her favorites; she kept them fed all through the hard winter months.
She and my grandfather lived in a house with a large meadow behind it, and for years she kept a large vegetable garden and several flower gardens. Many’s the time I saw birds fly around her head when she was gardening, and once I saw a doe lay its beautiful head on her shoulder.
One time a skunk got its head stuck in a glass peanut butter jar; it had been trying to lick the last bit of the peanut butter from of the bottom of the jar.
As it frantically bumped and bumbled around, Ba stepped out on the landing and said, ‘go to the stone wall, and knock the jar against the stones, and you’ll be free.’ Behold and lo, it did just that. It stopped to finish up the last of the peanut butter on the bottom piece of glass, then ran off into the woods.
Once when a hawk flew into Ba’s shed and got caught in there, she walked in and tried to move the basket that had fallen on it.
The hawk screeched at her, and she said, “oh, stop your noise; you’re as safe as if you were in God’s back pocket.”
She moved the basket, and off flew the hawk, uninjured except perhaps for his pride. That was a saying she often used when dealing with birds or animals. It was as if they could understand her, because they calmed down, and let her help them.
I like to think that in some ways I take after Ba. I too now feed birds, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, stray cats, and lately, a big woodchuck whom we call “Fat Bottom Charlie.”
Just the other night the Crankee Yankee found that a baby skunk had gotten into the temporary enclosure he made in the driveway to hold the snowblower, lawnmower, tools, etc. We could hear the poor thing bawling in there, trying to find his way out.
So the Crankee Yankee opened the door back a few inches, and we placed a bowl of kibble in front of it to entice the baby out. A few minutes later, I checked on him, and there he was; busily and happily crunching up kibble. When he had eaten his fill, he toddled off to the back yard to his home and family.
I think of Ba to this day; of her gentleness, kindness, generosity and love of all creatures. When I am worried or afraid about something, I hear that phrase in my head: “you’re as safe as if you were in God’s back pocket.”