Nancy Roman

Communing With Nature

I spent an hour sunbathing today.

Of course, I wasn’t really sunbathing. I’ve always been rather careful about my skin, since, although I am a natural brunette (not any more, but, you know…), I am also naturally pretty pale. But I was treated a while back for a keratosis (precancerous skin lesion) on the bridge of my nose, and I have a sweet, smart young friend undergoing treatment right now for a more serious skin condition. So please – be careful, wear sunscreen, and see a doctor right away for anything that doesn’t seem right. (That’s the end of seriousness for today… but don’t forget, okay?)

So I was enjoying a warm sunny day slathered in SPF.  Still, though, I call it sunbathing, since I was enjoying the sun and I was also doing what could be termed ‘practicing’ in case I should ever have another opportunity to visit a clothing-optional beach.

I was reading on my Kindle. Originally, I had big doubts about whether I would like Kindle-reading. I love physical books. Paper and Print. But to my surprise, I also love my Kindle. All those books in one little package. And I can read it clearly even in the bright sun. I do WISH someone (Are you listening, Amazon?) would pay me for endorsements. Then I would REALLY love my Kindle.

It was perfectly quiet, and I guess because I was so still and ‘au naturel’, Nature decided to pay me a visit.

First was a bird. A medium size bird, medium brown. I’ve just checked Sibley’s Field Guide to Birds, but as usual, Sibley is no help unless you already know what you’re looking for. I can eliminate ducks and hawks and turkeys – and non-brown birds like cardinals and bluejays, but everybody else looks pretty much the same. I guess he could have been some kind of thrush, but I found a bird that’s brightly colored in maturity but brown in youth. A dickcissel. It’s mostly found on prairies, and I live in New England, but with a fabulous name like that, how can I NOT think it was a dickcissel?


An immature dickcissel

So, Dick flutters right over and lands on the back of a chair near me. As a matter of fact, I sat in that very chair while having coffee in the morning. But I moved pretty quickly when I noticed that hornets were flying in and out of the joint between the seat and the driver’s side leg.

Patio chair / Hornet house

Patio chair / Hornet house

Dick regarded me with a casual disinterest.

I wanted to address him in his own language so I gave him a little whistle. I’m not much of a whistler.

Dick answered back in his own language. He was not much of a whistler either. What he said was “tschik…tschik’ – which is totally consistent with a dickcissel, by the way.

I decided to try English. I told him that he wasn’t all that bad looking, and by the way, there were hornets in that chair. “Hornets are delicious,” I said.

Dick said, “tschik, tschik,” which in this case I believe meant, “Nice try.” He lifted his tail, plopped out a little poop, and flew off.

Proving that he was an immature dickcissel.

I returned to my book.

Not five minutes later a chubby chipmunk came by.

I think his name was Phillip. He certainly looked like chubby Phillip who sat next to me in third grade.

Chipmunks have only two speeds. Zippy fast or dead stop. So Phillip zipped by my feet and halted.

I tried his language. “Tschik, tschik,” I said. But apparently that was Dick’s vocabulary, not Phillip’s.

English is so much better for communing with nature. Human beings don’t speak any other Species, but all animals understand English. Just watch any cartoon on Saturday morning. Chipmunks, birds, dinosaurs – they are all bilingual. It’s like English is their first language or something.

“Hi there,” I said. “I see you partook of the feast of sunflower seeds and other yummy things we put out this winter.”

Phillip stood on his hind legs and sneered at me. He sneered. A chipmunk sneer.

I didn’t need a chipmunk translator to get his drift.

But I’ll translate for you.

Phillip said:

Who are you kidding? The feast WE put out this winter? Your husband put out all the goodies. The only thing YOU put out was that white-and-black cat, which is like putting Godzilla into Chipmunk Tokyo. Just because your name is on the mailbox doesn’t mean you can take credit for the snacks. I may be a chipmunk but I’m not claiming I sang “Christmas Don’t Be Late.” 

He gave me the finger with his tail, so to speak, and zipped off.

I’m sure he was just cranky because I mentioned his weight.



  1. joeythebuddhist

    such a beautiful shot


  2. I like to take the backroads home from work, which wind through the countryside. Today, though, it was like a suicide squad out there. Two squirrels, three chippies, and two things that looked like beavers (probably ground hogs or possums or something) all ran in front of my car. So I yelled at them out the window. LIke they understood me. “Get off the road, you morons!” Maybe I should have tried tschik tschik…


    • Yeah, I brake a lot where I live. Chipmunks especially have that superiority complex that makes them sure they can outrun a car. Deer hesitate, which makes you think they won’t leap out in front of you, and then they do. Assholes.


  3. Nancy, sometimes, like tonight, you really crack me up.


    • One of my pleasures in life is to crack you up, Elyse.


      • Consider yourself indulged, then!


  4. Ray G

    Have you noticed the similarity in size, and coloration, of your two visitors? Perhaps they were a “team” sent to please/joke on you?


    • Or point out that Brunette is ok?


      • Ray G

        Yeah, that also.


  5. I love books too and was resistant to the Kindle. I got it as a xmas gift a few years back and love it now, too. It’s great for vacations: I can take a bunch of books with me in one handy little tablet. But mine must be older model, it’s hard to read in bright sun. I think Dick and Philip, or distant relatives, have passed through my yard. Roger Rabbit lives in my garden! Thanks for the laugh.


    • Kindle Paperwhite – very good in bright light. We only see rabbits once in a while. The deer are everywhere – especially in our vegetable garden.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I like to “speak” to (and for) animals as well, whether it be our sweet bulldog or other cute creatures. Pretty sure my in-laws think I’m weird, but I grew up with my mom and sister doing it so, old habit. 🙂


    • Yes, I have conversations with every animal I see, and I do both parts. (I think everyone does that…. it’s not weird.. is it?)


      • It’s weird if you don’t, right?


  7. I talk to all the animals that come into my yard – birds, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, raccoons (even the skunk, although I encourage him to keep moving). I even give some of them names. “Cheeky”, for example, is a black squirrel who comes right up to the door and looks in when she wants something to eat; if I ignore her, she climbs the screen to get my – or the cats’ – attention; I feed her stale cookies and peanut butter sandwiches. I worry that when we move in a couple of years, they won’t know why the free handouts have stopped (can you put in a condition of sale that the new owners have to feed the wildlife?!?!?!)


    • You absolutely need to have new owners sign an animal-snacking contract. We once had a replacement mail carrier who was being swarmed by all the neighborhood dogs – one neighbor finally clued him in that the previous mailman kept dog treats in his pocket.


  8. I love birds, chipmunks and the Kindle. An avid reader, I thought I’d reject it but grew fond quickly. I love that I can travel and take 250 books with me. BTW, your sunbathing exploits make me want to try going in the buff myself. Must be relaxing… as long as the lawn crew doesn’t show up!


    • Ha! No lawn or pool boys (although that would be interesting.) Our yard is very very private. But I keep a big towel handy, just in case.


  9. Those were the neighbor’s pets. Didn’t you notice the tiny cameras around their necks which were uploading photos directly to the internet? BTW you looked great!


  10. Lovely little chap, reminds me of our sparrows and yellowhammers here in the UK.
    I’m always talking to the birds, ducks, swans, geese, blackbirds, moorhens. The ducks understand me when I tell them to ‘Go clean my boat!’ as the four of them swim off in our direction, and the swans don’t get all aggressive and bring me their babies to show off. I’ve got names for the regulars.
    We had a swallow come flying in under our bow cover, hover flappingly at the bow door and then fly out again.
    On previous walks in the woods I’d also talk to the bees, and on one occasion a bee flew past my head in the high street and I said ‘Hello Mr Bee!’ and the guy in front of me turned round and said Hello back!!


    • We are all sharing the same space. It is the neighborly thing to do to say hello.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I so love those moments when life slows down enough to allow us to really see & hear nature. Love the conversation you had with these two beings, I am sure you were talked about at the dinner table!


  12. Hi Nancy – after a sleepless night, well sleep was very elusive (and if they gave gold medals for sleeping I would get one) the first post I opened was this one. Thanks for a fun start to the day.


  13. Try humming a Disney tune next time. Always worked for those princesses.


  14. I’m smiling because you like both paper books AND your e-reader. I get so tired of the arguments over which is better. BOTH have their happy place in my home.


  15. Ahhh! Your sense of humor makes me smile!!! (And thanks for the reminder about sunblock. My daughter is a mylanoma survivor!!) Smiles your way!


    • Yea for sunblock. I love the sun but that doesn’t mean I should ruin my skin or risk my health.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hilarious! You have given your wild visitors human voices and characteristics and your conversations are fit for an adult Disney comic book. 🙂 Maybe you could do a series?


    • You mean those little critters didn’t actually say that?


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