Delbert Earle's Perfect Yard

It is a warm Spring afternoon, the kind you can have here in the Carolinas even before the first of May. 

My friend Delbert Earle is sitting at his kitchen table, next to the window that looks out on the back yard.  He can feel the warm breeze on his face, smell the scent of nature budding and bursting, all full of herself. 

He can hear the chattering of bird couples, fussing with each other over their redecorating plans:  “Shall we put the twig here?”  “No, silly, over there.”

            Every once in awhile, Delbert Earle leans toward the window and calls out, “Green side up!”  His boy Elrod is planting sod in the back yard.

            “Aw, Daddy,” Elrod calls back in disgust.

            Delbert Earle laughs.  Even Elrod cannot diminish his feeling of well-being this Spring afternoon.  This will be the year Delbert Earle has the perfect yard.

            Only fescue and ornamentals will sprout from his ground.

            Chickweed and crabgrass will move down the street for the summer.

            It will rain every third day – a warm, gentle rain.

            And Wal-Mart will run their best fertilizer on constant special.

            There will be no leaks in the garden hose, no pigeons in the eaves, no fungus in the photinia.

            The lawnmower will crank every time on the third pull.

            And the day the “Yard of the Month” committee shows up in front of Delbert Earle’s house, everything will be lush and green and exploding with color.

            As Delbert Earle ponders horticultural perfection, he can almost hear the song of the turtle-dove out in the yard where Elrod is planting sod.

            “Green side up!” he calls again – the call of the American Dreamer.

            After all, what’s Spring for, anyway?

My Bird Can Whip Your Bird

Spring: a time of awakening, blossoming beauty, rebirth, possibility…and combat. 

There’s the male cardinal who’s assaulting my house.  I came downstairs one morning to make coffee and heard him bashing himself against the breakfast room window.  “Good Lord,” I said to my good wife, “he’s trying to get into the house.  I wonder if he wants a cup?”  But a friend set me straight: it’s mating season, and the cardinal is fighting what he assumes to be a rival – in truth, just his own reflection in the glass.  This fellow is profoundly territorial, defending his turf, making sure he’s the sole beneficiary of his lady friend’s affections.  He’s been at it for more than a month.  So has the cardinal in the glass.  I give them both an “A” for  persistence.

Then there’s the aerial combat I witnessed – a flock of crows chasing a single hawk.  They came in across a valley, a dozen crows clustered around the hawk, slashing in to the attack.  The hawk was by far the biggest bird in the melee, but the crows made up for their lack of size with numbers and daring.  The hawk was clearly in flight, getting the worst of it.

It was easy to imagine what had happened.  The hawk had gone hunting, as hawks will do, and happened upon a nest.  “Ah, eggs for breakfast!  Make mine raw.”  The crows had risen to the defense, as crows will do.  It was nature at her purest and most basic -- both savage and beautiful. 

The writer in me has an attack of imagination.  There’s a bird bar and grill – beer on tap, a good band, a billiard table, a baseball game on the wide-screen TV.  There’s this male cardinal and a bunch of crows sitting around a table -- drinking,  smoking cigars, and telling war stories.  The cardinal is bragging about how he kicks his rival’s fanny daily.

“You have to do this every day?” asks one of the crows.

“Yeah, the guy just won’t give up.  But I tell ‘ya, he ain’t been near my nest.”

“Well, our hawk ain’t been back.  When we chase ‘em off, they stay chased off.  You need help with that cardinal?”

“Nah, I got it under control.”

The crows exchange knowing smiles, but they don’t tell the cardinal what’s what.  They just let him keep bragging and buying the beer. 


Robert Inman’s novels are available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo e-readers.