My Studio Neighbors

#General #Nature
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Excerpt olitude! Where under trees and sky shall you find it? The more solitary the recluse and the more confirmed and grounded his seclusion, the wider and more familiar becomes the circle of his social environment, until at length, like a very dryad of old, the birds build and sing in his branches and the "wee wild beasties" nest in his pockets. If he fails to be aware of the fact, more's the pity. His desolation is within, not without, in spite of, not because of, his surroundings. Here in my country studio—not a hermitage, 'tis true, but secluded among trees, some distance isolated from my own home and out of sight of any other—what company! What occasional "tumultuous privacy" is mine! I have frequently been obliged to step out upon the porch and request a modulation of hilarity and a more courteous respect for my hospitality. But this is evidently entirely a matter of point of view, and, judging from the effects of my protests at such times, my assumed superior air of condescension is apparently construed as a huge joke. If the resultant rejoinder of wild volapük and expressive pantomime has any significance, it is plain that I am desired to understand that my exact status is that of a squatter on contested territory. There are those snickering squirrels, for instance! At this moment two of them are having a rollicking game of tag on the shingled roof—a pandemonium of scrambling, scratching, squealing, and growling—ever and anon clambering down at the eaves to the top of a blind and peeping in at the window to see how I like it. A woodchuck is perambulating my porch—he was a moment ago—presumably in renewed quest of that favorite pabulum more delectable than rowen clover, the splintered cribbings from the legs of a certain pine bench, which, up to date, he has lowered about three inches—a process in which he has considered average rather than symmetry, or the comfort of the too trusting visitor who happens to be unaware of his carpentry. The drone of bees and the carol of birds are naturally an incessant accompaniment to my toil—at least, in these spring and summer months. The tall, straight flue of the chimney, like the deep diapason of an organ, is softly murmurous with the flurry of the swifts in their afternoon or vesper flight. There is a robin's nest close by one window, a vireo's nest on a forked dogwood within touch of the porch, and continual reminders of similar snuggeries of indigo-bird, chat, and oriole within close limits, to say nothing of an ants' nest not far off, whose proximity is soon manifest as you sit in the grass—and immediately get up again. Fancy a wild fox for a daily entertainment! For several days in succession last year I spent a half-hour observing his frisky gambols on the hillside across the dingle below my porch, as he jumped apparently for mice in the sloping rowen-field. How quickly he responded to my slightest interruption of voice or footfall, running to the cover of the alders! The little red-headed chippy, the most familiar and sociable of our birds, of course pays me his frequent visit, hopping in at the door and picking up I don't know what upon the floor. A barn-swallow occasionally darts in through the open window and out again at the door, as though for very sport, only a few days since skimming beneath my nose, while its wings fairly tipped the pen with which I was writing. The chipmonk has long made himself at home, and his scratching footsteps on my door-sill, or even in my closet, is a not uncommon episode....
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