Monday, April 24, 2023

Wasps and Doves

There's English Ivy growing on the front of my home, and I was cutting it back this morning.  Not killing it, which I probably should, given that it's aggressive and invasive and all, but I can't quite bring myself to eradicate it down to the roots.  I love the look of it, our windows poking out of hobbit hole greenery, the hard brick frontage of our rambler softened and organic with photosynthesizing leaves.  Having made that fools choice, I am resigned to knocking it back two or three times during the growing season.  

So I was up on a ladder, my battery powered hedgetrimmer clattering away in my hands, when I startled a dove.  I've startled other ivy dwelling critters while cutting it back before, most notably a fierce tribe of yellowjackets a few years back.  That encounter left me stung a half dozen times, as the merciless little devils chased me around the yard.  I retaliated, of course, finding their subterranean lair the next day and nuking it from orbit.  Yellowjackets are intrinsicly warlike monsterlings, neither trifling nor to be tolerated.

The dove had waited, frozen, until I was right on top of her, then exploded away from her nest in a whistling flurry of wings.  I startled, of course, and pulled back from the nest.

There, on the ground just a few meters away, the dove did all she could to draw my attention.  She fluttered feebly on the sidewalk path, feigning injury.  Look, look at me, I'm so weak, you can kill me instead, come catch and eat me, she was saying, putting herself in peril that her brood might be saved.  It's an instinctive behavior, just part of being a dove, and it's as much a part of her as stinging murderous aggression is part of yellowjacket nature.

Being of a species prone to sentiment when we're not blindly destroying everything around us, I was touched by the gentleness of it.

No attack, no making of war, nothing but an effort to distract this pink hairless primate and his clattering blade machine away from her precious eggs.

"Oh, dear heart," I muttered, smiling.  "It's gonna be fine.  Your babies will be fine."

Which they were, as I took more care in the trimming.