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It’s a teeny-tiny backyard, but this year we added six bird feeders, some native plants, a composter, a bird bath and a mister. Now we’ve got a bunch of regulars who visit throughout the day, including cardinals, goldfinches, chickadees, woodpeckers, purple finches, squirrels, chipmunks, butterflies and bees. And we’ve been certified by the Canadian Wildlife Federation as a wildlife-friendly backyard habitat!

I’m unemployed now, and my favourite thing is sitting in my back yard with a book and a handful of peanuts, which I pass out to all the squirrels and chipmunks who visit.

My great grandmother – my mother’s father’s mother – lived in Canada for the first few years of my life. I think she went back to Germany when I was three or four. She spoke very little English. She was short and round (everything about her was round, including her face and her glasses.) She loved to cook. She had a dachshund named Mitzi. I don’t know if any of these things I remember about her are my own memories, or just memories of photographs and things other people told me about her. But I do distinctly remember one thing. She used to sit out on the back porch and feed peanuts to the squirrels. They would come right up to her and take the peanuts out of her hand. I was so impressed by that.

I wanted desperately to feed the squirrels too, so she would park me on the back step with a peanut and tell me to sit very quietly and don’t move and wait patiently. I tried my best, but I was too little to pull it off. I’d sit there for what felt like hours, but the squirrels never trusted me the way they trusted her. (It sure made her job of babysitting me easy, though.)

Anyway. I’ve been thinking about her lately, now that the squirrels take peanuts from my hand. I think she’d have liked my back yard. I think we’d have gotten along.

12 comments to Certifiable

  • auntiemichal

    Your backyard sounds very relaxing. Do your birds spend any time there?

  • That is awesome. We’ve been told by our rental company that we are no longer allowed to feed the birds. Your great grandmother sounds awesome!

  • auntiemichal, Hi! Kazoo occasionally goes outside in her birdie backpack, either for a walk or to sit out with me in the back yard. The others don’t, mostly because there are no small cages or containers they’re comfortable going into.

    Hi Valerie. Well, that sucks. On what grounds are they prohibiting you from feeding the birds??

  • LisaRR

    Your backyard sounds great – no wonder you are making so much time to be out there.
    Enjoy the summer!

  • Oh hello! You’re back! We used to feed the birds, and occasionally other critters, but we moved into a cute townhome — not much yard to speak of! But the development pool is just 50 feet from my back door, and the neighbors have bird feeders. We got a huge kick out of seeing all the wild turkeys here last winter; we’ve lots of oaks, and turkeys love the acorns!

    • Hi Celtchick! I’m not all the way back, but I’m trying. We live in a little townhome too, with a teeny tiny backyard. It’s surprising how much wildlife can be lured into a wee backyard. (No wild turkeys yet, but we did see some out on the trails a few weeks ago, near the Wild Bird Care Centre.)

  • grace

    Can you point me to the criteria for certification? From my perch I have seen rabbits, mink, foxes, groundhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, mice and fishers. We have many birds but not as wide a variety as when in Ottawa and Carp and there are many bees at my mint garden and butterflies around my wild flowers.

    I’m so happy to se this post. I’ve missed you.

  • grace

    Also skunks! Lovely skunk families.

  • Kathleen

    Welcome back Zoom, I missed your wonderful stories. I must say you do have a lovely backyard. Looking forward to reading you blog again.

  • Deb

    Welcome back…I just decided today that I’d check and see if you were blogging again. So glad to see you writing.

    I remember Max and Maurice very well. And Oma too (round is the perfect description).