“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Mother Teresa, Christian, humanitarian
It may have something to do with having an old house with many nooks and crannies. Somehow, I have come to not only terms with other species sharing the space we call home, I’ve learned to enjoy them.
It’s not difficult at all to enjoy a neighbor’s small tabby, the one who makes figure eights in and out of our ankles during the weekly pruning session in the cottage garden. She slinked up and startled one of our daughters to do this just last night, to the extent our daughter was happy to put down her shears and spend a half hour twitching leaves in front of wee Phoebe’s determined paw.
There’s the chipmunk that has been living in the garden and garage for several years. We could trap her. We’ve done as much with other rodents that shall not be named. But, we’ve chosen to live with a chipmunk. It’s just the way it is. She’s remarkably tidy and doesn’t do harm, well, not much harm. One winter, she shredded my husband’s bicycle seat to pad a nest that we were never able to discover.
There is the occasional bird’s nest on the porch rafters or in the Boston ferns. One family of sparrows returns every year to a tiny cavity in our box gutters. Occasionally, one doesn’t make it out. That happened this year. There was a frantic scratching, then silence, then the scent of death. Our mixed-species dwelling is joyful, but it isn’t a fairy tale.
Most surprising is the tolerance I’ve developed for spiders. I still turn spiders found, say, in the bathtub when it is morning and I’m not wearing my glasses yet into nothing more than a dusty streak. In the garden, however, they have free reign.
One spider spent all of June living in our Boston fern, the same one that was home to a finch nest earlier in the season. We developed an understanding of sorts. When it was time to water the fern, I’d tap the container and start watering elsewhere. He or she then retracted any web that was stretched out between the fronds and hunkered down. I’d return, water the fern and, later in the morning, the web would be back. I would not have believed such a thing was possible had I not seen it for myself.
So it goes. We share this space, these tiny creatures and our family. Some of us holding deeds. Some of us holding gossamer. All of us made by God. All of us holding hope.