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Mysterious intruder (08/16/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
It was a mystery – the hummingbird feeder on the ground empty every morning that one week up north. It had been filled and secured daily on a shepherd’s staff fastened to the deck railing. I would spot the hummingbirds’ return to the empty space where their kiddie cocktail had enticed them the day before. They would dangle in the sun-bathed breeze before flitting away unfulfilled.

Men being the ingenious creatures that they are, contrived to foil whatever it was that sought so aggressively a sugar high. One of the guys just happened to have a trail camera on board, used to spot deer. The apparatus automatically takes a snapshot of any movement in its scope. The camera was mounted at several angles to determine the most suitable placement. What a big production! A few eyebrows were raised by those startled by the flash as they strolled past our deck.

All systems “GO!” The ambush was set as we turned in for the night. Our campfire banter had revolved around our mystery intruder. Imaginations got somewhat carried away! There have been bears spotted in the campground, and they’ve been known to knock down and destroy a few feeders. Raccoons and a very fat squirrel in the neighborhood could be conspiring together. I had a thought; there was something strange about the way that oriole flew in close today as I sat on the deck reading. Its brilliant orange cockily flashing me and its stealthy behavior aroused suspicion. Come sunrise, the hummingbird feeder lay on the ground empty again. The trail camera was eagerly retrieved, as neighbors wandered over, coffee mugs in hand. It should be noted, the gals stayed inside peeking through obscured camper windows to mask their curiosity. Nothing! Apart from several shots of shadowy darkness, there were no beady eyes, flapping wings, orange breasts, or large, attacking beasts. Ghosts? Not practical for weathered senior citizens with somewhat sharp minds and a respectable degree of common sense. But, we all know, men will be men!

Was the issue dropped? Not by a long shot! The two male aggressors spent an impractical portion of the new day experimenting with various camera angles, finally attaching it to my golf cart.

Morning was a complete letdown! There, in the first camera shot, was Wally splashing his coffee when the flash caught him off-guard. That was followed by Esther and Kathy hamming it up with juvenile behavior. Someone’s grandkid seemed to think it was great fun to be filmed for that home video TV show. Why spoil his big moment!

Besides that, the juicer was hanging pretty as you please, full and unharmed. We were bamboozled by some unknown creature never to be identified! The camera was stored away and the hummingbirds are once again dizzy from their daily sugar highs.

Up north, the camper crowd temporarily shares the land and the lakes with the permanent dwellers. The only living organisms taken are the fish caught, and then there are rules and limits to adhere to. Since our lake seems void of loons, I heard them at long last. Early one June morning, as I was awakening to the new day, what echoed like a pair of these elusive, masterfully designed beauties passed over our camper. Thrilled, I kept my ears open the rest of the day in hopes of catching a glimpse of them through the massive oak canopy. I even tried my Katherine Hepburn loon call, the way she did in “On Golden Pond.” Pat strongly advised that the shock of it would likely scare them away permanently.

Someone saw a raccoon and a fat squirrel yesterday, hightailing it under a camper together. The hummingbirds are contented again. Possible bear tracks were sighted. Campfire mischief has gotten out of hand. Fish are biting. Loons remain elusive...and eyes and ears are open for the next great adventure.

Janet Burns lingers with the loony campers of the great north country, when not in this neck of the woods. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com. 


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