Feast for the Animals


Just a bit of moonlight peeked into our house early Christmas morning. Hubby John Carter made my morning with this bee-yoo-tee-ful glass ornament!

Wowza! And slippers and a garden raven and lots of strong coffee and morning hugs. Lucky me! Early afternoon, when the sun was bright an cold, son Johnny and granddaughter Taylor came by for Christmas dinner. Taylor wore her new reindeer outfit, but we all thought she looked more lambish than deer-ish…

Well, our Christmas meal was a couple of hours away. Just enough time for us to get our Christmas dinner for the animals ready! Taylor and I made up canvas bags of apples, eggs, peanuts, sunflower seeds, carrots, and nut crunchies. We loaded the bags in the car and headed down to the creek trail where we often go walking with Mazel Tov. “Come on, Mazzie!”

“Come on, Taylor!”

While we walked, we talked about what kind of animals would appreciate the meal. “Who will eat the eggs?” asked Taylor.

“Raccoons and possums and skunks, for sure.” I answered. “Oh, and crows and jays, too.”

“Who will eat these apples?” she said.

“Everybody! The deer will love them, but even the mice and voles will appreciate them. The squirrels, too.” We walked the main path until we came to a deer path leading off into the forest. Ducking beneath the bare wild grape vines, we followed the narrow winding trail into the woods. Finally, we came to a small clearing on a bluff overlooking the creek. Ferns brushed against our legs. Through the trees, sun came tumbling down on us in shafts of soft light.

“This looks like a good place to me,” I said, setting down my bag of apples. “Let’s open all these bags up, so we can all grab handfuls of good food and place it here and there for whoever comes calling.”

“Wow, this is a lot of food! I hope all the animals are hungry!” said Taylor. Mazel came over to supervise, but found nothing he wanted to eat. His dinner would be waiting at home.

“Okay,” said Taylor, “Now what do we do?”

“Well, if you were an animal, where do you think you might go looking for food? Just let your imagination lead you,” I said, and off she went with eggs, apples, and seeds. John Carter gloved up (in his brand new Christmas gloves), grabbed a large share of treats, and headed off the trail…

I think that Taylor knew exactly where to go. I knew just where to go when I was seven, too. I lost my way a bit when I got older, but when I’m in the woods, I always know exactly where I am. Watching her, I remembered my favorite poem by David Wagoner:

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

May all creatures have enough to eat, a warm and safe place to sleep, and enough of the stuff of life to nourish them through the cold moons. Blessed Be.

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