I've always considered myself to be a friend of nature.
Love to be outdoors. Hiking, biking, gardening. Observing and appreciating the little woodland creatures. (Well, not all of them. I never could figure out mosquitoes, except for frog food. It is my considered opinion that the only two of God's creatures that provide absolutely no benefit to humanity are mosquitoes and supermodels.)
That was then; this is now.
We moved to Moon in 2006 and my love of nature has diminished in inverse proportion to the huge rise in taxes out here.
I used to chuckle to myself when I'd read about the fine burghers of Fox Chapel trying to be able, legally, to pop a cap in a deer's, uh, hind ends. C'mon, how could you shoot Bambis, they're so cute?
Let me tell you something. If deer had been indigenous to ancient Egypt, they would have replaced locusts among the Ten Plagues.
My neighbors have 14 arborvitae trees standing like sentries guarding their swimming pool. Bambi and friends have eaten all 14! But only to "nose height." So the trees look like 14 giant green lollipops, full and fuzzy on top, and sticks beneath. And my wife has hung so many anti-deer devices in all our vegetation that if they could light up, it would look like Christmas all year 'round at our house.
And we have lots of cute, little doggies in this neighborhood. You just want to hug and squeeze them, they're so cuddly!
In fact, the two across the street have taken quite a shine to my mailbox post. Now, of course they have their own post. A nice affair, good and sturdy. But apparently mine has that certain je ne sais quoi that makes lifting a leg so much more enjoyable. I guess the grass is always greener ... except around the bottom of the post, if you catch my drift.
And Moon crows, such epicures. I have been to the National Aviary on the North Side many times and you know what they never told me? They never told me that the crows in Moon know when you've had chicken wings for dinner.
Yeah, we'll have some wings, seal the scraps in double-thickness Glad bags, place them in another tightly tied, big bag on Thursday night for pickup Friday morning.
And before the garbage guys get there, a convention of crows comes and pecks holes through the bags and pulls them out. (Yes, I know a bunch of crows is called a "murder of crows." Probably the guy who named it was inspired by having his garbage bags pecked every blessed time!) And then they thoughtfully scatter the bones all over the yard. Apparently, no vegans among the crow set.
I read a statistic in Audubon Magazine that every year in America, over 100 million birds die from smashing into windows. May I possibly nominate one more?
I have one of the stupidest birds ever to have been feathered perched each morning in a tree outside my living room window. A cardinal. Stupid. Low-watt bulb. Held back in bird school.
He looks at his reflection, and then he starts to bob and weave and get that "You want a piece of me, punk?" look. It's like two hockey players circling each other and saying, "You wanna go?" Then he smashes into the window, trying to get at the creep.
I know they're territorial, but if that were any creature with an IQ higher than 5, wouldn't it figure out eventually that smashing your face into a hard, unforgiving surface over and over is really, really stupid? But not cardinals. Nope. They keep doing it. With them it's always a case of, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"
So I am no longer a friend of nature. I intend to swear out a restraining order mandating a 500-foot radius around my property where no animal of any sort is permitted.
I just need to find a sympathetic judge. Preferably one that lives in Fox Chapel.
James F. Cataldi of Moon, a retired dentist, can be reached at email@example.com. The PG Portfolio welcomes "Local Dispatch" submissions and other reader essays. Send your writing to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Portfolio, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh PA 15222. Editor Gary Rotstein may be reached at 412-263-1255.