Sprinkler stories

After a week of no rain — something that hasn’t happened since early March — I hauled out the sprinkler for the first time this year and gave the front yard an actual watering. And, as often happens with unusual events, there was some unusual fallout.

A band of youngsters, seven or eight of them, the youngest maybe nine years old, was walking up the street on this hot (high today was 95) afternoon while I was digging a few holes in the flower bed. They didn’t see me, but they did see the sprinkler, and the absence of a sidewalk notwithstanding, they adjusted their path to make sure they got under at least one sweep.

As the last of them was getting a shower, I suddenly appeared from behind a shrub with a pair of hedge shears, the AK-47 of hand-operated gardening tools, and for one brief moment, there was palpable (if soggy) tension in the air as they waited for me to tell them to get off my damn lawn. I said nothing, and finally one of them yelled what could have been a “Thank you.” It seemed reasonable to let it go at that.

Wet jay

Meanwhile, there was an audible screech from the big elm tree out front, and it didn’t take long to determine its source: a bird who had taken up temporary sanctuary in the tree was apparently disturbed by these jets of water, perhaps because they were coming from the wrong direction. (Rain falls down, right?) With plenty of feather-ruffling, he darted from one set of branches to another, back and forth, shaking off the water and giving out with another screech about every third dart. This was, of course, impossible to photograph, since the bird was moving at high speed and water was slicing through the area almost as quickly, but I did manage to get off one halfway-decent shot, in which the irritation seems plainly visible on the bird’s countenance: that beak, I’d bet, would be digging into my shoulder blades if he’d had his way. He continued to complain until I’d called off the deluge and reeled in the hose.


  1. Tatyana »

    5 August 2007 · 12:39 pm

    You give in to easy to the forces of nature.

  2. CGHill »

    5 August 2007 · 1:05 pm

    They’re bigger than both of us, and I can’t afford to keep the Army Corps of Engineers on retainer.

    What I really need is about two extra feet of fence in the back yard, which has nothing to do with birds. :)

  3. McGehee »

    5 August 2007 · 1:32 pm

    Every so often I wonder why it seems like it’s been six years since I’ve seen a bluejay hereabouts.

    Then again, I don’t know for sure that I’ve ever seen a bluejay hereabouts, meaning in my neighborhood.

    In Sacramento we had those roundheaded scrub jays. Had to go into the mountains to find a pointy-headed Steller’s jay. In Alaska the jays were gray. So here I am living in what should be bluejay home turf, and my best bet for seeing one is still on the internet.

  4. CGHill »

    5 August 2007 · 1:55 pm

    First spring I was here, the jays took over the back yard. They set up two nests and a command post, and regularly patrolled for squirrels and stray cats and other creatures they deemed threatening or simply unworthy.

    By the next year they’d ceded control to the robins, who weren’t quite so hard-assed, and eventually something resembling anarchy set in.

  5. Gradual Dazzle »

    5 August 2007 · 11:09 pm

    Bluejays can be SO obnoxious!! They’re like the squirrels of the bird-world, in my opinion. LOL

  6. CGHill »

    6 August 2007 · 7:07 am

    But they can be cowed. I remember a back-yard incident in which two jays were surrounded by a platoon of robins; the jays eventually flew off as slowly as they possibly could, probably muttering something under their breath.

    There was a woodpecker across the street who maintained (in a couple of senses of the word) his perch for weeks before moving on; not even the starlings (we have a few of those) would mess with him.

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