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Cindy L. Freeman – Animal Whisperer, 5/10/19

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I live with an animal whisperer. My husband talks to the wild animals that gather around our condo building, and they come to him without hesitation.

The main thing Carl misses about our former house and yard is observing and interacting with the animals: squirrels, rabbits, owls, deer, raccoons and various birds. He claimed them all as his friends. He used to sit on the deck and enjoy the wildlife. He insisted he could tell one squirrel from another, naming them William, Kate, Harry and Jake. Jake was the troublemaker who often robbed the bird feeder. Jake required regular pops from Carl’s pellet gun because his memory of the disciplinary act lasted no longer than two days.

The rabbits he named Blackie and Brownie and the owls were Hooty and Screech. Unfortunately, Blackie and Brownie and their progeny were no match for Hooty and Screech. I’ll spare you the fur-flying details. Then, there was Rocky the raccoon who visited whenever we had fish for dinner. In the evening, Rocky would show up at the edge of the woods, waiting for his culinary treat of fish skins.

Nearly every morning, Carl took the strawberry tops from our breakfast and spread them in the backyard to feed the prolific deer population. Although I didn’t appreciate sharing my flowerbeds with them, they were, after all, invited to breakfast. How were they to know my flowers and shrubs weren’t on the menu?

One night a doe gave birth in our backyard. Sometime after midnight, Carl had gotten up to watch a rocket launch when he heard what sounded like a baby’s cry. He had just stepped onto the deck to search the backyard when a meteor streaked across the sky. The next morning, we found a tiny fawn curled up on our front porch. Carl named it Shooting Star and watched over it for two days. By the third day, he wondered if the mother had lost track of her baby, especially since it had somehow made it from the backyard to the front porch. He shooed it off the porch, and it bounded into the woods. The next day, we spotted Shooting Star with its mother. So, all was well.

When we moved to our condo, Carl began to think his days of animal whispering had come to an end. No more staring contests with owls that perched on the deck lamppost right next to his head; no more squirrels arguing with him about which food was intended for them and which was for the birds; no more fawns curled up on the front porch or herds of deer waiting in our driveway to welcome us home.

One morning, Carl stepped outside the condo to fill the birdfeeder, and a wobbly newborn fawn walked up to him, sniffed him and licked his hand. They conversed for a while. Then, worried that the baby might get hit by a car, Carl led her back across the street, down the ravine and into the woods. He named her Sweetie Pie and gave her strict orders to stay away from the street. Sweetie Pie seems to have followed his directions.

Yesterday, Carl went outside to water the potted plants. Rounding the corner toward the garage he spotted two rabbits. One hopped up to him, sniffed his shoe, then looked up with large round “sad” eyes. The animal whisperer chatted with him, requesting that he not eat the tiny crop of jalapeño peppers he had planted in a pot. Then, his furry friend called to a buddy who also came for a chat. Brownie and Blackie reincarnated? I wonder.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of two award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.l.freeman.9. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com

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