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Bud's View: 'Rear Window' revisited

In June 2012, I finally yielded to rotator cuff surgery after a dozen years spent delaying the inevitable following a series of shoulder injuries.

The recovery and rehab has been a drawn-out process. The surgeon's treatment is supposed to conclude next month.

During the early part of my recovery I spent many hours in my recliner, observing the actions taking place in my home's backyard.

My vantage point was the recreation room patio window. I compared my rotator cuff recovery experience to the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, "Rear Window," starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly.

I remember seeing "Rear Window" during a Saturday matinee at the Savoy Theater along Front Street in Catasauqua. That theater, like many other buildings and memories of that era, is gone or long forgotten.

My friends and I were sitting on the edges of our seats as Hitchcock built the suspense with Stewart hobbling around the apartment, his leg in a cast, observing a suspected killer in an apartment across the courtyard.

The comparisons to "Rear Window" include the fact that Stewart's character was a photographer and spent his recovery with a broken leg, peering out his apartment rear window observing his neighbors.

Stewart's character fought boredom by spying on his neighbors and taking photos of their activities. I took photos of the wildlife in my backyard. He imagined, from the clues he observed and noted, that a neighbor killed a wife and concealed evidence in the courtyard gardens. Unlike Stewart, I have no suspicions about a local homicide other than perhaps a songbird or two dispatched by a hawk, or a few rodents falling prey to a fox or coyote.

Recent abdominal aortic aneurism surgery led me back to my rear window. I again have been taking photos. Spending much more time than usual looking out the window has greatly increased my observations. I've been keeping a daily journal, much like the monthly journals from which I write my year-in-review "Looking Back" columns.

My surgery was April 1, April Fools' Day. I imagined my surgeon saying, "Oops, just kidding. April Fools," as I drifted into the magic dreams of anesthesia, or perhaps as I awakened being told, "Well, we didn't do anything. How was your nap? April Fools!" I consoled myself by rationalizing that surgery on April 1 was much better than surgery scheduled on Friday the 13th.

I was released from St. Luke's University Hospital on April 7. Although I had great care during my hospital stay, I was very happy to go home.

On my first full day back home, April 8, I observed many birds using our suet and seed feeders. These species, as during the winter, included red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, northern cardinals, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, brown creepers, common crows, starlings, house finches, goldfinches, mourning doves, white-throated sparrows, chipping sparrows and throngs of dark-eyed juncos.

The only new additions were a few flickers, at least one mockingbird and several purple grackles. The spring migrating Neo-tropical birds had not returned. The marauding gray squirrels were also present, stealing seed, devouring suet cakes in less than a day and performing their usual gymnastic routines as they executed their pilfering itineraries.

In addition to the birds, five wild turkeys meandered slowly through the backyard on April 11. Common crows were observed and heard harassing a red-tailed hawk as it tried to repair a nest at the far north end of the yard. Gray squirrels continued to attack the feeders with gusto. I don't mind sharing birdseed with the squirrels if they would only be good neighbors in return and refrain from wasting the seed and damaging the feeders.

On April 14, the doctor removed my 50 abdominal incision staples. When we returned from the doctor's office I noticed that two of the bird feeders were lying on the ground. The one feeder is supported by a pipe imbedded in a concrete-filled tire, which probably weighs at least 100 pounds. The other, a spring-loaded feeder designed to prevent squirrels from stealing the seed, is supported by several six-foot-long stakes driven into the ground.

There's only one local wildlife species with the strength to knock these feeders to the ground: a black bear. This is the third time in six months that a bear has been in our yard pilfering and damaging the birdfeeders. If we lived in what is known as bear country I would take down the feeders.

April 16 turned out to be a special day. Our Springer spaniel, Blue, was acting a bit crazy barking and jumping at the rear patio window. He was the first one to observe seven white-tailed deer slowly moving through the yard browsing on sapling twigs and rhododendron leaves.

Two of the deer were the normal brown color from the mid-body to the front, but had white fur from that point back including the back legs. These piebald, or two-colored, deer are evidently twin fawns from last spring and they are still traveling with their mother. It will be interesting to watch their development.

Today, as I write this column, I've been watching a female bluebird taking blades of grass to one of the bluebird nest boxes. The males and females have been dining on suet and hanging out near two of the boxes. It appears that we will have a pair of "the bluebirds of happiness" breeding in our yard again this year. Oh, happy day.

That's the way I see it!

To schedule programs, hikes and birthday parties: 610-767-4043; comments: bbbcole@enter.net

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&Copy; 2014 Bud Cole

PRESS PHOTO BY BUD COLE A female bluebird rests on top of a bluebird box before entering the box to add construction materials to her nest.