By Connie Woodring

It is 4:30pm and time for nature hour.
We set our appetizers of fried calamari and shrimp cocktail next to our martinis,  
relax in our favorite back porch lounge chairs and wait for the show to begin.
Our first act is the yellow and black butterfly. No, I don’t know its Latin scientific name. 
Why is everything in nature Latin? But, I digress.
Its right wing is torn. 
Was it almost eaten by a bird? Did it get into a butterfly fight? Such beautiful creatures 
I can’t imagine it.
Last week it came to our cone flowers and day lilies with a companion. They seemed 
friendly enough to each other.

Act Two are the mourning doves, or should I say, fighting doves.
They should never be symbols of love.
They peck and flap their wings at each other and other birds at the feeder,  
especially sparrows and cardinals.
They make no sounds as they chase birds and squirrels alike.
However, at daybreak and evening you can hear them mourning.
Do birds feel guilt? Are they feeling sorry for themselves? 

Act Three (well, this only happened once) is the praying mantis. 
It crawled up the porch post and sat on the banister listening to our Mozart music.
It swayed and waved its arms in the air until the etude was finished.
Then it flew away.
I don’t even know what question to ask about that.

Act Four is Mrs. Cardinal. She often comes to the bird feeder without her husband. 
Interestingly enough, she doesn’t wear a burka.
Bird brain?

Act Five is always sad.  
Very few honey bees, chickadees, red wing blackbirds, small white butterflies, Baltimore 
orioles, almost no hummingbirds, swallows, daddy longlegs, indigo buntings, flickers,
even previously pesky gnats.
Plenty of invasive species such as stink bugs and spotted lantern flies.

It is 5:30pm. As we go in for dinner, we fear that our nature hour will eventually be watched 
only on television: remembrances of things past on BBC’s Blue Planet or National Geographic.

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