Great theater, just beyond the dining room window


I have deliberately chosen my dining room table as my desk because it also provides me with great theater, and best yet, a feeling of being part of the world. I rarely feel lonely.

Right now and for several weeks, there has been a swarm (is that the right word?) of swallow-like birds swooping up and down, back and forth over the street presumably catching flying bugs. I have a variety of other types of birds who like to feed on the seeds of the potentilla and other shrubs. They are fun to watch.

Over the years, other sorts of wildlife have given me hours of amusement and, to some extent, amazement. I’ve had a flash mob of quail in the yards across the street when the gorgeous flowering crab tree was shedding its fruit. I haven’t seen quail for several years now. I’ve watched crows and magpies raiding the overstuffed garbage bins across the street. One day they found a partially used loaf of sliced bread to fight over. A squirrel came by and polished off the remainder.

One snowy winter, I watched neighborhood school girls on their way home making face prints in the buildup of snow in the terrace across the street. They would lean out over the terraced bank and dip their faces in the snow.

I also have a steady parade of dog walkers with dogs of all shapes, sizes, and descriptions. I see our local councilman Nathan Weller and his big ball of fluff at least once a day. Of course, my own four-footed friend stages her usual noisy frenzy with the passing of each one. Skateboarders, scooters and ordinary pedestrians often produce the same reaction.

When we first moved here in 1976, this neighborhood was full of cats — no more. After seeing so many lying dead along Stadium Way, I suspect the cat owners in the neighborhood now have the indoor variety. I’ve haven’t seen one for some years. At least when they aren’t prowling at night, they aren’t attracting skunks who used to be regular nighttime visitors. More than once I ran to close my bedroom window. I suspect I can attribute that to the growth of Pullman and the relentless northward movement of the city limits. It is just now too built up to attract that kind of wildlife.

Over the years, I could always tell when the college raptor rescue group released some of their most recent healed clients. I would see lots of them, (not the kind that grouped together) flying over the trees across the street, enjoying their new taste of freedom. Twice, I had new puppies that weighed about four pounds at the most. I didn’t dare let my new pets out on a long leash alone while the raptors prowled the skies overhead.

The beginning and end of WSU terms is also good theater time too. Watching the stuffing or unstuffing of cars and U-Haul vans is also fun to watch. Since my neighborhood is almost entirely rentals now — both furnished and unfurnished — it is a treat several times a year.

Harding lived her first 20 and past 43 years in Pullman. A longtime League of Women Voters member, she served on the Gladish Community and Cultural Center board. Reach her at

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