I put one chunk of tomato-basil bread into the small nook in the dead ash tree. Then, I reach on my tippy toes to place another chunk into another nook. I continued to circle the tree, filling other nooks with bread pieces. When every nook is filled, I move forward with my hike, leaving nothing more than an accidental trail of crumbs from the bread bag, as if I were Hansel and Gretel.
This time of year, I get a kick out of leaving bread in the woods for wild animals. Silly, perhaps, but there’s something Cinderella-esque about imaging a bunch of robins and squirrels delighting in a thumb-sized buffet. (That is, until you realize Cinderella is an orphan who is abused by her stepmother, but that’s another story.)
So, on the weekend, I put on my snow boots. I wrap my chilled ears in a wool hat. And I call for Mabel, my canine companion (who loves eating stray crumbs). We disappear into the forest, following the snow tracks of tiny critters.
It’s quiet in the woods. The only sound in my backyard is the occasional creaking of an old spruce, and the pitter-pat of Mabel’s paws. It’s peaceful and pretty and downright lovely. I’ll spend an hour trekking up the mountain, looking for tree stumps (taller than Mabel’s reach) to leave the end of a bread loaf for a lucky chipmunk. I’ll peek into a hole under a dead tree to drop a few slices for a hungry squirrel. And then, of course, I’ll seek out the perfectly wood-pecked dead tree for the ultimate room-service.
The menu changes, of course. Today, it was failed pretzels which never really rose in my oven. Last week, it was Panera sandwich bread. A few weeks ago, it was a moldy loaf of whole wheat.
But I find my customers to be fairly open to new cuisines. They’ve never sent back an order.
Photocredit: wunderground.com bkade