A Roof with a View

With apologies to E.M. Forster, it’s always interesting to see someone or something through different eyes.  But first, some background: we’ve had a raccoon visiting our back garden.  We haven’t actually seen him or her, but twice it has knocked over one of my bird baths.  This is a blue ceramic that we all like:  the gardener, the birds, the bees.

This photo is several years old and the bird bath sat in a different area of my garden at that time.

It’s an old bird bath and has been knocked over before, but this time the fall was fatal–the fall busted the basin to the point of no return.   I purchased a commercially made, large, heavy, container pot drainage plate and glued it using E6000 to the original and undamaged bird bath pedestal.

Voilà!

Two nights later, the marauding monster knocked the entire bird bath over again. Scoundrel!  The plate, now bird bath basin, wasn’t dislodged from the pedestal and no damage occurred, except to my back as I Iifted and set the bird bath upright once more.  That the now heavier bird bath can be upturned and its basin remain attached and intact is a testament to 1) the strength, and perhaps size, of the raccoon, and 2) the adhesive power of E6000.  I learned about the magical powers of E6000 when I was studying art, specifically ceramics, in recent years.  The stuff works!

I can also tell that the masked miscreant has been mucking around in my pond.  The fish are skittish, the pond lilies askew, and the water murky.

Additionally, once or twice recently and well after dark, we’ve heard a sort of thump on our roof or patio cover (it’s hard to tell exactly where).  Is this a visiting raccoon or is he/she  perhaps squatting somewhere on our property, possibly on the roof?  Raccoons have moved in under our solar panels in the past, but they were juveniles, small and oh so cute, and their homesteading occurred in late summer/early fall after their mamas booted their fuzzy butts from parental care.  We’ve installed a metal protective barrier between the roof and the solar panels to prevent such critter habitation, but raccoons are strong–remember the bird bath.  Could one have busted the barrier?

So out comes the ladder and up goes The Hub to check out any evidence or damage indicating raccoon invasion or vandalism.   From the ground, the only thing I could see under the solar panel was a suspicious lump.  Might that be a raccoon, snoozing in the morning? The Hub verified by spraying water from the pitch of the roof downward and under the panels.  The lump didn’t move, didn’t shift. Turns out, it was a bundle of leaves, but when you’re on the hunt for a rascally raccoon, it’s good to check out all suspects. Thankfully, there was no obvious raccoon renter on or near the roof.  Whew!  That’s good news, though I’m sure our mischievous mammal is still around, most recently squashing some plants at the base of a tree.  Varmint!!

While on the roof, The Hub took pictures of the garden with his phone.  We live in a one-story home and I’m not one to hang out on rooftops often, so it’s a view I don’t enjoy often. The photos demonstrate a different and delightful view of the garden I know so well.

The back garden is pie-shaped and the far corner is completely obscured by the tree.  The rest of this part of the garden is also mostly hidden by the lush canopy of the Red Oak tree, but two of our three bee hives sit in an open area.

 

Moving leftward, the main garden with the pond, comes into view.  My back garden is shady (pop-up sunflower, notwithstanding) and growing showy flowers is challenging, but I’m pleased that foliage variety is apparent from above and lends interest to this large garden.

 

The central and narrower part of my back garden hosts the pond, seating areas (some of which are out of camera view) and two other perennial gardens, left of the photo.

 

The northern, left-most part of the garden is where the raccooned-targeted bird bath sits.  The new basin is shallower than the original, but I think the birds will like it, though so far, they’ve been shy about taking a plunge.  The bees however, approve; they were ready for sipping before I added water.

At the left of the photo and hidden by the overhang of the roof is a fence with a gate which leads to the compost bin and a work/storage area.  If you look at the bottom right of this photo, you can see the remains of the broken bird bath basin.  Darn raccoon!

I’ve allowed some late summer and autumn wildflowers to seed out in this area, where I also house yard waste bins, extra mulch, and other garden paraphernalia.  This area becomes messy, but sometimes, I tidy it up.  Sometimes.

The front of the house hosts a raised bed in conjunction to the driveway.  You can see an edge of the solar panels and the darkened spot is where Hub ran the water underneath the panels to flush out, the “raccoon” that wasn’t.   This part of the garden enjoys significantly more sun than the back garden, though it just barely qualifies as “full” sun.  Still, I can grow many bloomers which please the pollinators. Yay!

The last major part of my garden lies in front of the garage, to the right of the above photo.  Shaded by a declining Arizona Ash tree, it’s a nice place to sit and pet the cat (if he’s out), finish the crossword puzzle, or chat with neighbors–all of which we do.  The mulched walkway leads to a narrow side garden.

I take photos of my gardens at least once during each season because it’s a good way for me to see things that, somehow, I don’t directly observe with my eyes.   The view from the roof is revealing and instructive, seeing my garden like the birds see it–looking down upon diverse and mixed foliage, and viewing the flow of pathways and islands of gardens.  I now recognize that there are things and areas that I might change, but I’m glad my space is all garden, full and lush, and a welcome home for critters.

I wouldn’t mind, however, if the raccoon critter would move along to another place.

I’m pleased to join with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette.   Check out her blog, Flutter and Hum, for musings of various sorts.

30 thoughts on “A Roof with a View

  1. I’m really surprised that the birds visit a shiny ceramic bird bath….you are fortunate. I have mosaiced a few baths with ceramic tiles but the birds will only visit the plain concrete one. Apparently the birds don’t like slick surfaces and/or colour in their baths….they like a rough surface for good footing. Many mosaic artists complain about the same thing. Also, E6000 comes up a lot in the mosaic world as a strong glue but make sure your readers know that it is highly toxic and must only be used outdoors. If it gets on your skin on a regular basis it can sensitize your immune function. Love E M Forster!

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    • I’ve never seen any issue vis-a-vis color when it comes to birds preferring one bath over another. The only thing I’ve observed is that most birds don’t like a deep bowl. As for the E6000, I imagine any adhesive worth its “stick” is, at least, somewhat toxic and I know that the directions for E6000 say to use only where there is good ventilation. I don’t believe it’s food-safe, but I only use it on decorative pieces.

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  2. Darn raccoon, but love the new perspective! I love seeing all your separate garden rooms – It all looks great and SO inviting. Just love it! I’m working on an area similar to the last one. A front yard hangout space where I can sip my coffee, read a book, or (if they see me through the green mass I’m creating along the street) chat with neighbors. Thanks also for the tip on the E6000. I will definitely try to remember that one. I usually use epoxy, but E6000 might be easier.

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  3. Lovely view of your gardens! After too many broken beautiful ceramic bird baths, the raccoons won. I now use the type with a metal stake and a plastic basin on top. Birds seem to love it.

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    • Thank you, Lori! The weird thing about the raccoon is that there are several water sources right at ground level–he/she doesn’t need to climb up. Who knows what a raccoon thinks??

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  4. It was fun to see your garden from above! It helps put everything in perspective for me, and it highlights the beautiful shapes you’ve created for the beds, paths and rooms. You have done such a lovely job with your design.

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    • I would buy that argument, except that there are three other water bowls in my back garden–one is only 5 feet away–that the raccoon could easily get water from. I think it wants a challenge. 🙂

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  5. Hi Tina, just a quick note, I log back in from time to time and delighted to see your birds eye view, your garden is clearly a great place for people and wildlife. We do not have raccoons here, sort of wish we did though!

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    • Julie! So good to hear from you–I miss your lovely photos and text. I’m glad you’re still connected. As for the raccoons–you don’t want them! (they are darling as babies, monsters as adults)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely to see the views of your garden from the roof. What immediately takes my eye is the lush greenness of everything. It’s so restful.

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  7. What a fun perspective! I happen to oddly enjoy climbing on roofs… Thank you for the vicarious climb onto yours.
    Wildlife in larger form visiting! Pesky, but a testament to your attractive yard!

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    • That’s funny! My son was a roof climber! Still is, apparently–he had to rescue his cat from an adjacent roof where he now lives, in Amman, Jordan. It’s an interesting experience to see things from a different viewpoint, probably something we should all do, and in a variety of ways.

      Yes, I’m really ok with the raccoon visiting, as long as he/she only raids the compost and leaves my breakables alone!

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  8. Isn’t it interesting that you see things in a photograph of a place that you miss when looking at the place for real? Might the two-dimensionality of a photograph simplify some relationships and make them more apparent?

    About a decade ago we had what I think was a raccoon that went up on our roof and clawed away at the wire cage and shingles around a ventilator. I guess the animal wanted to get into the attic. As I recall, we had to pay $175 for the roofer to come and repair the damage.

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    • Until I started photographing my garden, I didn’t realize how much I don’t see! It’s been a great learning experience and has made me very aware that I need to practice ‘noticing’ more.

      We had a similar experience with a troupe of juvenile raccoons in 2013. I saw them and realized they were kipping under the solar panels. We put a radio on the roof (they were listening to KUT) and within a few days, they scattered to unknown parts. They were awfully cute. It was the year we took our son to college and we made a trip of it. We returned shortly before the Halloween flood and a day or so later, I noticed some drips down the wall of a dining area and some minor damage to a piece of furniture. Unbeknownst to us, the little so-and-sos had eaten through the roof shingles to the wood. So, with the heavy rain, the roof leaked! Funnily enough, I was (still am) volunteering at Austin Wildlife Rescue and working with raccoons. After the damage, I didn’t find them quite so charming. 🙂

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  9. I have an inordinate fondness for raccoons, which I occasionally think might be smarter than humans. They certainly can be creative. Of course, as a non-homeowner, I don’t have to take their activities quite so seriously, and can afford (in every sense) to just be amused by them.

    The bird’s eye views are wonderful. I can’t quote it exactly, but in Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, one of his characters says, “One step to the right or the left, and everything changes.” In your case, a few steps up was all it took to provide these new, interesting, and entirely charming views.

    I think you’re right that curiosity tipped the birdbath.

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    • Raccoons are SO smart and certainly have their charm! I still haven’t seen one and there’s been no more tipping-of-the-birdbath or mucking-of-the-pond, so maybe the raccoon has moved onto to some other garden, bored with what I have to offer. I did see a large opossum last night and then again, first thing this morning, but I don’t suspect it in the damage. That’s just not how opossums rock-n-roll.

      I loved the birds’ eye view of the garden. I really should add that to my viewing repertoire for each season.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What is that odd sycamore in the picture with the broken bird bath basin? Does it happen to be an American sycamore, or one of the odd subspecies like our California sycamore? The trunk is so straight, like a eucalyptus.

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    • Yup, American Sycamore. It was planted here when we moved in. I like sycamores; they can be a little messy when we’re in drought, as they drop leaves all over, but sure do appreciate their shade.

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      • I saw that tree for the first time that I am aware of in Oklahoma. I might have seen them in landscape situations in California, but did not recognize them as different from the native California sycamore. (Some California sycamores have straight trunks while young.) Those in Oklahoma looked almost like California sycamores, but did not get nearly as big, and were strangely straight. Although compelling, I still prefer the sculptural sycamores here.

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  11. I enjoyed seeing your garden from above. I’m happy to say we don’t have raccoons in our area, but we did have an extended family of skunks living under our porch for a time. I don’t recommend the experience! Something knocks over our bird bath now and then – I’m guessing opossums. I’m generally fine with opossums, though, as they eat rats and ticks among other things.

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