The Cycle of Life in My Chicana Garden by Juliana Aragon Fatula

 September 23, 2021

Dear Reader,

Woke up this morning and ventured out the backdoor to inspect my Chicana Garden. The hawk landed on my grape arbor and settled in amongst the concord grapes. I waited. The hawk flew low to the ground and swooped towards my tomatoes. I waited and watched. The hawk reappeared and flew inside the arbor and landed. I thought the hawk was eating my grapes, but they had already dropped to the ground and shriveled into raisins. I walked toward the hawk and heard it flittering in the grape leaves. It flew away and returned underneath the arbor and waited while I slowly crept closer. I thought maybe he was blind or injured or maybe couldn’t take flight because it was too young but as I drew nearer the hawk spread its wings and took flight. I looked in the sky but didn’t see the hawk in the air. I approached the bird and the hawk took to the grape leaves and I heard fluttering of several wings. I thought maybe the hawk was trying to rescue baby hawks that were stuck in the grape arbor. But then I realized the hawk was after my sparrows. 

A couple of small sparrows were scrambling for safety from the hawk in the large grape leaves and the hawk was trying to push them out from their cover. I watched and waited. The hawk flew away and took to the heavenly blue sky. I wondered why the hawk hunted in my backyard and then I realized my husband feeds the birds and provides bird houses and a bird bath for water to drink. My backyard is a sanctuary for birds, or so I thought. But, by feeding the birds and providing food, water, and shelter we provided the perfect hunting ground for the hawk. Plenty of sparrows, doves, blue jays, robins, finches, and hummingbirds. 

Our beautiful garden filled with apple and peach trees, grapes, and plentiful flowers to attract bees and butterflies looks like the garden of Eden. The birds sing and soar through the yard bomb diving carefree. They flock to my yard for the bird seed and stay because of the numerous bird houses hanging from the trees. There’s even a condo with twelve apartments that my husband built. It looks like a miniature of our house. 

We have two dogs, a Border Collie, and a mini-Aussie. We used to have four cats but one by one they grew old, and one by one, as they turned eighteen, they died, and we buried them in the flower garden. I used to worry that my husband was feeding the birds and the cats were hunting them and eating them. But now my cats are gone and buried, and the hawk hunts my birds. 

Our dogs like to bark at the birds, the squirrels, the deer that eat my roses and they bark at the cats. Our yard is full of birds singing, dogs barking, and deer grazing. Don’t forget the corn stealing, masked bandits, the raccoons. They arrive in the dark, as do the bears, to rummage through the dumpster. The dogs sleep through all the thievery and snore loudly until morning. 

I wake up and walk to the backdoor and witness the hawk swoop into my grape arbor and stalk the sparrows. The scent of concord grapes rises from the lawn and lingers as I watch the hawk take to the turquoise sky with a sparrow in its talons. The circle of life has begun and ended in my Chicana Garden as the birds build their nests and lay their eggs in the spring. 

6 replies
  1. Donnell Ann Bell
    Donnell Ann Bell says:

    Juliana, what a beautiful post, and what a sanctuary you've created. Here in Las Cruces, we do much the same in our back yard. But in the desert we don't have the vegetation you have–but we do have the circle of life. Quails, dove, cats, hawks … owls, coyotes, bobcats…. It's quite humbling to witness. Thank you for sharing your beautiful retreat.

    Reply
    • Juliana Fatula
      Juliana Fatula says:

      Thank you, Donnell Ann. I didn't know you live in Las Cruces. Do yoou know my comadre, Denise Chavez? She is one of my mentors. I love Las Cruces.

      Reply
    • The Stiletto Gang
      The Stiletto Gang says:

      Thank you, Saralyn. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I was feeling blue and the hawk arrived and made me see from a new perspective.
      Juliana

      Reply
    • The Stiletto Gang
      The Stiletto Gang says:

      Gay, I'm truly blessed to have such an abundance of beauty surrounding me. The view of the foothills and the open fields with deer surrounding me make me feel part of nature. I lived in Denver for years and rode the bus downtown to work. Quite a change of lifestyle now.
      Juliana

      Reply

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