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Teresa observes the animal and plant life from the window of her home

From the main window of our rented house in Wheaton, Illinois, we can clearly see the big tree by the sidewalk. It was a tree that stood sad and leafless in the winter, but we know that when summer comes around we will again see the tree shaking its neon-green leaves happily at us, as if in greeting.

Over the course of three years, we learned that the tree isn’t only a beauty, but also a home. Sometimes I could see two squirrels on the tree’s upper branches, hopping playfully. The tree is obviously where they live. It awed me to know that the big tree in front of our yard housed squirrels.

Sprinkle of Dew

One time when we walked a nature trail, my mother picked up some acorns scattered all over the ground and put them in a bag. I knew what she had in mind. The next day, when we were walking out of the house, we saw that the acorns we placed on the ground the previous day were gone. A smile lit up my face as I imagined a squirrel lifting an acorn with its small hands, using its molars to nibble on it like a rabbit would. They were truly adorable, these squirrels. They weren’t always on the tree. Many times, we would see them doing their squirrel gallop across the sidewalk, sometimes suddenly stopping as if they had sensed danger, with their head cocked to one side.

The rabbits were other visitors. Seeing a rabbit in front of our house was rare, but it happened once or twice. Just below our main window there was a patch of soil that my mother used as her garden. She planted tulips there, but there was one area off to one side where tall, green grasses grew; she did not plant those.

One morning I looked out the window overlooking the small garden. Suddenly, a grey rabbit hopped out of the green grass. It was the cutest rabbit I had ever seen, and even plumper than usual. I wondered how it got so plump in the wild. I supposed it had made a home for itself in the tall grass, but that wouldn’t be so enchanting because it meant the rabbit would turn to my mother’s tulips as its main food. But I guess the grass was just a temporary home, because by the time I got back from school, it was gone. I kept wanting to see the rabbit in front of our house, but it never appeared again.

My mother hung a bird feeder from the roof of our house so that it was visible through the dining room window. We often viewed the birds eating while we ate our breakfast.

It was simple, but its simplicity was its beauty.

The visitors were mostly robins and sparrows, but an occasional northern cardinal also came to visit. Some birds would sit perched on the cable near the bird feeder, as if waiting for their turn. The sparrows were the pickiest ones. They would pick out the yummiest of the grains from the feeder, leaving little of those grains for the other birds. The birds only came in the morning, never at night. That’s what I call an “early bird”!

The birdfeeder was handcrafted by my mother. She cut off two sides of a large plastic bottle and perched two chopsticks on the remaining two sides so the birds could stand. She filled the bottom of the bottle with bird food and hung it where we could see. It was simple, but its simplicity was its beauty.

These sights were shared with the squirrels, the rabbit, and the birds. Even though they are far away from me now, as I have returned to China, I need to remember them, so that is why I wrote it all down.

Teresa He
Teresa He, 11
Beijing, China

Miya Nambiar
Miya Nambiar, 13
Los Angeles, CA