Know your limits!

Published 4:12 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

I am not a great pianist, but I enjoy sitting at my upright and letting my fingers work the ivories. I take lessons from a friend of mine and get a little better each year, I suppose. Last year I was killing a little time waiting for laundry to dry at my friend’s B&B in Tennessee. I sat absentmindedly plunking at the keys on the dining room’s baby grand when a bear charged toward the plate glass window in front of me, barely adjusting his course in time to avoid a collision. I remember how thrilling it was to see this gorgeous animal up close and personal. For a second or two I thought it might be way too close for comfort!

On several other occasions, her free-range horses seemed enchanted by the melody spilling into their pasture. As I played they ventured ever closer to the dining room as if to get a better vantage point for the impromptu concert. When people come around, my fingers tend to stumble over the keys, but they remain nimble when the animals take a moment to listen.

This week, as I sat at the piano working on a piece, I thought I noticed a shadow moving outside the large window to my left. I ignored it and kept my eyes on the music for another moment or two. Upon finishing the page my curiosity caused me to investigate the area outside. Slowly I turned my eyes toward the front yard and a full-grown rabbit sat there gazing at me.

To my surprise he didn’t get startled and run away. I could only wonder if the music drew him to sit by my window. As I looked his way our eyes met. My rabbit friend slowly nibbled a tasty morsel from my miniature gardenia. I turned back to my music, but when I looked again he had scampered away.

It was a real thrill to see this rabbit because Mike and I had been discussing the babies we had seen earlier in the spring. Now, I could tell him at least one had made it to adulthood. I know the hours I spent running carefree on my grandparents’ farm indelibly imprinted my heart with a love of nature.

The live oaks in our backyard have dropped so many acorns this year that squirrels have trekked from all over to scoop them up. The other day I tried to enjoy the cool afternoon breeze sitting under the tree closest to my porch. After a few minutes I made a hasty retreat and took cover from the shower of acorns steadily pelting my head and shoulders. I glanced back and thought I saw a big rat running across to the bird feeder. Turns out it was only a rather scraggly looking squirrel. I am aware that squirrels are in the rodent family, but when I thought I was looking at a big old rat, the warm fuzzies totally disappeared. Even animal lovers have to draw the line somewhere!

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at