Those who know me, either personally or through this column, will quickly vouch for my lack of interest in the great outdoors.
My idea of fishing is a trip to Long John Silver's, and the last time I spent a day in a duck blind was -- well, never.
But in recent years my appreciation of the outdoors has greatly increased. I'm not about to go camping or hiking, but for someone who once felt the only need to go outside was to get to another indoor venue, I feel I have come a long way.
There are many evenings now when my wife, the always-patient and understanding Kathy, and I will sit outside and enjoy what goes on in our backyard, which encompasses a small ravine, creek and a lot of bordering foliage.
Much of our conversation is about the abundant bird life. I can now even tell the sounds of some of the birds. I know a cardinal, blue jay and a few others with my eyes closed. I also know the brightest of the cardinals are the males.
I'm not sure what fostered my newfound fascination with the wilderness. At first, I enjoyed counting the birds. I even had a stat book I kept with me in my lawn chair. Now, though, I just enjoy sitting, watching and listening.
I'd have to say my favorite bird is the blue jay, which is bigger than most of its brethren. There is no scientific reason behind my preference. Blue is my favorite color. It was a natural leap of acceptance.
We also have an abundance of owls that I can hear, at times, when it is late. I assume that is where the term "night owl" originated. I often wonder if owls had access to television, would they prefer Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel or Stephen Colbert?
The Eighinger backyard also is home to an occasional critter. We have seen a ground hog roll across the grass, not to mention an opossum or two down near the creek. There has even been a fox spotted on some rare instances.
Just the other night, when the sun was about to disappear on the horizon, a raccoon stuck his head up over the top of the hill where we were sitting. Kathy and I looked at one another and simultaneously said, "Time to go in."
The daily highlight, however, of Eighinger Outdoor World is -- without question -- the squirrel population, one in particular. We have a half dozen or so squirrels we help feed daily, and all of them are rather happy, chubby little fellows.
One of the squirrels, though, has become a bit bold. He (I'm assuming it's a he) now sits about 5 to 10 feet outside the kitchen window, on his haunches, and screams in squirrel-ese until Kathy or I opens the kitchen window and throws him some bread, buns or stale Doritos. (Our squirrels eat a lot of Doritos.)
My wife has especially learned to love this little guy. She actually gets to feed him first each day. He usually requests her presence when she's at the kitchen sink early in the morning, looking out the window. Their interaction is hilarious.
There is almost always a daily adventure when you are one with nature. Such is the life of an outdoorsman.