The Wild Life, Part 1

 

After a spate of recent frosts, the warm, sunny version of spring finally seems to have arrived, along with an uptick in animal appearances.  Over the weekend, my boys got their hands on a few American toads, most of whom were clearly just waking up from their long winter’s sleep in the mud.  They were far more docile than they are midsummer, two of them even sitting comfortably on my sons’ open hands to pose for the camera.  In July, fingers will have to be closed around those amphibians to prevent escape, and I won’t be able to take my time fishing out my phone.

The boys did extensive work on their dam this weekend, which left me free to explore.  While I need to supervise them, I don’t like to hover. Although an imaginative adult, I’m still an adult, and, therefore, will inhibit their creativity by watching over them. (That’s a fact, but I’m not footnoting it). In my wanderings, I encountered a pair of mallards that were less skittish than I expected considering I had two dogs on leash.  Likely they have a nest nearby.  Or they’re really stupid. Or really, really smart. They let me take a picture, too.

A large and growing herd of white-tailed deer occupy the protected land along the stretch of the Monocacy where I walk. There are over twelve of them, now, and this morning I encountered about half of them lounging in the shade of a few trees.  They’ve grown so used to people that they’re hesitant to move if they’re comfortable, and this was the case this morning, when, with my two very alert dogs, I stopped to take a few pictures.  Camouflaged by the brush, they flicked their ears and casually watched me watching them.

A groundhog I encountered wasn’t nearly as blasé.  Even before I noticed him, he was hurling his fat body over a hill in an effort to escape me.  I believe I’ve seen his hole before, but I have no intention of bothering him.  When I was a kid, my father had to live trap several of them to protect his garden, but it’s the rabbits that are problems for me now.  I did see one of those later, but the picture I took wasn’t very good.  They’re not as complacent as the deer about my overeager dogs, who, only a half-hour before, where chowing down on loose rabbit fur left behind by another, more successful predator.  (Maybe that barred owl who loves the neighborhood so much?)

And the trash for today? An empty maxi-pad bag.

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