Shh, don’t tell my neighbor

For the first time in the 22+ years we’ve lived here, there’ve been multiple bear sightings in our neighborhood. Maybe not so surprising since we’re adjacent to a whole bunch of open space.

I’m not sure who shat this scat, but I could make a guess. But whoever it was did the deed on our neighbor’s driveway. The brand new driveway she’s so particular about that she was recently out there scrubbing and scrubbing at a few oil drips. So when I saw this pile of berry remains I knew she wouldn’t be happy.

But when the pile was still there the next day I realized my neighbor was out of town. Here was my chance! So I went over to photograph the remains before picking it up. (Note: I did not scrub the concrete). I wanted to get rid of the evidence so she wouldn’t know a bear had possibly come calling. My neighbor isn’t exactly wildlife-friendly. She throws rocks at bunnies that “eat my lawn” and last spring purposely drove over a snake she saw in the street in front of her house. (That’s right, she got in her car and started it up for the express purpose of killing a snake. Thankfully, it didn’t die and I helped it escape her wrath, which she then directed at me). I figured if she found out that a bear might’ve taken a dump on her driveway, she’d either be out front with a cannon or would call in the National Guard or Ted Nugent.**

So let’s keep this little story between us, okay?

** Zippy did spot her outside scrubbing at the berry stain.

Tiny matters

Ladybug on Apache Plume in backyard.                        March 12, 2019.

The older I get, the more I’m conscious of ways very small things can make a change in the world. Tiny little things, but the world is made up of tiny matters, isn’t it?
~ Sandra Cisneros

Monday transformation

Zippy and I ran this morning and just as we finished we encountered this Wooly Bear. I dashed inside for my camera to document our meeting because I haven’t seen a Wooly Bear in many years.

And apparently I never took the time to learn what Wooly Bears become because it came as a complete surprise just now when I looked up “Wooly Bear caterpillar” and discovered my little friend will turn into an IsabellaTiger Moth. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of one of those. You can see it here.

Wishing everyone a transformational Monday!

Memory lane

I took this photo with my phone last week and just rediscovered it.

Milkweed plants conjure up many childhood memories. Striped caterpillars with black antennae. Green chrysalises. Monarch Butterflies. Sticky “milk” on my fingers. Splitting open pods to reveal the silky seeds. Throwing said pods at my brothers.

I was so happy to spot this plant and only wish a Monarch Butterfly had also been present to complete the tableau.

 

Thankful Thursday: the natural world

So much of our current reality causes me outrage, fear, and anxiety. It’s gotten so that I struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. But today I’m grateful for a new writing project that brings me happiness.

Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard. Greenhouse Trail, Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019

I’m always at my best when fully immersed in a project, especially when the subject matter involves the glories of our natural world, and so this dapper lizard feels like the perfect guide for today’s work.

Rocky Raccoon

Late Monday afternoon I’d just started on the boardwalk at Kapok Park, thrilled the recent rainshowers had kept other visitors away. I walked in solitude, listening to birds and scanning my surroundings. Suddenly, I felt eyes upon me.

A raccoon! Down in the marsh below. Peering out from behind the vegetation. I raised my camera and took some photos. But my presence made the raccoon nervous and it cautiously moved away.

I stayed put and snapped a few more pictures.

But then I felt bad about the stress I was causing the raccoon and so slowly backed away as it ventured into the water. Wait, that water contains alligators! What had I done? What if I’d driven the raccoon into dangerous territory for the sake of a few photos?

Well, as of yesterday the raccoon is alive and well. How do I know? Because my sister is now in Florida and she visited the park yesterday evening where she was shocked to see a raccoon. She sent me a photo of “Rocky Raccoon” and to this non-expert it sure looks like the same raccoon.

Next time I’m in Kapok Park I’ll be sure to give Rocky more privacy.

Otherwise you’re just a lizard

You’ve got to get out and pray to the sky to appreciate the sunshine; otherwise you’re just a lizard standing there with the sun shining on you.
~ Ken Kesey

No disrespect to Kesey’s sun-worshipping philosophy, but I think lizards have pretty much mastered the art of basking in the sun.

Doe a deer a female deer

I woke this morning to snow that fell for hours before abruptly stopping when the sun came out. Zippy was out shoveling and came in to let me know we had a visitor in the yard. By the time I got to the window, the doe was strolling up the street past the spot where a huge pickup had slid sideways earlier in the day. (You can see the exposed groundcover where the truck went up over the sidewalk).

Hooves are superior to Michelins.

Portrait of dignity


“Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill, they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”  ~ Richard Adams, Watership Down

Let’s hear it for volunteers

This weekend many, many people are volunteering their time and energy and money to political candidates and causes. I am grateful for the collective passion and commitment aimed at turning this ship around.

This cotoneaster was a volunteer in my yard. I didn’t plant it, one day it just showed up. And now it’s among the most beautiful and vibrant bushes in the garden.

Volunteers are the very best, whether flora or fauna. Thank you all.

Today’s special guest

Our guest next to Zippy’s hand for scale.

I spent the afternoon working in the yard in preparation for the winter storm and below-freezing temperatures on the way. I cut back perennials and chopped up greens to add to our two compost tumblers and standing bin. Zippy joined me after his bike ride and made the plants from his vegetable garden compost-ready. As he stood over the bin and chopped up tomato plants, he discovered a guest he’d been dreading all summer: a tomato hornworm.

He showed me and said his friend had told him that hornworms turned into swallowtail butterflies. That didn’t sound right so I checked. In fact, tomato hornworms turn into the five-spotted hawkmoth. Either way, that’s quite the transformation. (I do think it’s kinda too bad the horn gets lost along the way.)