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.)

Bunny hubris

As I hooped this morning, a bunny came into view. The furry beauty remained in that same spot, calmly chewing and staring into space, despite the fact that I spun and twirled nearby. And then Marcel, sensing something outside, jumped up in the window. The bunny casually glanced toward where the big white cat stared longingly, and immediately returned to her bunny business.

I’d like to emulate that self-confidence during this coming week. Me and the bunny, not overly concerned with matters outside our personal spheres.

Sunday post-run portrait

Not sure when the lady beetle hopped on board, but I was happy to have its company on this gorgeous spring afternoon. It’s been a very difficult week and I welcome any overture of friendship.

It’s the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events.
Joy comes in sips, not gulps.

~ Sharon Draper

Honoring Michelle

Today Zippy and I went to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, Colorado.

Michelle’s mother and sisters arranged to have a bench and stone placed there in her memory, seeing as it was one of Michelle’s favorite places to visit with her young daughter.

 

At the top of the stone is a quote from Michelle: “Now this is what a strawberry should taste like.”

Note: the rooster windchime on the tree was there before Michelle’s bench. Can you say SERENDIPITY?

On their frequent visits to the farm with the old red barn, Michelle and her daughter would watch the chickens and roosters.

They’d pick berries together and take home bouquets of cut flowers.

Today, Michelle’s mother, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends gathered in her memory. For the past two weeks or so, the weather has been uncharacteristically cold and rainy, but today the sun was shining in a blue, blue sky. The morning was lovely, and I suspect Michelle pulled some strings to make it so.

It was bittersweet being at the farm without Michelle, but here I am warming her cheery red bench along with three of the Writing Roosters, the critique group she lobbied to include me in its membership. Michelle’s generosity lives on.

Jenn Bertman, Tracy Abell, Jen Simms, Laura Perdew (Vanessa Appleby & Claudia Mills were unable to attend)

Today I’m earning my fortune

As I revise my middle-grade novel, plugging holes and solving plot problems, I’m keeping this sentiment in mind:

Luck is not chance, it’s toil;
fortune’s expensive smile is earned.
~ Emily Dickinson

Honey bees don’t need a pithy quote; they made the connection between luck and toil a looong time ago.

Painted Lady invasion

Yesterday, as Zippy and I walked Emma around our neighborhood, we noted a larger-than-typical number of butterflies. We wondered if we were in a migration path. Sure enough, when we got home and looked in the backyard, we discovered this:

Rather than orange and black like the monarch butterfly, the Painted Lady is orange and brown. Migrations are also happening elsewhere. It was awe-inspiring to be in their lovely company as they soaked up the sun and flowery nutrition from the rabbit brush.Another generous gift from Mother Earth.

 

 

Every creature fast and small

Every creature is better alive than dead,
men and moose and pine trees,
and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

~  Henry David Thoreau

Over the past weekend, we were in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. My two sons, Wildebeest and Zebu, got into a lively debate over running ability and were finally coerced by those sick of listening to that debate into running a short race. While their uncle got ready at the finish line with his camera to capture their final steps, their father (Zippy) lined them up at the starting line. But just before Zippy shot the proverbial starter’s pistol, he saw a tiny creature on the race course:

Horned Lizard aka Horny Toad

After moving the Horned Lizard to safety, the race commenced.

 

(NOTE: Wildebeest won by a slim margin, pulling a quad muscle in the process. The two agreed to switch “lanes” and run it again, and that time Zebu won by a whole bunch. I’m guessing the Horned Lizard is as happy as the rest of us that the two of them have, at least temporarily, moved beyond that whole running debate.)