About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wildlife Surviving without Wilderness

Early in the morning, I can hear a rooster crowing. I know someone has a chicken flock nearby. Swarms of honey bees have been buzzing on the peach blossoms in my yard lately. I suspect the rooster and the bees may be part of the same farm. It intrigues me because even though my land is a mere third of an acre and is within city limits, I dream of having a few chickens and some bees. I don't believe it is too lofty a dream. However, there is so much wildlife in the woods behind and beside my house, I worry it would be a battle to keep chickens alive and bees hives safe.

My house is very near the edge of town, tucked up on the backside of Sequoia Mountain with all its wildlife. The family of red bellied woodpeckers have been busily eating insects found in the silver maple trees on the street. They are active and excited in springtime. I hope they can save the tree from whatever type of bore is killing these beautiful maple trees.

There is a fat, lazy raccoon who eats our dog food if we leave it out. Lately, we have been visited by a noisy fox. It barks in the woods near the stream with a pitch that sounds more like a large bird--a peacock or a turkey-- than a mammal. I suspect the howl is from a vixen looking for a mate or signaling her territory. Maybe a little of both.

Last night I heard a predator of the fox calling, the great horned owl. I awoke to the sound of the great horned owl, calling from the oak tree outside my window. I have not heard the owl since late last fall when he and his mate were calling back and forth to each other in the woods up the hill. The moonless, cloudy night did not let me see his huge shadow but I could hear him calling out the open window. His beautiful and haunting call was deep and foreboding. Perhaps he has been hunting the noisy fox. I wonder too if the presence of the owl has to do with the disruption I have observed in sharp shinned hawks.

Recently I have noticed that the pair of hawks who have been living in the woods beside our house have been searching for a new resting place. For weeks they spent every clear day calling back and forth to each other and circling the wooded areas around my house. Great horned owls do not make their own nest, they steal the nests of other birds, like hawks. So perhaps the owls moved into the hawk nest and chased them out. A have a hard time imagining owls as big as the great horned nesting in a home built by a hawk as tiny as the sharp-shinned. But then again it is just an idea, I have no proof.

I welcome all this wildlife. Even if it would make keeping domestic animals more difficult. It fact it makes it seem more appropriate. I wish all these animals had more wilderness to roam in, but it is encouraging that wildlife can survive without much true wilderness. These wild animals seem to be surviving in the woods on the fridge of the city. It all keeps me sane and reminds me that nature is never far away. It reminds me that wilderness holds wildlife, even if it is a very small plot of land.

... This was written on March 9th. I started having contractions and forgot to post it. Then the fox began yelping and the owl calling to remind me to publish these words.

Bumble Bee on a Peach Blossom

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