Saturday, June 11, 2016



                          Fox Suggests the Terms of Cooperation

     Fox appeared again a dusk or so ago, a small but maturing one at ease and obviously at home in her woods.  This time there was a more calculated and involved interaction between us.  In the past we'd come upon each other suddenly and fairly close, one time only five to six feet apart.  At that time, fox froze in mid step and waited to see what I'd do.  Another time at greater distance she had merely paused to assess my intentions before slowly sauntering off apparently without a concern in the world.

     This evening fox stood facing the woods on the paved edge of the long upsloping driveway, ready to run if necessary.  I was twenty yards down the driveway heading in her direction.  I stopped upon seeing her.  There was the now customary pause.  What to do?

     I acted first.  I quickly squatted down and turned my head away, though was able to see her peripherally.  Instantly, fox sat down on the driveway, still watching me.  I was fairly astonished at her synchronized nonchalance.  Was she getting comfortable and planning to outwait me?  A second pause had now been introduced.  This time fox acted first, walking directly toward me down the driveway.  I couldn't have been more excited if I'd just won the lottery.  What was fox doing?  How close would she come?  Should I be concerned about rabies?

     About halfway to me, fox executes a sharp turn to her right and disappears into the trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses surrounding my cabin, a route she chose for some reason instead of the more woodsy one immediately available at her previous spot where I'd first seen her.

     Now elated because of the further degree of innate trust fox has developed in me, I feel only the slightest bit of disappointment she didn't approach me and offer her head for a pat or two.  I suppose being able to use the cat's flea comb I had in my pocket was too unrealistic to hope for alsoEither would indeed feel like I'd won the lottery.  I'd ecstatically settle someday for walking alongside fox a while in her sojourn.

     Instead I'm happily settling for gradually learning the clever and sensible ways fox safely tests the limits of my humanity and intelligence and teaches me hers.


[FOR NOW, MENTALLY INSERT HERE MY FANTASTIC CLOSEUP PHOTO OF A REDHEADED WOODPECKER WITH ITS CLAWS BRIEFLY STUCK IN MY WINDOW SCREEN]


                                      Not Redheaded Strangers

     Woodpecker couples have been appearing lately.  They seem young and fresh for the season, perhaps their first courting.  They have bright partly redfeathered heads and a designer gray, brown, and white interlocking camouflage pattern on their wingtops and back feathers.  Their bellies are white with a thin vertical oval of faint red.  This is why they're called redbellied woodpeckers, even though the red on their heads is much more pronounced.  Another name or type is redheaded flicker.

     They flutter quickly into position on branches, one following the other by  a few feet.  One's loud staccato pecking has attracted your attention.  You peer through the tree canopy following the hard knocking sounds to a silhouette of a small jackhammer in sporadic motion.  You can tell by the sound the branch is at least partly hollowed out.  You wonder how their little heads take the intense punishment of heavy vibration.  Their neck muscles are taut and strong and their craniums large, distributing the impact widely, it turns out.  They find some grubs living under the tree bark.  Their tongues are long and fast.  They soon move to another likely branch mostly free of growth.

     They are cute couples, free and frisky with each other, yet tender and loyal, and they've either built nests nearby or soon will.  Their nests are usually in crooks of upward-reaching branches or in eagerly discovered right-sized tree hollows.  There is plenty of room in the woods for them all, and they've got their whole lives ahead of them, as will their little Eggberts.


                               Thirteen to Seventeen Spiders S urface water is the background of the photo, meaning the camera is pointin...