Archive for June, 2010

Berry Treat

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Black raspberries tempt a woods-edge hiker

After a couple of weeks of hot, muggy, wet weather that made a hike in the woods less than inviting, I finally overcame the summer doldrums and headed down the hill to the forest edge.

What a treat! Poking up through the greenery, clusters of shiny, dark-purple raspberries told me that my timing was perfect. I eagerly began plucking the juicy morsels by the handful. Ahh, Nature’s bounty!

My mood immediately brightened. The recent sweat and humidity became a distant memory. An indigo bunting sang a staccato welcome to its woods-edge territory. The too-sweet fragrance of the blooming milkweeds drifted on the cool breeze. Black-eyed Susans dotted the adjacent prairie.

Greedily searching for more of the tasty snacks, I ignored the brambles and mosquitoes that guarded the berries. I congratulated myself for finding the patch before the catbirds or robins or wild turkeys.  Trotting back to the house, I fetched a bucket in which to pick enough berries to garnish our bowls of ice cream for dessert. Margaret beamed her approval.

A lesson relearned: Don’t ignore the windows of opportunity that Mother Nature always seems to open for us. The time is NOW – whether it’s to pause to listen to a barred owl, to look again at the full moon creeping above the horizon, to watch a hummingbird darting among the lilies, to laugh at the baby oriole begging its parents for another grape jelly treat – or simply to savor the wild sweetness of a raspberry!

Mom, I’m scared!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
doe and fawn

A fawn nurses to calm itself after a thunderstorm

Those of us with kids or grandkids know that whimper too well. Thunderstorms can be frightening to youngsters. At the first flash of lightning, followed by the crack of thunder, we may hear the patter of little feet as the kids come running to jump into their parents’ bed or climb onto a lap to be reassured.

But what about wild babies? Do you suppose they can be terrified, too?

Our answer came during a midday thunderstorm, when we spotted a fawn racing through the prairie at the edge of the woods. The month-old whitetail bounded anxiously along the mowed fire lane, then stopped and peered into the trees before turning abruptly to race the other way.

As the thunder rumbled and the rain beat harder, junior scampered up the hill toward our house and did a couple of laps around the birdbath. It bounded frantically through the yard, then leapt back into the taller goldenrods.

Suddenly, mom appeared at the edge of the woods about 100 yards away, staring intently at us as we watched from the window. She trotted fearlessly toward the house – sensing that her baby needed her.

The fawn continued to scamper through the yard, dodging into and out of the prairie, now bleating plaintively. When it finally stopped – perhaps hearing a snort from mother – it pricked up his ears and ran to her side.

The doe allowed the exhausted fawn to nurse for a minute or so, glaring at us as we stood behind a window barely 30 feet away. Having “rescued” her baby, she then bolted down the hill and into the woods, with her precious little one at her heels.

Within an hour, the calm had been restored. The doe reappeared in the prairie, walking along and nibbling the wet vegetation as the fawn played by her side. But we wondered whether the fawn would remember its lessons until the next storm . . .