Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

My best life apparently includes ALL the wildlife.

June 17, 2021

Today was a rough day. Like, almost throw up from the stress of it all kind of rough. Because no one likes surprises. Especially stressy, tough surprises. And not those surprises over and over again.

Honestly, yous guys, I feel like Wile E. Coyote a bit, because just when I feel like I’m getting back on track, rebuilding my best life, feeling great about who I am and where I’m going (except for one or two pins I need to fall into place), and then… KABLOOEY!!!

But! When I woke up this morning, I pulled up my Girl Scout socks and told myself that anyone who can find a bald eagle in the wild – a bald eagle nest, even! – doesn’t have anything to worry about. She’ll manage.

Of all the inspirational things I tried to tell myself, that was the one that actually stuck to the wall.

Because you know what? I DID see a bald eagle – a bald eagle nest, even! – in the wild! I’ve seen a mature bald eagle, majestic, breathtaking, damn near miraculous honestly. And I’ve seen two fledglings still in the nest (…who i maybe thought were part of the tree at first. Shhh! -don’t tell!). The fledglings were ginormous; nearly the size of their mama. They all just sat there, occasionally preening. Not much ado about anything.

How crazy is that? I’m a city girl. I didn’t roam out of the city…well, maybe a little towards the suburbs as we roamed the Langolier pole path, and sat by the sides of swamps. By “we”, I mean one of my uncles took me. He used to be an avid hunter, and for the past 15 years or so, he’s changed fields and now photographs (and sells prints of) New England wildlife. I had gone to his house to vent to him and my aunt about the newest surprise stress, and after I finished unloading, my uncle asked: “Wanna go look for some eagles?”

“Uh – YES!!!!!” was my reply. I think I had my shoes on before he finished turning around.

I’ve been asking him him he finds all of these animals; I know there are tracking methods I could just study, but my uncle’s talents are beyond that. He just happens about all kinds of things, like he’s a woodland magnet, or maybe a Disney animator with a magic wand.

Whatever it was, we saw the mama (or papa) eagle with the two fledglings at the first pond. Then we went to check out the owl tree – sadly, nothing doing there. I’m glad we went though, because he’s been telling me to look in the tree in the town center. I drove there and there are twenty trees in the little triangle of park! The owl tree he meant? Is across the street in front of someone’s lawn. But he made up for it – we went rambling down backroads, seeing the squirrels the size of cats; a deer ran in front of our truck thankfully when we were crawling along; there were red-wing blackbirds; crows the size of eagles; an empty osprey nest; and then my proudest moment: I asked what the bump on top of a telephone pole thingy was, and it was an Osprey sleeping! Mrs. Monopoli would be so proud of me!

At the next place, which was next to an adorable old-timey cemetery a few towns over, one I’ve driven past a hundred times!, we saw osprey in their nest with wee ones; Great Blue Herons stalking fish in the shallows; other Great Blue Herons in nests (like apartments) with fledglings; paired swans; Canadian Geese; duckies; and even muskrats swimming around! And then, as if that wasn’t enough Disney wonderland to lift anyone’s spirits, he pointed out a doe that was walking through the woods on the opposite shore. See what I mean about how he’s a woodland creature magnet?

All of that buoeyed me today. I hope the thought of it helps someone else, too. I’ve given Uncle John a new list that includes pheasants, bobcats, and a black bear that’s a safe distance away. (If football has taught me nothing, it’s: be very, very specific with your requests to the Gods above.) Oooh, and pheasants – I should tell him there’s been an update. I can’t add porcupines or anything else until we check some off. But it’s okay – I’m keeping track.

And then it turned out the stressy thing went my way this morning and I have a month’s reprieve so I can show everyone that I really am trying to be the best Katie I can be. It just turns out that my action figure comes with a field guide and binoculars.

The death march at the park.

February 26, 2013

Saturday, I was surprisingly unsore after my 10k. Sure, my knees ached a little, but not bad, considering. My thighs, calves, back – all fine. Sunday morning I woke up and could hardly move. My legs were still fine, my knees had recovered, but my hips, oh those bastards felt like someone had poured crushed glass into them!

After lamenting with Corrie over why neither of us (or anyone we knew) had a hot tub, I settled for taking short laps around the house and took a long hot shower. By the afternoon, I had loosened up enough to keep a date I had planned: hiking through a local park.

Yes, I know, maybe not my smartest idea, scheduling a long walk so soon after my run. But I knew I would probably be a little sore, and I knew the best thing for it was probably a short walk at a leisurely pace. I’d force my muscles to warm up a little bit and I’d feel better. Which is exactly what happened.

Almost.

I mean, I felt great after I walked! I felt even better than when I started and I wasn’t even out of breath. (My walking partner, on the other hand was limping slightly and panting.) Of course, that might be because we didn’t exactly keep to the short-ish portion of the plan – we walked 5 miles. I guess when you’re running four miles three times a week, walking five is…well, a walk in the park.

But that wasn’t the interesting part! The interesting part was what I refer to as the Tunnel of Death: a stretch where alllll of the trees on either side of us seemed to have clots of dried leaves. The trees are still bare down here (although a few are starting to bud) so we could see the branches very clearly, although my distance sight is shot. So it took me a minute to realize that the clots of dead leaves were actually nests. Wasps’ nests. And there were hundreds of them.

Hives1

Hives2

Hives3

Creeeeeepy. Even though none of the nests was that big (yet), I hope they were there because everything was dead and not being minded and not because park rangers were trying to create some sort of reality TV show, Deadliest Walk, or something. Because that park is known for its giant spiders that like to cross the path right in front of you, so I have to keep my eyes on the ground at all times – no time to keep an eye out for aerial assaults, thankyouverymuch.

Sometimes the apple rolls downhill.

April 1, 2009

One of my favorite things about my mom was that she was very hands-on while we were growing up. She spent a lot of time running the household, doing chores, and everything else included in raising four children (and taking care of a husband). But when she had some “free” time, she would help us perform science experiments, go on nature walks, or catch wild animals. And by wild animals, I mean things like bugs, slugs, frogs, baby birds, and snakes.

Yes, snakes. When I was really little and the yard wasn’t exactly used to having people outside playing in it all the time, it was pretty common to find garter snakes slithering around. My mom (or my dad) would catch them and let us touch them. I always, always, always wanted to pick one up and hold it, but I lacked the courage. I had no idea how they managed to pick it up without getting bitten. But that didn’t stop me from looking at them. I was fascinated. So fascinated, in fact, that during my end-of-school cookout, my friend James Matteson and I stood staring at a snake hole for twenty minutes waiting for the snake (that my mom had just seen) to come back out. When that didn’t work, we picked up a stick and started poking around inside the hole. My mom yelled at me for antagonizing the snake. I just wanted to see it! Sheesh!

Several other times growing up, my mom would run inside to get a trash basket and then catch the snakes for us to look at. Once, when I was older – maybe in sixth grade or junior high? – my mom enlisted my aid in catching a rather unusal snake. The momma got away, but we caught one of the babies. He was cute, I thought. Gray and marroon bands, with realllly skinny black bands. My mom had no idea what kind he was and called the local Science Center to see if they could help her identify it. He looked sort of like a milk snake, only with bands instead of splotches. But the coloring was right. I don’t think we ever did identify it, but I loved that my mom was adventurous enough to try.

I tend to be that way with wildlife myself. Although, I have to say, no one down here in Texas tends to encourage my affection towards snakes. The Ex was terrified of them. As in, bordering on phobia. If he saw one while he was mowing the grass, I think he would have chased after it in order to annihilate the poor thing. I would have tried to catch it. Unless, of course, it had rattles. I never used to have to worry about that. And really, it’s not like the snake is going to stop me first and say, “Pardon me, but I happen to have rattles (which you’ll hear in a second) and so if you could please not try to catch me, that would be lovely and in all of our best interests. Thanks ever so much.” So I’ve had to temper my impulses a wee bit.

My brother is much like me in this regard, and possibly my baby sister. Kim, however, did not inherit all of my mother’s outdoorsy traits. Oh, Kim loves to camp and enjoys the zoo as much as anyone. But the whole “Ooh! Let’s catch it!” thing? Not so much. Hers is more, “Ooh! You catch it and I’ll keep the girls over here…and maybe I’ll fling a pail at you at the right time!” I’m kidding (sort of). To be fair, Kim did call Saturday morning to tell the girls all about a baby snake she had found in her courtyard. She was going to have them look up what kind it was and so I asked her to describe him.

Kim: “He was…khaki. With black…spots?”

Me: “You found a camo snake with black polka-dots.”

Kim: “Yes?”

Me: “….”

Me again: “Did he have any other characteristics?”

Kim: “He was…long and….kinda skinny?”

At which point we kinda lost it. Because you know what? ALL SNAKES are long and kinda skinny. And we are hysterically funny people. I’m pretty sure she found my sarcastic reply that I would get right on looking up what kind of long and skinny snake she saw to be quite amusing. Thankfully, I thought of some follow up questions.

Me: “Was he aggressive? Or all pissed off?”

Kim: “Uh…no? He was just lying there.”

Me: “Was he playing dead?”

Kim: “He was just chillin’ on the ground. I don’t know if he was playing dead or just, you know, not moving in the few minutes I was there.”

Me: “Did he have a funny face?”

Kim: “He had a cute little face!”

Me: Oh geez. “Did he have a pointy nose?”

Kim: “Yes. It was such a cute lil pointy nose!”

Me, barfing. Because she is not like that. “He was an Eastern Hognose Snake.”

Yep. All in a day’s work around here. Now if only she had caught it, taken a picture and mailed it to the girls… Yeah, right. Then I’d have to lecture them for months about not picking up snakes because ours have giant teeth. But if YOU want to run around now and catch snakes for fun, here’s a Web site that might help you figure out what you’ve caught. Nothing beats a field guide, but who has those lying around any more? (Casa de Katie has three of them. But that doesn’t matter.) Now go! Have fun and BE CAREFUL!

My big, fat (pretend) backyard.

January 21, 2009

Did I tell you part of my fence blew over the other night? No? Well, there has just been so much craptastic goings-on that I can see how it might have slipped my mind. I guess I will have to beg, borrow, and bribe a neighbor to help me put it back up. If I’m lucky (ha!), I will just have to nail it back into the posts. If I’m not, I’ll have to buy two more posts and somehow get those suckers into the ground.

 

Man, I wish my fence would just stay up.

 

While I’m on the subject of impossible dreams and the big backyard, I wish I had one of those giant, wooden swingsets-on-crack for the girls to play on. My cousin Drew had one and we played on it for hours. I don’t think I’d ever see the girls until I made them come inside for a bath and dinner (probably in that order).

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I think I blinked today, but I’m not sure.

September 29, 2008

Wow. What a day. Training – training is hard work. And then coming home and being mommy? Even harder. I am tired, yo, is all I am saying. The fact that I am sitting here, blogging for you fine people? that is a testament for my love for you.

Or it’s because I want to brag about all the doing. Whatever.

Because guess what? Those caterpillars? They’re dead. All six million of them. Or, at least, all of the six million that I could have possibly seen from my safe perch upon the terrace are dead. I wasn’t venturing into the yard – what are ya, nuts?! Secondly, those caterpillars that dared to cross me – they aren’t even caterpillars. They’re something called army worms. Maybe. I don’t know. Because there’s an infestation of army worms in my general area. They supposedly eat all of your grass dead and march from yard to yard to yard, swarming in the millions and marching over everything in their path. The crawly things in my yard sure match the army worm criteria and look a lot like the pictures all over the news…but by everyone else’s account, the army worms are unstoppable by every known chemical compound on the market. And mine are dead. So, either the death ray I can shoot out of my eyes really is good for something, or else I had a plain old tent worm infestation. Either way. I just want them GONE.

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I WAS a doer, not a watcher.

September 28, 2008

Ew, ew, ew! And, um, ew!

I’m blaming it all on George and Izzie. Not on nature. Not on my own procrastination. George and Izzie. See, I was going to write this wonderful post today about all the things I got done around the house today. Today, I was doing, not just sitting around thinking about the things I should be doing. I was inspired. I was sitting there watching Grey’s Anatomy – the one where there’s a bomb in the body cavity and Meredith almost blows up? And George and Izzie are sitting there on the floor in the hallway talking about how Meredith and Cristina always get the good surgeries because they are doers, not thinkers. They were right, I thought. I would do things.

And I did. I worked on the baby blanket for my neighbor while I finished my coffee. I mapped out three more scrapbook layouts and printed the pictures. I unclogged all of the sinks in the bathrooms (and pulled out about a pound of hair). I put away laundry. I made my football picks. And I went out to mow the lawn.

 

And that is where I got all grossed out. Because – ew! Ew! There are millions and millions of grubs or caterpillars or whatever the hell they are crawling all over my lawn! And they’re crawling up the house, and the toys, and the swings. I can practically feel them crawling all over me! So, just, ew!

 

That is when I decided to hell with doing. I want to go back to just watching. And thinking about doing. George and Izzie can be doers if they want to. You know what? You find me a nice, juicy surgery and I’ll go back to being a doer. It’s like the march on Atlanta out there! And they’re coming for ME!

 

So I’m going back to watching. Except maybe I should go to Home Depot and find an orange dude and ask him exactly what I should do. Maybe I could be a doer if it means some death and destruction.