Here on this mountaintop
I got some wild, wild life
I got some news to tell ya
About some wild, wild life
The first moment a wandering giant house spider with three-inch legs walked nonchalently across the livingroom floor, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore. Or Pennsylvania. Or Brooklyn, for that matter. It appears that we grow lots of things much bigger out here. It goes along with our big, big trees, I guess. Another case in point, the banana slug. Those guys are so big that last year, I seriously contemplated learning how to cook and eat them. I went so far as to watch videos on YouTube, only to find that the procedures required for removing the slime involved multiple washes, and the resultant piece of meat was still unpalatable. Oh well. PNW escargot was not to be.
The crows make a mighty good living here as well, as I found out early one morning when something crashed onto my roof, followed by what sounded like laughter down the chimney. Later, I found the evidence lying in the driveway – the crows had dropped a baseball-sized moon snail onto the roof in order to crack it. Smart corvids. From personal experience, I can tell you that their babies are simply insatiable.
Aside from the usual assortment of deer, raccoons, opossums and squirrels, not to mention all the amazing birds, my life has been made complete by the appearance of another little visitor. Again, early one morning – why is it always morning? – I was lying in bed when a pair of wings flew by my face. Without my glasses on, it was hard to tell what it was, but I knew it was much bigger than the moths I routinely find fluttering around my table lamp at night. Further investigation – i.e., she showed herself when I walked back into the bedroom later (I thought to close the door behind myself) – determined that she was, in fact, a little brown bat. Note to self – put up a bat box next spring.
Other random experiences:
- Two golden-crowned kinglets, the most adorable birds you’ve ever seen, found a space between the lower roof eave and the support post where they could sleep; in the early morning, when I would leave for work in the dark, I’d see their cute little faces in there, blinking at me in the sudden glare from the door’s motion light. And one day, one panicked and flew into the house. Bird rodeo ensued.
- One day this past spring, eight Anna’s hummingbirds came to the feeder at once. Pugnacious beauties that they are, amid highly incensed chirps, they fought each other for the right to dine. I often wonder what they think the feeder is – some kind of fantastical, Willy Wonka-esque flower that provides an endless supply of good-tasting stuff to drink.
- I released some teenage Douglas squirrels from the shelter on my property last summer. The next morning, one saw me up on the porch and made a beeline for me, jumping and landing on my slippered foot as if to plead, “Please don’t make me stay out here – it’s scary!” Hopefully they’re still out there somewhere, making mischief. I released opossums here too.
- I have bees! I installed an orchard mason bee house on a shed wall, and was much entertained by their comings and goings as they pollinated the flowers in the garden. From 20 bees, I now have 80 cocoons for next year. Thanks, Mom Nature.
To say nothing of the coyotes who started singing one night, out on my driveway. It’s a wild, wild life. And I love it.