Maine Moose and Friends
If you go down to the woods today you better not go alone because the moose and friends are all out picnicking. Among the trees and ferns Summer evidence is scant except along the river bank. Winter is the wild animal novel written in the snow. Animal tracks clearly marking who, what, why, and where they went. It’s all here.
Nature Comes Out When We Are Still
We all know this to be true. We all have stories. Here are a few of my stories. I have two granite tables in my yard. They are places I’m likely to sit because of the view. I work hard on the land for an hour, then I sit. I sit and dream, I sit and watch the clouds, I sit and let my mind run in neutral. I work for an hour. I sit for twenty minutes. I do more sitting since age 50. I love it.
Red Fox Trotted By
I was sitting at granite table #1 when a red fox, down wind, trotted by. He was so close I could have reached out and petted him. The fox I’m sure, simply did not know I was there. A fox trotting by at the granite table has happened a dozen times.
Last fall I was sitting at granite table #2 when an eagle flew past. He flew over my right shoulder. He came from behind; the tip of his wing was less than two feet beyond my shoulder. Again, I’m certain he had no idea I was there.
No Second Chances in Nature
The eagle was big. Big enough that he scared me. The eagle was fast. I thought “camera” and in seconds he was ¼ mile away. I thought squirrel, woodchuck, fish – they haven’t a chance. I still feel a shudder as I think how close he was and how fast he was moving.
A Black & White Bird
Granite table #2. Again I was sitting with a cup of coffee and a little black and white bird landed on a branch near by, then flitted closer. I didn’t move, sitting there, cup in hand. He came closer then landed on the cup’s edge. I said something and he flew off.
Deer in the Dark
I bought a new flashlight, they promised bright enough light that ¼ mile away you could read a book. I tested it, it was true. My first night home I tried the flash light. I stepped to the porch railing, turned it on, and 8 evenly spaced yellow lights reflected back. I stood dumbfounded. As my eyes adjusted, I could see 4 deer standing on my lawn, 12 feet away, looking back. No one moved.
Winter Snow Tracks:
Evidence of Who Was Here Last Night
In the winter after a powder snow, it’s easy to see who has been out roaming in the night. Paths everywhere, one creature or a group roaming. I can see the arched paths, I can see where they stopped, where they changed course.
Spring, new gardens, fresh tilled soil, tulips and day lilies must taste like a good Caesar salad. The foot prints and nibbled plants are proof. After the rain on river banks, prints are everywhere. Perfect prints of the thirsty neighborhood.
Yogi Bear and Doughnuts
When I was a kid, the Yogi Bear cartoon was grand entertainment. Yogi was always looking for a doughnut snack. I took it as just a cartoon. Then I met a Maine guide who explained how he guaranteed bear sightings to tourists. He had several spots within a half mile of remote roads in northern Maine, that he seeded with doughnuts from Dunkin Donuts. He’d put a bag of day-old doughnuts out to prime a spot, then would bring his tourists to the spot to bear watch. He said it was highly successful and predictable and profitable. Of course there were bear prints in the popular, well-trodden area.
At my second house we had a screened in back porch that looked out onto the lower yard, The porch had comfortable butterfly chairs and tables and a carpeted floor. We sat out there often and entertained frequently. There was one absolute rule. We could never leave a broken cookie or cracker on the porch because the raccoons would come, tear out a screen beside the screen door, and clean up whatever we forgot. One evening I went out after everyone had gone home and found a raccoon comfortably sitting in a butterfly chair, cleaning up the snacks that I had yet to pick up. I must have replaced the screen at least 20 times in 12 years, and yes in the moist soils and gardens in the backyard there were many raccoon prints.
I could go on, but I won’t. Wild animals are everywhere. Often just a few feet away from where we stand or sit. They can hear us, see us, smell us. To see and share a space with our wild neighbors we need to be still, often alone so we aren’t talking. All of us might be surprised at how close they are and how close we are to a long list of wild creatures.
The Secret of Sitting Still
We are noisy creatures. If we settle and find the peace inside and can sit quietly, we will be surprised who is just a dozen yards away, waiting to share the same space.
For most of us, animal tracks are just another mystery we don’t have time to solve. Maine Moose and Friends is easy. Tracks on the front, name on the back. Each track is like a miniature plaster cast. The bracelet and its seven prints simplify the mystery. Handsome bracelet, nice weight. The bracelet is back-to-nature rustic. It will wear well for several lifetimes.