Friday, November 30, 2007

My Wild Life

I live in a New England city of about 36,000 people. I can walk to the hospital where my kids were born, or turn a different direction and amble on over to a supermarket and a strip mall. My city has factories, on-ramps to major highways, old mills, cemeteries, history, and fast food chains. Lots of fast food chains.
Also animals. So many cool animals I sometimes feel like a character in one of the Thorton Burgess stories I read by the bushel when I was younger.

My wife called the kids and I to the window this morning because there was a fox loping across the neighbors' yard, a beautiful orangey-amber colored animal, a bit larger than our dog Bonny. We always get a little nervous when we see animals in the yard because we live on a very busy street. Sureenough, the critter wanted to cross--and this was just before school, where a seemingly endless parade of buses comes barreling down our hill to distribute children throughout the city's school system. We held our collective breath as the fox ran across just as a large furniture truck zoomed past. I'm happy to report it made it to the other side safely, and hopefully is ignoring the neighborhood cats along its way to the woods beyond.

A note about our dog Bonny before I go on: she is fourteen years old. She was an abused dog that my wife adopted from an animal shelter as a Valentine's Day gift to ourselves. We've had her thirteen of those fourteen years and we love her even though she's a little cranky as a senior canine than she was as a young dog. I invariably compare the size of any animal I see to Bonny, so from here on out I will use a new standard of measurement: the bonny. The fox was approximately one and a quarter bonnys. To help illustrate just how big a bonny is, here's a picture of Bonny:

Other critters I have seen in recent weeks in my yard include a woodchuck (one bonny, but fatter), a six-point deer, his wife and their fawn(nine bonnys, six bonnys and three bonnys, respectively), and the neighbors' cat Lucky (3/4 of a bonny). The woodchuck was around a lot in October, when our two apple trees were laden with fruit. He was a pretty regular customer, and I'd see him running along the hedge with a big apple in his mouth. The deer came because they apparently like the buffet we prepared just for them with our garden. I didn't mind losing the vegetables as much as I did the morning glories, the buds of which the deer seem to love the way I love Chinese food. I literally chased them out of the yard at midnight a couple times, waving my arms and hooting like the gorilla I'm said to resemble, trying to save my favorite flowers.

Lucky just comes because she likes to tease Bonny.

I also saw a ring-necked pheasant earlier this week, a few days after the holiday. I made a joke about it to a friend of mine who hunts, saying I was glad he hadn't been around lately. He told me that ring-necked pheasants don't inhibit our state. When I presented photographic evidence (seen below), he theorized that the bird was an escapee from a "stocking" program, wherein a buch of pheasants and turkeys are released prior to Thanksgiving for hunters. The one I saw must have been the wiliest of birds, because he'd survived past turkey day and he hauled tail ( a long, beautifully feathered tail, by the way) when I tried to shoot him with my camera.

Here he is, fleeing down Woodchuck Row:

I wish you well, friend pheasant. I wanted you to know you can hide out in my garage until the trouble blows over, if you want.

I love working at home.

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