June 26th, 2006

hopper_summer_evening

Ruminant

So I had the hose pouring a nice stream of water to irrigate the sourgrass bordering the flower bed under the front window. I heard the cat frolicking on the porch, and I opened the door to see what was up. It was only the usual cat lunacy brought on by exuberance and a mild night. I watched her for a moment, then saw her freeze and peer toward the far end of the flower bed where the hose was burbling. I flicked on my flashlight and turned it that way, thinking I might see a raccoon or skunk.

Instead, two large gray forms suddenly leaped toward the street, and there was the sound of hooves clattering on the driveway. Deer had been drinking from the hose-- no more than twenty feet from where I stood-- and had ignored my presence (and the cat's antics) until I'd turned the light toward them, whereupon they panicked and fled. I heard several other deer run down the street following the two which had been in my yard. Had I known they were there, I wouldn't have disturbed them. The whole small herd might have come to drink from the hose, one by one.

The overcast has persisted, making the sight of stars rare and keeping the still night air unusually warm. Other than the brief noise of the fleeing deer, there has been no sound of wildlife all night, other than the now ubiquitous crickets, whose chirping is ceaseless while the dark lasts. The summer night vibrates.
bazille_summer scene

Nap

A squirrel took a nap in my mulberry tree. It's a great location for a nap, and I was a bit envious of the squirrel. It chose a spot about seven feet off the ground, where three substantial branches create a small platform, dense with moss. The shade is almost perfect, with only occasional bright flickers of sunshine penetrating the leafy canopy.

The squirrel stretched along one of the gently rising branches and remained for about half an hour. Now and then it would open its eyes and look about, usually to check out one of the birds who came and went, and a few times it sat up to vigorously scratch at a flea. Most of the time, it just dozed while the leaves rustled and the light flickered.

I'm not sure if the squirrel saw me watching it from my window a dozen feet away, but it might have done. It appeared to be looking directly at me a few times. Local squirrels seldom have much fear of people, who feed them so frequently that we are probably seen by them as some fast variety of nut tree.

I think the squirrel might have remained napping in the tree through the entire hot part of the afternoon, had the guy next door not chosen to take his dog for a ride. As soon as the dog, excited at the prospect of an adventure, began bounding up and down the driveway while waiting for the car door to be opened, the squirrel woke and scrambled up the tree and leaped onto my roof. I heard it running toward the opposite corner of the house. Squirrels are not fond of dogs.

I suppose the squirrel has found some other tree in which to continue its nap. There's no shortage of trees around here. But I doubt it will find one so perfectly suited to napping as is my shady, moss-covered mulberry. Were I as small and agile as a squirrel, I wouldn't mind spending the afternoon in it myself.