Natureʼs Novice Witness

I may just be sick of wildlife by the time this new job wraps early in September. I hope not, although I have the potentially negative opportunity this summer to become overexposed, jaded, to the plant and animal vivacity of eastern Iowa. Or I could take my partnerʼs route…

We havenʼt placed one of our own in a graveyard yet, but weʼve noticed the ashes there…

On Thursday, heading back into the depths of Clinton County on my own to conclude the dayʼs work (a solo effort that accomplished so little I think I may regret having made the effort), I watched a wild turkey cross my path (successfully). And that was on an asphalt road, not the innumerable twists of county gravel and Level B that had been our conduits most of the week. All week long birds had heralded (or fled) our presence. Bluebirds and starlings, turkey vultures, wrens and robins — birds of all kinds have been our companions. Farm dogs and cats, horses, cows of many varieties take the effort to arise and extend their perambulations to include our GOV, us, and our activities. Or else such critters populate our vistas as we drive around searching for that elusive ash tree on which to hang our big purple trap.

As the weather is chill and wet, the bugs have been few, although with the swampy environments in which so many of our traps have gone, I had better be prepared for mosquitoes and innumerable other midwestern insectivora as the weeks progress. So far merely some gnats, a single black midge or something that hovered around the windshield for a few stops and then flew out my window as I lowered it to study the barks of passing trees, searching for our next site. Flies around some of the viler, local convenience stores weʼve visited to relieve our bladders midmorning or midafternoon.

Overall, however, so far, I havenʼt appreciated the wild and domesticated animal life anything nearly as much as my partner, who takes every vista, every bovine cudchewer as a kind of marvel (quite a few even deserving photochemical preservation within her yellow disposable film camera*). She takes a romantic interest in decaying farmsteads, deserted angular and gray grandparental houses, picturesque barns and gradually/glacially imploding, forgotten sheds. She likewise adores modern new gargantuan homes of brick or contemporary never-to-be-painted siding. We even passed a terminal, ancient one-room schoolhouse (perhaps I should take her by the restored one-roomers of my own county as we continue our operation northward).

My own attention is more riveted on learning to discern the varieties of ash from walnut, hackberry and other potentially confusing similar species of tree. Maybe as my personal skills at this new job grow, Iʼll spare some mental energy to enjoy the countryside somewhat more. (Itʼs not like I donʼt heed the objects of her appreciative ejaculations or even draw her observation to some particularly pretty vista or unusual creature[s] I have spotted myself.) Maybe I should even drag my own camera along to record some impressions, digital electronic iota on the flashdrive. I could, after all, use those images here…

I just seem to enjoy the backyard activity here at home more clearly. So far.

This morning, as I stared out the kitchen window while grinding coffee, our cardinal was seated deep within the big forsythia, actively bobbing and also flapping his wings. Trying to scare away others? Trying to allure a mate? Reacting violently to some really bad, perhaps poisonous food (I once watched a ground squirrel thrashing and leaping in the violent throes of arsenical demise, my own dubious accomplishment, and the image has haunted me since)? Meanwhile the other juncos and little birds flittered around, one bigger brown one bathing in the newly restored birdbath, a half dozen mixed others circling the empty feeder. (Itʼs fully spring now. Do I bother with one more forty-pound, seven-dollar bag of seed for the greedy little devils?)

Anyway, there are a few natural considerations in honor of Shakespeareʼs Birthday for today. Happy 447th, everyone!

* Yes, a film camera. Whereʼs she going to develop those photos these days?

And, lest I forget (again), do click the ash picture above for a great Ohio site on tree identification!

©2011 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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