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The awesome Thimbleberry Blossom

The awesome Thimbleberry Blossom

So you’ve got lots of pictures of flowers.  That’s cool.  But where are the photos of bears, moose, fishers, wolves, coyotes, porcupines, skunks and beaver?  Where are the pictures of mountain lions, spotted fawns, bobcat, weasels, raccoons and frogs?

If you live in the woods, don’t you see animals all the time?  C’mon, you’re stepping outside every day…WHERE ARE THE ANIMALS?

Ummm, I don’t know.  I keep looking.  Every single day.  Wanting to see a bear, just maybe not nose-to-nose.  Maybe the kind of bear you can photograph hunching beautifully out the driver’s window.  Maybe a moose munching on grass at the end of our road.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  Instead…this is the only animal (besides birds, squirrels, chipmunks, bumblebees and mosquitoes) that I’ve seen lately:

Backwards dead wasp.  Makes you wonder how & why he died.

Backwards dead wasp on lupine. Makes you wonder how & why he died.

I did see a spotted fawn a couple days ago.  The poor little thing started across the road and I (somewhat shame-faced admit) pulled the car over to the side of the road and followed it into the woods.  “C’mon, little fawn…time for a picture!” but it proved more wily and smarter than the photographer.  Saw another fawn and its mama about a half mile down the road from the mailbox at lunchtime.  They stopped and we eyed each other before they sauntered back into the forest.

Fields of lupines alongside our roads

Fields of lupines alongside our roads

The fawns are usually born around Memorial Day weekend.  Their mamas will leave them curled up in a ball in the woods.  If you stumble across one, the fawn will remain motionless and stare at you with big wide eyes.  We’re instructed not to pet them, not to come close.  Instead we stare back with even bigger wider eyes until common sense says “leave, now!”  Now the fawns are growing up, and following their mamas everywhere.  Sometimes they get confused and remain frozen in place in the middle of the road.  Then it’s good manners to wait until they decide to move.

The lovely buttercup nods our way

The lovely buttercup nods our way

On the way home from downstate I thought about sharing with you my one and only moose sighting story.  It was back in the late 1980’s.  The kids and I were driving home from Marquette when this huge awkward–what could it be?  a gangly horse?  a cow?  (the mind sometimes refuses to cooperate when startled)– MOOSE loped in front of our vehicle.  Our mouths dropped open and we slowed.  Within five seconds of the moose crossing every vehicle approaching or behind us pulled off to the side.  At least a half dozen people with cameras dangling from their hands ran after that moose into the woods.  I couldn’t believe it!  How could people be that silly?  Were they nuts?   (now, all these years later, I would be the first one following that moose into the woods….)

So, thinking about sharing that twenty year old moose tale, lamenting that you rarely see a moose around these parts, Barry gleefully announces all the animal sightings he’s experienced in the past week or so. And, leading the list:  A moose at the end of our road.  And from our deck a bear cub in the ravine right behind our house.  And a partridge which hit the side of his car so hard that feathers flew up everywhere.

Blackberry blossom (or black raspberry)

Blackberry blossom (or black raspberry)

OK, I hope you all have enjoyed the flower photos.  Sorry about the lack of animals, except for that rather strange-looking dead wasp.  We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled.  Prepared to dash off into the woods at any moment…

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Baby robins almost grown up

Baby robins almost grown up

The animal world can sure be loud. 

First, I have a terrible story to tell.  I think it turned out OK, but initially it looked…challenging.  It started yesterday afternoon.  It involved robins.  Sigh.  All of my trials and tribulations this spring involve robins…

I saw the baby robins near the garage with their beaks in the air, awaiting worms from mama and papa.  Oh, didn’t they look cute?  Wouldn’t it be an adorable prize-winning photograph?  (Or at least something somewhat interesting to blog readers?)  I moved close with camera lens zoomed in. 

Suddenly the nearest half-upright robin baby from the above photo, taken a couple days before, shot straight up in the air, scared to death as the camera approached him.  Then he flew!  Across the grass, toward the safety of the woods, away from the crazy human, he flew low but sure, his wings flapping. 

My heart stopped in fear.  About the time the mama and papa began screaming and dive-bombing me.  It was awful.  Horrible.  I almost cried, seriously, thinking I might have prematurely caused the robin to leave the nest.  That the robin might die because of my camera greed. 

The parents were angry, and rightly so.  Dive-bombing continued for the next five minutes as I ducked and cowered and got out of there as quickly as possible.  Apologies didn’t seem to help.  Their clamor was shrill and piercing.  Alas.

However, early this morning Barry announced that all the other baby robins were gone.  Flown away.  Left the nest.  Suddenly I didn’t feel so guilty. Maybe it was TIME. They were ready to fly, and I just provided a slight…impetus.  Whew.  Guilt slightly abated…

Three sheep

Three sheep

Today I visited a farm.  To visit the animals.  Specifically, the sheep, the horses/mules and the chickens and bees.  My friends Barbara and Evan live up in Herman.  I haven’t visited their farm in over a year, so it was nice to tour their barns and fields.  Very interesting and instructive.  It proved a fun morning.

First, came the ram.  All the close-up photos of this curvy-horned fellow turned out fuzzy.  Sorry.  He scared me.  Barbara warned me to stay away, as he’s protective of those female sheep.  We eyed each other.  I finally took a good photo as he meandered away with his flock.

See that reddish ram heading away down a forest road?

See that reddish ram heading away down a forest road?

The sheep baaaahhed and baaahhed quite unabashedly.  There are at least a couple dozen of them.  Barbara reported the lambing season progressed well this year, and they didn’t lose a single lamb.  They have named all of them.  She kept a steady litany going, sharing all their names.  It amazed me that they could tell this black sheep from that black sheep, or this red one from that red one.  I suppose when you’ve helped birth many of them into the world, it’s easy to identify their characteristics.

I'm sorry.  I really don't know if this is a horse or a mule.

I'm sorry. I really don't know if this is a horse or a mule.

Then there were the chickens clucking and calling and carrying on.  They were free-range beauties, pecking everywhere in the dirt, wandering into the woods.

Chickens clucking

Chickens clucking

Barbara gestured over toward the woods, at bee hives far beyond the sheep.  Could we get a photo?  She said there were a couple hives near the garden.  We opened the fence and wandered in.  Bees rested on the thousand dandelions leading up to the hives, buzzing in yellow splendor.  We tried not to step on any.

Organic honey for sale this summer!

Organic honey for sale this summer!

Their dogs did not bark.  Except perhaps when I pulled in the driveway.  We finished our barnyard tour with tea and Babycakes muffins from Marquette.  It was great to visit their farm again.  Hope you all enjoyed it, as well!

Keweenaw Bay ice begins to break up

Keweenaw Bay ice begins to break up

When was the last time you took part in  a Scavenger Hunt?  The last “real” Scavenger Hunt I participated in occurred about 7th grade.  Our science teacher brought a group of students to his home.  We all received a list of items to find and return.  The first team to make it back to the house with all the items won the hunt!  (By the way, the teacher’s last name was Hunt, hmm, odd coincidence…)

Here’s your list.

You must go out in nature and find the following items.  You can take a picture instead of bringing them to me.

1)  Pussy willows (C’mon…if I can find a pussy willow, you can, too!)

Item One...view Spring Pussywillows...Ode to Joy!

Item One...view Spring Pussy willows...Ode to Joy!

2) Sumac or Wintergreen. Your choice.  I have a photo of each.  If there’s ABSOLUTELY no sumac or wintergreen in your area, please substitute.  But don’t make it TOO easy.  Find something a little surprising.  Something enchanting.  Something that makes your heart pitter-pat at least a tiny bit.

The first time I could photograph sumac this year!  (drifts melted, you know...)

The first time I could photograph sumac this year! (drifts melted, you know...)

3) Birchbark.  On the tree or lying on the ground.  White or yellow.  But make it birchbark and think about all the lovely and practical items one can craft from birchbark.  Sing praises to the birch tree!  (Scavenger hunts are really about praising what one discovers….)

Pretty piece of birchbark, hmmm?  Just lying there in the snow.

Pretty piece of birchbark, hmmm? Just lying there in the snow.

4)  Animal scat.   Oh I’m sorry to add this to your list.  But we’re talking about a Scavenger Hunt out in nature, aren’t we?  So what’s abundant on the ground during the springtime after the snow melts?  You got it.  Scat.  Please do not pick up.  Photo only! 

Deer Scat

Deer Scat

5)  An animal.  (OK, it doesn’t need to be the same animal connected with your scat photo.)  It can be a bird.  A fish.  A mosquito.  Just capture a photo of it while giving thanks to the animal world.  Fortunately or unfortunately, in my Scavenger Hunt, the scat came from the animal posted below:

We see you peeking through those trees, Mr. Deer.

We see you peeking through those trees, Mr. Deer.

That’s it.  Five items.  Wasn’t too hard, was it?  Now send the photos to me in a green envelope (reminding of us spring) with your return envelope and I shall send you a small prize.  Because we’re all winners when we go scavenging in nature, aren’t we? Especially when we have curiosity, love and joy in our hearts!   🙂

Hi raccoon!  Don't be scared.  Don't burrow your nose in that tree.

Hi raccoon! Don't be scared. Don't burrow your nose in that tree.

Anyone heard of the game “Wildlife Adventure”?  The kids and I spent endless hours playing it when they were growing up.  Here’s the overview:  there’s a map of the world.  With animal names and pictures posted scattered from Siberia to Argentina.

After receiving your animal cards, you travel around the board with plastic arrows, attempting to reach “your” animals.  The goal is to find all your animals and win.

I want you to know that I feel like I’m playing “Wildlife Adventure” these days!  Like someone has handed me an invisible list of animals, and the goal is to photograph them all.

So today we have raccoon!  Isn’t he sweet? Isn’t he precious?  He (or she) appeared outside the kitchen window last night while I was doing dishes.  You’ve never seen such a leap!  I catapulted for the camera in one huge leap, shoved on boots, and dove out of the house in six seconds flat.

The surprised raccoon bolted as he viewed the crazy camera running after him.  He scooted up the tree, praying to the Raccoon gods, and I began the usual animal-crooning, “Don’t worry, fella, don’t be scared.  Just stay still for a second while we get a picture.  Get your nose out of that tree, won’t you?  Oh, c’mon, just one more photo and I’ll leave you in peace…”

And that’s not the only animal “card” collected recently:

Partridge in driveway (through car window)

Partridge in driveway (through car window)

I’m not sure if this partridge is my dear friend, the Dishwashing Partridge.  I have been attempting to photograph the Dishwashing Partridge since January.  This one is crafty.  It appears outside the kitchen window, only when I’m doing dishes.  It roosts on the same set of branches, pecking and preening and teasing me.  It’s teasing because I WANT a photo of Ms. Partridge, but she won’t comply.  The camera registers a fuzzy dot through the kitchen window, and if you try to even open the front door…whirrrr!…the partridge makes its usual whirring flap and disappears in a squawk of wings.

So who knows if it’s the Dishwashing Partridge or a distant relative?  I was just thrilled to see one this close before it ambled lazily up and over the snowbank into the woods.

Leftover vegetable scraps for the deer (under the oak tree)

Leftover vegetable scraps for the deer (under the oak tree)

I am suspicious that perhaps the raccoon or even Ms. Partridge might be munching away at some of the vegetable scraps intended for the deer.  What do you think?  Perhaps that’s why we’re having Animal Adventures these days.

Dangling feet off deck (about a six foot jump)

Dangling feet off deck (about a six foot jump)

Besides that, I spent part of my outdoor commitment dangling my legs off the deck in the 57 degree heat wave.  Can you believe it?  57 degrees!  Kind of makes you want to leap forward into spring…

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