Mist on Our Mountain: Glimpses of Nature
Snow Covered Conifers
From the front window, we always see our mountain. We call it a mountain; it is probably named Mount Little-Pipsqueak on a hiking map. Anyone who lives near real mountains would think it a tiny bump. Nonetheless, it serves its purpose: a tree-coated haven for wildlife without interference of human dwellings.
Before the sun warms it, a shawl of fog clasps it. Hawks and deer romp there.
You are Here
We live in a suburb close by a city of more than 80,000 people. Fortunately, we have a wee pocket of wilderness which affords us much more natural delight than a neighborhood of Monopoly houses would. Little patches – really little - of trees scatter throughout the neighborhood on undeveloped lots and along a creek. Fortunately for us, the 12-foot wide Antietam Creek runs parallel to our street behind the houses across from us. This provides the cozy environment for the wildlife and waterfowl.
Across the street we have the Gardener-Host/Hostess galore. They are happy, generous folks who always enjoy company. They own the perfect party house including a swimming pool, and many pleasant gatherings occur especially during the summer months.
Next to us on one side is an equally wonderful couple. They also are gardeners and meticulous yard-work types. Furthermore, they are kind to people such as us for whom the words “grass” and “good” would never be linked in the same sentence. When we ask for advice, they are very giving, yet never make us feel like incompetents. The wife loves the Philadelphia Philllies baseball team and has a beloved cat, so we all have much to chat about. Their backyard pond water flows continuously. It is so peaceful in the three seasons in which we are outdoors or have windows open. Now, a new attractive gazebo graces their back yard. It is an outdoor liver’s paradise.
On other side, we are blessed with just as fantastic neighbors in a different way. They are not as much gardening souls, although they grant their mother-in-law the full rights to plant, design, and care for any flower, tree or vegetables she desires. These neighbors always do things solidly and right. No Rube Goldberg improvising happens at this household. They are fortunate to have strong relatives and friends to help them build sheds, decks, and sound systems. Everything is first-class.
Their biggest gift to me, however, is their love of animals. Inside the house lives a well-behaved dog who adores our cat, Skeeter. They are bosom buddies. Then, the rest of their property is practically a wildlife preserve. Food and water are put out every day of the year for birds, squirrels, deer, ducks and sometimes a woodchuck. (OK – I hope the woodchuck knows on which side of the fence to stay. We have a few woodchuck challenges.) Mallard duck families toddle across the street from the creek to eat the bread which is put out especially for them. These neighbors have even named the ducks which return every spring.
Our part of the world enjoys heavy bird activity. Canada geese make V formations as they crisscross our skies. Hawks of several species ride the thermals over our little valley. Every year, we see cardinals, eastern blue jays, sparrows, robins, chickadees, juncos, goldfinches, catbirds, cowbirds, starlings, grackles, and mourning doves. In the spring particularly, we can count on spotting red-bellied woodpeckers and northern flickers. My housemate has a fondness for the birds of prey such as the cawing crows and the occasional turkey vulture which pass through.
A Rare Sight
One year we had a crazy mockingbird on our street. He loved to jump 6 feet up and down at the top of a telephone utility pole, acting as if it was a trampoline. He was fun. Recently, we have identified a few new bird species in our yard. We are delighted that we have tufted titmouse. Plus, we have seen a nuthatch and a killdeer.
Of course, where there are trees or bird feeders, there are squirrels. Happily, they are not roof- or siding-eating squirrels as one of my brothers experienced in New York state. They are just pesky bird-intimidating rodents with cute little ears and elegant bushy tails. These keep our cats attentive as they (the cats) watch intently from the back sun porch. The squirrels are in no danger from our household.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Although I much prefer sunny skies, I cannot complain too vociferously about the locale. We are blessed with so much to watch and nurture. I try to hold that thought as I go about the day’s business.
Photos and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan, all rights reserved.