Life Around Us

(From July)

Those of us who have the good fortune to live in rural areas sometimes take our environs for granted.  It’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands on our minds and our senses, leaving no room for the natural world’s influences.

We’re at a stage in our lives where we have more time to stop and smell the roses, and complain because the new varieties don’t have very much scent compared to the old ones.  Without kids to monitor it’s easier to make time for nature – even in small ways.

Many people make their yards bird habitats, with many feeders and plantings to attract birds.  We have an oriole feeder and a hummingbird feeder, and that’s about it.  However, humming birds and orioles are both beautiful and fun to watch, and the orioles, along with their cousins the robins and cardinals, fill the air with sound.

We put up some bluebird houses many years ago, and sometimes the sparrows take them, but this year we seem to have a nice number of bluebirds which, seen in the right light, are beautiful.

We’ve taken to driving an eight mile route a few nights a week.  It takes us down some less-traveled roads.  We go at sunset, and count deer.  Depending on the time of year, we may see five or six, or, on one extraordinary evening, 85.  But, we’ve also seen owls, an eagle’s nest, and recently, a family of foxes and a coyote stalking three deer.

  And, there are always cranes and geese and turkeys.  The male turkeys seem to think very highly of themselves as they do their grand displays for the females, who seem to ignore the show.

These rides have taught me a few things.  First, there is a difference between looking and REALLY looking.  It’s surprising what you can see if you give it your full attention.  I think we’ve both learned some things about deer behavior.  They may not always be very good at avoiding cars (or vice-versa), but given what they contend with (weather, insects, predators, scarcity of food) they are amazing survivors.

We visited my mother-in-law last weekend.  She has many more bird feeders than we do, and a nice wooded lot that my late father-in-law transformed from a farm field many years ago.  She had a female turkey eating up seeds under a feeder.  But, even more amazing was the peacock that showed up.  Amazing, because we don’t have wild peacocks in Wisconsin.

So, if you see somebody out looking for a lost peacock in the Kaukauna area, let me know.

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