Marked by years
That pass too soon
Counted by heartbeats
And measured by tears
If I could
If I held the power
I would stall time
So this day would never come
Will always be hard
You are gone
Sadness has taken your place
You are missed
Mi manchi, mia amata immortale.
Here is another shameful plug for my small book of poetry. All the proceeds from the sale of my book will be donated to Ovations for the Cure, a cancer awareness organization that helps women struggling with ovarian cancer. Please consider purchasing my book or at least making a donation directly to Ovations for the Cure. Your kindness won’t go unappreciated by the Universe, and me. Blessed be :}
The Circle of Life is a concept that many people know about. It speaks to the recycling of living tissue, both plant and animal, to death and back to another life form. Grass (or in my case garden mums) to rabbits to snakes or hawks to bacteria and back to grass (or mums) again.
What the Circle of Life doesn’t or shouldn’t include is a transformer.
You see, we had a wind-driven rainstorm a couple of days ago and the transformer located at the top of a nearby electrical pole blew, emanating a loud zapping POP! My house lost power for about five minutes but then the lights came back and my life continued without missing a beat. Sadly, much to my ignorance, the zapping POP resulted in death. Today my neighbor came to tell me there was a dead hawk at the base of the electrical pole.
It was a beautiful Cooper’s Hawk and I believe it’s the one that’s been hanging around at the top of my trimmed oak tree. (see my YouTube Short below)
My neighbor and I used sage and conducted a blessing ceremony for the beautiful bird, hoping to send its energy soaring free. We placed it in a plastic tub, also cleansed with sage, and at present the hawk’s body resides in my basement while I wait to hear from Christine or Ashley, the Billerica Animal Control officers. I don’t know if I can bury the body or if Fish and Wildlife will want to record information about its weight, etc. Soooo, in my basement it will stay for at least another day.
My Cooper’s Hawk was stunning; a truly regal bird of prey. But he, or she, is no more.
Go ahead, tell me it’s all part of the Circle of Life and I’ll scoff, again pointing out man-made items shouldn’t be part of the circle. Mother Nature didn’t allow for things like cars, boats, guns, and transformers.
I’m sure, in time, another hawk will move in and take over population control. Until then the squirrels in my yard can party like rock stars.
According to sciencedirect.com, relative humidity of the air is defined as the ratio of the vapor pressure of the air to its saturation vapor pressure.
I am too. Basically, all you need to know is humidity sucks. There you go. Simple enough?
So, I guess you’re going to ask why I’m still discussing humidity when it’s Autumn, the time of year when the air is crisp and cool.
It sucks outside. Right now, at this moment in time, 6:17 PM on October 10, 2021, the humidity is 92%. Now, I’m not sure if that’s relative humidity but it’s uncomfortable as heck and it’s making me very crabby.
Moving on. I saved a turtle yesterday. The people in my neighborhood drive like Elsie Ave. is a racetrack and they leave flattened turtles in their wake. However, yesterday I managed to save a little snapping turtle. Yea, me.
Okay, now I feel better.
But seriously, if the humidity sticks around much longer I might just run into the river screaming.
Imagine an eerie sound waking you from a sound sleep. That’s what happened a few nights ago. The time was around 1:30 AM and, as already mentioned, I was fast asleep, dreaming of my two favorite men, no doubt — Ben and Jerry, when out from the dark night came a high-pitched cry.
What could be making that so very strange call, you ask? Well, it’s a juvenile Great Horned Owl calling out to Mama or Papa for a tasty mouse. ‘I’m hungry; feed me.’
Scott Ramos caught a much better video of the little guy/gal in action. Of course Scott was catching the action during the day, not in the dead of night, so give me some credit for being alert enough to grab my phone and hit record.
Great Horned Owls aren’t the only creatures that have been spending time in my corner of the Concord River. I have a plethora of yellowjackets lately and let me tell you, they are stinking nasty. I was stung three times in August; twice at one time! Man, I’m not a big fan of yellowjackets.
The wild rabbits are also kicking up some dust in my garden. They seem to think I planted the tall phlox for their own enjoyment. Even my mums are falling victim to these wascally wabbits.
Other creatures include my Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds…
and American Goldfinches.
Don’t let their cute faces fool you; even the Goldfinches snack on my plants.
The butterflies have been enjoying the bounty of my garden.
Also added to the mix are a Hummingbird Moth and Black Swallowtail Butterfly.
And I was treated to a rare daytime view of a Polyphemus Moth. Did you know the Polyphemus Moth is named after Polyphemus, the giant cyclops from Greek mythology? Well, now you do.
Want more fascinating creatures?
How about a white-breasted Mallard hen?
I found a pitiful looking cicada while out walking Harlee.
The poor thing was near dead (the cicada, not Harlee). I placed him in a clump of vegetation (again, the cicada, not Harlee), blessed him (cicada!!) and went on my way (with Harlee).
Let’s see, who else has crossed my path? Does a heart-shaped slime mold count as a creature?
That pretty much wraps up the creatures that have visited me this past month. I don’t know about you but I am glad August is over. September, please be kind.
No, not that Elsa. I’m referring to Tropical Storm Elsa.
Yeah, that’s the one. Well she skirted along the edge of my little corner of the world and dumped close to 12 inches of rain.
As result when too much water enters the Concord River it rises, which results in it spreading my way. Water follows the path of least resistance, as I am sure you know, and that path leads right into my neighbor’s yard…
and onto my property as well. It’s a good thing my Sixteen Candles likes his feet, ankles, knees, thighs, and hips wet.
The ducks enjoyed not having to walk very far to reach my grass and the cracked corn.
My irises weren’t too happy sitting in water. There’s a saying that Bearded irises like their feet wet but their knees dry, meaning the roots should stay moist but the tubers dry. Well, these irises have wet feet and knees.
I’m not sure my Nantucket Blue hydrangea enjoyed standing in water. Hydrangeas like moist soil but soggy, wet soil…ummm, not so much.
My basement got a teensy bit wet but the sump pump handled the seepage. (Thank you, Bob, for fixing my sump pump this past spring.) All in all, things could have been much worse. I’m blessed that I haven’t seen flooding like the level that occurred in 2010.
My fingers and toes are crossed, double crossed, and triple crossed that I don’t see this kind of flooding any time soon.
Now on to more thrilling news. I managed to get a shot of a hummingbird. The little guys, and gals, have been elusive of late but patience does pay off.
As long as I’m on the topic of patience, I got a wonderful video of my Great Blue Heron hunting chipmunks. That’s right, chipmunks! Who knew herons had a hankering for mammal meat? (Warning: video contains graphic footage of Mother Nature in action.)
That’s it for me. I have nothing else to tell you.
And in case you’re wondering…it’s raining today. Argh!
Here’s another riddle for you — when is a Meadow Vole not a Meadow Vole?
It’s okay, take your time, I’ll wait.
Stumped you, haven’t I?
Okay, here’s the answer, a Meadow Vole is not a Meadow Vole when it’s a Muskrat!
Have you figured out where I’m going with this? Yup, my little rescue Meadow Vole …
… is actually a Muskrat. Who knew?
It wasn’t until he started growing into his fur and face that I figured it out.
Here’s a little bit about muskrats. Muskrats are found in wetlands in a variety of locations. They’re medium-sized, which is relative, I guess. Depends on what you’re comparing them to I would imagine. Anyway, they’re native to North America and are now found in parts of Europe, Asia, and South America.
An adult muskrat weighs around four pounds, give or take a few ounces, and releases a strong musky odor, thus the name. Very clever.
Muskrats are rodents and are related to rats, mice, voles (hey!), gerbils, hamsters, and lemmings.
They’re a social animals and live in colonies with other muskrats, which brings me back to my little guy, who needed to be with other muskrats and not in a cage in my basement, although he did seem happy as he ate his piece of watermelon each morning. However, he needed to stick with his own kind.
I was out walking Harlee and the Billerica Animal Control Officer, Christine (an extremely lovely woman), stopped her truck and we visited for a bit. I mentioned my rescue and she explained there are rescue associations that rehabilitate wild animals to help them return to their natural environments. Why I didn’t remember this I couldn’t say. When I was in my early twenties I worked for an Audubon sanctuary in Milton, MA, and I was trained in rehabilitation and assisted with the release program. But I digress…
From their website: “We are a home run wildlife rehab facility in Chelmsford Massachusetts. We are run by volunteers and are dedicated to providing the highest standard of care to injured or orphaned local wildlife in the area. Our organization is also dedicated to educating the public, whenever possible, on how to coexist with the wild animals that surround us. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful community supporting us. It has kept us strong and has allowed us to save the lives of so many animals in need.”
Okay, so that’s the end of the riddle and just the beginning of River’s story. Someday he’ll meet a nice female muskrat and they’ll have little baby muskrats.
Maybe they’ll come by for a visit.
A happy ending indeed. Thank you, Christine, and thank you Newhouse.
Now comes the hard question — ready? When is a Vole a Meadow Vole? Ahhh, stumped you. That’s okay, I didn’t know the difference until I started writing this post. The answer is quite easy. A Meadow Vole is a Meadow Vole and not a regular Vole, which is also called a Woodland Vole by the way, when it (the Meadow Vole — keep up for pity sake) has fur colors ranging from yellowish to blackish brown AND has a long tail; one to two to two-and-a-half inches in length. Woodland Moles, also called Pine Voles, have shorter tails and less variety in coloration. There you have it.
Where am I going with this? Well, it’s actually a funny story. You see the other day, okay, the other early evening, around sixish I decided to take Harlee for a walk. Truthfully, I was already in my jammies and dreaming of a gin and tonic but Harlee was giving me that look. You know the look I’m referring to if you have a dog. It’s the ‘Take me out, please,’ look.
It mattered little to my canine companion that I was already showered and in my PJs. Nope, it was walk time in his book and, I must admit, the weather was a pleasing sixty-nine Fahrenheit. So, I donned a lightweight jacket over my pajamas, put on my sneakers, and off we went.
We got as far as River Street when Harlee spied something tucked against the sidewalk curb. At first I thought it was a black sock but it turned out to be covered in black, shiny fur and frozen in fear, which is not how socks tend to behave. Harlee gave the impression he thought it was an after-dinner snack.
I wrangled him into submission and inspected the little creature. To me it looked like an immature rat. Whatever it was I refused to leave it in the street where it might get squished. Did I mention that it’s eyes weren’t even open? It was a young whatever it was, that was for sure.
Doing what any self-respecting Earth Witch would do, I removed my jacket and wrapped the little fellow, or gal, I hadn’t checked that far, and Harlee and I walked back home, my PJs visible for all of Elsie Ave to see and Harlee keeping his eyes on my jacket because it contained his snack.
We arrived home and I put Little River, that’s his name and ta-da, it’s a male, in a box with some sweet meadow hay that I use for Isabella’s litter box. I added a bowl of water and called it a day. My gin and tonic was waiting.
The next day I spent time working in the gardens and I had Isabella in her outside pen and I brought River’s box outside. I inspected him closely and discovered, to my horror, that he had a tick on the side of his head. I tugged at the disgusting bloodsucker but it wouldn’t budge. I’m embarrassed to write I was actually tugging at River’s ear.
I dare you to tell me that ear doesn’t look like a swollen tick. Double dare you.
River is still alive after three days. Not bad considering my track record with trying to save injured critters. Remember Little Ducky?
I’m sensing a pattern here — Little Ducky, Little River … hmmmmmmm.
Okay, as of tonight Little River is still alive and nestled in the cage my friend Bob donated. River drinks from his water dish and nibbles on seeds. He seems in good spirits despite having his ear almost ripped off his little head and enjoys sleeping on his back under the heat lamp.
Now comes the big question: what do I do with River when he’s fully healed? Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention his back legs are questionable. I can only imagine he was dragged from his family nest by a hawk and got dropped onto River Street from mid-air. Or, dragged from his family nest by a carnivore or cat, although there are no puncture marks and no dried blood. Truthfully, I can’t imagine how a young Vole, eyes still closed, got from his family nest to River Street but he did.
The duckling count is dropping. The piddly number of six ducklings is now down to five and I don’t have to look very far to find the reason why.
Now, I’m not implying that the snapping turtle is snapping up the ducklings…and the goslings. The geese parents are down from four to three. What I am implying is that the snapping turtle loves fresh waterfowl meat…bones…cartilage…beaks…you name it and the snapping turtle will eat it. Even cheese.
I don’t know if this lovely creature is the same snapping turtle that last visited me in 2019.
It was rumored that snapper met his/her demise when a truck flattened it on River Street.
Yes, I know, there can be more than one snapping turtle in the Concord River but these are really big snapping turtles. Can the area of the river in my little corner of the world support apex predators this large in multiple numbers?
Something to ponder while I enjoy my new and improved snapping turtle. He’s back. Or maybe it’s she’s back.
Oh well, it’s back.
On a side note, my yard has been certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. I know, it’s time for a happy dance.
It’s super easy to get your property certified, head to this link and find out the details.
Perhaps you saw the movie Freaky Friday, either the 1976 version with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris or the remake with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. Both versions were a lot of fun and well worth a peak, if you haven’t seen them.
Don’t worry, my blog hasn’t become a place for Disney to advertise its movies; the entertainment giant doesn’t need any help. I’m bringing up the movies because they both revolved around a plot where everything gets turned upside-down and all-around, just like what is going on in my little corner of the Concord River.
Ready? Good. Now let me see, where was I? Oh yes, a very freaky spring. Observe…
A Mallard hen deposited one lone egg under my Hosta. She dug out a crevice and nestled the egg within it, then walked away. Something, possibly a Bluejay, pecked a hole in the egg and the ants took over. I blessed the egg and gave it to the river. As I walked back to my life I wondered why a hen would lay just one egg and why wasn’t she incubating said egg?
I didn’t get very far in my pondering, or walk, when I spied…
Seriously, was this hen auditioning for a job as the Easter Bunny? And, what creature is opening the eggs so the ants can feast on the undeveloped chicks?
A second blessing and this egg joined its brother/sister in the river. I returned to my gardening duties when in my Bearded Iris bed I spied…
…You guessed it, a third egg.
The ants didn’t even wait for something to peck an opening in this shell. They covered the egg and somehow figured out how to get in on their own. Another blessing was cast and the egg joined its siblings.
Three lone eggs. Add them to the ones I found, lost, and found again under my Solomon’s Seal plants and I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with my property when my neighbor rescued my derailed train of thought. He entered my yard, a napkin in his hand in which he cradled a duck egg. Seems his five-year-old son found it under some plants in their garden. “Look, Daddy, an egg!”
Blessing time again!
Please, someone, explain what is going on with the Mallard hens. I realize it is a bit early to see chicks trailing behind their mama, something that doesn’t usually happen until the second or third week of June.
However, at this rate the hen or hens who are laying eggs willy-nilly are only going to have a score of ants following behind; no chicks.
If the Mallard egg situation wasn’t enough to make me want to scream at the freakiness of Spring 2021, let me address the weather! When did spring mean temperatures in the nineties?
According to data collected by weather stations throughout each state during the years 1971 to 2000, this is what the spread of temperatures should look like.
This a breakdown of the temps from the month of May 2021 for my little corner of the Concord River.
Windy, dry, humid, and HOT. Look at these numbers!
Okay, maybe it hasn’t been as hot as some places in the world but when I’m expecting mild temps and I find myself sweating buckets, I reserve the right to complain. 😡
While you’re studying the above data table (There will be a test at the end of this post.) check out the wind gusts. A typical breeze for my area is between 4 and 5 MPH, but noooooo, we’re getting close to 40 MPH. That’s a BIG difference.
Actually, Zephryos stirred things up back at the beginning of March. Remember the oak tree?
Zephryos is one of the Anemoi, the Greek gods known as the Gods of the Four Winds. There is Boreas the North-Wind, Zephryos (Zephyrus) the West, Notos (Notus) the South, and Euros (Eurus) the East. Each of these gods is associated with a season — Euros giving us autumn breezes; Boreas offering the cold breath of winter; Zephyros is responsible for spring zephyrs; and Notos, summer rain-storms. Perhaps the brothers are just having some good ol’ fashioned fun as they blew the dickens out of my little world.
Do you need more freakiness to convince you this is a freaky spring? Okay, a Baltimore Oriole had chosen my yard as his nesting territory. No, that’s not the freaky part.
We’ll call Stanley’s mate Stella. While Stanley sang about his beautiful territory and stunning mate, Stella spent time gathering the string I would leave out for her to use as building material for their nest.
Stanley and Stella were happy until one day an interloper arrived and challenged Stanley to a duel. The two birds fought an aerial battle worthy of Snoopy and The Red Baron. (I dare you not to smile while watching this video.)
Lots of squawking ensued as the birds swooped in a display of vivid orange feathers. The interloper feigned a left but banked sharply to the right, I can only image he was hoping to outsmart Stanley. Sadly, he didn’t bank tight enough and hit my office window. Dead in an instant. Stanley sang his victorious song while I buried the interloper’s body in my garden.
What of Stella, you ask? Oh, she told Stanley to quite fooling around and help her gather more string.
Need more evidence this is a freaky spring? How about this? Someone dumped over 20 full leaf bags in the marsh. Yup, just dumped them off his (I’m assuming it was a man) big-ass truck into the Federally-protected, I might add, marsh. Twenty-plus Market Basket Lawn-and-Leaf bags distributed on both sides of Elsie Ave.
My neighbor called the police and I called the town’s DPW department; we both received less than helpful responses. I notified the EPA and my neighbor climbed down into the tick (more on ticks in a bit) infested poison ivy and dragged the bags up the embankment and onto the road. He then enlisted a few more neighbors and got the town to come out and pick up the bags. Okay, here’s my question: What kind of 🤬 dumps bags of leaves and stuff into a marsh when the town will pick up unlimited bags for free? Or, What kind of 🤬 dumps 🤬 into a marsh, period?
On the subject of ticks, YUCK! This is going to be a bad season for the little varmints. Correction — it already IS a bad season. When I take Harlee for his morning walk I spy the blood suckers clinging to blades of grass just hoping either Harlee or I will brush against the vegetation.
Thus far I’ve removed over a dozen from Harlee’s body. Damn ticks.
I hope I’ve enlightened you as to why 2021’s spring is freaky. If you’re not convinced, watch out for falling amphibians…