Wednesday, April 28, 2004

coocoocoo. coocoocoocoo.

Listening to the year's first cuckoo (black-billed), who is so desperately needed to take the edge off the tent caterpillar outbreak we are in the middle of.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Dusk growing, tiny bats swooping over the pond, whippoorwills calling over the din of the frogs, chickens bedded down for the night, not a breeze, not a cloud. A wonderfully noisy silence. Maybe the barred owls will be calling tonight.

Funny how in my meanderings around the continent I have wound up just a couple of hundred miles from where I started, contentedly settling down back amongst the old familiar wild things I had grown so bored with in my childhood.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Spider season returns

Two nights ago the lightning bugs reappeared after their long winter hiatus. Last night another less joy-inducing arthropod companion also reappeared after its hibernal slumber. I was sitting at this very desk, felt the light touch of something gently crawling across my hand, moved gently to take a look and sure enough...

Fully grown male brown recluse spider strolling peacefully over my unprotected flesh.

This is hardly something surprising, as the brown recluse is the most common spider in these old Tennessee houses. On the plus side, they are docile, slow, and reclusive, biting under only severe provocation and spending most of their time inside walls, under floors, and behind clutter. I often suspect that the surprisingly low population of cockroaches around here is because all the brown recluses eat them! I once saw a brown recluse eating a black widow. In spite of their abundance (thousands in every house) bites are rare, and the really nasty bites are even rarer. Unfortunately, they are also fond of hiding places like clothes drawers, old shoes, pockets of jackets, and nooks within bedframes. In spite of my general respect for predators, and my resistance to wanton slaughter, I have regrettably adopted a policy of instant death to all brown recluses I find within the human living areas of the house. They can have all those dark crannies and interior spaces they love so much, but when they wander into territory shared with me and my feet and fingers I swat without mercy. Not without residual guilt, but without mercy.

I wish there was another solution, but I prefer my extremities intact and my body free of necrotizing wounds. Time to go stock up on sticky traps again.

Monday, April 05, 2004


On Saturday I was looking out towards the pond when an osprey appeared floating in the sky. It spent quite a while swooping, sailing, hovering, and stooping (how does something that big just hang in the air like that?), before finally splashing down and heading off with it's booty: an 8" fish of undetermined species. It perched on a tree on the hillside and ate its feast, then set off down the hollow towards the north. There was an osprey over the pond at this same time last year, but there weren't yet any fish big enough to catch its attention back then. I wonder if it's the same individual, and if so I hope it will now make our pond a regular meal stop on its annual passage. A couple of fish is a very small price to pay for such a noble visitor.

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