Where The Wild Things Are

I was busy doing Very Important Work—okay, fine, I was working the Sunday crosswords—when I heard birds squawking and the neighbor dogs barking up a storm. Nala was inside so she and I rushed to the patio door to see if Timmy fell in a well or something.

It took a minute for me to see him, but the most elegant fox crossed our yard and hopped the fence into the open space behind us.

He—or she, I’m not sure—has been visiting us sporadically these last couple of months. The other day hubs and I were watching TV and Mr Fox trotted right across the patio like he owned the place.

He moves at a pretty good clip so I’ve never been able to get a good picture of him, unlike the deer who stand there forever posing for me. (Why they think I want a picture of them eating my lilacs I’ll never know. The jerks.)

We get quite a bit of wildlife around here at Casa Clark. I absolutely love to see the fox, but I am a bit nervous to think Nala might be out back on one of her walkabouts when he decides to visit. They’re close in size, but Nala might have a few pounds and couple inches on him.

My brother told me a story about my niece when she was a toddler. She was playing with a stick in the dirt, sitting on the shore while he fished. He looked back and she was perfectly fine, then he looked back again almost immediately and there was a fox sitting by her side, like he’d been there all day. 

I could be wrong, but I don’t think Mr Fox is a threat like the coyotes who visit. The coyotes scare me. They’re wily, and Nala is … um … not. We hear them howl and it’s so mournful and spooky. I’ve heard they will watch and learn your daily habits so they know when to come snatch up your chihuahua or toddler. Creepy.

We camped a lot when I was growing up and I loved getting up before the sun with my dad. He always had a pot of coffee going, and it was such a treat to sit there with him, sipping joe out of our tin cups while the world woke up. I knew to be quiet that early and one time Dad just pointed across the way at a fat porcupine waddling past, paying us no heed. Almost before he was out of sight, Dad pointed the other direction and there was a skunk picking his way through our campsite, not four feet from where we sat. We held our breath, but he kept a steady pace until he disappeared into the woods.

As an adult, during the Summer of the Skunks (when a wildlife guy came and trapped 38 mommy and baby skunks between our yard and two neighbors—I know!), I learned that skunks aren’t afraid of anything. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Especially not our two dogs who smelled faintly of skunk the rest of their lives.

I grew up in Colorado, and after moving around a bit, having a couple of kids, we were lucky that my company moved us back. But within a couple months, I questioned if we’d done the right thing because in one week there’d been a mountain lion loping down our street, a bull snake that stretched almost the entire way across our driveway, and our dogs kept killing prairie dogs and proudly presenting them to us.

Yikes. Any one of those gives me the willies, but all three? Oy vey.

A few years ago we even had a moose family wandering our town!

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this, except that I think sometimes I need to be reminded what a fascinating and marvelous natural world we live in, especially when we’re bombarded with deadlines and headlines, and concrete and steel so much of the time.

What kind of wildlife do you have where you live? Is there something you’d like to see up close and personal in your back yard?

Images are all courtesy of the fine photographers at pexels.com

8 thoughts on “Where The Wild Things Are”

  1. Very urban here, alas. But things change as drought and loss of wild land continue. Neighbors have posted pictures such as a door camera shot of a beautiful mountain lion and an insouciant coyote strolling down the street. We have opossums which are very sweet, very timid, and terrifyingly ugly. They like cat food. And compost heaps. We also have skunks, which makes me a little uneasy with the whole live and let live philosophy.

    1. The thing I learned about skunks is they will quite literally walk right past you with no trouble, as long as they don’t feel threatened. Long ago my BIL and sister were living with us for a bit. BIL was a night owl and smoker at the time, so at 2am he was outside leaning on the bumper of his car having a cig when a skunk waddled by between him and the front door of the house, which he’d left open! He didn’t know what to do so just stayed vewy, vewy quiet and Mr Skunk just waddled into the night.

      I’ve never seen a possum in real life, but they do not look pleasant.

  2. Great post. Feel lucky to have a fox in your life, Becky! The foxes who den on our land in Nederland are what make this place so magical, and I feel honored each time I look out a window and see one in the garden, snoozing under an aspen or curled up by the lavender.

  3. We get raccoons every year, even though we’re in the middle of Denver. Talk about afraid of nothing! I’ve been out gardening in the cool of the evening when Big Daddy raccoon strolled through. He look at me as if to say, “What’s it to ya?” and kept on strolling.

    We’ve seen foxes nearby. Many times mice have attempted to move into our house during the fall. We have two cats, so it’s a brief attempt.

    No moose, though, and no deer.

    1. Even out here in the boonies the only time I’ve seen a raccoon in the yard, I think he was rabid. Since they’re mostly nocturnal, I was surprised to see one in our tree on a Sunday morning around 7. As I watched, he climbed down, and headed along the fence line to the back of our yard. But he was staggering. It just didn’t look right. I watched him go up and over the fence into the neighbor’s yard. But by the time it occurred to me to alert them, he had disappeared. This one was huge too! I never realized how big they got!

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