"Oh, aren't they cute?" exclaimed my wife one early evening last week. She was watching two newly born fawns doing somersaults, jumping into the air and tossing their heads.
I came to the window and watched the be-speckled little deer enjoy a Minnesota summer evening. The doe was standing a distance away casting a wary eye on her young ones.
I responded to my wife, "This is why we chose to live near the woods. You can't see that at any zoo or theme park. We're really lucky."
Those of us who have chosen to live near nature do that because we like to think we are a part of the environment. We rejoice in the changing seasons and the wildlife that frequent our living space. Wild birds flit to our bird feeders and we watch squirrels to their gymnastics among the tree tops.
For anyone who loves the outdoors, this is the place to live.
Well, those animal capers do have their other side. Living with the wild has its price and over the years I have discovered that there are unspoken battles going on with our cuddly critters. As we enjoyed watching those little fawns the other night, I had no idea there would be a price to pay.
I had not noticed that the deer family had paid a visit to our hosta patch alongside the house. As I came back from mowing the lawn the next morning I discovered that the hosta patch had turned into a display of stems that looked like toothpicks sticking out of the soil. Not a leaf to be seen.
What had been a banner year for the hostas now was gone and in the bellies of those three deer. No wonder the little deer displayed so much energy. My wife came out of the house to see the leftovers. She calmly said, "Well, they say hostas will grow back." By the tone of her voice I could tell she wasn't sure of that theory.
Last spring at twilight I gazed across our driveway at our assembly of bird feeders. My daughter had gifted us a very nice metal feeder that was for the most part squirrel proof. Birds of every ilk had begun to use the feeders and we were warmed to see that the rose-breasted grosbeaks had returned from the south.
I dutifully filled the feeders with sunflower seeds every morning and regaled in the melodic sounds of the grosbeaks singing from the branches above. Bright yellow gold finches flitted among the feeders and pileated woodpeckers sought out the suet feeders. The scene was resplendent with color.
I awoke on a summer Sunday morning and made my usual sojourn into the kitchen to grind the coffee beans. I cast a sleepy eye out the kitchen window in the direction of our much loved bird feeder array. What I saw made me drop my ground coffee into the sink.
Not one bird feeder remained in its usual place. Instead feeders were strewn across the landscape. When I went to the scene of the crime I discovered that my daughter's metal feeder was bent out of shape and there were four holes punched in the roof. The finch feeder was unrecognizable. I never did find the suet feeder. The hummingbird feeder looked like a firecracker had gone off inside and the pole that held it was bent to the ground.
It was a disaster and right in the middle of the mud puddle was the giant imprint of a bear.
I lumbered into the house and gave my wife the sordid details of our treasured display. "Well, you know we live in the woods and I guess you can't blame the bear for looking for food." she said.
Unlike me, she has always looked for the good side of things. I put up my game camera that night and we saw the culprit come back and look for whatever was left. I had taken the unbroken feeders inside the house and have since then. It is a beautiful, big brawny bear.
Squirrels in the attic, bees in the garage, chipmunks undermining our retaining wall, rabbits eating our cabbage, coyotes waking us up at 3 in the morning, loons flying overhead doing their song at sun-up and wolves howling in the distance. All those things have or will happen when you choose to live with the critters.
"Oh, aren't they cute?" my wife said to me the other night as she gazed out the window. I now have that picture of the defrocked hosta plants and the destroyed bird feeders in my head. Well maybe, is my thought.
See you next time. Okay?