August 21, 2011

El Zorro

Not the one we saw, but close. Image by way of wikipedia.

One advantage of living immersed in what Karl Marx called "the idiocy of rural life" is the chance for wild animal sightings (the sightings of their domestic cousins being an all too familiar event).

Some such are fairly common, like the large number of deer inhabiting our holler after a good year for acorns. There are also at least three burgeoning crow families within a mile or so, intelligent birds that seem to have a good time. Wild turkeys are becoming increasingly common as well.

Sometimes we are graced with great blue heron sightings, which in my personal world of superstition is taken for a sign of good luck. Less common are green heron appearances, a bird which for some reason seems comical to me.

As far as herps go, lizards seem to be on the uptick as temperatures rise. Box turtles abound while snappers are fewer in number. I've seen about six snake species here, along with several kinds of newts and salamanders.

Possums and raccoons also show up from time to time, although they don't stay alive very long with our Great Pyrenees Arpad around. He regards such animals as lawful prizes and dispatches them to their next rebirth with remarkable alacrity. He has yet to go after a skunk but I'm confident that some such encounter is inevitable. He also keeps coyotes at a respectful distance.

On Sunday morning's dog walk we had a special treat. We knew from scat signs (yes, one even gets used to looking at animal poop with some degree of interest) that some kind of carnivore was on the move but weren't sure what it was. Suddenly, a beautiful full grown red fox dashed across the road, causing much excitement among the canine contingent. This was only the second time I've seen one in eight years of living here. He moved so fast that we wouldn't have been able to take a picture even if we'd brought a camera, which we didn't.

At the time, Isaiah Berlin's essay about foxes and hedgehogs came to mind. In it he quoted an ancient Greek saying to the effect that “The fox knows many little things. The hedgehog knows one big thing.” We don't have hedgehogs around here so I can't say much about them, but the fox appeared to know a thing or two.

It's hard to tell what else might show up. I'm kind of holding out for a bear or big cat of some kind. That would be awesome.

SPEAKING OF ANIMALS, some of them are pretty smart.

WHO'S GOING TO CHURCH? Not who you might think, apparently.

WHAT'S IN A SMILE? More than one might think.

BAD POLITICAL-ECONOMIC NEWS will appear here later in the week. I thought a day's break from it might be in order.


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