It was 4:00am and, it being a lovely summer’s night, the bedroom windows were wide open. In a few minutes, as the dusk softened, the birds would start to chatter and sing, waking me for a new day. Instead, I awoke to hear a clattering out on the deck, like the sound of a hanger being tossed around on a clothes rack. I knew what was happening even before I got up to investigate.
We are fortunate to live in a rural area with nearly every sort of wildlife – bear, moose, deer, fox, coyote, bobcat, fisher, mink, groundhog, beaver, not to mention birds and countless small critters. I’ve had even greater good fortune to see each of those, and to photograph a few. We know bears are hungry in the spring, and it is well known that bears will seek out birdfeeders, as birdseed is rich in fat and nutrients. I failed to bring the birdfeeders inside last night, as our black-bear neighbor discovered on his morning rounds.
It was still rather dark, and although I could see well, the iPhone XR doesn’t quite have sufficient dynamic range. After the bear polished off one birdfeeder, and headed for the second, I turned on the outdoor lights. That didn’t faze the bear at all, but allowed me to capture the final four minutes of his visit on video. At the end, you can see our cat, watching intently, growling softly.
This behavior is not good for the bear, or for us. Or for the birdfeeders 😉. It’s my responsibility to remember to bring in those birdfeeders every night… or to delay using birdfeeders until later in the summer.
Today is the summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere). More precisely, the solstice occurred at 5:15am here in the Eastern timezone. The summer solstice is the moment at which the sun has ‘traveled’ to its northernmost latitude, in its annual cycle of apparent movement to the north in summer and to the south in winter. (It’s a great day for those of us with solar panels, because it means we’re getting hours of sunlight!) Read on.
As the weather warmed, our local population of black bears started to stir. Since there is little natural food available yet, our birdfeeders and compost bin are an easy target. We try to remember to bring in the bird feeders each night, but sometimes forget… leading to damaged feeders and a hugely diminished supply of birdseed.
This weekend, while out for a stroll across the yard, I found this fresh evidence of our overnight visitor. Click on the photo and zoom in if you dare!
Two days later, after repairing our compost bin, he was back…
Today we took delivery of one cord of firewood – cut in late winter, then cut into stove length and split into quarters, the seller dumped it on the driveway this afternoon. In the evening, when it was cooler, Pam and I started stacking it in the garage. Halfway through, I paused for a photo of the remainder.
When done, our woodpile looks tidy and ready to spend the summer drying out. It’ll warm us again when the snow flies!
Green wood is heavy! It will spend the summer releasing all that moisture, so it will burn well in the winter. In the fall, if experience serves, there will be several families of mice who make their winter home in the deepest nooks and crannies, away from the chill (and the cat). So many uses for a pile of wood!
Finally. May has arrived, the docks are in, and the morning weather is warm enough for me to get out my shell and make a quick sculling trip before work.
Ever since the time I capsized in early April, some years ago – it was my first outing of the year, I was a bit rusty – and I experienced first-hand the danger of spring water sports when one is tossed into near-freezing water that can bring on hypothermia in minutes… I’ve set a personal rule not to row until May. Furthermore, throughout the season, I don’t row if the air temp is below 40º. Call me wimpy, but I skip sculling when it is raining or windy. I’m out there solo, so it’s best to be safe.
Today was a beautiful morning, with air temp (at the riverside) about 41º … and for the first time, just for yucks, I measured the water temp: 53º. Glad to say I stayed above the water today.
I often ramble along the forested hillside above our home – and often write about it – and this morning I had an opportunity for a quick walk before heading to work. It was a beautiful sunny morning, with temp in the high 30s, as I strode quickly up the steep slopes toward the ‘summit’ of this little hill. As I approached the top, a deer leaped across the path and down through the trees to my right – exactly the same place I’d seen deer several times before, and shared a video with you. A nice way to start the day.
Near the road, a spot that gets a bit more sunshine due to the gap in trees, I found spring’s first Trillium.
On my way down I passed a vernal pool I know well. It had been rather dull and quiet – but this week seems to have burst forth with new green.
I’ll keep an eye on it, as more vegetation emerges over the next few weeks, as the amphibians emerge, and as local critters visit for a drink or a snack. I made many visits to this pool last spring.
Every year, since the children were small, we walk up River Road in early May, scanning the roadside brush for trash and debris as part of New Hampshire’s “Green-up day.” It’s a perfect time to do this – after the snow melts and before the undergrowth reappears. (Most importantly, before the poison ivy emerges.) Our kids were always eager participants, scampering down the roadside banks to fetch a soda can or a beer bottle, a cigarette pack or a shopping bag. It was a great lesson in the importance of community service, and the callous disregard of those who feel it is somehow appropriate to toss their fast-food bag and beer bottles into the roadside brush, perhaps imagining the river would wash it away. Today I ended up filling two large trash bags, of the special blue variety designated for this day; read on.
With the warm weather this weekend, it’s finally time to get back onto the river. I pulled out the kayak and headed downriver to the mouth of Hewes Brook. On a tiny island, inches above the level of the river, I found a Canada Goose guarding her nest.
Shortly downriver, another goose hesitated until I was near, then launched out of the water and into the air.
On that island, a bit bigger, is a beaver lodge dating back several years.
Is it still occupied? I’ll check again another day.
See the full-resolution gallery for more/better pictures.