|Abby and Toby (our cat, not the skunk)|
Like James Herriot, our children are growing up to appreciate the wildlife nearby in our woods. They have, as well, learned how to respect their distance to some of our not so frequent callers. One day Abby was visited by what my daughter calls “Rosie,” a skunk, who stops by on her way to check out grubs in the nearby gardens. That evening, Abby got the scare of her life. Sitting on the porch singing while playing, (the rest of the family was finishing supper) Abby started to scream very loudly. Being a very busy girl, she found in the middle of her refrain, a skunk looking into her eyes not two feet away. Both were staring at each other. Each frantically wondering what should be done. The skunk, who was as frightened of Abby as she was of it, decided to retreat before this little girl did something to her. By the time we arrived, we saw a skunk retreating into the woods at light speed, (or at least as fast as it could hobble.) Abby being around five years old was subsequently comforted by a number of hugs and cuddling from her mommy and daddy.
Every day we have deer, along with a plethora of wild birds (including turkeys) visiting our meadow. They come in search of food, either left by us, or what is growing on our land. Coming from the plains of southwestern Minnesota, I completely understood my wife’s newness to the wide variety of animals around our home. Anne (who possesses an intellect much greater than mine) was coming from North Dakota, and has since learned that there is a difference between pheasants and wild turkeys. Once when building our house, she came running over to me to tell me about the “huge” pheasants that she saw. I could see that she was excited, because the (so called) pheasants represented a piece of home to her from where she grew up. “They do look like pheasants dear, but they are wild turkeys.” Since then she has taken my ribbing about it very well. With Anne coming from the North Dakota, (which is a very nice state), I like to refer to their forests as telephone poles. Most of the state is open prairie with the exception of the far western edge of the state. In the climate that North and South Dakota possess, birds like pheasants and prairie chickens, among a variety of other unique wildlife live on the open plains.
Over the years we have seen many interesting things. One day when coming home from work, Anne told me that she saw a baby deer born just below our windows. Hummingbirds are also frequent guests of which it is not uncommon to see them buzzing around our children’s heads and hands. They seemed to be curious about what Will and Abby were doing with “their” flowers. Now we have generations of these wonderful creatures flitting by every morning on their way to their feeders or the flowers we grow for them.
Our children are growing up to appreciate nature like Anne and I do. It is not unusual for Abby to say hi to a mama deer going by. The doe usually responds by looking up and swishing her tail in response. At times when walking by Will, it is not unusual in seeing him gently moving a caterpillar out of his way so it doesn’t get hurt. At times I have seen him out on the deck plucking old flower pedals from the plants, all the while having hummingbirds flit around him, curious to know what he is doing with their food.
For Anne and I, we try to have coffee early in the morning before the kids wake up. It is usually out on the porch (when weather permits) and we enjoy watching nature together busying itself with all the preparations of the day. This is our life and we enjoy it so very much. We as a family share in many ways the life that James Herriot brought to us in his books. Our family is thankful for authors like James Herriot, they have enriched our lives and have helped us to see ourselves in his stories.
|Will sitting by a fox den.|