Saturday, June 05, 2010

Wild Life

Shadow and I walked three miles at the fort today and for the second time encountered strange rodent behavior. A couple weeks ago, on a narrow trail along the bluff, we saw a small vole crossing the path, or trying to cross it. The little beast was so fat (pregnant?) that it could barely walk and waddled and stumbled as it tried to cross in front of us. We skirted around and when I looked back a few steps later it was resting on the dirt, still not having made it across.

Today we were on the paved roadway loop when another rodent, about three inches long and seeming to be tubular shaped, tumbled or ran down the bank on our right and with great vigor attacked Shadow! Ran right at her. As I danced to my left, pulling Shadow away, it just kept attacking. It was shocking really as we are so large and it was so tiny. At one point it moved so fast that I thought it was a tumbling pine cone that had fallen and was spinning on the pavement. But even as we got around and away and moved quickly along, I looked back to see it running after us for several feet. Could it have been trying to drive us away from a too-near proximity to its den where there were babies? If so it will be a VERY busy rodent because that's a busy trail!

This afternoon and evening involved a trip to Seattle to see a wonderful play, which always means a late return home. So I was on Discovery road between Sheridan and San Juan around midnight when a doe crossed in front of me. Then my headlights caught a little spotted fawn behind her, stopping at the road's edge and turning back toward the cemetery. The doe stopped on the opposite side and looked back, became alarmed and turned and crossed back in front of me to get to her baby. I was touched. So often I've seen doe leave the babies trailing, expecting them to catch up on their own. "Maybe she's worried about predators, especially coyotes around here at this hour," I thought. And then, not quite a mile away as I turned from San Juan onto Lopez I saw a familiar dancing figure scampering along the road, onto Lopez just ahead of me. It was the young coyote I'd seen in training at nearly the same spot a month and a half ago. And it went to the same bend in the road and began dancing about, though this time I saw no cats around. And this time the youngster was alone.

Amazing, isn't it? To live in town and yet encounter all this wildlife so frequently? And I see fewer dead animals on the road than anywhere I've ever lived. May we all drive slow and it continue to be so. It's hard to share territory sometimes but it's pretty wonderful that we do.