Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring in the City Wilderness

Once, long ago, we lived in the woods, in a house we were building ourselves. We were surrounded on two sides by an Amish farm, and on the third side by a single resident on a country road. There was one house across the street from us.

Wildlife was everywhere. Sometimes, I would wake up and look out at the lawn that was between the house and the woods, and there would be a fox, sleeping on a mossy hummock. We had the occasional black rat snake in the house (ick). There were three ponds. Every year some wood ducks would hang out at the ponds deciding whether or not to nest. We put up a wood duck nesting box, but wrens took it over - yes, tiny wrens, who filled up that box with twigs until it was at the right level!

When I first moved to Norwalk I missed those woods and the wildlife. We lived in a residential neighborhood where the only wildlife was birds (thank God for them!) and domestic animals.

When we moved closer to the church, in the center of town (although I have to say, it's not like any town center I've ever seen), I assumed it would be the same. Since then, we are regularly visited by skunks, possums and raccoons, as well as hawks perching in the trees in the rectory yard and on the church steeple.

Yesterday morning I took the dog, Miss Xena, Warrior Labrador-Mix Princess of all Norwalk, for her walk on the bike path a block from the house. It was six a.m. exactly. As we proceeded on the path, I saw, up ahead, two deer, on the path. Now, on one side of the path is a high, chain link fence, with a nearly perpendicular hill of trees and greenery up the short distance to the level of the route 7 connector. On the other side of the path are houses and yards. Behind us, across the street, is a small park, but certainly none of this was habitat for deer.

Where did they come from? I don't know. And they had no idea what to do about me and my dog. I turned Xena around and we went back to the beginning of the path, on the fence side, leaving the deer options for escape, because they were not going to be able to leap that fence, given the terrain. But that left them only escape through city-type back yards. One of them came our way, on the opposite side of the path, and, veering through the last yard, and between two houses, it ran across the street and took refuge in the open park. The other ran the other way and disappeared down a side street that is perpendicular to the path.

Where did they go from there? I have no idea. My first thought was will one or the other of them get hit by a car? Fortunately, none of that happened, at least not in my neighborhood. They were young - not fawns, but probably yearlings - long, leggy legs, the rest of their bodies not having caught up with their growth spurt.

Red Tail Hawks seem to have adapted to being urban hawks. Other wildlife - including coyotes - can be found in our city here and there. We destroy habitat in order to make it fit our desires. And still, the wildlife returns and tries to make peace with that - a peace we choose not to make with the wild life. We see them as pests and dangerous. Who do they think we are?


Barbara said...

We, parishioners, are wildlife too and maybe not so civilized.

Lois Keen said...

Heh, heh, heh! Thanks, Barbara.