After a weekend near the ocean, we returned home to find that our place has become "home" to a whole bunch of critters. A somewhat more comfortable home to them than we are comfortable with.
For weeks, we’ve had what we refer to as our house-Hare…a large rabbit nibbling the weeds and other greens around our house. He’s not much bothered by our presence, hopping just far enough to be out of reach.
But when we came home, we discovered he’d also been on the porch that stretches along three sides of our house. Getting there required him to climb four steps. I’m always amazed by animals that climb stairs. It seems to me that steps are made for upright bipeds, not critters on four feet. But, nonetheless, our not-to-be-intimidated-by-architecture house Hare climbed the stairs and explored the porch quite fully.
In the porch’s southwest corner, nestled in the wisteria vine under the eave, is a nest full of eggs. We’re trying to remember to use the back door so we don’t frighten the mother.
And Monday morning, as I climbed the hill to my office, carrying a large mug of coffee and my notebook, I noticed three deer lying beneath the building. Because my office is built on a hillside, much of it is up on stilts. The deer had made the shaded area beneath it their comfortable sleeping place.
As I approached, two of the deer bolted, but one stood, waiting to see what I was going to do. When I turned toward the stairway leading up to my office door, he also bolted, running into the under-building stilts and then off into the woods.
I began to climb the stairs, but stopped when I saw a bright-eyed garter snake up on the seventh step. Only two more steps and he would be at the door to my office. And then what? Would he slip inside when I opened the door? A garter snake on my steps was clearly not acceptable.
"There’s a snake on my steps," I called to Sweetheart Al.
In minutes he was next to me, admiring the beauty of the serpent. "He’s a big one," Al said. Then, carefully, he grabbed the snake behind its head, and under its belly, and lifted it off the step.
The snake hissed and Al laid it on the ground. Then he whipped out his measuring tape and measured the critter. Twenty-eight inches.
Early this morning, as I headed down the drive to my part-time job, a small skunk waddling along the driveway stopped me. I could not get around him. And he was in no hurry.
So I sat in my car, watching its black and white hair ripple with every little step, and wondering if I’d be late to work.
The old adage about nature hating a vacuum has come true at our house. Three days away and the whole world of wildlife has decide to move in and make our place their own.