Sippican Cottage

starch factory maine 1280x720


A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Got Nature?

I was answering my e-mail yesterday afternoon, and looked out my office window. Notice anything?
Yes, I know something’s been eating my neighbor’s arbor vitae, or the first four feet of it, anyway. It makes it look like Dr Suess lives next door. No, not that. Look closer.

Yes, I see the ghost of the trench the Verizon Fios installation left in my yard. Grass seed is almost $10.00 for a bag that would seed every Fios installation in Southeast Massachusetts. Why would the trenching people bring some of that with them? No that’s not it. All right, I’ll go over to a window without a screen to block the view. But I’ll have to get up from my desk, and that makes me cranky when I’ve plopped there after a day hunching over a saw.

My, that’s a gangly dog.

Do you know what an osprey is? It’s like an eagle that lives at the shore. It’s white and black, and it’s huge. It’s a solitary beast, more or less. It likes to grab fish out of the ocean. You’re supposed to get jazzed if you see one soaring overhead.

I had five of them in my yard at one time last week. They all eventually landed in the tall pines, and it looked like there was a bunch of grade schoolers pole-sitting in my yard.

They were big enough to make an attempt on the cats. But the cats were busy.

We get turtles the size of hubcaps, and cute little box turtles too. I was getting the mail once a few years ago, when I saw a woman who had stopped her car in front of my house and was instructing her grade school daughter to pick up a snapping turtle the size of a Thanksgiving Turkey Platter that was in the road. She wanted to “save” it. People have interesting ideas about how fragile nature is, and what the appropriate attitude is to take towards it most of the time. I can assure you that that snapping turtle would have clawed the beejezuz out of that little girl and maybe taken off the end of a finger if I hadn’t been there to intervene. They’re gila monsters in a tank, not Disney characters, lady. Do you send your daughter out in the road to shoo the drifters away, too?

We’ve had coyotes in packs. Turkeys in flocks. Phalanxes of turtles. Deer in the same quantities and with the same appetites and regard for private property as teenagers at a mall. A rabid baby skunk living under our back step. Owls. Bats like luftwaffe squadrons every night. A dozen baby squirrels living in the attic. I have to remove three foot trees from my gutters twice a year. My two year old son was trying to feed the birds out back and a field mouse ran out of the shrubs and sat on his foot and ate the seeds. We’re only interested in how many gold finches are in the yard.

The deer are just garden pests here. The mosquitoes are biblical in size and quantity. A 75 foot tall pine is a weed. The peepers sound like a 747 warming up on the runway in the spring. Our little children can’t play alone in the yard, but not because some drifter might get them. A drifter would never even make it half way up the driveway before the horseflies would get them.

Lenin sat in an office and thought he knew all about how the farmers should order their affairs, even though he had never met one. I read the paper and am told by apartment dwellers that kayak now and again that nature is a delicate affair, and could be snuffed out at any second, wholesale. I’ve got news for the environmental crowd. If I didn’t mow my lawn for three weeks, no one would ever know what happened to us. We’d be pulled to pieces and subsumed.

Nature always looks best on TV Homer Simpson

7 Responses

  1. Relying on bats to eat mosquitoes in Southcoast Massachusetts is like throwing aspirin in the Grand Canyon.

    Two people died of EEE within a few miles of here last year, and they still refuse to spray for mosquitoes. At the town meeting, a woman protested that if we allowed aerial spraying for mosquitoes, the locally grown organic carrots she liked wouldn’t be organic any more, and she wouldn’t eat them.

    I’m not joking.

    A dead elderly man and a child. Or organic carrots. You choose. We already did.

  2. I’ll get right to the point.

    I visit here regularly but seldom comment. After reading one of your posts, just about anything I might say sounds stupid to me. You’re a tough act to follow.

    But I worked up the courage to leave this comment because Althouse linked to Slate V and I was reminded of how impossible it is that their corporate hip could possibly surpass your authenticity.

    Please accept this global expression of thanks and deepest admiration.

  3. Yeah, I found out just after I bought my house a few years ago that the neighbor across the street had almost died of West Nile the year before. There’s a big pond in the very small, exclusive subdivision right next to my house.

    Fortunately, here in Louisiana we believe in better living through chemicals (heck, we make many of them), so the fogger truck comes through regularly. We had a couple of hard freezes this winter, so the skeeters aren’t too bad this year. A bat or two would help keep those that are left under control. I need to get some of the little fishies that eat mosquito larvae and stock the pond with them, though.

    Those same people in your town probably are horrified when Atticus shoots the rabid dog.

  4. We live in the ‘burbs, not the swamp, so we get less nature than you do. There’s a mallard couple whom we think lives on an adjacent golf course. Several times a week they wander our way looking for bread crumbs, and the kids are delighted.

    We’ve also got a beautiful thornless honey locust in the front. It doesn’t create seed pods, but tries to reproduce by sending up shoots from a shallow root system all over the yard. We mow the shoots down, and a day later they’re back — it’s like some kind of zombie tree. If we leave it for a week or two, it looks like we’re trying to start a nursery.

    Yes, I have the feeling that people who are concerned for the delicacy of nature probably live in apartments and have never seen weeds grow up through landscape fabric, gravel and concrete.

  5. Bissage- That is a very kind comment and I am grateful for it.

    For reasons that might as well remain obscure, we are extremely big Yob fans here at the cottage. I see from your avatar you are as well.

    “But dear, we can’t have him talking to any strange bees. And no, I haven’t been anywhere near Joe’s Bar and Grille.”

  6. I visit here regularly but seldom comment. After reading one of your posts, just about anything I might say sounds stupid to me. You’re a tough act to follow.


    I get up every morning and go outside to enjoy the sunrise, not that it is anything spectacular at my place as it faces west. For a few weeks now, a young skunk has made his way through the fence between my property and the field to the fruit trees at the bottom of the property. It knows that I am about 60′ away and 30′ above him but I don’t bother it and it doesn’t bother me. Once it has its fill of whatever fell to the ground, it leaves the way it came. I’ll have to fix the fence soon, I know, but I will miss watching the skunk in the dim light moseying along the bottom of the property, back through the fence, barely visible in the annual grass on the either side until it hits the dirt road, whereupon it scurries off home, somewhere near the little wetlands in the distance. I’ve decided to start tossing the fruit that falls on the ground over the fence, not far from its daily walk, once the fence is repaired.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *