This is Bunnyville. At least for now.
When we moved here almost three years ago, we knew this place as Franklin. And so it is, on any map you might find. But this year, I’m noticing more wildlife than ever before. I don’t think it’s something new. I just think I’m home enough, and quiet enough, to notice.
During the day, it was Birdland just a few weeks ago. The cheeky chickadees, the scolding finches, raucous bluejays, and stunning iridescent grackles mobbed the bird feeders as the last of the winter wind whistled and the snow flew. Each time a feisty little red squirrel scampered up to the feeder on the pine tree, everyone scattered. But they were back in moments once he left.
The deer came next to the house to eat the bushes and got caught, frozen, in the motion sensor spotlight. The dog watched from the upstairs window, but didn’t bark. I sat beside her on the floor and watched.
At night, their enemies, the coyotes howl – long and high. They’re hunting. It’s a sound to jangle the nerves. But lately I’ve noticed newer, higher voices. Youngsters. Little coyote kids, trying to join in and sound menacing. Their voices in the chorus transformed that sinister serenade into something less scary, something that even made me smile for a moment.
Below our house rushes the aptly named Handsome Brook. Bald eagles and other big birds hunt there, and there are more now than there were in the past couple of years. They wheel above our house and field, and glide with a freedom that seems all the more amazing in these days of restriction and worry.
On a morning walk, I see a large animal heading across the field above the brook. It turned and looked at me. We both stood, silent for a few beats. It was a bobcat, all stealth and muscle and intelligence. I waited. The cat waited. And then it silently disappeared into the trees and was gone.
Winter isn’t gone here, though I hear it’s going to be sixty degree this weekend. We have the woodstove going. There was snow in the air today, but the animals know winter’s almost over.
Bluebirds are nesting in the box near the shed. And this evening, there were more rabbits than I’ve ever seen in one place, frolicking around our back yard, checking out what I hope will be a vegetable garden, chasing each other, leaping and then hiding in the brush pile.
It’s bad news for my garden. I’ll have to plant enough for all of us.
Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.