Monday, May 21, 2007

Critter Comfort

In which we admit to an inner love for the creatures of the field

For a few weeks now I've been hearing strange noises in the night outside my bedroom window. There's an ivy patch out there and each night, just after I've turned off the lights, usually about 11 or 11:30, I've heard a russling in the leaves. It's not the russling that a cat or squirrel or possum would make -- we had a family of possums out there while, but they seem ot have moved out.

No, the sound was that of a large creature that walks with cautious, deliberate steps. Sasquatch? I should be so lucky.

No, I knew it was a large animal of some sort and, even though I didn't know what it was, it somehow gave me comfort. These night visits made me feel I wasn't alone, and I liked that.

On Sunday afternoon I'd been home all day working on a special project. It was cloudy, a pre-amble to June Gloom, and the day was unusually dark, when I heard the noise outside my window... crunch... a crunch... crunch... heavy, slow, deliberate.

I pulled up a leaf of my Venetian blinds and there she was, a lovely young doe, taking in my ivy as an afternoon snack. I crept outside with my camera phone, but she heard me and all I got was the grainy shot above. I hope I have not scarred her away permanently. I'd miss her if I did.

I've seen deer many times up the canyons from my place, but only recently have they come down to chew on my ivy. I'm pretty sure I know why. Two fires in Griffith Park have devastated the habitat for these semi-urban critters, and they're seeking fresh pasture. The herbivores won't be the only ones searching, however. No doubt we'll see more coyotes and other predators in the 'hood soon.

I do love the semi-wild critters we see around here and I'm always eager to see more. But mothers, lock up your kittens. Otherwise, they're likely to be coyote chow.


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