I live in one wild corner!
Our newest wild resident is a deer.
She’s a brave young Momma and struts around like she owns the place! Her territorial behavior makes me a little nervous. In the photo below, she’s only a few feet from my door. I stay back, keep my distance and she looks over at me from time to time, I guess checking to see if I’m still there. After all, this is her new home and maybe in her mind, I am the resident human, who she thinks acts a little weird.
A few nights back, a neighbor knocked on my door. She looked rather stunned. I stepped outside.
First, she pointed at the deer standing close to us.
“Oh my!” I gasped.
The deer was closer than usual!
We’ve become used to the deer and its territorial antics, but we had never seen it come for a sleepover right outside our doors, which is exactly what the deer did.
The neighbor pointed to our right and in a slight voice, suggesting she was taken by all the wild activity going on, she said, “The owls are here too.”
Two Barred Owls were perched under the street light on the electrical wires behind our building. Oh, we’ve seen them before, both day and night, but lately, we’ve heard them too!
The owls were making a sort of hissing sound. I’d heard the nightly noise for about ten days, but I wasn’t sure of the source.
Barred Owls make several sounds other than the most known call (hoot), that can sound like they’re saying, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”
I think the hissing sound we heard was from a fledgling. The timing makes sense, because I heard the Barred Owls mating in springtime.
The hissing is a mysterious sound, and I think it’s a bit eerie for some people, but I love the owls and their presence is soothing.
Some people are afraid of owls. Others say seeing one is a bad omen.
I respect the owl and feel protected when they come around. Owls eat snakes, mice and rats. They watch the darkness and alert their mate or youngsters (and me), of unusual intruders.
If you’d like to see the Barred Owl and hear the hissing sound, here is a video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology on YouTube:
My neighbor and I stood together for a few more minutes in the wild of our otherwise pretty normal residential neighborhood. We watched and listened. The owls were successfully hunting. The deer was cozy in the corner of the yard.
OUR BEAUTIFUL RESIDENT BARRED OWL
The air was thick with wild.
“I also saw a big snake on my walk home,” my neighbor added. “I think it was a Copperhead.”
Our wild backyard scenario was becoming more interesting by the second!
Thank goodness, I don’t have a photo of the snake! I’d rather they are not seen by me.
Nature is very much alive where I live and the residents do take notice. Every neighbor I’ve talked with mentions something about the natural environment around here, usually pointing out one creature or another. The children seem to like the turtles and the adults often mention the Great Blue Heron.
A sense of community can be felt in our common awe, interest or simple excitement, inspired by the wild things that live amongst us.
Seeing the owls during the day (and capturing a few photos), is a beautiful thing. Watching all the pretty birds, listening to the sounds of nature, and once in a while, getting a glimpse of the Great Blue Heron, are each blessings of beauty.
Nature’s beauty is healing in so many ways. Beauty shows up unexpectedly too, like in the green muddy moss on the turtle’s shell and the hissing owls. I think those are beautiful things.
A flood zone, surrounded by a creek, with a pond in the center, apparently has a unique ecological system, which is a big reason why we have a diverse community of wildlife, such as the family of turtles that live in the pond.
A resident turtle.
Normally, the family of turtles take leave and dive into the water when people approach, which they did, but one came back after a minute or two of my arrival, climbed on the rock and gave me a stare!
Maybe I imagine these wild-life-looks I get, but I must say, I believe communication happens. I like that.
For instance, I played with a white butterfly the other day. That’s right. We played and I had a grand time!
I was so happy about my time with the butterfly, that I shared photos and wrote a little about it in my photo journal blog, Green Healing Notes.
A Green Healing Morning with the Cabbage White Butterfly!
I need the outdoors to thrive; whether it’s walking through woods, tending plants, birdwatching, chasing butterflies, or taking photographs of the beauty I see.
In nature, even in my own little green space, with one butterfly hovering around, I lose myself. Or perhaps, I find myself and lose the rest.
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Ruthie and Happy sure know how to be good neighbors. They’re polite and respectful to one another. They always greet each other with a bark or if there is time, several dogkisses! They are good friends.
Happy has a busy schedule of walks, playing and sleeping, but she enthusiastically remembers Ruthie on her way home from her morning walks. Ruthie is always happy to see her friend and neighbor, the dog, Happy!
The first thing I reached for when the creek started rising, was a picture of my son at the ocean when he was about five years old. It’s my favorite photo. He’s wearing a little pair of blue jeans rolled up above his ankles, walking in the sand and looking down at the waves barely covering his small bare feet.
I placed the photo carefully in the plastic tub I was using to hold my most cherished belongings.
I wasn’t ready for a flood, but I should have been. Along with my rental lease when I moved six months ago, I signed a statement informing me that the apartment is in a flood zone.
I didn’t read the paper I signed. I was desperate for a place to live.
An unexpected bed bug situation in an apartment my son had recently moved into interrupted my search for a rental. Suddenly, my son was without a home and I had a deadline to find myself a place. We were tired. The winter weather was cold and I was in severe physical pain. Neither of us were able to continue looking, so we each rented an apartment in the flood zone.
The rain started late in the afternoon. I hadn’t watched the news and was not aware of pending thunderstorms.
My dog, Ruthie, tried telling me the rain storm was unusual. She barked loudly as soon as it started. My gut grabbed me for a moment.
I opened the door and looked outside. I could feel something different. The rain was loud.
There were two birds here that I’d never seen before. Cardinals were rushing to the feeders, getting more wet by the second. As the rain continued, the birds kept feeding. Water had soaked one cardinal’s wings and the poor bird struggled to stay in flight.
I quickly realized that everything in my home means a lot to me. I’ve downsized and what is left isn’t replaceable. Anxiety set in.
Family photos, art and crafts that either my son or mother created, and my pretty wooden clock that my sister gave to our immediate family members one year for Christmas, all went into the plastic tub.
I wrapped my little sculpture of a girl holding a bouquet of orange flowers to her face that my mother gave me for a birthday present about five or six years earlier.
Then of course, there’s the beautiful hand carved wooden spoon that I love. My son made it from a large piece of Cherry when he was thirteen years old. Without using power tools, he worked for many weeks chiseling, carving, sanding and shaping the wood. How in the world can something like that be replaced?
I spent the best of four hours, while the downpour continued, putting things in high places, packing them in the plastic tubs and lastly, unplugging electrical devices. I packed bags of clothes and necessities.
Management sent a messenger to tell tenants to evacuate the parking lot. Everyone moved their cars to higher ground.
Anxiety had me distressed.
Then, my son came over. He was completely calm.
At first, I was upset by this. I mean, how could he be so calm, I wondered, when our homes might be flooded any moment! I needed his help packing, I thought.
I felt disoriented. I honestly wished I could have afforded a hotel, but since I couldn’t, then I was planning on driving to my mother’s home.
After several hours of packing and listening to the downpour, along with seeing the families of other tenants come and go, taking their loved one with them, fatigue was overcoming me. I would likely have to surrender my pride and perhaps, accept the invitations offered to us by two friends for nearby refuge.
My son had earlier gone to the store for water, drinks and snacks. While I was running around packing stuff, he lied down on the floor with Ruthie and whispered in her ear. This obviously relaxed her and since she is such a sensitive dog, I was grateful.
Within a few minutes, Ruthie was lying on her back with her legs in the air. You know a dog is alright when they do that. My son gently rubbed her little belly and continued talking softly to her.
Ruthie and I both needed what he had to offer during the crisis. I suppose he needed it too.
The worst of the storm came at midnight.
The fire department and Red Cross had waited for hours on the other side of the bridge. They had a rescue truck in our parking lot. The water started to seep into the front door when I called them to say I was ready to leave.
Ruthie wouldn’t go outside. I would need help carrying her to the rescue truck. I was beginning to wonder if they would have to carry me as well.
My son had disappeared just before the water starting to come inside. He’d gone to check on his own place. I don’t think he realized how bad the situation could have been, until he saw the water rise to the level of my doorstep. I had begged him not to leave because the water wasn’t only standing in our otherwise grassy lawn, but by that time, there was a current.
I didn’t want to leave without him. I waited.
Within about fifteen more minutes the water started to go down. I had a feeling the worst of the storm had passed, but the rescue team suggested that we leave in case of another downpour.
The water level had gone down enough so that Ruthie would walk on the sidewalk. Three firefighters were at my door. My son had told them I needed help.
“Where is my son?” I asked the men.
“He’s at the club house playing pool,” one answered.
Apparently, he wasn’t alone. Floods are common and expected at this property. Management opens up the club house for folks to gather, watch TV and play pool.
Ruthie and I walked with the men. They carried my bags. They were most enthusiastic about their duty, which fire fighters tend to get.
I had only seen three men, until we rounded the corner of the building. There were six more waiting for us. I couldn’t believe my eyes!
Ten strong beautiful men waiting to rescue me!
Thank you for visiting dogkisses!
Note: I was right about the storm’s end when the creek reached the level of my door and fortunately, we didn’t have damage to the inside of our homes. I did not refuse the help when one of the men offered to lift me up on the back of their truck. How could I?
From the woods, I heard a gentle “hooo.”
Oddly, my insides churned. The sound of our resident owl during daylight hours was unfamiliar.
Normally, the owl would call about three minutes after sundown. I’d grown used to it since early springtime, at least after the bird found a mate and from the sound of things at night, they had made some baby owls. From then on, the calls were dependable and predictable, but hearing the majestic bird during the afternoon hours didn’t make sense to me.
I felt a pending doom, which I found curious and strange. I let it pass, I thought, and continued to prepare for guests in my new apartment.
I was tired and hungry. My mood was fragile.
“How are you liking your new place?” one of my guests, John, asked me.
I was comfortable and pleased to see that I had arranged my living room furniture in a small circle because the intimate setting was perfect for the occasion.
My guests were friends from a small church where my son has gone for the past year. I’ve gone a couple of times and attended a weekly small prayer group. I like the people I’ve met through the church. I especially like the young Deacon (and his beautiful wife), who will soon be a full priest of the small Anglican church.
My adult son and I met the Deacon rather mysteriously and most necessarily one early and difficult Sunday morning. I believe it’s possible that our meeting him was a divine intervention.
The primary purpose of our recent gathering at my apartment, as well as my son’s place, was for prayers and a proper blessing of our homes. The time was also, “Holy Week,” and the church members were reaching out to help people in need.
I was in need.
“I’m having a hard time adjusting to the sounds and lights,” I told John.
I started telling them about the owl’s soft call and that I had been uncomfortable that it called during the day. Within moments, I was sobbing.
“I’ve never heard the owl call during the day,” I cried. “I don’t understand. Maybe something is wrong with the bird,” I told them. I cried more.
John initiated the prayer time. I was glad and grateful.
He started a special healing prayer for me. Each person said a prayer, and then I prayed for John. He used, “holy water,” to bless each of us.
After we prayed, the elder walked around my apartment. He said more prayers and sprinkled some type of salts on the floor of each door and near the windows.
My new place is in a flood zone. Sixty eight families lost their homes in 2013, which is why the place was vacant.
The Deacon had a special water he used to bless the home and keep us safe from floods.
I can honestly say that I feel safer about the water than I did before. I won’t leave my dog home alone when it rains and the floods might come again, but I believe we’ll be safe.
By the time the prayers and blessings were over, I was able to laugh about being upset over the owl’s timing. However, the experience did leave me curious and a little concerned.
The owl’s calls soothe me, not simply because I like wildlife, but the predictability brings me solace.
I get a similar feeling when I hear a nearby delivery truck every morning at the same time.
Thanks for visiting my blog, dogkisses.
Note: Since I wrote this post several weeks ago, where it stayed in my draft folder, a flood has come and it was not easy, but we stayed safe and my home was not damaged. The grass is brown from the creek having risen like it did, intertwining itself, eventually into my yard, so that around midnight, my little corner where I call home was part of the current.
I miss dogkisses and all the people who have visited, along with the bloggers I know. I’m not well, but maybe I will return to blogging one day soon. I wish you all peace and love.