Goshawk in a Ponderosa
We felt like we needed to celebrate Earth Day in a new and different way this year. While people all over the country are picking up trash, volunteering at their local parks, and raising awareness about the importance of conservation, preservation and stewardship, we wanted to simply share some day-to-day moments of wonder that can happen for everyone all over the world if one can slow down, be present and become a keen observer of the world around you. We would love to hear about YOUR Earth Day events, experiences and lessons, too!
Note: All of these events describe (mostly) real events that have happened to camp staff, on camp property or in and around Teller County within the last 24-72 hours. (We also really like Ira Glass and This American Life)
Act I–Of Mice and Spring
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak…Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
(Mouse Translation: Happy Spring! It has been sunny and warm, then it got cold and snowy.)
(Mouse Translation: So we all decided to go into our friends’ houses at Sanborn. They are warm and dry.)
Squeak, squeak. Squeak squeak squeak.
Abert (ninja) squirrels are a year round friend
(Mouse Translation: Besides, it’s Earth Day, and we think it is important that they don’t forget about us…so we are going to head indoors to remind them to get outside.)
Act II–Goshawk Haiku
Slate grey black-brown-dark
Sits low in Ponderosas
Wants to eat the squirrel.
Act III–Vulture Queens
Voice on the Radio: We have just had a report of an accident off of Highway 24, just west of Florissant. The driver said she drove off of the road after seeing a large vulture perched on top of a fence post with full outspread wings, apparently drying itself after eating in/on/through one of the very large snowdrifts remaining from last weekend’s snowstorm. The driver said the vulture appeared to be “frozen in a commanding position–as though it was about to direct an orchestra or is channeling Isis (the goddess).”
Act IV–Bird Nerds Unite!
In everyday conversations around the globe, when questions arise people raise their phones horizontally to their lips and say, “Hey, Siri…”
Around here, we just call Jerry. Jerry is sort of like the old KU Info line you could call to find out the name of the author of that book about the rabbits that form a society, but there are bad rabbits, and it has water in the title or something…but Jerry is better than KU info because he knows what you are talking about when you burst into the office and excitedly say, “Jerry! There was this cool bird at the feeder yesterday and it was a big, medium-sized, yellowish orange with black and white and…” “Oh! You saw an evening grosbeak! They are spectacular!”
After a while, you just find yourself talking about the birds you’ve seen not only to Jerry, but to everyone else:
“Hey! Did you see the kingfishers down in Florissant this morning on the powerline–so cool!”
“I saw a Golden eagle outside of Divide yesterday–those things are so big!”
“The bluebirds are back! The bluebirds are back!”
“I saw a whole flock of red-winged blackbirds yesterday, and heard them calling by the pond this morning!”
“Look at the junco building its nest above our office window!”
And, of course, Jane yelling from her desk, “Hey you turkeys!” (the entire office goes immediately silent)
“What’s wrong, Jane?” says a timid voice.
“No! I’m talking to the REAL turkeys outside of my window, come look!”
Act V–Can We Go With You?
Of all the megafauna on the ranch, the most ubiquitous are the mule deer and elk. Elk are generally a little harder to spot, though there were eight hanging out by Strawberry Fields this morning. But the mule deer? They are kind of like our local street corner thugs…except they have huge doe eyes, enormous ears, and tend to spring off into the woods with the slightest provocation.
Mule Deer (and cats) are Unafraid
But this morning was different.
Jane Sanborn, mind fully churning at 5:30am, opened the door to her apartment and was both startled and amused to find twenty eyes looking back at her from a distance of about 10-15 feet.
The deer looked at her, Jane looked at the deer.
Jane spoke to the deer, “Good morning, deer. How are you, deer? Beautiful day, deer!” But still, the deer did not move. Finally, with 34 unwritten emails spinning in her mind, Jane walked out of the door, walked past the deer, to her car, got in, slammed the door, and drove away.
The deer looked on.
Act VI–Bob, Cat, Bobcat
The nicest thing about spring mornings at camp is the sun. In the dark months of December, when the sun had barely started to rise by 7, it is hard to remember that April soon arrives with its ever brighter 6:15-6:30am arrival. It is mostly hard to remember because the cat doesn’t yowl in December. The cat just sleeps.
But with the arrival of April, the energy and early morning prowly enthusiasm of our cat intensifies with ever-earlier cries, howls, and meows of “Out! Out! Out” (these caterwaulings are only interrupted by the sudden arrival of spring mice in the kitchen which causes a different sort of sleep disturbing mayhem). So, at promptly 6:07am this morning, I fed my cat to a bobcat.
It was not a deliberate act, and one–fortunately–I was able to remedy by sprinting outside and speaking firmly to the shockingly large bobcat walking through our (his) front yard. I think I said something really terrifying like, “Okay, big bobcat, keep on walking…that’s right, get a move on, buddy” all while trying to see where my also largish (for different reasons) cat had gone. The Australian shepherd sized bobcat was fairly nonplussed by my approach and simply kept sauntering. Our largish, often loudish, cat had chosen two, tried and true animal defense mechanisms: 1. Fluff himself out to racoon-like proportions; 2. freeze and practice invisibility.
It was only after the raccoon cat was safely stored underneath a bed did the whole family look around and say, “That was AWESOME!”
Happy Earth Day from ALL of your friends
(furred, feathered, slimy, scaly or human)
at Sanborn Western Camps