Sunday, January 10, 2010
You lookin' at me? My patch, beat it!
I was walking briskly in freezing temps around the park today, nodding at people so muffled that I'm not sure if I know them or not, and the squirrels were doing their mad January chasing and dancing and general mating games.
One stopped long enough to hiss and chatter at me when I had the nerve to stand by his personal tree and take his picture, which I preserved here.
Which reminds me that this time of year, getting into February, is when a lot of animals mate, including raccoons, squirrels and possums, and they completely lose their minds in the heat, pun intended, of the chase.
So the normally nocturnal ones are seen all over the place in daytime, scrambling about, totally ignoring the human race. I used to get calls when I had the petcare biz from people who figured I probably knew something about wildlife and it was easier to get through to me than to the wildlife officials for the state.
They would be panic stricken wondering if seeing raccies in the daytime on their deck meant they were rabid. These fears are not too farfetched around here, since we do get reports of small rabid animals now and then.
So I would explain, no they're probably not rabid, they're mating under your deck! look out for little families of them in a few weeks, and if you set out a couple of Havahart traps, you can get the local animal control officer to pick them up and transfer them. It being illegal for the likes of us not sworn officers, to move wildlife anywhere.
January also brings us a shrub that blooms in the dead of winter -- witch hazel. For years I used to make a January pilgrimage to the local community college where they have great specimen trees and shrubs relating to their hort. programs, I suppose, and larcenously swipe a couple of little twigs from the witch hazel, which are wonderful miniature flowers which open up when you put the twigs in water to force them, and smell good, too. Scratch a gardener and you'll find a burglar in shabby clothes...
Then last year I discovered, duh, that on the side of the park I walk in daily there are several witch hazel shrubs, slightly different species, but fine for swiping and much easier to get to. They're right by the bus stop for reasons that escape me.
So a tiny little twig is now sitting in a glass of water and if it opens enough to be recognizable as other than a little dead stick, I will take a picture.