Early Fall 2015: Walpole Wildlife | Notes Archive »
It’s strange to have lived in the real countryside for many years where one encounters serious wildlife.
During the Acworth years we met moose (right in our driveway!), deer, coyote, bear, wolf, fox families, resident woodchuck, all manner of rodent, porcupine, skunk, and amazing birdlife, including the elusive wood thrush among others. Here in Walpole we have learned to enjoy much tamer varieties, but, up close and always at hand, they are very interesting indeed. The squirrels - red and grey - in Walpole can probably claim ancestry older than any of the oldest English families. Oh my, they are really at home. We have a row of huge, old hemlocks across our back property line and it is pure entertainment to watch them navigate in the very high boughs of those trees. They play together, wildly. The chipmunk who I swear has been, with his progeny, living in the basement of this house for years (the house stood empty for 12 years before we came in 2013) is a character. I put my garden in the front and he/she really seems to love that improvement. There is serious nibbling on the basil plants, and scurrying around constantly. He/she can be as still as a statue. The first winter the chipmunk sang along when the oil burner went on, and between the burner and the chirping, it was something.
The birds are garden variety, but being so close to our house, they become part of the family. The cardinals are as loud as any we’ve ever heard, and the soft, dear chirp of the robins is one of the real comforts of life here on Middle Street. We have happy nuthatches and mourning doves, chickadees, hummingbirds and darling little sparrows. There is also a woodpecker who every spring pecks noisily on all our chimney plates, going from house to house, apparently looking for a mate. These are the rites of spring and summer for us, and they are as dependable and cheerful as any of the rural cast of characters we have known and loved in all the years in North Salem and Acworth, when we were deep in the country.
The garden is the centerpiece of the summertime house here and every year it comes more of age, with fewer annuals and more perennials. This year we added plumbago, ornamental onion, yet another try at lavender, beard tongue (weird name; lovely plant), anemone and echinacea “Cheyenne Spirit”. I have taken to making tiny table arrangements for guest dinners which are unobtrusive and give lots of small joys. We are more settled in this tiny house every year, and more ready and able to renew old friendships and add new ones with special dinners.
Also busy adding very special things to my inventory of antiques. Selectivity is the name of the game - quality not quantity, which is the golden rule in every aspect of life as well. I have found a few spectacular cloth dolls, a carved wooden one, some doll furniture, special baskets and painted things, rare cooky cutters, and some paintings. The “hunt” is on. When the first hint of fall is in the air, the antiquer is on the prowl, with renewed enthusiasm.
As we settle into our life here, one theme reasserts itself: Nature restores. No matter what life throws our way, the outdoors remains a constant source of joy.