Friday, March 6, 2009

Animals in the Pseudo-Tuscan Wilderness

I only have about fifteen minutes to write this, so I apologize in advance about any poor writing/editing which may trip you up.

Did I mention that when I was talking to Mom about how gorgeous I am finding the home of her childhood, she said that it is a classic Mediterranean climate? Mild winters; rainy, sometimes short Spring; hot summers. And the more I look at the space around me, the more it seems to match up with picutres I've seen of Italy. I may just have to visit Italy anyway, though, because while Northern California may have an external landscape like Italy's, inside we are missing some essential frescoes.


A few days ago, we had a cow wander in to the pasture. Grandma said that she figured that it belonged to the folks who were renting from the neighbors, and she was glad that someone was getting good use from their land, since they aren't running any cattle on it right now. When I told Mom this, she mentioned that she thought that they should run cattle. I thought at first that this was silly -- after all, Grandma is 82 and only one uncle is home most of the time-- but then I remembered that the uncle who is home is the uncle is the one who hunts, so it wouldn't be such a wild idea to suppose that after a cow had been raised to maturity on the pasture, he could turn it in to freezer meat without too much trouble. It's a moot point, since I won't be here anyway (I think). But it's interesting to think about. (The cow is now gone, but we haven't gone and fixed any holes in our fence, so there is some chance that it will come back.)

I hear about half of the animals that I perceive: frogs (or is it toads?) in the neighbor's pond when I take my walks at night, and at least five different kinds of birds, whose calls I stop to listen to (against the faint background noise of the distant highway) when I take my walks during the day. I have heard the mice Grandma has complained about. I thought: we have mice because we have killed the rattlesnakes, who used to keep the mouse population down. And then I thought: I still don't want rattlesnakes right next to OR in the house. Not sure what I think would be the best solution for this, but again it's moot, since it isn't my house and I don't REALLY live here.

I do see things, too: a rabbit hopped right past me on the road yesterday, and I saw a tiny lizard in the rose garden on my way into the house today. I thought: no wonder Mom was never worried about picking up salamanders in her bare hands when I was little! She was used to stuff like that from her house.

This is exactly the sort of description I generally skip in a book or essay, since it is a lot more boring to read than to write about and remember. I do apologize, but it is the coolest thing going on in my life right now. Or, perhaps, most peaceful. Second most peaceful. Looking at the landscape is the most peaceful. I'll try to figure out that photo thing soon, but I must say that it isn't looking promising.

Finally, there is the Kitchen Sink Tree Frog report. I remember my cousin Troy telling me once that one of the coolest things about my grandma (and, by the way, she isn't the one I'm related to him through) is the fact that she has tree frogs that live in her kitchen sink. "It's like she has this whole little ecosystem in there," I remember him saying. Evidently the tree frogs are the most memorable thing about Grandma's house to most people, because my almost-nine-year-old niece asked about them the other day when she called, as did her mother. T (the niece) had tried to catch them when they visited, but they were too fast for her. Alas and alack, I had to report that I hand't seen any. When I told Grandma about it, she said that she will have to tell the girls who do the cleaning to leave them alone, since that is their rightful home. I'll let you know if I see a resurgence in the population. Also, come to think of it, I have not looked under the tubs that sit in the left-hand side of the sink. Next post, I'll try to remember to give another report.

(YES, I exceeded fifteen minutes, but not by that much. Gotta go email, now.)

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