Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm in the middle of a week in the field with kids. Here are some of our recent encounters with the natural world:

Yesterday, we looked up and spotted three Crows divebombing a flying Raven, no doubt in an attempt to drive it away from their nest or nests. It was far enough away that the violence of the attack wasn't apparent, making the whole interaction seem more like an aerial ballet. The Raven headed for the higher hills, still caught up in a flurry of beaks and wings as the Crows continued to press their attack. Soon, they were mere dots on the wooded horizon, and then they were gone.

Today, lifting a favorite piece of corrugated siding from the ground, I discovered the expected Rattlesnake, and a quite unexpected Field Mouse. The two were sitting mere inches apart. The Field Mouse looked quite startled, as if caught consorting with the enemy. The Rattlesnake remained inscrutable.

A few hours ago, we nearly trod upon a tiny Rattlesnake. It was so well camouflaged that it wasn't until it started frantically heading for the high grass that one of the kids spotted it. I headed it off with a plastic cage, and quickly had it safely contained. The little fellow was right next to the driveway heading up to camp, so he had to be moved farther into the field, for the safety of the snake and the kids equally.

I love my job.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Time is a funny thing, especially in the Spring. The northern hemisphere is gearing up for Summer in an explosion of scents and colors. I've traded some of my night shifts for day shifts, gladly going back to hike with kids though the green blanketed hills. Newness awaits around every bend in every trail, and under every log and rock. The kids all have Spring fever, and the promise of summer hovers around us like a swarm of strangely appealing gnats.

This week I'm back working nights. I seem to get more done during the day when my weeks of night work are bracketed by weeks of daytime work. Limitless time lulls me into a kind of torpor. Switching up my schedule energizes me, mostly because daytime work really cuts into the time I have to get all of the little things done, like housework and errands. In a way, working nights has spoiled me. On the weeks I switch my schedule, I miss the free time made possible by my nocturnal work hours.

It has now been over three months since my mom died. I occasionally find myself thinking she's still alive. My dad has pretty much wrapped up her financial affairs, but the house is still very much full of decades of accumulated possessions. I feel like my initial momentum has sped off without me. There are lots of other things going on too, of course. Willow and I have been spending a lot of time with Jeanine and her daughter, and I couldn't be more happy with the way things are going. I also bought a new lizard, a Columbian Tegu, to use for reptile parties, and am doing another reptile party in the middle of the month.

I feel a need to reign myself in and plan for the future on all fronts. I've been in a bit of a free fall in that department, spending too much, eating more pizza than I should, and generally not acting in a disciplined way. For some reason, my personal life is cyclical, with bouts of excess offset by periods of responsibility. It's almost as if the changing seasons drive my every act. Wouldn't that be the ultimate cop-out? Blaming poor habits on the seasons. Ha!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Yesterday, I provided animals and entertainment for the birthday party of a five year old boy. This was the second year in a row that I have been the party entertainer for him. I had with me various reptiles, a couple of arachnids, and a pair of hissing cockroaches. Willow came along too, and acted as my assistant. My favorite moment was this:

Me (holding cockroach): This has six legs. What does that make it?

Little girl: FAST!

Kids tell it like it is.