I see in THE INQUIRER that Yosemite’s animals are behaving differently since the park closures. They’re coming out of hiding and going ahhh! in the afternoon sun. Ambling is the word the reporter, Susanne Rust, used to describe a bobcat. We have bobcats here, but I’ve never seen one ambling or otherwise. I don’t think visitors to Yosemite see them much, either, and when they do, I bet they aren’t ambling. But ambling may be what more animals are doing across the globe. Moving with confidence now that we humans won’t be bothering them, won’t be driving, won’t be filling the air with muck. Bears have quadrupled, at least the sightings of them have, since Yosemite closed. Ravens dance in empty parking lots while coyotes travel unbothered on paved roads. It’s the life!
In my yard, foxes are the proof. Foxes and hawks. These are creatures we sometimes see. Well—hawks we always see them, high in the sky or in tree branches. That’s common, but they don’t come to the ground. Not here. Lately, though, we have seen them swoop low over the patio. There is no mistaking them for pigeons or blue jays. These are serious critters on a mission, and I would not argue with one.
To see them outside the window—what a wingspan! They’re so fast, I don’t see the catch, if there is a catch, that’s how fast they are. I will say, though, that whatever animals they don’t grab sure get the message. Afterwards, neither hide nor hair of any creature anywhere appears near that patio. And quiet. You could hear a rainbow.
Then they slink back, continue with the bird feeders and squirrel play. What me worry?
Until a fox runs through.
We see them around here. Sure. They live here. So do we, but to see one is kind of an event. Hey! Did you see the fox? So pretty with their red coats. We see foxes every day now, and not just on the perimeters of our yard, or a red streak as it heads for parts unknown. Did you see it? Did you see it? Too late. They’re on the patio, too, and like the hawks, send the squirrels and birds and chipmunks into hiding. Between the hawks and the foxes, the regulars are getting a ramped-up education. But they don’t stay away. Someone must blow the all-clear, and they come back.
Sometimes the foxes stick around, stand where they can survey the area, just showing their colors, maybe. Once, two of them met on our front walk right on the other side of our window. They met and seemed to have a conversation, a little kissing, some reconnoitering. We decided we were looking at mother and child. Ma’s been through some tough times with that tail missing chunks here and there. But, boy, do the two of them look healthy otherwise. Two? We probably see more than two individuals. There are never only two foxes. Except for that tail, though, who’s to know who?
And then there was the day John and I were walking through the neighborhood. Reduced traffic like everywhere else. Less car exhaust and more beauty. The trees are just gorgeous this year! And the aromas!
The snakes think so, too, and we saw the evidence when right there on the sidewalk were two garter snakes basking in the sun. I have never seen two snakes lying on the pavement side by side like that. They didn’t even move as we walked past. Ambled past. The world was too lovely for them to care about us. We were benign. At least we weren’t driving a car. Maybe that’s what they thought. If we’d gotten any closer, maybe they’d have zipped off. But those snakes—each must have been at least eighteen inches long—just lying there like a couple of pals. Or lovers. Life was good, and they were going ahhh!
Before now, sometimes I’d see snakes. Not often, and they were always going somewhere in a hurry. They don’t stick around to pose. Neither to foxes. Neither do hawks. Used to be.
But everything is on hold now. The animals are coming out. The magnolias keep their blossoms for weeks instead of hours. It’s hard not to love all of this. This part.
So when I go out, I go ahhh! too. Bask in the afternoon sun. I’m not afraid of the foxes or the hawks or the snakes. When the bears show up, maybe I won’t be afraid then, either.