...with a husband and 5 sons, I am truly outnumbered....stories and thoughts on life from a mom in a houseful of little men!

Friday, October 03, 2014

Critters: day 3

In Alaska, we can easily see them coming.  Granted, they may not always be in the most convenient location.
And, if they happen to be particularly ornery, some could eat you.
Still, you can see them coming.  They're large, and fairly easy to shoot on film, or with your firearm of choice, whichever is appropriate. 

Critters.  Here in the South, we seem to encounter them in a bit more subtle, less dramatic way.  We don't always necessarily see them and thus may not have time to prepare ourselves for the encounter, for good or ill.  They certainly move fast and are difficult to photograph.  But there are plenty of them here, and I enjoy that, most of the time that is, which I will explain more fully in tomorrow's post. 

This land is full of life in the sky, in the fields, in the forests, along the waterways.  We see showy Eastern Bluebirds most every day, as they nest in a brilliantly placed, high birdhouse in our field.  In fact this land is simply teeming with birds of all colors of the rainbow, and in all sizes from the wee Hummingbird outside my bedroom window to the Northern Flicker we saw just this morning during breakfast.  They twitter and flit about all day long.  In the evenings, we see little bats flicker high in the tree tops.

We see many wild turkeys in our fields and yard, which incidentally, inspire visions of lovely holiday meals.  We occasionally see deer, but we know there are many more we don't see.  And I must just say, I had completely forgotten how small deer are compared to moose and caribou!  But they are graceful and lovely nonetheless, and the spotted babies are darling. 

We've seen wild hogs, running through a corn field.  And now that most of the corn fields are harvested, we see flocks of Canada Geese and many other critters gleaning in the fields.  We see evidence of possums and skunks and coyotes.  Our neighbor recently had a Bobcat on her porch, much to her surprise.  How often all these creatures and more must be around and about us when we're not looking, or when we're too loud, which is the case most of the time in my family.

We live near Smoky Mountain National Park, which is home to numerous Black Bears.  On our first visit to Cades Cove, indeed we drove underneath one.  Yes, we drove underneath a very young bear, as it was climbing on a flimsy, overhead branch.  It was a pretty cool experience, but one of my very favorite critter encounters since moving to the South came in the form of something much smaller.

One very warm afternoon, not long after we moved into our place, after a particularly taxing morning, I decided to take a break and saunter down to the river.  The river is located down a steep bank, and it is shaded and cool.  Best of all, it's entirely possible to escape the attentions of one's precious little ones while down by the river, providing a quick and needed break for mama when her head feels like it's going to explode when necessary.  This was such a day.

I squatted down along the bank, enjoying the delicious sound of quickly-running water, and had a talk with my Jewish Carpenter Boss about my frustrations and stresses.  Suddenly, something caught my attention.  A movement.  I squinted and watched down river, trying to locate whatever I'd detected, when suddenly it came into view.  An adorable little raccoon, completely oblivious to my presence, was making his way up the river and hunting for morsels along the way.  He would amble a bit, then reach into (obviously familiar to him) holes along the bank.  He'd amble some more, wade through the river where the bank was too steep to walk, then reach and contort himself like a corkscrew in order to fully examine another hole.  I laughed inwardly as he climbed back up onto the bank, at how scrawny his little legs were when wet, and how fluffy the rest of him was.  This went on for about ten minutes, as he walked along, directly across from me for a time, and then continued on up the river for as far as I can see.  For that ten minutes, I forgot all the cares of the morning.  The Lord met me on that river bank through a little raccoon. 

Sometimes things aren't as stressful and as big of a deal as we think, when we pause to enjoy the other critters living all around us, whose needs are met continually by our same Creator.  I'm so thankful for the ministry of critters.  It's something for a girl to love whether she's in Alaska or Tennessee, or anywhere in between.
You can read more of this 31 Day series, by clicking here.

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