Nature Notes

It’s time for some nature notes, strange and wonderful: wonderful first.

I think it was maybe two years ago that a male cardinal first began coming to our deck. He didn’t come to the bird feeder but cardinals don’t like heights and our deck was already twelve feet above the ground. Going up another six feet to the feeder was probably too much of a challenge, but he came regularly and we were happy to see him. The bright red of a cardinal adds a vivid touch to the scenery. It was a long time before Mrs. Cardinal showed up. She was probably busy at first organizing things at home. But when she started coming she, too, became a regular visitor. So it went through the summer and then, suddenly, this week there were three young male cardinals on the deck. They don’t have their bright red plumage yet but we were glad to learn that the local family is growing. That’s wonderful.

And now for strange. I was working in the garden several days ago when I began to notice a strange metallic sound coming from the woods. It was not a sound one expects to hear in nature. There was no wind and there was no obvious reason for a sound that I compared to a stack of aluminum windows falling. The sound was irregular but it came perhaps eight or 10 times in the space of an hour. I didn’t have time to go looking but I’m a little note to check it out if I heard it again. Yesterday I had some time and decided to see what was happening. The sound was still occurring so I went in the direction of the sound and then heard a similar sound in a somewhat different direction and somewhat closer. So I went in that direction and then heard a regular volley of metallic bangs straight ahead. Suddenly I knew what it was. Straight ahead of me was the cabin that the hunters use. It has a metal roof and I was hearing acorns falling on that roof and rolling off onto the ground. Elsewhere in the woods the acorns were falling on outcrops of rock and hollow logs and giving a good imitation of life on a firing range. Great oaks from little acorns grow so there should be a lot of great oaks out their eventually – and there is not a sniper in the woods.

Strange and wonderful are the ways of nature.

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