It was 20F degrees Monday night and I fired up the grill at my Arlington, VA, home, Woodland Cottage. I stepped out the door a few minutes later to put the chicken on and I heard the most awful, primal noise. At first, I thought it might be two cats mating; then I realized that on many a spring and fall night, when the windows are open, I’ve heard that racket. And as you know, it is very distinct! This sounded like another type of animal, maybe hurt…or even a child in trouble…I almost called 911. But when I came out a few minutes later, to turn the meat, it was quiet again. That dead, muffled quiet of winter. Very strange.
Yesterday, the owner of the landscape installation company I use, Tom, dropped by to visit some jobs with me. We walked around the yard and heard a hawk screeching. We looked up and there it was–a big’un. I told Tom the story of the strange noises from the night before. “Hmmm…maybe an owl caught something?” “I’ve never once heard or seen an owl in the 12 years I’ve been here,” I said, and he said, “Well, I bet you have owls in these woods.” We stood there a minute, silently, and I can tell you I still haven’t figured out what caused that awful noise.
We have lots of wildlife around my house. The house is perched on the top of a hillside and the garden drops downhill in the back. I live only 10 minutes from Washington, DC, and still we are loaded with animals. Racoons. Gray and black squirrels. Possums (Gramma used to say “Opossums”). Lots and lots and lots of deer (they are so hungry and destructive to my garden that I put up a deer fence around my property about five years ago). The occasional snake and lizard. The most wonderful variety of birds, year ’round. A jungle of loud insects in summer. And yesterday, when I was taking some recyclables out to the can, a big–BIG!–red fox came out from a neighbor’s yard a couple of houses down, stopped, looked at me and pranced (no other word describes it better) across my street. Not a care in the world. He was gorgeous. Of course, the Piedmont of Virginia is known for its fox hunting–think Middleburg–yet it is a fact that quite a few live right here close to the city. I’m waiting to see some pups at some point.
I seem to hear the animals so distinctly now, in the winter quiet. In the summer, all the sounds blend together into a loud blur. It’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Not so at this time of year. We’ve had quite a bit of snow this winter so far and I’ve seen all kinds of animal tracks. Some I can identify and some I don’t have a clue. It’s also interesting to see the animals eating the snow and licking the frozen pond water for their liquid sustenance. All I can think of right now is get me South of here for some warmth!
Posted under Animals in the Garden