Spring surprises

So I would have pictures but the only camera I had with me when we saw the snakes was my phone. I have a stupid phone, flip phone actually, so I can’t get the pictures from the phone to here.

The first snake we saw I texted to my son and he swears it was a copperhead. Probably 4 feet long. I did not think this was what the snake was. My dogs didn’t even notice it. It had little diagonal boxes on its back with darker spots inside. Of course, it could have actually been the typical cross-hatched markings but my eyes chose to see it differently. Whatever. The snake just lay there. Eyes open, tongue flashing out. Even when I went back to take its picture, didn’t move.

The next snake really could have done damage. We were walking on the trail behind where I live and Lulu (now a part of our “pack” only 2 weeks) leaned over the side of the creek embankment, sniffing something. I saw the grass move quickly and heard a splash. Looked down, sure enough a water moccasin quickly squirming its way across the clear creek bed. That one gave me shivers. Those are deadly. I can remember my mother shrieking at my brother, probably about 10 or 11 when she learned he and his golfing friends were wading around the water hazards on the club golf course looking for lost golf balls. These guys didn’t sell them, they used them. They were the championship foursome in those days.

So the last snake was greenish and yellowish vertical-striped, probably around 5 feet long. Lily, stepping over it actually bumped it with her paw. It flinched but did not go after her. Doing a little research I turned up garter snake. These snakes usually eat fish, tadpoles, frogs, and carrion. This snake was nowhere near any body of water so it must have been either waking up out of its hibernation, lost, or eating something dead.  They also are non-poisonous.

One out of three is good I guess, since the first 2 basically ignored us.

One thing that has really bothered me since I moved here. I should point out this move was something of a dream come true for me. I have loved the wildness of North Carolina’s outer banks for many years. Though only near the lower barrier islands I am still closer to those islands than before and am quite happy to be here. I did not think, though, that there was anyplace on this planet that had no lightning bugs. Maybe you call them fireflies, but they’ve been something of  a harbinger of sultry, hot breeze summer nights for me as much as crickets and cicadas since I was a child and I cannot imagine life without them.

Last year I saw not a single lightning bug.

I canvassed neighbors, newly-made acquaintances. No one could recall seeing them, not in the recent past. No idea why. Salt air? No one knew. I refused to believe it.

So rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I went for a walk, braving the early dusk since likely snakes were not sunning themselves on creek banks, on the little trail here in my neighborhood. I almost ignored the brilliant yellow flashing dots and mentally dismissed them. No… could it be?? It was!

Lightning bugs. Dozens. So maybe they aren’t in backyards but at least I know where I can find them.

Sans water moccasins, I hope.

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Lulu

So I went to the pet store a week ago to pick up some of Lily’s favorite treats. Every weekend there are pet adoptions there and we walked over to where the puppies and dogs were. There, by herself in a crate was a little white dog with a black face. She looked so much like my little rescue dog Murphy I thought for a minute it was Murphy. But she was very sweet, so playful. I asked the lady if I could foster her for a week. She said to come back at the end of the day, if Lulu was still there I could foster her. I said I was pretty sure she wouldn’t be there if I left without her so the lady said I could take her right then.

Thank you.

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The first thing Lulu did was confiscate all of Lily’s toys. She especially loved the squeaky ones. Now mind you, Lily has ignored her toys since the day I bought them. Every one of them. But now that Lulu wanted them they were precious to her. Well she had to get over that, and she did.

Next Lulu appropriated every bed in the house that belongs to Lily, which would be 6 beds. Lily was not happy at all but eventually once she saw that I found ways to encourage Lulu to sit on one while Lily could have another it all worked out.

I discovered that long walks in the woods or on trails is a good way to encourage camaraderie between dogs who are strangers. This works well, especially when one of the dogs is friendly, playful and wide open about life and all things new. Lulu is this dog. Lily loves life, but not when it encroaches on all she knows and loves. Still, she was open to this new friendly little dog.

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So this week also was the week the Arboretum, where I’ve just finished the Master Gardener program is having their annual plant sale. They needed lots of help, and people to staff the plant clinic. I had signed on for this for a couple of shifts which put me out of the house for 3-hour stretches. Praying that I would not return home to blood spatters and wounded souls I managed to get through these as well as a tour of a local historic garden to find all quiet on the home front and 2 pair of beady eyes very happy to see me.

Today I returned to the pet store to properly adopt Lulu and was told by the very kind and friendly lady that 3 others had asked for Lulu after she, Lily and I had embarked upon our foster week. She added I was very lucky that she had agreed to allow me to foster her.

Yes, and I thank her.

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Out of the ordinary

So this Master Gardener class was pretty much geared toward the average homeowner-gardener, people like me who enjoy perennials and shrubs, pretty flowers, and trees that frame a yard, give a little color and are low maintenance.

What I wish there had been a little more of in our classes were native wildflowers that are not often cultivated but seen on a woodland walk. Things like

mayapples

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or Jack-in-the-pulpit…

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or sassafras

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or wild ginger–

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These, although common are easily missed when enjoying a sun-speckled walk in spring when there is so much happening– new leaves on trees, birds singing their hearts out and rabbits coming out of their cozy warrens.

Even a new friend

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for husky-mix rescue, Lily. Please meet “Lulu” a little one-and-a-half year old who-knows-what mix that we met at PetSmart this afternoon. We are only fostering her at the moment mind you, but we hope Lily and Lulu can come to some sort of understanding so the friendship can grow. They are both very sweet puppies, on their own, so time will tell if they can accept each other and live happily as friends.

We’ll see…

 

New friends, old places

My husky-mix rescue dog Lily and I have a favorite walking place just a few miles north of where we live. It is a huge nature preserve next to a farm-animal rescue. So as we begin our walk we are likely to hear any manner of farm sound– sheep bleating, goats arguing, donkeys braying, horses whinnying, ducks, geese, chickens, pigs… you name it. If it belongs on a farm likely they have them.

We used to visit here only a few times a week but now that dogs are no longer welcome on the beaches for the summer season we have been visiting out there more frequently. This afternoon we found dappled sun on the trails and new leaves sprouting on the cypress that circle a mill pond there. As we started across the bridge over the pond a small dark sheltie dog trotted out to greet us. You’d have thought we were long lost friends. He was so courteous, so cheery in his greeting. His person was sitting looking out over the pond and we struck up a little small talk, all the while his little dog prancing and stepping in and around as we chatted. We continued our conversation as we began walking the last part of one of the trails back to where the cars were parked, stopping now and then to encourage his little dog whose name was Riser I learned, to keep up.

He was having none of it. Happy to continue on at his own pace. He showed no concern for being left behind. At one point his person saw no trace of him looking back on the trails so we waved a farewell as he set out to find where his dog had got to.

That’s the way to enjoy a walk. Not a care about who is where, or are you within sight. Just meander. Look at this flower, sniff under this new leaf… wonder where this little pathway goes…

Being lost in the beauty and majesty of nature.