Hyper locals

I think I heard a bear flipping rocks, about a hundred yards downslope from my usual ridgetop reading spot. I never actually saw it, and my first thought was that it was people, but clearly it was the sound of rocks clattering against rocks. I went halfway down for a closer look and saw nothing — but heard two more clacks.

What else could it be? I have seen sections of trails where every other medium-sized rock has been flipped over from one day to the next, presumably either by one very doggedly hungry bear or by a mother with cubs. Black bears love ant larvae and other grubs, and why not? They’re these little soft meat nuggets, and they’re really easy to forage for.

As a straight white guy in my 50s, I just feel this strange compulsion to share random survivalist tips from time to time.


Earlier, leaving my house to go up to Mom’s house and start supper, I saw what I thought at first were two funny-looking gray squirrels, except they were brown and the ends of their tails were black, and they ran a little differently… long-tailed weasels! The birds were all sounding alarms. One of the weasels had something small and dark in its mouth.

I couldn’t tell whether they were fighting or just in high spirits, but clearly I had just interrupted something interesting… which had been going on less than ten feet from where I sat inside watching some news bulletin on YouTube. And thereby nearly missing this excellent piece of hyper-local news: we are up to our necks in cottontail rabbits these days.

Weasels aren’t particularly rare, but are highly nocturnal, so we rarely see them.


Fireflies against the dark woods. A thin, high, hissing kind of whistle: weasels again?


10:51 a.m. and I’m sitting on the other ridgetop enjoying the breeze. The shadows of vultures pass over me as I suckle a series of medium-sized brown moths with the sweat of my arms. A coven of moths circling something in the forest.


8:01 pm. A live band somewhere in Sinking Valley, I’m guessing as part of a music festival at the fairgrounds, has just finished a cover of “Surfing USA.” I’m looking at a healthy stand of scrub oak with dread: some time this month, a contractor for the power company is going to broadcast herbicide along the powerline right of way, right up to our property line, which goes down the middle of each ridge.


Wood thrush singing behind me, rockabilly in the distance, mosquito in my ear.


And now the crickets that sound like maracas as I sit on the bench at the top of the hollow looking out toward a darkening vista lit up here and there by little ejaculations of fireworks.

From closer by, but hidden by the spruce behind me, one of the Sinking Valley farmers is playing local big man with an impressive-sounding barrage. It all echoes off the side of the ridge to my left for an overall interesting if unpleasant sonic experience. It ends as all such displays do with the loudest and I’m guessing most spectacular blasts.

You’d think the existence of Viagra would make such displays less necessary somehow.

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