Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Tonic of Wildness 2

In yesterday's blog, I noted that Thoreau
referred to time spent in nature as the "tonic of wildness."
And I would have to agree.
Even a glimpse of birds and animals in nature
imparts a sense of calm for me,
but not always at the same time I see them.

A couple of nights ago,
my husband and I witnessed moments of tranquility
while we watched eight industrious Canadian geese
bathing and preening themselves
at a small lake near our house.
They all entered the water together some distance from where we were.
Then they glided in our direction
and stopped a few feet away from us.
Standing in the shallows,
they ducked their chests into the lake over and over again,
letting the water run down their backs.

Their necks are amazingly flexible,
 easily swiveling over their backs and under their bellies
to reach the very tips of their tails.
I think they were plucking at invisible mites and pin feathers.
Small white feathers showered the ground around them,
and we even saw a couple of the geese
pull out longer feathers and discard them. 

One goose had a wing that stuck nearly straight out from the joint.
It was twisted and bare of feathers in places.
That goose may have encountered a fox,
which is quite common in the Shire.
Here's a photo of a young fox my husband took this time last summer:

On the other hand,
while watching geese preen and bathe is calming,
seeing other wildlife up close tends to have the opposite effect.
The night before last, a very large gray-furred,
ring-tailed, black-masked raccoon
suddenly emerged from some shrubs a few feet from me.
I was startled to say the least.
Before I could recover and take its photo,
the raccoon loped across the street into the woods.
My heart is still pounding.

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