The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

The world beyond my window

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/18/2014)

The world is coming alive with the warmth and light of Spring – this week’s below-freezing day notwithstanding.

A little bit ago, there was a bird singing loudly in joy at the edge of my back yard. I couldn’t find him to discover his name or photograph his appearance, but it was enough to hear his robust love song.

A pair of robins chased each other across the grass by the swings that stand weathering, waiting for grandkids to come by and sit in them. Maybe do backflips on the rings, or engage in a game of leap-frog – which is what the robins were doing.

Two days ago, granddaughter had a few of our neighbor’s grandkids over. They threw the swings over the crossbar to shorten them. I will have to go out and take up a few links, I suppose. We’re running low on people with short legs that don’t scuff in the mud.

At the edge of the forest, a cardinal pokes in the duff, searching, I suppose, for some tasty morsel. He is camera-shy. When I try to approach, he flutters just out of reach of the lens. Great Blue Herons are like that, I discovered a few years ago along a lakeshore I frequented.

In the bluebird house, the House Sparrow pair continues to thwart my efforts to attract the species for which the abode is named – though a single bluebird still stops by now and then to check out whether the sparrows have departed. The key, I think, is to have just cleaned the sparrow nest out when the bluebird arrives.

The most humorous art of the interlopers’ display is watching them try to force their way into the house with a piece of nesting too large for the hole. They repeatedly back off and “run” at the entrance, trying to stuff the obviously deliberately recalcitrant piece of flotsam inside, where it can be arranged into bedding.

I have finally trod the still soggy ground of the adjacent forest, looking for the pair of Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers that I’ve seen drill into the new grass in search of insects and grubs. If past years foretell, the drilling duo will take up housekeeping in a topless tree a few feet inside the arbor line.

And I’ve yet to get a really clear shot of the three deer that have daily passed by on their way between feeding and hiding ground.

Outside my window a dogwood blooms and wildlife teems in the nearby woodsBlossoms are opening on the Dogwood outside my studio, slowly but steadily expanding as though someone were turning a knob, taking care not to tear the petals by too rapidly stretching them.

Night before last, one of the granddaughters and I lay on the hammock and watched three bats – the only mammal that can fly – dip and dive, pursuing insectly prey.

“Will they bite us?” she asked.

“Not unless you grow wings and begin to hum as you fly,” I said

That seemed to satisfy her. Her mom later said the lass had called home to say she was enjoying herself and, by the way, had watched bats feeding over the back yard.

On warm spring days, a chorus emanates from the shallows of a nearby pond, a rapid-fire clicking echoed by a few thousand simultaneous clickers. I walked slowly into the marsh, peering closely as I could into the weeds and muck, hoping to see something making the sound I heard.

As I moved along, each step caused the nearest group of clickers to become silent, but if I stood still a minute or so, they began again. Still, they eluded sight. I think I’ve read someplace the sound is not frogs, but darned if I can find it now. And the online search continues.

There is so much to see in that world beyond my window. And the camera lies ever ready.


  1. Isn’t spring wonderful?

    Irises and azaleas are blooming in my yard. Canna lilies are beginning to get a little height. Last year they grew much taller than I. We’ve been having t-storm after t-storm for the past several days. The weekend promises to be nice. Yay! Hopefully, I can plant the veggie starts that we bought last week.

    On a different topic: I just finished reading a long article in the Nov 2013 O, the Oprah magazine (You didn’t know I was so up-to-date with my reading, did you?) called “The Fight of Her Life.” It’s about fracking in Wyoming. Apparently the state owns mineral rights on all properties. They are digging wells everywhere and have many more planned, without regard to the farmers wishes.

  2. The problem is years ago, long before anyone thought drilling that far down would be possible or that there’d be anything worth the effort when they got there, mineral rights were not included in private property rights. Now drillers and politicians are talking advantage of that little unwitting blunder.

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