This is a possum, doing what possums do.
And this is Oliver, who sent the baby possum into fake rigor mortis. Oliver surprised the creature but hadn’t so much as nudged it when the possum flopped down and started playing dead. Its tongue was even hanging out.
A late night excursion proved the possum was safely gone.
This is the second time I’ve seen a possum play possum. It’s kind of amazing that it works. (The leash probably aided in the survival chances, too, though Oliver’s not really a killer.)
It rode with us all the way to daycare, where Dylan and I dropped it off on a nearby flower.
A trail/road hybrid squeezed into a busy day. I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em!
And with these views, the run was doubly rejuvenating!
Along with the colder weather and beautiful foliage, fall brings the wolly bear caterpillar.
As a kid I believed these were going to turn into monarchs. I think I assumed the colors on the caterpillar foretold the colors of the butterfly so it made sense in my head.
Actually, the wolly bear grows up to become the Isabella tiger moth. But not before spending the winter frozen solid! These hardy caterpillars overwinter in our region in logs and piles of leaves. They dehydrate themselves before hibernating. And their circulatory system produces a cryoprotectant, a substance keeps their organs protected from freeze-damage. But otherwise they are little wormsickles until they thaw out in the spring.
In warmer climates they can complete their whole lifecycle–from egg to larval stage (caterpillar) to pupating (in the cocoon) to emerging as a moth–in one summer. But in Vermont, our warm seasons are just too short. So they spend the winter in suspended animation until they can thaw out in the spring and get a wriggle on.
This woolly bear had just been picked up by a toddler (not mine; mine prefers hands-off observation, unlike his mum), thus the tightly curled ball. But you can still see that it’s pretty rusty in the middle. Folk wisdom says that means we’re going to have an easy winter. The more orange on the wolly bear, the milder the winter.
Rather than dispute the wisdom of my forebears with actual science, I’m going to take heart in the promise of fewer arctic days and nights, fewer times plowing the driveway and shoveling a path to the garage, and a lower heating bill.
And I’ll keep an eye out for the wolly emergence and quick transformation to tiger moth in spring. Which will be coming early; this little guy told me so.
While you can’t see it in the picture, I saw a bald eagle here over the weekend. As I crossed the top of the pond at the local (defunct) reservoir, the bird swooped across the water. Here’s how my brain processed the event: “Wow, that is a HUGE crow…with a white tail…oh, wait; that’s not a crow.” The eagle perched in a tree at the edge of the water at the far end of the pond and Dylan and I watched it for a little while before continuing along our walk.
I know that bald eagles are back in the United States in a healthy way, and have finally resumed breeding in Vermont in smaller numbers. But it’s still a thrill to see such a large wingspan within a few miles of my own house.
I’ve been on hiatus from this blog for the past year, trying to figure out how to balance work and parenthood. It’s harder than I thought. And one of the parts of my life that has suffered the most is the time I used to spend alone (with Oliver) in the woods. That and finding or taking the time to go running, which was often the same thing.
But what is really fun is getting to rediscover all the amazing things about the world right around us, through Dylan’s eyes. And being able to pass on almost embarrassingly gleeful feelings about seeing things like salamanders or birds nests.
Last weekend I got to show him how snapdragon seed pods will burst and curl up in your fingers when you touch them. (I grew up calling the plants snapdragons, but I understand they’re more commonly known as jewelweed, or even touch-me-nots.) What fun to see Dylan feel the exploding seed pod between his own fingers!
And who doesn’t like being able to laugh and feel goofy with someone who finds you hilarious (except, of course, for the times when he thinks you’re the worst, like when you want him to put on–or take off–his shoes, for example)!
So I’ll continue to try to find the time to get outside on my own (and to remove any guilt I might have about taking time for myself). But in the meantime, I’m loving the joy and wonder I get to experience together with this little Vermont kiddo.