Proud Prancing Pug

Not long after the morning sun had crested the rim of the hollow, we headed for the woods. As always, Shrek led the way through the old garden, across the dry branch and into the blackberry field. Between the big rocks and the creek, I suddenly heard the music of large wings and turned to see Shrek sprinting toward a barred owl slowly lifting out of the buck brush. Fumbling for my phone, the magical creature landed high above in the cacophony of branches, then jumped from one to another to another until I lost track of it. Still struggling to unzip the inner pocket, I lowered my gaze to Shrek bursting triumphantly out of the undergrowth with a headless gray squirrel in his mouth. Perhaps the proudest moment of his yellow life, taking prey away from a great owl of the forest, he pranced home for a treat and an hour nap in his bed snoring with rare contentment, the walk forgotten and the squirrel left on the front porch.

My Waterhole Runneth Over

Everyday we walk to what I call “the last waterhole.” It’s located in the southwestern borderlands just inside the property line and is the last permanent hole of water on the place. Unlike many days, even when surrounded by mounds of snow, today there were no water bugs skittering around on the surface. And I saw no movement in the depths. There’d been silver tadpoles and a giant black tadpole that would quickly hide when my shadow fell over the water. I fleetingly saw something dark and longer. Perhaps it was a newt. Or just another absurdly plump black pollywog. I know to not trust my brain.

When the tadpoles disappear, I wonder if raccoons made meals of them. A week ago I saw a better answer. In the snow next to the water was a single large bird footprint. I’m thinking heron. I should have taken a photo because the next day it had melted away.

Right now the waterhole is full and overflowing with the snow melt and because of the constant feeding of springs, it never freezes. Still, it’s quite small: twelve feet long, five feet at the widest and only 14 inches deep. In dry times, the waterhole will shrink somewhat and there’ll be no visible inflow or outflow. It’ll do all of its business underground like much of this intermittent stream.