Friday, June 16, 2017


One morning on our deck as I was reading the paper with all its glum news, I felt something land on my shoulder. I reached up to brush it off. My hand briefly clutched a feather-weight clump of softness -- full of life and air beyond my normal expectation. It was one of the finches that populate our yard. Luckily, my touch didn't hurt it and it quickly flew away.

Looking beyond our deck, we have a brief show of flowers every year. They last just long enough for us to enjoy their bounty before the deer arrive to feast.

photo by Bill Slavin 

I'm not mad at the deer. They were here first, we get to savor our flowers long enough, and the deer, like the finch on my shoulder, bring us unexpected joy. Each year fawn scamper through the yard following their families. Their bright spots and funny antics as they chase each other up the hill and jump ridiculously high over our low wall bring us to laughter.

This year we have a new wild animal: a family of jackrabbits has made a burrow somewhere near us. The male jack has been a resident of our neighborhood for a couple of summers. I've watched him fly across neighbors' lawns and sit comfortably on our front grass in the shade. This year we watched a baby make its first moves away from the nest. It skittered out from a bush for a couple feet, doubled back, then came out a little further. In a couple of days, it too, found a spot on the front lawn to graze and sit. Now occasionally at dusk, we see the almost grown jackrabbit jump from behind a bush and scramble up the hill.

At John Muir Law's lecture about drawing mammals, he showed us fluoroscopic images of rabbits in motion. Their spines are far more flexible than ours. Just by looking at the curled-up skeleton, you can see how easy it is for them to jump.

Jackrabbit Skeleton

As I finish typing this post, I am watching a deer cross our front lawn -- in pursuit of the last daisies, I'm sure. I thought how lucky I am to be able to spend the day watching wildlife rather than obsessing over every piece of glum news in the paper.

I hope you have a chance to find some joy outside this weekend. 

photo by Bill Slavin

Now that it is almost summer do you have your summer reading picked out?  Several friends recommend Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow. Another good read:  Jenny Forrester's memoir, Narrow River, Wide Sky.

Check out Amy Hamilton's website for some beautiful wildlife illustrations:


  1. I've recently read most of Fredrik Backman's novels, and Rick Bragg's excellent family history, Ava's Man. All excellent reading, good prose. I'm re-reading Annie Proulx's That Old Ace In The Hole, and have rereads set aside for most of Ivan Doig's Montana books--English Creek, Dancing At The Rascal Fair, and This House Of Sky--his childhood memoir. Doig's prose takes my breath away. Wishing you a "fawn-filled" summer with many adventures.

    1. thank you, Sue. Good reading suggestions too.

  2. I am envious of your nature encounters. We are off to Europe on Monday and return in late July. I will call you so we can catch up then. In the meantime I will bring my iPad and look forward to reading you from afar.

  3. Jan, I'll miss you this month. Let's make sure we get together when you are back!


Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.