2022’s sentimental favourite is Peach, whom we call Melissa for short. She is a large and regal American toad who shows up here and there, but seems particularly drawn to the old stone steps at the front door. Let it never be said that Melissa lacks grit. Literally. She methodically removed six linear inches of mortar to make herself a little cave, which proved less comfortable than predicted and was promptly abandoned. She is phlegmatic, except for a marked dislike of Skye terriers, and quietly allows herself to be carried to a safer location if we deem her at risk of death by tire or tooth. We are fond of the old girl.
It is harder to love cherish Barn Door, the garter snake who lives on the other side of the garden. I am generally fond of snakes but this guy is a pot-smoking recluse who spends most of his time on-line. You wouldn’t take him for alt-right, given his pot-smoking habit but Barn Door dabbles in politics even if he draws the line at political pins over an inch wide. Just don’t get him started on mask mandates and vaccines. If he were a mammal he would be a hot-head. We sincerely hope that he and Melissa never meet.
There’s also a green darner flitting around from time to time. I admire the elegance of her composite-eyed helicoptered grace, reminding myself that dragonflies are one of the markers of a healthy environment. Our absolutely favourite insect, however, is an annual visitor who shows up in late autumn. Looking like a piece of modern sculpture in need of a good meal, Fats the Walking Stick seems to park in or about the garage; as much as we love the old stone structure, it’s not much use for parking anything post-millennially automotive so she’s welcome to couch-surf with us.
Today's pleasant surprise was the arrival of two young bucks, who ate maple leaves and could be overheard brain-storming about how to interest a female. Jon and I agreed that their diet was less than optimal for hopeful suitors: the drought has made food scarce and the deer herd has already finished off our hostas and started on the euonymus, which normally doesn’t get stripped until March. Unfortunately we can't help much; our venture into supplying food went south the year we bought them a bale, realizing too late on the way home that we both have classic hay fever.
But the prize for comedy has to go to the coyote pack behind us in the river valley. This week the adults were initiating the teenagers into choral singing. Those kids have a long way to go. Far from here I hope. My hair stood on end. Let's just say that nobody's Met material this year.
Farewell gorgeous autumn! Hello home-comforts-winter!