Sunday, June 14, 2009

Early Morning Bruiser

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The quiet of the morning and a mental list for today were too much for me as I awoke at barely 4, thinking how much had to be accomplished today. A quick glance at the clock confirmed this was too early for complicated thinking but Karl the Wonder Dog was part of the problem as he sat near the bed demanding through repetitive whimpers that a walk was in order. He knows when the weekends fall and he wants to be a part of my every move but this morning it was a nature thing that called him.

We headed down the road towards the pond and had hardly passed the mailboxes when he froze in the road, so statue-like that I almost pulled his collar off. With coffee spilling and expletives flying we had stopped dead in front of the lower hosta garden and he wouldn't budge. I switched the coffee cup right to left long enough to shake off the hazelnut wetness and then looked around for signs of what was bothering Karl. Looking down the road I noticed a set of tracks and my first assumption was a small moose had just passed by. Understand this is a hard packed dirt road of two centuries existence and a recent topping of calcium chloride had packed it harder.

I coaxed Karl down the road a couple resisting feet (his) at a time and got to where his leash was extended to the fullest and I could see the tracks. The problem was most obvious. Karl did not like the bruiser black bear that had just gone through and I was uncomfortable enough myself to start to glance right and left and turn on my one good ear to full alert. This bear was giant for Vermont standards.

I bent down and placed my hand over a track and there was a good inch and a half remaining around my hand's outline. The bear was huge. His toenails cut deeply into the hard pan, footprints close enough together to confirm that he was on a morning breakfast foray and not in any rush. I have a good sized paw myself and out of curiosity I'd like to see this bear. I usually see a single track like this each November after first snow maybe around Thanksgiving week. The animal follows the exact same treeline route each year and like growth rings on a fresh cut tree, this set of prints grows bigger each year.

Gardening in Vermont has changed over time, especially as more people build homes in what were remote areas. I did not know that twenty years ago we built our little house 50 feet from a major animal corridor and a neighbor down the road built his right in the middle of an ancient path. We can't track animal commentary on human intervention but I know I react when I have to walk around something someone has left in my regular path. I expect animals have their own comments about humans.

Here on the hill above Peacham Pond we see an abundance of wildlife each day. A barred owl was welcoming morning when I got up, a pileated woodpecker just commented that it's time for breakfast in the sugar maples and the loons at the pond are loosening very ancient calls that are echoing through the valley. Bigger animals like whitetails and moose as well as bears more formally interact with gardeners. For me they are simple reminders that we have to get along. The birds and the animals and me are like the picture of Sempervivum tectorun, hens and chickens, houseleeks up top. We come in different sizes and we live in slightly different places but to make it all work we have to get along.

Good gardening wishes from the mountain. I have to get to work.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm

Still have a few golden bleeding hearts left for sale at the nursery as well as maybe 5 eximia.
E mail if interested.

1 comment:

lynn'sgarden said...

Great story, George, but I'm sure the size of those prints made you nervous! I actually sited a huge bear out my living room window last summer...he was just wandering through the neighborhood. Of course I jumped in the car and went to wait with my daughter at the bus stop! Karl was good protection that day..well, at least radar. Too bad you didn't have your camera! P.S. I was up at 4am!