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Solving Problems with Nature - Naturally

Certified Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife Author - Wildlife Lecturer - Wildlife Photographer
Non-Lethal Control of Bats since 1983

NH Nature

New Hampshire Nature Notes by Eric Orff

Thursday 08/11/2011 Wonderful summer nights with crickets blooming

Oh how the sound of crickets has been turned on these warm evenings. A week ago nary a chirp but this week they are in full bloom filling the night air with their wonderful summer sounds. I love cricket nights. Isn't it wonderful how such a small creature can bring such pleasure to those of us who slow down and cast an ear to listen to the Earth. There are so many ways to sense the pulse of the earth. Within the last week I have watched the tide caress the shore in Portsmouth harbor while going lobstering, watched cloud shadows chase each other across the lake at camp in Maine, smelled the sweet essence of pond lilies delivered to me by a favorable breeze. There is so much to sense this time of year. Life, good life abounds all around, you just have to snatch it from the air.

Last weekend my wife had I had a chance to be alone with our granddaughters separately at our camp in Maine. We took the five year old Erin up with us Friday. As soon as she got out of the car she was flipping things to check under them for bugs or salamanders. We spent time out back at "the swamp" trying to catch frogs, to no avail, but we quickly found that we (she) could dip the net into the water and catch a dozen inch-long minnows at a time. They were all quickly released.

I introduced each girl on their given night to the moon. A perfect half moon hung in the ski each night right over the lake. I set up my telescope and set each girl on my lap to introduce them to the moon. How the craters filled the lens and their minds.

Saturday afternoon we traded off the girls in a nearby town with the other set of grandparents. Seven year old Katie had a far different priority. She was going to find herself a fairy.

Now a fairy is certainly a rare thing, unless you are in the town where our camp is. You see when I lived in this town in 1954 I experienced faries (Elves for me). My father had me convinced that the song of the spring peepers was Elves singing. And out back of the house, down a dark old logging road, and past a little woodmen's shack slowly being reclaimed by nature, was a huge ball of a root of a tree with a hole going into the earth. My father convinced me, with little effort, that it was the elves home. My nine year old sister would take me by the hand to walk down to see if the elves had made anything for me. And they frequently did!. There was a hand made foot long birch bark canoe one time. And a little wooden boat made out of shaving a board with an axe and nailing a block of wood on top as the cabin. Oh yes indeed there were elves. I remember floating this boat down the ditch filled with water as the tail end of hurricane Carol swept by in September 1954. I was four.

Katie had heard these stories for year about how elves, and for her turned faries, abound in Maine. So she set about to build a house for the ferries around camp in hopes they would leave her some candy. Now her faries are much different than the little people I came to know nearly six decades ago. Her's have wings and fly about. And do all kinds of magical things. First she collected a bunch of six inch long sticks and wanted to make a tee pee. I thought it would be too small. She spotted an empty gallon water jug and figured it would make the perfect fairy house. Indeed it did.

Katie found a flat rock perfect for a table and a smaller one for a chair and placed two nice leaves for a bed inside the jug that now bore a hole I cut with my jackknife for a door. She spent some time wondering just where a fairy would be looking for a house and settled on a patch of firs 25 feet from our deck. She took more leaves to create a perfect path leading to the fairy house. After dinner she took a piece of chocolate cake out to place on the table. She was anxious to get to bed early so the fairies could settle into the house.

Early Sunday morning she was out checking the house and discovered the cake gone. She wondered if a fairy or a mouse had eaten it. I told her we would check for mouse droppings as surely they would leave some if it was mice. Good luck there for when I went out with her nary a dropping. It must have been a fairy! Isn't life wonderful how it can turn out. By the way, I didn't take there cake. My dog may have had cake breath though. Or maybe it was indeed a fairy. I'm pretty sure, after being a wildlife biologist for four decades, that there ARE elves, there is just too much to explain in nature without them.


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