Wild, wild life

I have these neighbors who are kind of disturbing. Maybe disturbing isn’t quite the right word. “Colorful,” perhaps.

We talk about them behind their backs on our neighborhood email list (are we the only Grafton neighborhood with its own email list?). “I saw her by the retention basin one morning,” one neighbor says. “She was frolicking with her kids in the tunnel at the end of the street,” another reports. My contribution is a bit more ghastly: “We found one of them dead underneath the kids’ slide. My husband had to dispose of the body with a shovel.”

This is the reality of living in a neighborhood carved from woods: we have foxes. They’re kind of cute, although everyone worries they’re carrying rabies. I grew up in an area with a lot of wildlife — I can de-skunk a dog in 10 minutes flat — so I just passed on to my kids the same advice I received from my parents: “Don’t bother the wild animals and they won’t bother you. You’re not living in a Disney film. And if you see one of them acting strangely, get an adult.”

We also have turkeys. Lots of turkeys. They roam around in a big family group, sometimes a trio, sometimes a big group of 40. It’s not uncommon to have the school bus stopped for several minutes as the flock crosses the road. The kids always want to take one down — instant turkey dinner — but that doesn’t seem terribly neighborly. We wouldn’t lure the Rogers family to our house just to cook and eat them, why would we do that to the turkeys?

Sometimes we have deer. They like to hang out by the drainage basins which, I found out at the bus stop this morning, the town wants to have fenced in for safety purposes. It kind of takes away from the whole “they’ll eventually look like a natural pond” pitch we were given when we first moved in, plus it’s really going to annoy the wilder neighbors.

But my favorite is the hawk. We see it hunting constantly. When field mice were unveiled under a contractor’s tarp in our back yard, it spent a week perched on our roof, picking off the mice one-by-one. It’s about the size of a Labrador retriever puppy, with baleful eyes and an evil beak. I’ve tried to take its picture many times, but it hates the paparazzi.

Surprisingly enough, we weren’t visited by the black bear that moseyed through town a couple weeks back. Just in case it returns, my desk calendar tells me this is what you should do if a bear attacks: “Do not shout. If you can’t escape, show the bear you are human by waving your arms slowly and speaking to the bear, then back away…. Never try to outswim a bear.”

Outswimming, by the way, doesn’t appear to help in any animal attack. Under killer bees, it says “do not try to hide underwater.” Under sharks, it helpfully adds “shout for help and raise one arm, but do not wave, as others on the beach may simply wave back.”

*Note: I’ve written about the neighborhood wildlife on my other blog. I’m plagiarizing the topic, but not the actual words.

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5 thoughts on “Wild, wild life

  1. No mention of Grafton’s coyote population? A friend who lives in North Grafton mentioned she saw one earlier this week.

  2. I forgot about the coyotes! I think someone spotted one in our neighborhood, but I never actually laid eyes on it.

  3. I am pleased to know I live in a neighborhood where our neighbors are up front about the fact that they won’t invite us over to eat us for dinner. I’m not sure if Grafton is the only place in the world where this is true, but I’m glad I live in such a town. Believe me when I say, my family appreciates the fact that we live in a nice community with strong schools and wholesome, non-cannibalistic, friendly neighbors!

  4. If you want good, factual information about the red foxes that we have seen several times around the neighborhood, read this: http://www.hsus.org/wildlife/a_closer_look_at_wildlife/foxes_the_red_and_the_gray.html

    I’ll call your attention to this passage from the page linked above:
    “People are sometimes surprised to learn that foxes live in their neighborhoods, but there’s almost never any cause for concern. Foxes are not dangerous to humans, except when rabid, and fox rabies are rare in most places.”

    We think that our fox “parents” gave birth to at least 6 kits which we once spotted together on Cortland Way one evening. It was pretty cool to see!

    I’m now wondering if the town has included these additional residents in the student estimates in planning for future growth in the schools! 🙂

  5. Hey, who are you calling wholesome?
    And I’m pretty sure the mother fox is homeschooling. If you find tiny textbooks (“Fox in Socks” is a favorite) scattered on the rocks, you’ll know why.

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