Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES ON KIRKSVILLE WILDLIFE PRESERVE
I’m guessing you’re scratching your head wondering what I’m talking about now. Well, I admit that I’m a bit facetious, but I’m talking about our yard. We are blessed to have a large property in town. Our sweet dog, Muffin, loves to explore our fenced in “pasture,” where she likes to roll in mud when it’s available. She’s started barking at night, which our other dog, Lily did, when she was still with us. We keep our dogs out of the pasture at night; so fortunately, there’s enough distance between us and our good neighbors that they will not be disturbed. Almost every night I get up with a high powered flashlight and go out to see what’s bothering Muffin. I usually don’t find anything, and once she sees that I’m aware she’s anxious about something, she usually calms down.
When I say that I don’t usually find anything, it’s true, but sometimes I do find she has reason to complain about other animals invading her territory. This summer we’ve had two fawns and a doe that seem to hang around. Once, the two fawns were just outside our living room window, resting in the shade of a magnolia tree. I got my camera and one of the fawns dutifully posed for me, making this mid-day visit easy to chronicle
We’ve had other animals, too. Once we had an opossum. This rather unpleasant looking marsupial hung by its tail from a tree and then dropped into our dog pen just outside the kitchen. This occurred back when our Lily was alive. She cornered the invader and made it clear that they would not be friends. I went out with a broom to shoo away the unwelcome visitor, but I was my usual ineffective self. I got Lily inside the house and closed her in to give the opossum time to get away to romp with the other opossums, while I tried to avoid thinking about the fact that there were probably more of them close at hand.
Most of the animals we see in the day time. This summer alone we’ve seen the deer, a raccoon, a groundhog, a fox, two garter snakes, (which Muffin seemed to think are doggie toys), and a goodly share of feral cats. I’m sure that feral cats lurk in most parts of town, and I don’t consider them all that wild, but Lily was not friendly toward cats, feral or otherwise. Muffin seems similar to Lily in her taste for visitors. A hawk often perches atop a high branch of one of the trees in the pasture, no doubt shopping for dinner. Even a bald eagle has been sighted flying over our property.
About a week ago, I responded to Muffin’s nocturnal arf, arf, arfing, and I shined my light across the open back yard. Red eyes flashed back at me with a scream worthy of a Courteney Cox Arquette movie. This was not a feral cat. I guess I’ll never know for sure what it was, but I strongly suspect it was a bobcat. I didn’t much care for the thought that a bobcat had come to visit. I made sure that Muffin was secured inside the house and called the police. They politely came to my aid, but the intruder was gone by then. The policemen did question me and suggested possibilities. Apparently there are coyotes in most parts of town. I thought that perhaps our visitor could even be a mountain lion, but given my druthers, I’d opt for a bobcat. After my description, the policemen seemed to think that I had guessed correctly and the wail I heard probably emanated from a bobcat. A feral cat did cross the yard while the police were here, and they thought for a minute that might be what I saw, but I’m confident that was not possible. I could discern the size of this nighttime caller, and it was much larger than a feral cat. Muffin weighs about 45 pounds, and based on the distance the reflection of red eyes from the ground, this animal was similar in size.
Who knows what evil lurks in the recesses of our pasture or in the hollow of a tree intended to provide shade for us rather than a refuge for wildlife?
This is a two-sided coin. Although I don’t much like the idea that our beloved doggie might have to face an opponent in a late night brawl, it’s a pleasant sight to see fawns resting peacefully outside our favorite window on the world.
I guess I have to hope that if we don’t bother these animals, they won’t bother us. Muffin may not agree with me, but she hangs around just the same. Maybe she’s trying to earn her keep as a watchdog. We would keep her in any event. She’s got a bit of the free spirit in her as well. Just be advised that there are unexpected animals that wander into town more often than you might imagine. While this wildlife roll call may not spark interest equal to the “Sharknado” craze, it’s good to know what may show up at your back door at breakfast time some morning.