The Glory Days of September
After the slow, hot days of summer, September with its often cooler, drier days is a welcome relief. Most of the fair-weather songbirds are still here, but some are already on the move by the beginning of the month. I looked out on a wet day in early September and caught a flush of birds…
A Visiting Porcupette
“Mom, there’s a porcupette in your herb garden,” our son Mark said. I hurried out to see it. The little creature was tucked in against our brick chimney and flapped its tiny tail when I put my hand near it. Apparently, it had climbed up the slope from the overgrown flat area below. The porcupette…
While I may puzzle over some tracks, there is no mistaking those of porcupines. They plow through the snow on their naked, flat, pigeon-toed feet like miniature bulldozers, and when the tracks freeze, deer, opossums and foxes use them as winter highways.
Scientists interested in cognitive ethology have begun to study learning in vertebrate and invertebrate animals, bolstered by the work of neurobiologists, who have discovered that any animal with loops between thalamus and forebrain is a conscious thinker. Birds, mammals, and reptiles all have such loops.
To encounter the unexpected is why I go out day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, walking the same mountain trails. But I rarely have a Discovery Channel moment. At most, I might find a new wildflower, an unusual butterfly, or a rare bird. Still, I’ve had my moments.…