This thing scares me anew each time I pass by it, even though I’ve walked my dog by it a dozen times. I can’t imagine what it will do to all the young trick-or-treaters. Wait? What am I saying? The kids here are native New Yorkers so they’ll just assume it’s a homeless bum and simply hope it doesn’t smell too bad.
To me, the arrival of fall weather — which every New Yorker and their grandmother just raves about: oh, oh, apples, pumpkins, sweaters, crisp weather! — simply means the trees are dying and soon I’ll be cold. All. The. Time.
But yes, I have to admit, it is pretty, and sometimes I get swept up by all the colors. Even if soon the color will be gone and everything will look and feel dead.
Anyone who has ever watched a nature program knows they often end on an ominous note, the narrator booming in with something like “Thanks to human encroachment, the survival of [insert any species here] is, at best, under severe threat.”
That’s true, very true. We’ve wreaked havoc on our natural world, and for the most part, we’re beyond any hope of salvaging species on the brink of extinction — even our most beloved and iconic, such as polar bears, pandas and tigers. We don’t know how to co-exist.
Sometimes, like when I see a dumped mattress on the side of the road, or 3,000 baby sharks being killed en masse, I get depressed. Really depressed. How can we be so intelligent yet so awful? I’m not proud of fellow man. And sometimes I’m not proud of myself, like when I notice the trash is full of plastic waste and I’m pining for an iPad.
And then I come home to our cabin in the woods that’s about only 90 miles northwest of New York City. We bought it about a year ago, and it’s really been critical to my sanity and sense of hope. If we don’t come up often, and clean out the spiderwebs, set mouse traps, spray for carpenter ants, and hire someone to relocate the bats who love our chimney so much, this place will become one giant wildlife hotel. And thank god for that. Critters are annoying to deal with because they’re so damn resilient.
My short list of critters that I or a visitor has witnessed, or seen evidence of:
– Countless (and prolific) species of insects, including bees.*
– Frogs and toads
– Brown bats*
– Raptors, songbirds and hummingbirds*
– Wild hogs
– Red squirrels, grey squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, woodchucks*
– Natural native forest
– Regrowth forest
– Endless variety of mushrooms
*Either a source of annoyance to us, or expensive to deal with
LET ME SHOW YOU
Just a smattering of what’s located only an hour and a half outside of New York City: