22 July 2010

Too Much Nature

Other than my 12 years in Boston and 1 year in Seattle, I've always lived in the country with plenty of opportunity to observe wildlife. In all that time, I had only heard a deer vocalize once. I was floating on a Yellowstone slough and heard a deer on the bank give an airy snort as we passed by.

Have you ever heard a deer scream? I have. Twice. This year.

Scream #1:
About a month ago, I woke up at 4:30 am to a screaming/bleating noise outside followed by a rustling, whirring noise. I immediately thought of the fawns we had frequently seen around the house over the past couple months - a set of twins and a singleton - and of our abundant coyote population. I was wide awake with my heart beating fast, so I got up to investigate. The sky was just starting to brighten with the rising sun. To the east, there was a fawn laying in the grass. To the north, a fawn standing alone. No doe. I watched for a while not knowing what happened to the doe and wondering where the coyotes were. I was fearful that there may have been several coyotes working together, with one or more luring the doe away while others waited for an opportunity to attack the unprotected fawns. After watching for a bit, the doe came running back to the eastern fawn. I never saw a doe reunite with the fawn to the north and they all eventually disappeared, leaving me with more questions than answers. My speculation is that a coyote approached a fawn, it screamed, and then the doe chased it away. I was hopeful the fawns were okay. About a week later, we saw a doe with twins and so apparently, the deer won. But what actually happened, I guess we'll never know.

Scream #2:
Last week, we were eating dinner when we heard coyotes howl. It's unusual to hear them howl in daylight so I got up to see what was going on, particularly in light of the earlier incident. Just then, a fawn went racing past the house crying, while a coyote followed on its heels! The fawn sounded somewhat like a goat crossed with a crow (due to the periodic nature of the bleating). I then saw another coyote in the distance; I sent Mike out to chase the second one away, but it was gone by the time he got there. The second fawn then went running by the house, but it wasn't being chased. About 5 minutes later, I saw the doe walking in the direction of the chase (presumably following a scent?). 20 minutes after that, I heard the coyotes howl again. This time I wasn't very hopeful. That coyote was right behind that little fawn. Mike decided to go out looking for any "evidence" of what had happened. He walked out into the woods in the direction of the chance and spent about 15 minutes looking and listening, but came back without much additional info. The incident ruined my whole evening and Anders was quite upset as well. I don't think he saw anything but responded to our reactions, associating danger with the coyote howling.

A couple of days later, I saw a doe but no fawns. Was this the same doe? I should have paid more attention to them all so I can tell them apart. Using the binoculars, I could see that this doe has a scar above her left front leg and is definitely a mother. Finally, four days later, I saw this same doe with twin fawns. They had survived the incident! I really thought that one was a goner.

The day after I experienced the Scream #2 incident, on my drive to town I passed a deer that had just been hit. It was laying in the road, head up, breathing but legs busted. (There were people stopped and presumably taking care of the situation.)

This is just too much of the ugly side of nature. It reminded me of something our landlord had said to us when we first moved to the Gorge: "Living in the country is all about death!". I don't prescribe to that perspective, but it's not an untruth. Time to go back to Boston? Not yet, but please, no more screaming.

- Corinne, Mike, Anders Rocket, and Mother Nature
Date: July 22, 2010

05 July 2010

A Night in Eugene

Earlier this year, Corinne heard an interview on NPR with musician Trombone Shorty and has been infatuated ever since. His music is a unique fusion of jazz, funk, and rock with a lot of horn. Upon checking out his website, she discovered that he was going to be in Eugene, OR on the Thursday before the 4th of July weekend. We managed to twist Grandma's arm and convinced her to spend an extended holiday weekend with us so we could get away overnight for the concert. Our first overnight together without Anders! So we rounded up a few friends and off we went.

Our friends Kris and Amy both have their pilot's license and decided to fly from Hood River to Eugene rather than drive, so Corinne hitched a ride.

Hood River Bridge, Columbia River

Meanwhile, Rat and I drove down I-5 with the riffraff. In the end it took about the same time by both means, and possibly even with equivalent danger. (Man, I hate I-5.) Trombone Shorty was great in concert. The concert hall was a converted church, complete with pews! The acoustics at the venue could have been a bit better, but we specifically chose it over Portland (where he was also performing) because of the smaller, more intimate setting.

Our last trip through Eugene was back in 2004 and we were only there for a few hours on that trip. Since we were staying in a local hotel downtown, this time we had more of an opportunity to explore. Eugene has the feel of a small town while being the second largest city in Oregon - UofO probably helps with that. I think we did walk through the same district a few times since it looked like the most interesting thing in the downtown. I'm sure if we spent more time or asked some "locals" we could have found some really good spots, but that will have to wait until next time.

On Friday we headed back home to see what had become of Anders during our absence.

As it turns out, he survived just fine. He didn't take any naps for Grandma, which I can't say is a big surprise to us. But he also decided on Friday that he wasn't going to wear any clothes. And for some reason, Grandma decided that would be fine. So when we got home, he was walking around the house wearing only his diaper.

Thanks, Grandma!

- Mike, Corinne, and Anders Rocket
July 5, 2010

03 July 2010

Gooseberry Tart

Gooseberries from a friend's garden, transformed into a delicious rustic tart. Yum.

- Mike, Corinne and Anders Rocket