chipmunks: stupid, smart, lucky, and otherwise
Friday, May 30 2003
I continued my ditch lining today with the ditch that drains the other half of the uphill roof. I didn't have the luxury of a nearby house corner to rely on, so I simply ran the ditch to the driveway, which (thankfully) slopes away gradually in the correct direction. My effort was complicated by various obstacles, particularly a pair of boxwood bushes growing right where my ditch would have preferred to run.
Later I went on something of a veneering jihad, this time armed with portland cement. I used it to cover an ugly concrete block wall (pasting on random pieces of bluestone in the process) and then firmed up one of steps leading down into the woods.
The swarming flies of early May are mostly gone now and have been replaced by striped mosquitos and a smaller fly that I think is an actual black fly. These new black flies aren't particularly numerous, but when they bite they leave a nasty itching wound that persists for days. Their depredations had become such a problem that today I spritzed myself with citronella oil before beginning my outdoor projects. The citronella proved effective, lasting for several hours before I sweated it all away.
The bell around little Edna's neck has ruined most of her bird hunting, so she's turned her attention to mammals. Scarcely a day goes by that she doesn't grab something, usually a tiny member of the class Insectivora (wherein, incidentally, Edna, Gretchen, Sally, Noah, Mavis, and I all share our common ancestor). Today Edna's victim was actually a representative of Rodentia, a baby chipmunk. It was luckier than most, though, since I was able to pry it out of Edna's jaws and it was still healthy enough to scamper away. Gretchen and I had to herd it back to the north end of the house where Edna had captured it.
Speaking of chipmunks, I've been seeing a lot of them out on the road, particularly Hurley Mountain road (which runs up the Esopus Valley along the base of the Ashokan plateau escarpment). The chipmunks dart half-way into the road and freeze, hold their tails in an arc over their backs, and then proceed the rest of the way. I've come very close to hitting several of them, though they must be doing something right because I've seen only a few of their tiny flattened corpses.
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