Sunday, December 20, 2020

31 Days to Fresh Start: Neighborhood Wildlife

Another Murray moved into the neighborhood. Of course, this Murray ambles along on four legs, has a bushy tail and speaks in single syllables—arf, ruff, bow wow.

Murray is a big dog. A cross, I believe, of a Saint Bernard and a Newfoundland known as a Saint Bernewfie. 

I usually encounter the black and white Murray curled up on his front lawn as I walk around the neighborhood. He rarely gives me more than a baleful glance. Mostly he ignores me. He never barks, unless a dog in a nearby house sets him off.

So far he hasn’t shown any inclination toward wanting to engage in a relationship.

With one exception 48 years ago, I have not met any Murray younger than me. Murray is not the kind of old time name enjoying a modern revival, like Max or Leo. 

Murray has generally been confined to the names of dogs or policemen in comedies and to variations of Mel Brooks-Carl Reiner 2,000 Year Old Man routines (

It’s a mixed blessing. It is not a source of pride, but at least my given name remains in contemporary usage.

Deer Me: Just as we were getting ready to say Friday night sabbath prayers before dinner the security lights of our side yard went on. Caught in their glare was a young buck, his antlers in early stage of growth.

As our neighborhood is a block from Saxon Woods Park and abuts the rear of a nursery/landscaping business, deer sightings are quite common, as are other wild beasts. A coyote several years ago. A trio of wild turkeys, including one that chose to plop on top of one of our cars idle in our driveway. Skunks. Hawks, even a turkey vulture with an impressive wing span. Woodchucks and raccoons, of course.

Deer tracks often can be found on our lawn. But we’ve never witnessed their presence until Friday night.

Bambi, as I immediately started calling it, gazed in at Gilda and me as we watched him through our full length windows. He was about 18 feet from our home, standing next to a fence. When he realized we were no threat to him he began his supper—ivy covering the fence. Bambi munched away, occasionally stopping to look across at us and, to his displeasure, to listen to the high pitched yapping of a neighbor’s small dog that probably had picked up his scent.

After about 10 minutes Bambi had enough of our hospitality and wandered back into the nearby woods, leaving footprints in the snow and plenty of ivy for what I suspected would be a return engagement.

Yup, Bambi returned Saturday morning. Or maybe he never left, shielding himself from observation behind pine trees in our yard. He was back there again as I began to write this. 

I zipped up my snow boots for a closer look. I ventured within 10 feet of him, shielded by pine tree branches. Neither of us seemed eager for a closer encounter. 

Shortly after I started raking snow off the solar panels atop the garage, Bambi wandered off. 

He did not return Saturday night, nor Sunday morning. The only evidence of his presence, apart from tracks in the melting snow, are bald spots on our fence where he chewed away the ivy. 

For wildlife visitors I’ll have to content myself with the cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches, morning doves, starlings, sparrows and woodpeckers that frequent our yard when I restock fresh seed and suet in our bird feeders.  

Given coronavirus restrictions, they’ll have to suffice for visitors during these pandemic times.