Snake Wise

The first snake that I see in the spring is a sign of winter’s passing. I’ve always been crazy about snakes. I don’t know everything that contributed to this abiding affection I hold for reptiles. When most people head for the big cats or the elephants at the zoo, I look on the map and find the snake house so I can ramble big-eyed among the odd representatives of the...

Brief Encounters on the Wild Side

I’m hoping this will be the spring we’ll see river otters in the creek behind our house. I’ve had reports of people seeing them at the mill dam a half mile downstream, and just last week someone wrote to say they’d seen three otters fishing in Four-Mile Branch, a large tributary of Lawson’s Fork not far away. There’s something about a possible river otter...

Coyotes

Out here our house is turned to the linear wildness along the creek like a big ear. We listen for what happens in the timber and thick undergrowth below us with the fascination of someone sampling a new CD. If I hear a bird I don’t know, I try to track it down for identification, adding its name to our “play list” of what this place might spin in our direction. I scribble the...

Where the Wild Things Are

One percent of the land in the lower forty-eight states is what might be considered “wilderness.” Ninety-nine percent is utilized in some way for human profit-urban areas, suburbs, logging, mining, grazing. In 10,000 short years we humans have found ways to extend our shadow over the whole reach of a peopleless continent. The first 9,500 years Native American economies created the...

Abiding Image

It’s seven in the morning. Coffee steams from my cup and I’ve been up for nearly an hour. I’ve already been out with the dog. It’s cool today, a good break from all the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had. The drought has lifted for a little while. My rain gauge, unemptied, still tells me last week we had over an inch and a half of rain here east of Spartanburg....

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