Backyard circle of life…and lessons on the trail with two young children!

I had to swallow hard with the whole circle-of-life drama. Our hawk is definitely still hanging around! Jay and I had a rare moment to actually sit in our backyard and with no warning the rush of those powerful wings swooshed past our heads to make a strategic strike against the bird feeder.  Finches and sparrows scattered for the hedges sounding an immediate alarm and all we saw in those split seconds was a spray of feathers.

I may primarily be a city girl, but I do love our encounters with wildlife. They may be unexpected, but they’re not that rare! My well-being seems to boost with each addition to the list of visitors–although some have been rather inconvenient. We survived multiple seasons of skunks nesting under our house.  Although blockade after blockade promised hope of defense, these crafty characters fought back.  And they have a mean defense!  It’s humbling to sit in church listening to people mutter and sniff as they try to detect the origin of the strange smell we carried in on our clothing.

Then there was the fox that “took” our family bunny, the heron that sat on the roof eyeing the fish in our backyard pond, and the peacocks that visited the neighborhood for about three weeks, sunbathing on our roof and sleeping in our planter boxes.  Some of the neighbors vociferously complained about the subsequent garden destruction, but the birds were magnificent.  I wasn’t too happy with the neighbors!

Queen of the backyard

The other day a raccoon was in our pond and got to the fish.  Neighbors reported a driveway sighting, and although we didn’t witness his nocturnal deeds, we did discover the destruction—missing fish and shredded water lilies. The fish did not go down without a fight!

But nature’s backyard drama isn’t an entirely comfortable story for my two little gals! My overt enthusiasm has contributed to a climate of concern and lots of questions from Sophia.  She’s been very curious about wolves and coyotes.  I could answer “no” to the wolves, but there have been coyotes in the neighboring golf course.  “No” they aren’t in our backyard—at least not very often. Now when she spends the night she wants to make sure the gate is closed.  I think we’ve frightened her just a little bit.  Karina loves the squirrels and birds in the yard, and on occasion she reports an owl sighting.  She, too, has a great imagination!

So to add a little education and begin to dispel any misinformation we took a short field trip to Eaton Canyon–located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and only twenty minutes from home.  The girls are too young for all but the opening-hiking trail, but the Nature Center is a great way to begin talking about the animals that live in our local mountains.  They were less interested in the mountain lion, bear and opossum, but couldn’t get enough of watching the snakes in the terrariums.  One of the snakes was poised and ready to eat its goldfish lunch. To their disappointment he wasn’t planning to eat with an audience!

Snake with goldfish lunch...a matter of time!

It was a little drizzly and we weren’t dressed for much of a hike—that, and I also saw a sign that told us what to do if we encountered a mountain lion on the trail—so I wasn’t venturing too far with two small children.  But maybe another time we’ll sign up for a guided family hike.  It was beautifully serene and oh-so-quiet! Karina stopped in her tracks and with hushed tones commented, “Look at the pretty mountains.”  That acknowledgement from a two-year old made the whole effort worthwhile.


What preschoolers enjoy doing on a hike!

Scrub and the San Gabriels

11 thoughts on “Backyard circle of life…and lessons on the trail with two young children!

  1. Ophelia October 27, 2011 / 10:21 am

    Debra, I can hear the joy in your heart and voice as you share these God given moments with these two precious granddaughters of yours. Thanks for sharing! ~ Ophelia

    • Three Well Beings October 27, 2011 / 12:52 pm

      Yes, Ophelia…you DO know how much I enjoy them, and I am indeed forever thankful for their little lives. They bring us all much joy. It is so nice to have you pop in for a it often 🙂 D

  2. Andrea Thomson Viner @ Iowa Dog Blog October 27, 2011 / 11:58 am

    I’m not a bird person, but that is a great picture. How are there peacocks in your area? I guess I thought they were from another country–immigrants, so to speak. 🙂

    • Three Well Beings October 27, 2011 / 12:51 pm

      You’re basically correct, Andrea, but these birds more than likely traveled from the Los Angeles County Arboretum in a neighboring city. I was able to watch them fly one evening, taking off from our roof and going into one of the tallest neighborhood trees and I couldn’t believe their wingspan and speed. So they obviously can get around. It was a fun time! I keep hoping they’ll come back! 🙂 D

  3. lifeonthecutoff October 28, 2011 / 6:39 am

    You write of the world around you with such passion, Debra, and respect for nature. That peacock on the roof is so exciting and to see them fly – oh my, what a treat.
    I did squeak a chuckle out of the skunks. We’ve had that experience, many times, in our other house, which was located on what became known as “skunk hollow”. Skunks took up residence under an enclosed back porch which wasn’t over the main foundation, but, was hooked up to the heating system. One night, oh, I see smell it, the mother skunk was challenged, we could hear noise underneath our feet, and then, oh then, that horrific odor crept in. The big problem was it came in through the heating ducts and the whole house was skunked. It took months to clear out.
    Peacocks are more fun.

    • Three Well Beings October 28, 2011 / 2:57 pm

      Oh so you DO understand the skunk problem! And it can really be a problem. I cannot imagine the odor creeping in through the heating system, because it permeates so thoroughly without another delivery system! They sprayed one Christmas Eve as we prepared for a house full of guests. I may have cried that time! It is a pleasure to just watch and see what happens within the natural world, though, isn’t it! And I’m glad we can share on these points! D

  4. Kathy Tiss October 28, 2011 / 8:08 am

    It’s so fun to hear of what’s happening in your backyard. You have quite a variety of feathered and furry friends. Love your writing, Deb.
    Have a great Friday and week end!
    Love, Kathy

    • Three Well Beings October 28, 2011 / 2:58 pm

      Thanks again for all your positive encouragement. You wouldn’t guess we would have so much wildlife living where we do, would you? Guess we’ll be seeing your boys and your granddaughters later today! Wish you were coming with them! 🙂 D

  5. kateshrewsday October 28, 2011 / 10:52 am

    Debra, what a beautiful post, full of the things nature brings to help us balance our lives and get a sense of proportion. I am envious of your peacocks 🙂 And of course, we don’t have anything like skunks….what adventures. And finally, it is so beautiful to see small children growing up with awe and wonder for their surroundings. Teaching them this is a lifelong gift. And these two are absolutely adorable…

    • Three Well Beings October 28, 2011 / 3:02 pm

      I like that, Kate–balance! It is exactly right. I spent today on freeways, downtown Los Angeles and quite a bit of clamor, but once home I do like to either be outdoors, or if not possible, at least look outside. Sometimes I just take pictures of the birds at the feeder…and they really aren’t much to look at. Rather ordinary. But somehow relaxing…and I think, yes, balancing. And to share with the children gives me a little sense of extra purpose in it! 🙂 D

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