Sunday, August 15, 2010


One of the draws of moving into this apartment complex back in April of 2005 was the wide expanse of lawn, the abundance of trees, and the rural feel of the location. We had come from living in a three-story building in a senior development, where the building itself was the draw. The limitations of this was that when our littlest grandchildren came to visit we had to go to a park to let them run and have fun, because there were no grounds around our apartments for them to play in. So this second senior complex seemed to be much better for us.

Sometime around November of that first year, we awoke one morning to find a contingent of cattle egrets, probably 12 in number, wandering across our lawn, looking for grubs and other egret delicacies. It was a real shock to see them. They are large birds! We had no cattle, of course, but our apartments are not too many miles away from some dairies and we figured that's probably where these egrets belonged. We loved to watch them. They marched around the entire complex for the next few months -- we'd see them at the south end sometimes, other times up near the management office. They were not unduly skittish, but also I think most of the residents so enjoyed watching them that they didn't bother the birds by getting too close.

I asked my next door neighbor if this was a yearly happening. He replied that he'd lived there eight years and had never, ever seen an egret before. And they have never come back either.

But what has arrived this year is a multitude of toadstools.

They were not there when we went to bed one night. The next morning we had a large fairy ring, I think these are called. The toadstools practically grew in size as we watched them. They were huge. In our five years of living here we never have seen a toadstool in our grass. I have no idea whether or not their appearance has anything to do with the fact that because of California's water shortage our management has almost stopped watering the lawn, as well as stopped fertilizing it, since they really didn't want it to grow. But we certainly were surprised at our new decorations.

And finally this year we've been blessed (or cursed) with our first gopher. We knew they were around, but they had kept themselves pretty much confined to the golf course. Just two weeks ago I saw the pest control service out on the 4th hole probing a gopher hole with a long metal tube, undoubtedly spraying down the hole hoping to kill that gopher.

I'm not crazy about gophers per se because one year in Loma Linda they ate all the roots of my 6 tomato plants, leaving the plants standing upright inside the cage but deader than a doornail!

Our gopher is traveling from east to west. Each morning we get up and there is a new pile of dirt a few feet west of where it was the day before. We can see where he's been and where he is going. His latest dig last night was through a tree root. His little sharp teeth shredded that root, and there are lots of root trimmings on top the pile of dirt from last night's work. Our lawn, such as it is now, gets mowed on Wednesdays. The piles get squashed but on Thursday mornings we can see that he's back at it.

I am such a softy for little animals that as far as I am concerned, he can munch away with impunity. I will not call management and tattle on him; I can't guarantee that my neighbors won't. He's pretty far from where our flowers are, so until he starts going after them, I'll not bother him.

And anyway, with a face like this who would want to kill him?

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