My house is in an approximately circular clearing in the woods. I have another clearing across a wetland -- really a vernal pool, it's pretty dry in summer -- where my barn and orchard are located. My property is a 20 acre peninsula in a state forest. Actually it's officially called a "Wildlife Management Area," which means a) you can hunt there, in season, with a license and b) they don't actually manage it. The state maintains no trails, doesn't have any points of entry nor do they publicize its existence. So, it's wilderness. There are some old stone walls, signs that once at least part of it was briefly pasture, but there is also some very steep land, including a very deep gorge more characteristic of California than Connecticut, through which the Merrick Brook flows. There was once a mill there but it's long abandoned, only the ruins of the sluice remain. I expect some of this would qualify as old growth, although the species composition has changed due to loss of the chestnuts. It's predominantly oak forest with hemlock, maple, and beech.
So, as you can imagine, I have plenty of critters to look at. Yesterday morning, I stepped onto my front porch and a big buck was just standing there on the edge of my lawn. It looked at me unconcernedly. I yelled "scram!" and it just stood there. I yelled "Get lost!" and it didn't flinch. So I started walking toward it, figuring on picking up a rock, and it finally sauntered off into the woods.
If you are finding me unsentimental, I see them every day, so I am no longer enthralled by their cuteness. And they eat my shrubs and fruits. There's plenty of room for them in the woods, they don't need to be coming around here all the time. Of course what I should really do is shoot them and eat them, which is the natural order of things.
Last year there were bats patrolling my clearing every evening. This year I hadn't see them and I felt terrible, assuming my local squad had succumbed to the fungal blight. But last night they were back, at least 5 or 6 that I could count. It's impossible to keep track of their numbers because they fly around very fast and very erratically, chasing echoes from their insect prey. I have a bathouse mounted under the eaves of my barn, a gift from my sweet friend Vicki, who I no longer have the chance to see.
Right now, July 4, it's raining hard, so I'm stuck here with cabin fever. But anyway, Windham County will be reborn.