I’m a morning person.  Always have been.  I’m the person who still got up at daylight, even if we’d partied until 4.  I always felt you missed something if you missed mornings.  I was never the person who slept until 3, or around the clock, even when I should have.

Morning shapes everything.  It’s why we have phrases like “getting up on the wrong side of the bed.”  It’s also the reason people are encouraged to pray and exercise in the morning – because it influences the rest of the day.

As someone who hasn’t partied til 4 for decades now, mornings are even more inspiring, because there’s no recovery time to overcome.

Better still for me is my morning yard.

Having coffee outside as the day unfolds is one of best things about being older.  I have few time constraints, so …

This morning the light through the live oaks and spanish moss sparkled.  We had a tropical thunderstorm and downpour last evening, so all has been scrubbed.  Brilliant green sego palms still dripped, and I had to dump the bird seed in my ersatz feeder, because it was a soggy brick.  But the feral cat we feed was still on the porch, which pleases me, because it means he was smart enough to stay dry there.  (He’s a mess and we call him “The Professional,” because he always survives but worse for the wear, like Jean Reneaux in that movie.)

Also this morning two rabbits were enjoying the green feast.  I haven’t seen them before and they made me smile.  What’s not to like about seeing bunnies? Unless they’re eating your vegetables, of course.

And all of that was before coffee!

The swamp is rich in wildlife, even if we think we live in a town.  When you look at us on a map, we are surrounded by bodies of water, with a blackwater swamp less than a quarter mile away, and a boat ramp less than 4.  The wildlife is not city savvy, like the coyotes and raccoons of our Raleigh neighborhood.  We were “just outside the beltline,” so not even suburbs but a real forest was nearby and the agricutural classrooms of NC State weren’t more than a mile away.  I saw several coyotes, and our neighbor routinely trapped and relocated raccoons.

But swamp life is more natural, some good, some bad.  I’m not enamored of the armadillo, for example.  They are nasty and dig up the yard.  But they are also potentially toxic and nocturnal, so not easy to “relocate.”

Bunnies, on the other hand…

Deer, too, though we haven’t seen as many in the last couple years as the town grows and fills in.  I saw a fox on the front lawn after a storm last week, though.  And we are researching a pair of hawks that we’ve seen mating and hunting nearby.  They are beautful: small and elegant with a pale gray front and head, slate wings leaning towards purple and masked eyes.  We watched one eating a small bird for a half hour.  The two had been mating, but when one flew off, the other stayed with its prey and ate.

It was the food that actually made us get out the binoculars.  My husband thought it was eating a big bug, but then I could see blood, and bugs’ blood is yellow — I know: I just returned from a drive to Oklahoma and back.  I’ve seen bugs’ blood.

So, the small hunting bird research continues.  My husband is very particular in his observations, and though I am the painter, his details are often more accurate.

Rabbits will be appearing in the “fantasy animals” series now.  I can’t imagine why I forgot them.  Their amusing postures and interactions will be fun to add to my groups of critters “conversing.”  They could even go into this gang of adventurers.

I’ll keep you posted.animals among us smr

About Carol Joy Shannon

A former sailor of the seven seas, living in my beloved Lowcountry, between the blackwater swamps and the saltmarshes, surrounded by pre-revolutionary history.....thinking about current events....painting dinosaurs and other whimsical animals for children, with the occasional abstract or new cityscape for my delightful collectors. The best thing about being a seasoned old salt is sitting down not running around, so...
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