Chipmunks are a gift!

Here is our Christmas card everyone! A special thanks to my dear little friend, Cider who is presently underground in torpor until the spring. I’m so happy to have and share the gift of chipmunks in my yard with you all. I would greatly appreciate it if you would answer a few questions in my comments:

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Behind the Scenes at Maine Wildlife Park with Curt Johnson

Wayne and I attended a Pow Wow at the Maine Wildlife Park this summer after which we spent some time exploring and looking at the animals. Unlike a zoo that operates for profit, the animals at the park cannot survive in the wild. It’s there that they are provided a safe forever home because they were injured, orphaned, or became human dependent while being raised illegally in captivity. The park is self-sustaining and owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife within the Division of Information and Education. Each animal becomes an ambassador for its species to help educate (and charm!) the public. It has a staff of thirty and over two hundred volunteers which includes retirees, college interns and during the off-season, inmates involved in correctional trade instruction. The inmates gain experience and can give back to the community by doing necessary tasks like painting, shoveling and maintaining wood furniture.

I contacted park Superintendent Curt Johnson about the possibility of volunteering next season. Since I’m always interested in learning more about people who work with and love wildlife I asked him after he interviewed me if I could interview him for my blog. Not only did he agree to it but he also offered me a rare opportunity to visit the park and see the animals after it had closed for the season! I felt so lucky and of course I accepted his generous offer!

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Photographing Wildlife

I looked outside my window at 6:50 a.m. this morning and saw Cider who also saw me. He gets very animated when we make eye contact. It was going to start raining the next hour followed by at least two days of a mix of snow and ice. I knew it might be my only chance to get my Christmas card photo before he went underground until spring!

It can be challenging working with non-traditional models. You can’t make an appointment with them for a photo shoot because it’s on their terms and timeline. They will NOT work for free. You will have to pay the talent in seed currency as you go, no exceptions.

Although I had just dressed and my hair was still wet I ran outside with my vintage Christmas photo props and jar of seeds. I didn’t even pause to put on a coat despite it being 40 degrees.

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And now a word from my blog sponsor, Informed Bliss

Sometimes I can’t contain my joy for living in such a beautiful place, but really, why would I want to? Is it because we’re trained to think that happiness springs from ignorance, so that only simple-minded people are content? Or is informed bliss (the name of my first blog in 2001) in a world filled with sadness and tragedy along with comfort, kindness and connection a real possibility?

YES! Yes it is!

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I’m Popular?

I put up a “No Soliciting” sign on my door about five years ago and since that time I’ve learned that either people (politicians, religious pamphlet types, contractors, but no Avon ladies [do they still exist?]) don’t know the meaning or they believe that they are exempt. If I put up a “No Panhandling” sign on my office window I suppose it would be merely decorative if that.  This squirrel was waiting for me, the seed lady, to take a break and look outside my window and then hopefully give him or her seeds on the deck just like I do for Cider. But that didn’t work…

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Passing Beauty and My New Friend

Maine’s autumnal show ain’t over til it’s over! There is still much to appreciate right now including my new chipmunk friend, Cider. At first I thought he lived in my neighbor’s yard but I followed him home and see that he’s living on the other side of my house. About four days ago Buster and Ricky went south (a few feet) underground for the winter so they aren’t here to chase Cider away. Sunny is still awake but I know that she, too will soon be in torpor for winter and the passing of summer’s growth will be complete once it’s covered with a cold white blanket. Thankfully that’s not happening in the near future!

Here are some pics I just took to share all this remaining loveliness with you, including Cider’s audition to be a model.

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Late October Gratitude

“A snug and a clean home, no matter how tiny it be, so that it be wholesome; windows into which the sun can shine cheerily; a few good books (and who need be without a few good books in these days of universal cheapness?)–no duns at the door, and the cupboard well supplied, and with a flower in your room! There is none so poor as not to have about him these elements of pleasure.” -Samuel Smiles, Eliza Cook’s Journal, 1850

There was a lone late October rose growing on one of the bushes that I cut and placed in a stem vase today. I came across the above quote minutes afterward! It really speaks to me. One doesn’t need to be poor or have a large, modern kitchen to enjoy the many riches to be found in the simple things! Here are some more gifts I’m appreciating right now:

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Storm Drama and Autumn Delights

I took some photos of the foliage in our woods a couple of days ago before the storm (“bomb cyclone“) hit last night knowing that many of the leaves would be blown off the trees. The winds packed a powerful punch with gusts up to 60 mph. I got out of bed at 3:00 a.m. and made the coffee knowing that a power outage would be likely if not imminent. Forget bread and milk–dealing with a storm without that hot morning cup is just…no. The winds were literally roaring outside just like the storm two years ago that knocked down a large tree in our yard. Around 3:45 the power predictably went out. The house was silent which made the noisy mayhem of wind and rain outside seem even louder. As long we didn’t hear any snaps, cracks and thuds of falling trees and…

“What was that? Was that you?” I asked Wayne who was in another room.

“No, I thought it came from the kitchen.”

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