A day off from school. I stayed home for most of it, wandering around the yard and gardens with my camera. Each observed movement of an animal felt like a gift, each moment held still enough to photograph, additional bounty. A red-banded hairstreak in the grass slowly rubbing its tails together, a variegated fritillary basking on an apple leaf – these I managed to capture. I am struck today by how many lives I am privileged to witness playing out here that I am never able to photograph. This is their home in ways that I can barely fathom. The phoebe swooping in a perfect arc from dead spruce branch to insect and back, the groundhog lumbering along the edge of the woods, the deer wandering casually into the yard munching apples, the robberfly perched on the top wire of the fence, eyes seeing in every direction. The young squirrel creeps along the stone wall, just a few feet from where I sit, carrying an acorn in its mouth. It bounds out into the grass, pausing and sniffing until it finally begins to dig at the dirt, stuffs its acorn into the hole, and then pats the small mound down with its paws. Before it bounds away, it moves a few stray leaves, tidies the grass.
This is my hobby, to watch, to enjoy the watching, to document it when I can. These creatures, along with the seeds floating on the breeze, and the maple leaves shadowed against dappled sycamore bark, are part of what I consider my home. When the woodpecker taps seeds into the siding, or the deer eat the hosta, the burn weed invades the flower bed, and the groundhog pushes her way under the fence and into the garden, they make themselves at home with an imperative that is hard to deny.