Friday, June 23, 2006

Backyard Detectives

Two nights ago Einstein and I were startled out of sleep by the most horrendous noise. It was loud and otherworldly. My sleepy brain wasn't sure if I was thick in a jungle or a science fiction movie. I half expected wild-eyed monkeys to come crashing through the windows or some black vaporous force to slither in through the cat door. The noise was piercing-- some strange sort of screeching-whooping-yipping-screaming. Honestly, I was pretty freaked out.

I handed off the flashlight to Einstein and we headed out the back door. We were instantly met by two of our four cats who appeared just as startled as we were. The four of us stood there dumbly staring while Einstein swept a beam of light along the thick brush at the far end of our yard. He must have hit the right spot because the noise stopped with a certain suddenness, and everything went still.

We stood there a few minutes looking and saw nothing. We turned the light off and the noise didn't return, but as if by magic, we found ourselves surrounded by a multitude of fireflies. They must have taken to our flashlight, like a fertile mothership, and were all readying themselves to dock at our port. I hate to be such a tease, but it was dreamy to be surrounded by so many twinkling little lights.

The next day, in our sleuthing to uncover the source of all that crazy racket, we were pointed to some online audio clips. What we had heard was some variation of THIS... THIS... and THIS.

Could it really have been foxes? In our yard? In a residential area in town? Wild! Sunburst was so excited when I told her, and she helped me do some sleuthing through the bramble. We looked for scat, fur, blood, feathers, anything really. We came up empty-handed until Sunburst spotted this:

It could be a fox. It's definitely too deep and dog-like of an impression to be from one of our cats. Sunburst grabbed out our local animal tracks book and found these:

From that and another, albeit messier, print, she deduced it must have been a red fox. But that didn't stop her from looking for more clues. Next she found these:

  1. A fossil?
  2. Another track - perhaps dinosaur or mallard duck?
  3. Definitely the track of a snapping turtle.
She was undeterred by the apparent absence of standing water in our backyard. In science it's the thrill of discovery, not accuracy, that keeps the ball rolling. In the fertile soil of her mind, anything is possible.

1 comment:

  1. How thrilling! GemSprighly finds the idea of foxes in your backyard absolutely riviting!


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