Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cold Blood

My recent visits to Moose Hill have been good for my spirit but not so good for my body. Time spent sitting on a rock, searching for birds or gazing at my navel is time not spent getting exercise. A few months of knee pain helped justify slowing down a bit, but my slothful ways lead to amazingly quick weight gain and loss of fitness. The knee is feeling better now and I am running and biking more.

I didn’t have the time to explore and sit in the woods Saturday morning, so I went for a run from home to the summit of Moose Hill (26 minutes.). We had a strong thunder storm Friday evening and in the morning, the air was warm and humid. As I ran through the neighborhood, the fragrance of flowers was in the air and I could almost feel the life bursting forth around me. Insects were buzzing and birds flew about as if on important missions. It was high season in New England.

The road to Moose Hill is not busy, but plenty of cars go up and down in the course of a day. There are several swamps, ponds and vernal pools near the road and someone on foot or on a bicycle can’t help but notice the toll our cars take. Adult painted turtles and snapping turtles die on their way to and from egg-laying, and hatchlings die as they scramble from their nests and head for the water. When the weather is right, amphibians slink and hop from one small body of water to another.

We were visiting out daughter in Berkeley, California in February. February there is like April here. We went for a run on a park road that – in classic California style – was closed to automobiles to protect migrating salamanders. I have fantasies about closing the roads over Moose Hill, but who should be protected? Almost every trip up the hill reveals new roadkill: Frogs, toads, turtles, snakes, salamanders, birds, chipmunks and squirrels are all crushed under the tires. I’m sure deer have taken a toll on car bumpers, but in the end, they always lose too.

As I ran up the hill on that warm, damp late spring morning, I knew the road would never be closed, but I found myself wishing we could all slow down and be more careful when we drive.

Rain lets bullfrog move

Warm road feels good to cold blood

Driver does not care

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At 11:46 PM, Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

I don't ever notice frogs or turtles here; must not travel the right kind of roads. But I do see a number of mammals and birds that make me sad.

There are a few places here in NJ that have *rescue* volunteers who go out on the first few rainy nights in spring when herps are likely to be moving about to help them as they travel across roads. I've always wanted to go, but most of the outings are far north in NJ.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger robin andrea said...

Wouldn't it be nice if we really could slow traffic for the critters that have to get from one place to another? I read somewhere about a bridge that was built that allowed moose (or some other creature) to cross over, where a road had been built. A true sign of a civilized culture.

You always write so passionately, maybe you could write a few letters to see if a some kind of signs could be posted to warn drivers of crossing turtles and frogs. I think a lot of people would like to assist wildlfe, but have no idea that it's going on all around them.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger nina said...

I was on my way to work one morning--through the small town near me. A squirrel was playing that, "maybe I'll cross the road, maybe I won't, I guess I will, guess I won't" game with me.
I made it cautiously past him and observed him playing the same game with the next driver coming the opposite way through town.
I cringed, thinking surely this driver wouldn't have the patience in morning rush hour to wait out his indecision, but I was wrong. And, as our cars passed eachother, we smiled--understanding that we shared the same concern to get the little fellow across the road.
It made me feel hopeful.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger Larry said...

I've heard about the rescue volunteers thing-good idea.-I've also been appreciating the smell of flowers this time of the year.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger CabinWriter-- said...

I always get excited to see a car slow ahead of me to allow a gaggle of geese cross. Smiles come to me from other drivers when I do the same for a beautiful creature. I can only hope the roadkill is done nights when stopping is too difficult.

At 10:24 PM, Anonymous Katrien said...

I love Moose Hill. I've been a member of Mass Audubon the entire decade I've been in this country and it was Moose hill that "made me do it".
We can't visit as often as we would like, so I thank you for writing about it with such feeling and clarity. I'll come and visit your writing often.

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