Small Wonders

Working from home (as are most of us), Assistant Director Jenny Houghton has been working on Nature Notes to share in our weekly email newsletters (email us to sign up!).

This was a week of small wonders.

Friday turned up two treasures: the feather of a vulture and a robin’s egg. Both had fallen from great heights, the robin’s egg intact, though far from any nest. Later in the day, a skink left its iridescent tail on our front sidewalk. We took it to the porch for closer observation, marveling at the shiny scales and at the skink’s ability to evade danger. Strength, vulnerability: these are two sides of nature’s coin.

A Sunday walk led us to a meadow flecked with small white flowers, similar to bloodroot but with narrow, grasslike leaves. “Star-of-Bethlehem,” Land Steward Kathy Thornton said when I checked in, an “escaped bulb” native to Europe. Alongside the starry flowers, buttercups grew. Native or not? I checked—many are, but not all. Our chins glowed yellow; everyone liked butter.

On Tuesday, we spotted a box turtle digging a hole for her eggs, prompting several subsequent visits to mark her progress, which was slow. By the time we trudged home for the final time, the moon was out. A barred owl called from a tree; we could see its bulky silhouette overhead. The call was answered from my neighbor’s yard, where a similar black shadow hunched among the branches. The owlish conversation ended when my dogs joined in. We went inside.

After a bath and a book, I tucked my youngest into bed. “Mom,” she said drowsily, “when you start looking for nature, you see nature everywhere.” Yet another small wonder.

Originally published May 7, 2020

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