Archive for October, 2012


The Boy

Watercolor – Michael Liebhaber

The boy stood at the edge. The place where his world stopped being the fields and started being the forest. “you don’t want to go in there,” said his father the farmer. “there are only trees and the path is dark and the way is difficult. That is the reason we cut down the trees and cleared the dark places. We made life simpler and easier.”

The boy continued to stare into the forest. He stood there until the farmer tired of waiting for his help. He stood there long past the bell for their evening meal. He stood there as the sun sunk beneath the wheat waving in the soft breeze.

As the sounds of the night began to rise to greet the dark and stars, the boy turned and ran to the house where he was born. But all that night he looked out the window to that place where his father’s fields became the forest. He wondered what it would be like to walk under the shade of those trees and walk those mossy paths.

Then, the boy slept. He had the most wonderful dream. He dreamt he entered the cool forest and walked the dark paths and met along the way many creatures that made him laugh. He woke and vowed that he would not be afraid today. He would enter the forest.

But that day was much like many before it. There was work to do. There were goats to tend. There was the wheat. The forest would have to wait. The boy would have to wait.

Many years passed. The village was growing. The people needed more food. The forest was still a dark and troublesome place. The farmer slowly took bits and pieces of the forest and made them a sunlit field full of wavy golden grain.

The boy had grown. He was no longer the tiny child who was afraid to enter the forest. He was nearly a man. He stood in the fields of wheat and thought how proud he was of the work he did. The harvest would be a good one.

Just then a strange bird flew low over the field. It passed just over the head of the young man. It flew fast and straight into the forest. The young man followed the bird with his eyes. He wondered where the bird was going. It was at that moment he remembered.

He remembered his promise. He stood up straight and walked toward the trees. For a time he stood at the edge. The edge where the golden wheat became the mossy oaks. He tried to peer into the darkness to see what was hidden.

He took a step. He took another step. He took many steps until he was standing in the cool shadows of those ancient trees. He began to look around. He almost spun in a circle as he began to hear noises all around.

They weren’t the noises of the field. They were strange and new. The young man smiled. He walked deeper into the forest. He saw small things scurrying into their secret spaces away from his heavy footfall.

He saw a small stream. This must be the same stream that they used to irrigate the fields and get fresh water for the goats. It was the same stream that he drank from. But here, inside the forest the stream was different. It was alive.

He touched the lichen coated rocks beside a small stream and he drank the pure cold water that ran over the fishes. Under the surface small creatures wriggled and writhed. Green tendrils of unknown plants wrapped around broken branches.

The young man sat there for some time. He was lost in the beauty of the place. He made a new promise. He vowed that the forest would be safe as long as he was alive. And as he rose to walk back to the fields, he glanced down once more at the riffling waters. There gleamed  a small fish just under the surface. Its scales like jewels. What treasure this forest held.

He would tell the people to come see the beauty. He knew they would love this forest. They would want to know what treasures were hidden in the mossy shade. They would want to keep this beautiful sanctuary and protect it.

Watercolor by Roland Lee

And they did.

Things That Go BUMP in the Night….

spooky forest - Bielsko-Biala, Slaskie

spooky forest by pociunia

The forest is a mysterious place. During the day it’s filled with wild wings of birds and insects. The shadows cast their coolness on hidden mossy creatures sneaking from the heat of the day. But after dark, the forest changes. The sunlit stream becomes a dark ribbon of glassy eyes searching. The mossy branches are suddenly ancient claws  reaching for you….what was that sound?

In the spirit of Halloween, we thought we should shine some light into the deep dark forest that scares you and tell you about the amazing and wonderful creatures and sites you can REALLY see at night in the forest. Let’s start with……

FROGS

GreenTreeFrogRaleigh.jpg

146KB WAV  (click for song)

The Green Tree Frog like most frogs prefers the cover of night. Their song fills the summer air just after rain. They prefer small ponds and are typically arboreal or like trees! They actually have been listed as good pets! Before taking any creature from the wild, please consider appreciating them from a distance in their natural surroundings.

143KB WAV file (click for song)

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Southern Tree Frogs have distinctive spots and pointed heads. They escape predators by leaping long distances. They can even live in brackish marshes and eat a huge variety of small creatures.

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Cuban Tree Frogs have become quite an issue in Florida. They are large and prolific breeders. Their diet consists of just about anything that they can  catch – including 5 our own native species. Their size allows them to eat lizards and small snakes as well. It is illegal to release them into the wild. They are still sold in the pet market as they are quite beautiful frogs.

Do you like frogs? Write and let us know if you think they are slimy, sticky creepers or lovely leaping little things!

Stay tuned for our next creature of the night!!

From Another Time (by Kristen)

One of the best things about being a Chicks with Ticks is getting away from it all… venturing into the depths of a pristine forest, following the bends of a small meandering stream, feeling so remote you think there is no way anyone has ever laid eyes on this seemingly untouched spot, except perhaps some early Florida inhabitants. It is that feeling of being connected not only to the land, but also to a time long past. A time when people lived off the land. A time before constant stimulus and connectivity, when you could just… be…

When I can’t be physically connected to the land, I find myself getting lost in novels depicting early life in Florida to fill that void. Novels like “A Land Remembered” (mine and Jacque’s all-time favorite book) or “The Yearling” (which I am currently reading). Or visiting old towns such as Micanopy or Cross Creek, where I can grab a bite at The Yearling Restaurant on my way home (sort of) from Jacksonville. Or taking the backroads, even though they take longer than the highway. Anything to just get away from it all and see or imagine something beautiful.

Yet I live in the city. And I work the majority of my days in an office. I enjoy these things, for the most part, but you can tell when I’ve been away from where I truly feel free, alive, happy for too long. Or when I’ve gotten a small taste of that place, but not enough, and I’m left just yearning for more. It’s painful. I asked Jacque why it is I feel such a longing and am so deeply affected, and she said very simply, “It’s because we are from another time.” It made me cry, because I knew it was true, and I sometimes can’t help but feel that I don’t belong.

Vampires Commeth..

With Halloween coming, the Chicks thought it would be interesting to begin dispelling myths about some of the spookier nighttime creatures. We will begin with bats. Vampire bats do not suck blood. Rather, they lick the blood of cows an other small mammals. Vampire bats are actually very small and are no threat to us!

So, here goes. No more fearing them in the dark. They do not get tangled in your hair and will not suck the lifeblood out of you….here are some truths about

 

BATS

  • A single bat can snap up over 600 mosquitoes in one hour, as well as other little pests!
  • Bats are shy, gentle, and intelligent. They are among the slowest reproducing animals on earth.
  • Most bat species have only one live young per year. A mother bat nurses her baby from a pair of pectoral breasts.
  • The average life-span of a bat is 25 to 40 years.
  • Bat populations in rapid decline, and White Nose Syndrome is threatening them even further. Half the bats in the US are listed as rare, threatened or endangered.
  • While both bats and mice are mammals, bats are not rodents and are more closely related to primates and people.
  • Bats live a very long time.  Most bats live between 10 and 20 years.  Some bats typically live to 30 years old.  The oldest known bat was recently recaptured in Europe at 41 years old.
  • Very few bats contract rabies.  Over the last 50 years, less than 40 people have gotten rabies from a wild bat.  Scientific studies have shown that less than 1% of wild bats test positive for rabies.

http://batconservation.org/drupal/bat-myths Check out the Organization for Bat Conservation!

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