Wilderness Basics Chameleon excerpt:
... Arrestingly colorful Baltimore Orioles picked all the fruits from black cherry bushes right before they ripened. Peach and pear trees produced dependably, and black walnuts, tall and spreading sturdily, grew wild, as did persimmon. Mild honey bees spread pollen between flowers. Variegated hummingbirds siphoned nectar from hollyhock bushes gone wild. The lilac to the right of the front door expanded to cover the entraceway, so its sweet-scented bulbous blooms had to be pushed aside for entering the house in springtime. The outhouse, grandfathered in as legal and kept painted, was a second, and then third bathroom. Violets and orange daylilies transplanted from other sites landscaped buildings. Birds built individualized and interesting nests in the eaves. Climbing roses twined around deck supports, and peonies sprouted each year to the north of the house in partial shade.
Sliding downhill toward the river, daffodils and tulips, anemones and wild cactus bloomed. Wild daisies, forsythias and domestic rose bushes scattered, and a wisteria grew and fell near the top of the hill. Unreliable white locust blooms dangled their drunken fragrance by the deck. Red and white delicate wild roses and the snarling vines of wild grapes grew and wandered west of the house, as did osage orange trees with their intriguing large green fruits. Sweet-smelling cedars popped up everywhere. And then there were the entrancing diminutive wildflowers of various design and shade. And the moss. Wild cherry, small, hard pear and apple trees flowered and fruited. Gypsy moths attacked some of the trees but never killed any. Wild blackberry, raspberry and blueberry bushes lined fence rows and mountain paths. Azaleas and mountain laurel bloomed alongside them. By late fall, acorns and dead leaves carpeted higher grounds. Wild chestnuts disappeared long ago.
Nearly all the land, barren to the wild at my purchase of it, had been planted and filled. Children, in particular, loved it, and the domestic animals, and some adults were entranced, too. Robins, finches, sparrows, cardinals abounded, and an occasional indigo bunting in its spectacular glimmering blue, or a bluejay, passed through. Woodpeckers, large and small, pecked at tree trunks. Raptors -- hawks and eagles -- soared on skywaves. At night, owls stared and hooted. Wild geese hung out by the river where mallards glided with their chicks in tow during the summer season. Beaver chopped small trees down and built their community dams. Sometimes woodducks, herons or seagulls would visit. Butterflies and dragonflies particularly enjoyed hovering and dancing in the air or fluttering and mating on multi-nuanced stones of the beach, or around stands of water reeds. Fallfish, helgrammites, minnows, freshwater oysters, clams and mussles, muskie, water snakes, bullfrogs, mudcats and little tomcats hiding snugly under rocks enlivened the ever-moving, rising and receding Shenandoah waters.
In the fields, groundhogs dug deep, and sometimes precarious holes. Small, glistening, multi-colored lizards crawled and tiny tree frogs hopped on the grounds. Once in a while, a wild turkey hen with her babies would peek out from the borderline forest. Deer and rabbits were common, as were the only North American marsupial, the ugly possum. Red and more plentiful gray fox ran and prowled through fields. A very rare sight was a cougar, bobcat, red or flying squirrel, or skunk. There were rumors of wild boar, but I never saw any. Two good-sized field rats once set up house in an outbuilding, but were trapped and disposed of quickly.
It was a very beautiful, and generally peaceful place -- a wild and domesticated orchestra of nature's bounty crescendoing toward summer annually with a nearly overwhelming explosion of shape and color and movement by breeze or storm or self-directed and empowered....