A Seedy Tale

by Mary Reed

They came again at twilight, creeping out of the woods at the bottom of the back garden. Several of them of all ages, all intent on mischief. Too many to tackle, some bigger than us.

Yes, the deer were back to decimate our hostas again. That was last year.
So far this year we’ve only seen a doe, which sneered at our hostas and went next door to play havoc on theirs instead.

Living cheek by antler with nature is sometimes gives a city gal a bit of a start. Take the large spiders living in the crawl space. Please. They can, including legs, grow nigh as wide as the palm of your hand if you were inclined to pick one up, but what I want to know is what food can they possibly find down there? Are they waiting for a cloudy night with an almost-extinguished crescent moon to march out in a dark column, find an entry point … and come for us? A few years back their scout managed to get indoors, but as was said of the far-farmed Roach Motel, he got in but never got out again.

As my niece remarked after seeing a squirrel in Oxford, there’s an awful lot of nature here. And those horrible spiders certainly come under the heading of awful.

On the other hand, we do have charming visitors now and then: an occasional groundhog waddles by, on one occasion a mother accompanied by three or four groundhoglettes whose bouncing progress marked them as budding Springheel Jacks.

On another day a fully grown black bear processed in stately fashion across the front lawn on his way to next door’s side garden. He was a magnificent and awe-inspiring site and it is easy to understand how some cultures worshiped the species. He was well-mannered too as he caused us no bother at all, although our neighbours did tell us later they had to take down their bird feeders as they were attracting bears who doubtless appreciated these ursine serve-yourself-lunch-buffets for the seeds.

Visitors who omitted to sign the visitors’ book but left traces of their passing have included a bobcat, spotted as it slipped by the side of the house to merge into dappled shade of the edge of the woods on its way higher up, a flock of wild turkeys who tore up the back lawn with glee before moving on to cause mayhem elsewhere, rabbits favouring the grass by our tumbledown garden shed and so far have, like the deer, spared the ferns we encourage to spread as much as possible, the olive-green snake that disappeared under a boulder next door, a buck leading two does and a couple of fawns filing silently past in deepening twilight.

Yes, there’s certainly an awful lot of nature within feet of our walls. They were here before us and will remain when we are gone, so we try to share our space with them without complaint. Well, except when they dine on our hostas.


Mary Reed is the co-author of the John the Lord Chamberlain mysteries set in sixth century Byzantium. The current entry is Ten for Dying .

You can also follow Mary on Twitter.

2 Responses to A Seedy Tale

  1. I have a similar arrangement with the blacksnakes living in the cellar of my farm: You stay down there, I stay up here and never the twain shall meet.

    Or so the upstairs guests hope.

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