Saturday, August 29, 2020

Highway in the Backyard

 We have a low deck, positioned about two to three feet off the uneven ground from whatever was left of backfill after our house was constructed, back in the early '70s.

It's a good deck, sturdy, painted and repainted many times over the years, with an oak tree towering over it at end, making it a lovely shaded haven even on the hottest summer day.

Underneath the deck, it's a different story. The soil seems hard and dry, with miscellaneous pieces of rock and broken concrete scattered where the view penetrates into the gloom. It's a mysterious, unknowable zone, I always thought.

The groundhog makes it home in a burrow there,it usually waddles in and out at various points around the deck. I had taken to spraying the entrance points with peppermint oil, hoping to discourage the groundhog from settling there, and potentially ravaging our garden.

Then, just a couple of days ago, on a cloudy cool afternoon, I saw a raccoon emerging from under the deck, padding away carefully at first, then going on a full fledged dash towards the neighbor's yard. What could it have been doing there? Acorns, I think, were the big attraction of the season.

Yesterday, the rabbit was back near the far end of the deck, close to where I had attempted to block an entrance with a flower pot. It scooted under the deck the moment the screen door squeaked as I opened it.

Same with a small set of chipmunks. 

So, there you have it- a critter highway under the deck, not burrows for the groundhog as I thought. This one plays host to a variety of creatures who visit it at various times of the year for food, shelter, or just as a convenient way to get somewhere without running into clueless humans.

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