Gave these unusual "snow strawberries" a try... intriguing to look at on the outside, unfortunately boring to taste on the inside. Well, sometimes life is like that... at least I got an interesting picture and anecdote out of it.
Last night we were in the darkened atrium watching The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime when suddenly, right in the middle of a very tense scene surrounded by orcs, there was a big thud followed by thumping up on the roof...
We were startled, turned on some outside lights, and went up to the loft to close the ventilation windows. In the loft I could hear whatever it was cross from the east side all the way across to the west side as I was closing windows right below it...
Still have no idea what it was. Our roof is a high-ceilinged 2-stories without external access except to flying creatures. There are no squirrels or raccoons here. There are monkeys in nearby mountains but I've never seen any in our little valley and the nearest tree is much too far a leap. Don't know what kind of bird it could have been thumping around on an open roof in the middle of the night, but that's the most probable answer so far. The preferred answer would be a flying squirrel gliding down from the surrounding cedar trees. They do exist but they are rare and I've never seen one. I would love to add flying squirrels to the menagerie that we have somehow organically developed here over the past few years--
Let it be a flying squirrel. Please not goblins. nor monkeys.
Fluffy Flying Squirrels would be delightful. (I think)
Climbed through the ventilation windows onto the roof this afternoon to investigate during the daylight... I'm not Aragorn, but I'm pretty observant and I found nothing of interest to report. So we are left with a mystery to be solved another time...
Last week's mysterious rooftop visitor returned to thump about again, this time with more urgency or desperation or mania... but this time I was ready for action. I turned off all the lights and pointed my big flashlight through the loft ventilation windows to catch a passing glimpse of the long tail and cute face of a masked palm civet. A bit rare in this region and totally nocturnal, they look kinda like a raccoon-ferret-skunk hybrid. Not a flying squirrel as hoped, not some large bird as expected, but also not a monkey, goblin, or orc...
A NEW CHAPTER:
Well, it's been about half a year, and the situation has evolved. It turned out that our initial visitor was a masked civet jumping onto the roof from the nearby overgrown jungle trees. Civets are cute, but very destructive to houses, and this one started scratching the roof maniacally trying to get in and live in our loft. After several midnight visitations, I trimmed back the overgrown branches beyond its jumping range. No more thumping in the night, and the surrounding forest had a healthier layering to the foliage.
A little later, we were visited by a badger who took shelter from a morning rainstorm UNDER the house. Also quite cute, and also potentially destructive to the foundation, so after he woke up in the evening, we discouraged his returning by asking Alexa to play sounds of barking dogs and howling wolves... which honestly felt a little silly.
Finally, six months later in the spring, a midnight thumping and skittering on the roof signaled a new arrival from the tall surrounding cedar trees.
And guess who?
Yes, at last, a Japanese giant flying squirrel. Yay!
Looks like someone is living in our woodpile... This morning I uncovered the woodpile to dry out after the typhoon because we'll be needing it next month, and found this Aodaisho "Blue General" snake sleeping in there. From the sheddings in, on, and around the woodpile, it seems he has been making this his home for a while, and probably he's the baby snake I used to find curled up on the back deck last spring. We'll have to be a little careful of him while getting wood this autumn, but this is actually a good situation because Aodaisho are not poisonous and they keep away the highly dangerous Mamushi Vipers.
Living this close with nature is always an adventure and a cooperative effort--
Last night we woke suddenly in the middle of the night to the shrieking alarms of our mobile phones trying to warn us of an impending earthquake. That gave us about 30 seconds to jump out of bed and ask Alexa to turn on the lights as we took shelter in the few doorways in our house away from glass windows...
Our bedroom is on the second floor loft, and with the open-plan layout of the house we can see everything in what is basically a single huge room. The house proved itself to be surprisingly flexible, swaying widely in all directions like a drunken sailor without falling. I guess this motion added a kind of gentleness to the violence of the earthquake, because after it finally slowed down to stillness there was nothing broken, not even the one picture that flew off the wall and landed face down on the floor two meters away...
We were very fortunate, because the earthquake was reported to be about 6.8 (on the US scale) centered just off the coast and probably around 5.5 by the time it reached us in these mountains a little inland. Anyway, we are totally fine and the house with its utility systems all check out fine by daylight. We are very thankful to be living in a time and place where we can almost magically be warned to seek shelter just in time, and with construction engineering that can handle such events...
It's the winter holidays and it has been cold of late, often dropping just below freezing overnight. Though the mornings start quite 'brisk', the passive solar well of light that is the heart of Sant-o-menel slowly collects the warmth of the sun's lovely rays throughout the day. And by 3pm, while it is only 12C (54F) outside, I am here on the couch 'glistening' in a pink t-shirt and loving it. It will eventually start cooling down as the sun sets around 5pm, and I will close the curtain at the top of the well to hold in the heat for the evening. Gradually we will layer up again into the usual winter-wear but hold off lighting a fire in the woodstove until we need its cheery warmth after dinner around 9pm.
I hope we can all take inspiration from collaboration with nature's abundance in our lives--