Monthly Archives: July 2012

A ticket for the Kingston Chamber Festival gets you in the door but does not assign you a seat. I arrived only minutes before the concert was to start and had to keep moving down the aisle toward the stage before I saw an empty seat. But then close to the front, on the aisle were two seats. Doubting my good fortune to find such excellent seats so late, I asked the woman in the adjacent seat whether those seats were free. The people she had been expecting had not appeared. She said I could have the seats.

I read quickly through the evening’s program notes until the lights dimmed. Then I put my bag and newspaper on the seat next to me. As I did, I noticed a name plate on the right arm of my seat. “Malcolm” it said. I looked more closely: “In loving memory of Malcolm Henderson.” Carol’s dead son. My nephew. My right eye that always weeps first filled with a tear.

For much of the first movement of the Haydn string quartet, I ruminated on Malcolm and why the plaque was there and wiped the tears off my check. My parents supported the the festival in its early years. This plaque was part of their contribution.

Who would Malcolm have become had his fate not been a very quick life? Malcolm’s father plays the fiddle. Might Malcolm have been a musician? Would he be married? I could be sure that I would be seeing him this weekend at his younger sister’s wedding where he, his other sister and my children might be comparing notes from their own weddings or just enjoying hanging out together.

The Haydn piece was surprising in tempo, key and mode changes or so it seemed as I wandered in and out of paying attention.

When it was over, we clapped, coughed, moved around in our seats and then the Mozart piece began. Now the plaque on the left arm of my chair caught my attention. Even in the darkened hall, I could read the engraving: “Julie and Paul Douglas.”

I’m heading for bed this evening with the smell of skunk heavy in the air. I heard the kerfuffle that lead to the spray but, beyond a skunk, I don’t know who was involved.

In the morning, I hope the red fox will not bark as s/he looks for a tasty breakfast? of chipmunk? in the stone wall. Or at least I hope s/he’ll consider brunch so that the time of barking might not be 5:05 am. Tucker, the dog visiting across the way, and I would both like to sleep later.

The fox did not eat all the rabbits. One was munching on clover in the lawn this morning.

No photos for this post but you can find red fox videos on youtube if you want to know what you’re missing. While I was looking for fox sounds, I asked about deer calls. That took me to some hunting sites — not forests but virtual. The sneezing sounds my deer make seems to be aggressive calling to ward off danger but I did not find a good tape and I did not want to linger on those those sites.

Strange new cat on the path by the compost. On second look, and with its tail in view, the new cat is a red fox. This is my first sighting of a fox this year. I had assumed the fox had not returned given that the eastern cottontails continue nibbling the lawn.

The fox trotted down the path, but the deer stood on the rise mid meadow until I got my camera. A couple of days ago with no camera handy, three fawns and a doe had been grazing mid field. The doe had done that “sneezing” that deer do when alarmed causing the family to rush around rushed in a big circle. It would have been a good video. Whatever the danger, the doe decided it was not worth leaving the meadow before more grazing. Could she have encountered the fox?

I’ll be checking for the rabbits in the coming days.

The baby tree swallows fledged sometime in the past couple of days. A birder more experienced I reports that they would have left the nest all at once. I am sorry to have missed the moment. For one thing, I would have like to have known how many babies were in the nest; the volume of chirping that arose from the box suggested there were lots.

See Cornell bird ID for the Tree swallow, since I have no photo.

I hope Tree swallows don’t have a sense of smell. The now empty nest is befouled with guano. And it must have been hotter than Hades in there a week ago when the temperature hung out in the 90s.

Tree swallow nest now empty

Tree swallows were the only species to successfully raise a family using one of the meadow nesting boxes. Other species were not so lucky. I posted the tale of the Eastern bluebird family. The Carolina wrens hatched an egg or two in a nesting box but something happened. When I noticed the parents were not bringing home food any more, I opened the box to find a nest full of American carrion beetles consuming the flesh from skeletons with beaks. Wikipedia (to which I contribute, by the way) provides this taxonomy and photo. How did the beetles find the carcases so fast? I guess they follow the flies (see Wikipedia life cycle description below) but how do ground beetles do that?

American carrion beetle

Wikipedia on the life cycle of the American carrion beetle: “From spring through fall, during daylight, a few hours after flies begin arriving at a carcass, the adult beetles will arrive as well.[3] They immediately begin eating the already hatching fly larvae, mating, and laying their own eggs. As long as the carcass lasts, the adults will remain eating competitors to give their own larvae a chance to eat and grow. Upon hatching from the eggs, the larvae will eat both the carcass and other larvae that are within it. Eventually the larvae will fall to the ground, dig into the dirt, and pupate. Overwintering is done by adults.[2][3]”