Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11, 2009 - Island Grove, Abington, Massachusetts

It was another bad day for the best-laid plans of mice and men. In the end, though, I felt worse for the mice than I did for myself.

I had my own problems dealing with the snow this morning, another six inches or so. Its arrival overnight meant two more hours of shoveling for me. But at least that had no life or death consequences. Can't say the same for the mice.
If you're a mouse, you're not built for the winter. Sure, the fur helps beat the cold, but think about that most imperative defense mechanism, camouflage. We don't think on a daily basis about being eaten. But for prey animals, it's a way of life. The easier it is to be seen from above, the easier it is to be devoured. It makes me shudder. What a way to go.
Today, at least one mouse met this fate before I arrived at Island Grove. Tracks left the underbrush and were met after ten feet by the snowy equivalent of a splash. A hawk or owl made the swooping, pouncing attack and carried of its prey. No mouse tracks flowed back out from the scene of the assault.
There was an underlying layer of ice beneath the snow, and it made for some cautiousness on my part. Each step came with a slip. It was a calf-ripping kind of walk. At one point I slipped on the side of a hill and envisioned ending up in the freezing cold pond a half mile from the nearest human. But my instincts kicked in quickly and I stopped my fall.
Island Grove has meant many things to many people. Moses Arnold's monument to the great abolitionists of the 19th century recalls the annual meetings held here by William Lloyd Garrison in the days leading up to the Civil War. The main monument brings back the day of the dedication of the Civil War memorial during the 1912 bicentennial celebration of Old Abington (the "Abington" boys that fought in the war came from "Old Abington," meaninng Abington, Whitman and Rockland). The pavilion? That was for train loads of Sunday picnickers who visited Island Grove for baseball games and butterfly catching in the early 1900s.
As for today, it was the water of Island Grove Pond, in its solid state, that was the big attraction. A team of would-be shinny stars had gathered all of the snow shovels from the neighborhood and taken to the ice. The industriousness of the recreational New England hockey player knows no bounds. Despite the vast amount of energy they expended in simply creating their playing surface, they would be batting pucks around until the sun went down. I wished them luck.
Time: 35 minutes
New species: None.
Stranger hellos: 1 (27)
Other stuff going on: shoveled us out; watched some Baby Einsten with the baby; dinner with Michelle's parents.

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