Fragrances in the Air

IMG_5673My Little Cabin in the Woods has been the topic of several postings. Today’s entry is another one in that series. My topic of interest is the memories or experiences  detected by my sense of smell.

While living in the woods one is exposed to, or graced by a multitude of fragrances. Some of them are natural to the area and some are not. Some are pleasant and some are not.

On the natural and pleasant side is the strong scent emanating from the towering pines that surround me, the spell of moist earth, the perfumed fragrance of the abundant flowers and the fresh aroma of the forest just after a rainfall. Staying yet in the pleasing category I would also add the enjoyable experience of wood burning in a campfire as well as the fragrance of cooking food.

IMG_0363When thinking of those experiences that would be unpleasant I could only think of two. The scent emitted by a skunk and the undesired, nose pinching odor of sewage being pumped from my Little Cabin in the Woods. Both of them I would much rather avoid.

Whether pleasant or undesired, smells are everywhere. The way in which we react to them is different for each one of us.. Even though there are some things I would rather not experience I am grateful that my sense of smell is intact. My life is much richer because of it.

Our Paths Have Crossed

IMG_5673What naturally goes along with a Cabin In The Woods? Well critters of every kind, of course! Some of them are welcome and some are not. On my must-have-list are butterflies, birds and bats (except not in my cabin). Making the OK list is turtles and frogs and on my thanks-but-no-thanks list is ants, spiders, snakes, raccoons, gophers, flies mosquitoes, bees, hornets and all other bugs, to name a few.

Living in the woods without sharing your outdoor space with many of these creatures is next to impossible. We are, after-all, invading their domain; the place they call home. If they could communicate in a way that we could understand I wonder what they would say?

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There are two creatures that seem to have collided with my Little Cabin in the Woods, the ant and an unknown guest. Evidence of the ant population can be seen just about everywhere. The tell-tale sign of their presence is their characteristic mound. I’m sure you’ve seen them. Their painstakingly assembled home gently rises above the surface of the earth. All those tiny little grains of sand are neatly stacked in a shape similar to that of a volcano.

Hoards of ants can be seen maintaining their tiny home. My Little Cabin in the Woods apparently has laid out the welcome mat for these critters because there has been an ongoing battle between us and them. They have found the cool, dark refuge beneath the rug on my deck to be an irresistible location to raise a colony. Left undisturbed the space between the surface of my wooden deck and the underside of my rug can become quite crowded.

I discovered their secret hiding place one day while sweeping the rug. The edge of the rug happened to catch on the bristles of my broom. As my broom swept across, the edge flipped up. With the rug raised into the air I could see the surface beneath the rug; that’s when I became aware of the ant colony. Hurriedly the ants began scurrying away.

To encourage their complete exodus I turned the edge of the rug over even further and anchored it down with a few large stones. I also assisted with their move by swiping my broom over the surface of the wooden deck.

To promote the drying out of the wood, I allowed the breeze and the sun to do their thing. Once the moisture had been evaporated I released the rug from the weight of the rocks and allowed it to return to its original position. Now every once in a while I lift the rug to see if the ants have returned, but so far they have not.IMG_5431_1

Ants have occasionally been found inside my trailer but never to the extent that I have found them on the side of my Little Cabin in the Woods. For a time an army of ants could be seen marching along the edge of the electrical cord that has attached my cabin to power. From the thick, round, black cord they marched single-file up the steep expanse of the side of my Little Cabin in the Woods to the roof. What attracted them to those heights is beyond me.

Not knowing what their intentions were we decided to discourage their continued migration by spraying the cord and the side of my cabin with an environmentally friendly deterrent. After a few repeated applications the mass progression came to a halt. Now all that can be seen are the occasional explorers.

The most puzzling creature is the one that has taken up residence between a small segment of the wall on the east side of my Little Cabin in the Woods. I first noticed his/her existence while busying myself with sewing. Over the whir of my machine I was startled by what sounded like scratching or chewing of wood. At first I thought the noise came from my little companion Sadie but a quick check for her proved me wrong. Sadie was sound asleep, snoring in her favorite place, totally unaware.

I listened further. Whatever was inside continued to chew. I tapped on the wall and it stopped, waited a while and started again. I tapped harder and more frequently. I wanted my message to come through loud and clear. For a time the sound stopped. I had no idea who was making their presence known nor of what species the creature belonged.

At first I thought it might be a red squirrel. Red squirrels have earned the reputation of being a nuisance here. While they haven’t, as of yet, to my knowledge, made their presence or should I say done damage to my Little Cabin in the Woods they have raised havoc at the home behind mine.

From time to time I have heard them scamper across the roof of my refuge and for a time thought one of them might be my unwanted guest. I’m fairly certain the red squirrel is not to blame because I had the owner of the property walk around on top of my roof looking for tell-tale signs of a visit but none were found.

Left on my list of suspected culprits is either a mouse or a bat. I’m strongly leaning toward a bat because of the habits it is exhibiting. Activity seems to take place in the morning when I would expect a bat to return and in the evening when it would want to leave.

I make it a habit to annoy the mysterious guest by tapping on the wall in the vicinity of the latest noises. By creating a noisy environment I’m hoping I might be able to annoy it to encourage an early departure. Then again I’m not certain a checkout is possible because my husband has been methodically sealing up every entry point he can find. It’s quite possible that my unwanted guest may be trapped. Only time will tell.

I know that bats are our friends, especially here, because they are voracious consumers of the pesky mosquito. However I would much rather accommodate them with shelter far away from my Little Cabin in the Woods.

I will provide updated information on my guest’s identity and his/her fate as further tidbits are made available. Until then I say thank you to the creatures of these woods for allowing me to live alongside them in separate habitats. As long as they leave me alone I will do the same.

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The Sounds We Hear

There’s the famous question—

If a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?

In my opinion it does but that’s not the reason for these ramblings. The focus of today’s thoughts are the sounds I hear at my Little Cabin in the Woods..

Have you ever taken time to sit quietly and listen to the sounds of the world around you? How many sounds did you hear and what type were they? Did they make you happy or sad, relaxed or anxious?

If I were to eliminate all sounds except those made by nature I would be entertained by a smorgasbord of opportunities. Among the noted sounds are the melodies sung by the birds that call these woods home. I have no idea how many different varieties there are. Of the few that I can identify there are seagulls, finches, robins, woodpeckers and of particular interest the sounds made my a hummingbird’s wings.

066 (2)Early in the morning, before the sun peeks above the horizon, I’m awakened by a chorus of birds. To their symphony is added the chirping of crickets and the scolding chatter of the occasional squirrel. Evenings in the Spring we are serenaded by the family of frogs that find shelter here. Their rhythmic chanting provides background entertainment for our fireside relaxation.

Of my least favorite sounds made by nature is the annoying buzzing of mosquito’s; whose existence seems totally unnecessary. Then there’s the sound made by winged creatures that sends chills through my spine. Those sounds are made by bees and hornets.

There’s a period in the morning between sunrise and 8:00 AM when silence is broken only by the creatures of nature. The minutes before 8:00 AM have been designated by the establishment as quiet time. The hours accumulated by those minutes as well as the ones falling after the hour of 10:00 PM, the designated evening quiet time, are my favorite times of the day.

As we cross those thresholds the sounds around me begin to slowly increase. Added to the sounds of nature are the giggling and chatter of children passing by while hiking or riding on bicycles. Accompanied by the sounds of children playing are the conversations shared between adults. Those can be uttered softly, barely audible from one campsite to another, while others are spoken at an unnatural decibel level, heard even through closed windows and doors.

Also apart of the sounds heard here are those accompanying wood cutting, grilling and the whir of mechanical devices such as fans, air conditioners, water heaters and motorized vehicles. Added to that is the crunch of footsteps on gravel, barking dogs, tarps blowing in the wind, cellphones ringing and doors opening and closing. While these human made sounds are not natural to the woods they are present whenever and wherever humans inhabit.

I prefer the sounds of nature. Those are the ones that bring me peace. They provide interludes of relaxation; a chance to unwind.

May the sounds that bring you peace fill your ears with their melody.