My writing career has taken me to many spots well beyond New Jersey borders, but as well to many locations in the Garden State.
On these many trips, I’ve had the opportunity to see many varieties of flora and wild animals to make the miles worth it. However, I’ve also found that within the five-plus square miles of our own township, life lurks beyond my tiny Darling Avenue home where two miniature dachshunds roam the yard.
Consider a recent, chilly Wednesday evening, when I was forced - while locked out of our home – to wait for my wife and daughter to return home from a play at Montclair State University. As I stood, laptop in my right hand, I saw up Sylvan Road, about 25 yards away, two red foxes slowly cross the road, one in front of the other, and disappear into a neighbor’s yard. I strolled a bit up sidewalk while keeping my distance, hoping to catch a glance of the two had they opted to return to the street.
No luck, but a sighting nonetheless.
No deer in Bloomfield? I beg to differ. Perhaps the south end of town, my stomping ground for 22 years, may claim this, but folks on the north end, I have seen or come face-to-face with a deer or two – or three.
For me, the number is one, and it occurred one morning during a 5 a.m. stroll with Jeffrey, the older of our two dogs. Since our street is often devoid of early morning pedestrians, I allow him to wander up Sylvan Road rather than grapple and try to get his leash on, he squirming as I attempt to fasten the collar. On this morning, as we returned to the house, I was a few steps in front and, when I reached the private road behind our tiny development, there it stood, facing me from roughly 30 yards away at the road’s opposite end. We locked eyes, and I had thoughts of advancing towards it, but didn’t want to scare it away. It stayed put for about 10 seconds, until it saw 10-pound Jeffrey. The hasty retreat up North Avenue was marked by clopping hooves which quieted as it got further away.
As unusual as these two sightings were, nothing beats the appearance of a red-tailed hawk that one day in February, which attacked sparrows nipping at wheat bread in our azalea bush bird feeder, and then rested atop a telephone pole directly above my wife’s car. I was so amazed by its size and wing span that I immediately contacted both the New Jersey Audubon Society in Cape May County and Great Swamp Wildlife Refuge in Somerset County. Both asked me to take photos if I could of the “eagle” I told them I had spotted, so I did so as the hawk pulled and chewed on something.
It was the perfect photo op: me, my Sony digital camera, and this gorgeous bird atop the telephone pole, a somewhat overcast sky and various empty tree branches the backdrop.
“That’s a hawk,” the gentleman from the Great Swamp told me via e-mail,” but, hey, isn’t that great to see in your own backyard?”
Indeed it was.