So I'm sitting here tonight reading a book and, out of the corner of my eye, I see something flash by the window on the street. Something big. At first my mind tells me "Kid on a bicycle." I look up and see a second something go by. Also fast, also big. My mind then gets hold of itself and says to me "It's 10 o'clock at night, there's snow on the ground, and it's 9 degrees outside. Kid on a bike? I don't think so." I get up and look out the window, and under the streetlight I see a third something run by, only this time it isn't a something. It's a deer. A big one. I then look down the street and there they are, the three of them, galloping down the middle of my street. Finally they sail over snowy lawns, cut in front of the church, and are gone.
It's true that I don't live in a big city, but I do live in town. There are sidewalks and stop signs and steaming cups of coffee at the convenience store around the corner. That is to say, I don't live in the boondocks. And yes, I have in my lifetime seen a deer in town, although the number of times I have I can count on one hand.
I bring this up not because seeing a deer in the middle of the village is so shocking (although I've never seen three at once before), but because just lately there's been quite a bit of talk about wildlife around here. As you may have read on this blog, there was a bald eagle in my back yard last week, and since that incident several people have reported that the bald eagle population in this area is growing. In summer and fall, it's not uncommon to hear coyote packs yipping in the woods behind our golf course, and a few weeks back a friend of mine reported seeing a wolf at the treeline of her property, not a coyote or a dog, a wolf. Finally, over the weekend, I heard tales of more than one person seeing mountain lions in the hills that surround our valley. Mountain lions.
I'm not inclined to conduct extensive research on the wolf/lion stories since I'm not a hunter, nor am I an animal activist or conservationist. Curious, though, I checked a few online message boards and found many anecdotal reports on wolf and mountain lion sightings in New York State, and many in my own county. Also on these message boards are the nay-sayers, insisting that the lion a person says she saw was probably a bobcat, and the wolf another person says he saw was probably a coyote. I can't speak for the lion and wolf sightings, but I can certainly speak to the rest. I've seen coyotes at the edge of town, I've seen an eagle skimming the trees from my own porch, and now I'm watching deer loping up the street outside my window.
All this wildlife is kind of exciting. At the same time, there's something a bit unnerving about it. Do the increased sightings mean animals and birds are migrating this way? That conservationists have been doing a good job? That some mysticism is at work? Or did I just live in New York City too long, where the only animal that scampered by my front window was the mailman?