I’ve talked about elk and deer, and bothersome squirrels, but some of the other animals we see here on a regular basis are racoons – big fellas, that tend to take refuge in the hollowed out trees, but every time I’ve caught one in the headlights they scramble quickly down the storm drains. One friend had them in her house while out of town: came in through the dog door, got into the dog food – and everything else! Another friend chased out the nocturnal visitors with a broom! They like to wash their food, if they find water nearby and another friend has told of displaced objects from her garden pond and even shredded clothing on the clothes line!

I haven’t had any trouble with rabbits in the garden, but I have found house finches tearing on broccoli leaves (find that rather cute, actually). Once while Olivia was doing her homework on the front porch she spotted a skunk peering ’round the corner. The neighbor’s dog found it later, poor fellow! We have to deal with mice getting in when the temperatures drop in the fall, or wasps building nests in the eaves of the roof – and once in the outdoor grill! A few years ago we spotted a bee swarm in the neighbor’s tree, and were advised to make sure any openings on the house were tightly sealed so they wouldn’t chose our house for their new home. If you drive by any open field in town, you are also likely to spot prairie dogs, at least their heads poking out of their hills!

My favorite animal to spot is the fox, and lately I haven’t seen any, but I haven’t been out as much in the early hours, or at dusk, when I might see one, traveling amongst the gardens, sometimes walking right down the sidewalk. One evening my son and I stopped in Old Town, on a fairly busy street, to watch an entire fox family at play!

to check out more wildlife photos, click on this one

There have been rare reports of mountain lion, (puma, cougar) in town. Rangers post mountain lion sightings signs when there are recent sightings in natural areas, and if you spot one there is an official number to call to report it, including the method you may have had success with if you managed to scare it off! Watch the following news report of one found in Fort Collins:


Once on my bike, after dropping the kids at their elementary school, I saw a crowd gather to watch a black bear get taken out of a tree on the university campus, by some brave man in a cherry picker!

It’s Friday, so here is another American Christmas PPBF selection: Mr.Willowby’s Christmas Tree


Author/Illustrator: Robert Barry
Publisher: Doubleday/Random House (Text 1963), 2000
Age Level: 3-7
Themes: holidays, Christmas, sharing
Opening: Mr. Willowby’s Christmas tree
Came by special delivery.
Full and fresh and glistening green–
The biggest tree he’d ever seen.
Summary: That was the trouble. The tree was so tall, it couldn’t stand up straight in his parlor. Mr. Willowby asked his butler to chop off the top of the tree. What happens to the treetop? Where will it be for Christmas? Snuggle up with this story and follow along through a forest full of friendly creatures who get to share in a bit of Christmas joy.
Why I like this book: This sweet story of accidental sharing with plenty of rhyming, humor and lively illustrations, is familiar to me, although I know I had not seen this version recently. I never even knew a film was made of it! Check out the video below.
Resources/Activities: check out this book-specific packet of K-2 activities from realtrees4kids.org

For more PPBF selections go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog