Something in the Woods

Ruby is doing that growling thing again.  It’s not her normal grumble at all.  She’s all frizzed up as she stands on the deck with an aggressive posture.  She lifts her nose to sniff the air with a purpose.  Something is in the woods.  Something new.


All ten hens are screaming bloody murder at once.  They usually freeze and go silent.  This is different.

The goats are in the same alert place.  All three run in wild circles and stop on some cue to stare in the same direction for long seconds.  Pearl, the head goat, leaps up onto our concrete goat mountain and stamps her foot repeatedly.  Wait a second — has anyone seen the cat?  Where is Garfield?

MamaRed, an oversized and rusty-colored coyote we spot occasionally on the road, is always suspect, because she’s always around.  We worked on coyote-proofing the fencing for years because of the coyotes.  The cougar that killed a goat about a mile from here is heavy on our mind.  That’s been a couple of weeks ago.  We don’t really worry about the bears.

But it makes us wonder about Hansel, Gretel and Batman.  They’re out in the woods.


The kids are 9, 7 and 5-years-old, they have a fort in the forest between our neighboring houses and they like to spy on us.  We see their bright red shirts darting from bush to bush, and hear them giggling as they watch our 22-year-old son build a new back deck.  They know they are welcome on our trails.

Deck poles and boards 008

“They’re just now getting into the woods and we’re moving,” their mom told me this week, when I told her about the mysterious noises around here and how Sage the goat had actually growled.  Then I stopped in my tracks.  “Moving?”

“At the end of the month.  To save money.  It’s not our first choice, believe me.”

I am stricken.  We love these kids.

The next day, Hansel and Gretel appear at our front door to return an egg carton.  They are here saying goodbye, or at least one of many goodbyes, and I get them all to myself since the Bearded One and His Majesty have gone to Home Depot for lumber and cement.


I give the kids another dozen eggs and a jar of jam.  Then we walk around to the deck building site and I show them where the former deck stairs gouged the 150-year-old cedar tree next to the house.  Gretel bends down and runs her hand gently along the scar.  She says they don’t know anyone in their new neighborhood.  Hansel says he goes to work on the new rental house with his dad, and Gretel says, ah, excuse me, she goes to the new house and works, too.

“Tell her what happened last night,” Gretel says excitedly.

“OH, BOY,” Hansel says and rolls his big brown eyes.  He tells how the whole family went to Godfather’s Pizza for dinner, and there was an old lady, maybe 70 years old, who had fallen on the floor with blood on her face!  They had come to her aid and called 911.


Gretel nods enthusiastically.  Then she tells me that before that they went to a ton of garage sales and got a 1000-piece Lego set.  Hansel even knows the price.  Ten dollars.  A very very very good deal.


Finally we talk about the fort and the woods.  They’ve heard the coyotes, and seen the deer and the owls.  But have I seen the bees???  “I’ve been stung at the fort TWICE,” Gretel says grimly, lisping between her missing teeth.  “Want to see?”

She means see the fort, she says, and I squeee with happiness.  I have just been invited to see their inner sanctum.  The fort!

“I’ll follow you,” I say, and Gretel heads for the gate.  Hansel brought his bike, so he’ll ride around and meet us at the fort.

Gretel carries the eggs and jam and leads the way across our backyard, past the potato garden, and I open the gate for her.  She marches ahead of me up our trail, chatting away but I can’t really understand her.

The fort 006

Finally we turn off onto the fort trail and I see it.  A huge old stump.

The fort 004

Their sanctuary, complete with its own bee colony.  Gretel turns and smiles big, showing it off, but then they start to swarm.


Something in the woods, indeed.  Bees.

The fort 012

9 responses to “Something in the Woods

  1. Batman can’t move!!!! Sigh…I guess it is a sign of the times that people have to move where the work is but this is a sad story indeed :(. At least the children trusted you with their fort Christi. I get the feeling that they just handed it’s upkeep over to you and that you need to go visit it (with ruby and the B.O.) at least once every “now and then”. Austin certainly appears to be doing a great job on that deck and it is coming together wonderfully :). I love reading about Farmlet and now have that gorgeous conifer lined woodland pathway as my desktop background :). Hugs and comiserations from Sidmouth for the loss of the terrible trio and their family.

    • I know, Fran! It breaks my heart. Not to get too detailed about it all, but Batman’s parents still own the house and will check on it regularly. We all hope they can return…eventually…but no promises. We definitely will “hold the fort” for them. They are going to introduce us to the couple they are renting it to, who have a toddler and are expecting a baby. Life has such twists and turns, opportunities I guess you could call them. But losses are still losses and they bite.

      Austin is going a wonderful job. I think of you and Steve with the post holes and wheelbarrow of cement as you build your gorgeous new garden ( as Austin does the same work. Mixing cement is a global experience. lol

      I wish you could just step through your computer screen onto the trail and come have a cuppa and a biscuit with me at the kitchen table. C.S. Lewis did it! Love you. 🙂

      • So do I Christi! I could bring one of my sourdough kefir carrot cakes, and a jar of homemade non-dairy milk and we could “chew the fat” for about a week methinks. True heartfelt REAL hugs from Sidmouth and that desktop looks SO inviting now :). I can almost smell the conifers (and the honey! 😉 )

  2. Wonderful photos of those woods and the bee world. Too sad they’re moving. But soon I guess you’ll have stories of the two little tykes to photo and illustrate…but probably not as cool as The 1000-Piece Lego Set!!! Want one.

    • Funny that you say that about drawing the Lego Set, Pierr…that was B.O.s favorite one this week. I was never that into Lego, but both kids were ecstatic. And you’re right, I’m glad a young family is moving in! I love listening to kids play. 🙂

  3. Christine Widman

    Bees here too!
    Building a hive in the Catalina roof drain water spout again!!!!
    Our bee guy did his little zapping thing and they took off but this morning our great return guests said, “Bees are back. In the other drain spout!”
    I love our bees. They buzz so happily in our huge rosemary bushes and the oleander flowers and the Texas Ranger blossoms.
    But I don’t love them in the Catalina drain spout.
    Our bee guy is coming tomorrow early. He suggested we have our contractor/can-do-anything guy come and seal the flashing around the spouts. He thinks that may do the trick.
    I hope so!!!
    Sad that Hansel, Gretel, and Batman are moving.
    Life and change and new sounds in the woods and swarming bees.
    It’s there and here too. We’re connected, as always.

    • I love the bees, too, Christine. We try to attract mason bees with those tube nests because they are such great little pollinators. These others are more pesky to us humans, and we’ve had to call a bee guy to come and remove a huge colony before. But on the whole, we just try to avoid the area. 🙂 Hard to do in your drainpipe! Yes, over the miles, we are connected by the bees! Gotta love ’em. Hugs back, ck

  4. Always changes….sorry to hear about the sweet kiddos moving. They will miss you all and hopefully will visit in the future…..the deck is lookin’ good!
    And, love the bees. i hear doris day…..whatever will bees will bees 🙂

    • Doris Day! Que sera sera, indeed. Whatever will bee, will bee. Transitions are the only constant. It actually helps that you and other readers of the blog are feeling the loss with me. Thank you, Seestor. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s