Friday, March 4, 2011

Changes Are Coming To The Piedmont

It's not quite spring yet, but you can tell that the flora is desperately waiting to spring into bloom. There is a bush at the head of my driveway that just couldn't quite wait. Impatient rascal that it is, it decided in a spate of unseasonably warm temperatures last week, to prematurely unfurl it's blossoms, if you can even call them blossoms. A scraggly barren bush, with little green caterpillar like blossoms hanging from its wispy thin appendages is a more apt description.

The temperature has been on a roller coaster ride for past two and a half weeks now. Soaring into the mid to upper 70's some days, then plummeting back down into the low 30's , and upper 20's at night, before rising only into the 40's, or low 50's for the next few days, then soaring back up into the upper 70's again! So, the heat has been on and off according to the fickle whims of mother mature, but the mild temperatures have tickled most of the trees into budding. Within the next few weeks, spring should be busting out all over!


In my last post, I mentioned hearing the ominous snarl of a dangerously close, large wild cat, after stepping out onto my rear deck last Saturday night, for a breath of the cool night air. Hear a close approximation of what I heard here. The only difference is the pitch was just slightly higher, and there was no low frequency rumble at the end. My instant reaction was WTF? My fears were somewhat relieved when I read today, that the US Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the Eastern Cougar to be extinct. But what else could explain what I heard, unless it was a very large and aggressive bobcat? Bobcats, which are larger than domestic, or feral cats, are about the size of a medium sized dog. While not as abundant as deer and other wildlife, they do habit most of North America, and are occasionally taken by hunters, here in the Piedmont, but they are shy creatures that like to avoid contact with humans. My only guess is that whatever it was had just made a kill, and saw me as an uninvited guest showing up for dinner. Fair enough mystery cat, as long as you weren't sizing me up for a future midnight feast! Hmmm......thinking maybe I should invest in a shotgun.


I shopped for groceries at a fairly new Krogers today, and every time I passed a stock clerk in the aisles, they flashed a smile and said hello! I went to the self checkout, so that I could bag my own groceries, but they always have a clerk standing by to persuade the computer to cooperate with you, and he too flashed a warm smile, and thanked me for shopping there! What is this world coming too? Could it be that we are we actually becoming civilized once again, or are my more cynical instincts correct, and as soon as this store has established its cliental, its staff will become as surly and uncaring as all the others? I don't know, but until I do, I think I shall continue shop for my groceries there.

Muammar al-Gaddafi

What can I say? What can any reasonable human being say about this supremely bizarre and ignorant self-imposed Libyan supreme leader? The son of an illiterate camel herder, he was once invited to a foreign state dinner, where shrimp cocktail was served as an appetizer. Gaddafi was aghast! "You people eat insects?" he was reported to have said. How in the world has this bumpkin ruled an oil rich nation for over forty years? How will he avoid being hung from a lamp post by his countrymen?

Lucy Melford

Our dear girlfreind is in Nuffield hospital in Brighton, recovering from her GRS. Please email her at, or leave a comment on her blog at, to let her know you have her in your heart. She really is a dear, and would love to hear from you!

Melissa XX


Caroline said...

After I encountered my big cat, still an unsubstantiated myth apparently!, it struck me as to why there were no signs of small wildlife in my woodland area like rabbits. The landscape around was full of sheep too but why kill sheep when smaller snacks are easily available.

We now have an independent parliament in Scotland and one of the first things they did, and have done little else since, is ban fox hunting thus ensuring a regular food supply for the nonexistent big cats.

Are you going to be carrying the shotgun with you all the time? Neighbours are going to start worrying!

Caroline xxx

Melissa said...

Was your cat a Highland Tiger? ( not very big, but ferocious all the same, or a Lynx ( Lynx are suppose to be extinct in Scotland, but supposedly so is the Cougar in the eastern US.

Several of my neighbors have guns. The guy across the cul de sac shoots deer in the woods behind his house from his back porch, and my neighbor to the east shot and killed all of the beaver that once lived in our pond, because they kept tearing up the banks and damning up the spillway. They were also felling trees so they could gnaw off the branches to use in their lodges and damns. Another neighbor down the road likes to target practice with his pistol in his back yard. The ensuing noise can go on for hours, on a warm sunny day. If I get a shotgun, I'll just keep it across my lap, as I sit out on the deck in a rocking chair wearing a granny dress and sun bonnet. If any of my neighbors approaches, I'll just say, "Get off my land!" ;-)

Melissa XX

Caroline said...

What an image I have now! I'm thinking Beverly Hillbillies before they left home!!

My cat was probably a puma as big as a large dog, greyish and bounded away silently and sinuously after we had stared at each other for several minutes without moving. Not a cat you would want to stroke!

Caroline xxx

Melissa said...

A puma in Scotland? Pumas are the same thing as cougars and are native American cats. Maybe someone had one in captivity and it escaped? You are lucky you weren't eaten! Pumas in the Rocky Mountains have been known to kill and eat hikers and cyclists. I once had a face to face moment like that with a gray fox. We stood there staring at each other for awhile, then he just turned tail and ran, with my fearless orange tabby running after him!

Melissa XX

Carolyn Ann said...

You don't have to worry about a big cat roaring. According to a TV show I saw some time ago, they only do that after they've eaten. ...

Oh. Er. ... Nice weather we're having! :-)

It gets noisy around here with guns, too. I once observed that in Brooklyn, if you heard a gunshot, you called the cops. Here, you call a taxidermist.

Jenny said...

If I were you I'd be straight off to my local Maplin (Is Radio Shack the closest analogue for Americans?) and investing in an infra-red illuminated night-time CCTV camera rather than a shotgun. Catching it on video, how cool would that be!

Caroline said...

my encounter was when I was using the only camera I have which could not take a simple quick shot. One shot could have made more than I earned in a decade and answered the question about big cats roaming free. Never felt so stupid in my life and it was six months before I told anyone.

Camping in the Canadian backwoods I heard footsteps walking in circles round our campsite, felt sure it was bears! Next day there were signs of racoons... Could have done with Jenny's ir cctv, perhaps there is a fortune to be made...

Caroline xxx

Calie said...

I recently read an article on the migration of cougars (Mountain Lions). Yes, the east coast cougar is extinct, but the western cougar has been found as far east as New England. Not sure I found any mention of your area, Melissa, but it would certainly seem possible. I read the article because I live in the heart of western cougar country. I've only seen one, however.

Calie xxx