I grew up in a house just five miles from where I live now. My childhood home was surrounded by farmland. Sometimes the cows next door would escape their pasture and wander onto our property to eat apples on the edge of our woods, and I spent summer afternoons lifting up mossy logs to look for salamanders.
These days I live in town — it’s a small town, but a town all the same. I’m surrounded by sidewalks, and there’s nary a mossy log in sight. But there’s still a fair amount of wildlife nearby. For example, I found this on my back door. It’s too big to be a cat print, and too articulated to be a dog print.
Having just finished the recent Harry Potter book, I’m tempted to think of house elves. Wouldn’t it be nice if some cousin of Dobby was looking for a new job?
But no. My visitor is likely to be a raccoon — and a pretty big one, considering the size of the prints that lead up the stairs to the door, and then across the deck. My trash cans are inside the garage and there’s nowhere in the immediate vicinity for him to have created a nest or den or whatever, so I think (hope) he was just passing through.
Not all my wild visitors are so large. I also seem to have a bunch of praying mantises in the yard. The first one I saw was small, only about an inch long.
They’re bigger now, and they have been exploring the area. Here’s a shot from my basement office, looking out as one of them looks in.
I see one or two about once a week, and each time they’ve grown a little bit.
Last year there had been at least two in the area — my cats caught one, and another stalked around the deck catching bees and bugs — and those mature mantises were each about four inches long. So I know the little ones have a ways to go.