So far in the new house we have microscopic brown ants invading the cats' food dishes, enormous and very speedy ants cruising around the whole house, a wasp that Duncan unfortunately tried to play with, various tiny spiders and house flies.
Now, having lived in coastal areas of California, both Papa Hunt and I have lots of experience with ants, and aren't too fond of them. I remember a 2-3 inch wide swath of them crossing our living room from the sliding glass door to the kitchen trash. I remember ants coming inside in the summer for water and the winter for food.
In our last house we had ants that didn't try too hard. They would come munch on crumbs in the kitchen occasionally, and they liked any kibble bits the cats dropped on the floor, but really they never tried to invade. But I have a bad feeling about the ants here. I have never seen those tiny brown ones before, and the big ones are really fast and aggressive.
This morning we walked over to the Pfeiffer Center garden to buy some chard and green beans. They have a little pond with some koi and lots of lily pads waiting for some frogs. The Huntlings got a big kick out of the tadpoles the gardeners are cultivating in tubs next to the pond. We only saw one with the beginnings of legs so it will be a while before the pond is froggy. We also got to see some of the garden's bees coming to drink there.
Yesterday right by Papa Hunt's office we saw a big black rat snake. He (?) was in some tall grass in the sun, but when we stepped near, swoosh! That was a fast snake.
Then the other day, Papa Hunt saw a woodchuck standing on its hind legs munching on raspberries at our old house. I never knew something so fat and rolypoly could do that. (The woodchuck, not Papa.) Those raspberries sure are sweet though.
When I think back on our time in Sacramento, I remember lots of wildlife. The American River Parkway was home to many creatures year-round, including mule deer, turkeys, coyotes, red-tailed hawks, river otters, salmon, and acorn woodpeckers. But most of these animals are quite shy or difficult to spot, so that the Huntlings would have had trouble experiencing them.
I'm grateful that this area of New York, though built up, seems to have plenty of wildlife accessible to the kids. Also we can go visit the cows and chickens at the Fellowship farm, and go up a few times a year to Pleroma Farm to pick up shares of raw milk and eggs. I want my kids to know about domestic animals and where their food comes from, as well as the wild animals around us. I think this knowledge helps children feel more secure and comfortable in the world.