by Barbara Walvoord
First published in the Lathrop Lamp Post Nov. 24 – Dec. 1, 2017
At Thanksgiving feasts, family members sometimes take turns saying what they’re thankful for. So I asked our Lathrop family of creatures:
A chickadee: Thanks for putting in native plants near the Inn and in some cottage gardens. I need about 6,000 insects, mostly caterpillars, to raise my brood next spring. I expect you’ve read the scientific findings that I know from experience: the native plants in your gardens will provide many more caterpillars than the old alien plants did.
A hawk: Thanks for not mowing our Lathrop meadows until late autumn. When you used to mow in mid-summer, you destroyed the cover for mice, voles, and other creatures that I needed to build up fat for winter. This year, I’ve gotten lots to eat. (I tried to get most of the mice that would try to come into your houses as it gets cold, but I probably missed a few).
A native winterberry bush: Thanks for taking out invasive shrubs in 50 acres of our woods A few years back, alien invasive honeysuckle, multifora rose, burning bush, and Japanese barberry were crowding us natives out. I hate to be xenophobic, but I and my native companions co-evolved with native wildlife, and we can provide much better food and nesting sites than those aliens can. And you can enjoy my beautiful red berries.
A wood frog: I’m half-frozen in my hibernation under the forest leaf litter now, but I know that you have protected my vernal pool, where I’ll need to go for our big spring mating party. Last year I know several of you came quietly up to the pool to watch us, but we were so hot (I have to admit) that we didn’t even stop our quacking or our, ahem, other activity. See you next spring!
A wild turkey: I’m thankful to you humans for eating my domestic cousins, not me. I’m going to have my own Thanksgiving feast–lots of bugs, nuts, fruit, and seeds–provided by this wonderful land you are protecting for us wild creatures at Lathrop.