No, this is not a book review of Jon Krakauer’s modern classic.  It is an “animated” essay of our summer adventures with the wild things that surround us, starting with a hooded merganser and her brood in the featured photo during a paddle on the river.

Animated, adj., Endowed with animal life*


These curious fox kits are too young to be scared of us as we walk near their den which is along the riverbank. We saw them three consecutive evenings before they broke camp for another den. We have three fox dens on our property.



We are told that the former owners of the property actively cultivated a variety of dragonflies. This one held a mid-air hover next to my kayak on our lake for about 2 minutes. This is not the Wisconsin state bird; that would be the mosquito or deer fly (actually, it’s the robin [yawn]).




The result of peeper activity in early Spring, the top two photos are probably young wood frogs. This gray tree frog was clinging to my kayak cover and leapt to safety with an audible slap as he grasped the metal sawhorse. Below, pictures of a gray tree frog that greeted me when I got lake water to hydrate some new plantings. It is the same frog in both pictures as you can see by the identical markings on the back. It had just moved from an iris leaf to the rock, still holding some of the green pigment, but changing to gray. Another day, the same frog is now totally gray on the rock.


Below a painted turtle peeked through the lily pads while the dragonfly hovered. Lastly, I no longer startle at the garter snakes for two reasons: they have venom but no fangs and are the best rodent control.


We are so well-endowed with animal life!

*Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language (1952). Processing and Books, Inc.  Note: as a screen break for my eyes, I use a dictionary published before I was born and a 2005 World Book Encyclopedia.

Photos by SAM and Leo Steiner 2023

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