Not as in the song by Cat Stevens, which was pretty sad—wild as in “Look out! You might run over something dashing in front of you!”
My ride to work and typical errand destinations are fairly urban. I start in a neighborhood just up the hill from downtown. But since Spokane has a wonderful network of parks and a river running right through the middle of downtown, I have my share of encounters with winged and four-legged friends.
The other day a squirrel and I faced a moment of decision together. It dashed out across the bike lane on Southeast Boulevard and made it to the center line.
A car driving up the hill the other direction made it momentarily crook its tail and consider dashing back toward me—clearly the lesser of two wheeled evils.
But a car coming up behind me sealed the deal concerning which lane held more threats, and Mr. Squirrel made it the rest of the way across safely. The speed of that squirrel’s urban decision-making process was pretty impressive, all things considered. (Cat Stevens actually does have something to offer here–the song includes the line “But just remember there’s a lot of bad and beware.”)
Coming home that same night, a beautiful black and gray tortoiseshell cat scuttled across Southeast Boulevard just south of the four-way stop at Fifth, dodging cars heading in both directions, with me saying encouragingly as I biked uphill, “Run, Kitty! Run for your furry little life!”
I asked via the Bike Style Spokane Facebook page what types of critters people encounter (alive or dead, although alive is more interesting). Squirrels hold a commanding lead, perhaps signaling their adaptation to the urban setting. The roster in order:
- In a tie at the end: Rabbits, toads, great horned owl, porcupine, nutria, raccoons, and geese.
- What wildlife do you see on your way to work? (Aside from some of the drivers and pedestrians, that is.)
- If your critter isn’t on the list above, consider voting in the question on the Bike Style Spokane Facebook page
Starfish that was probably flung over onto bike path by a wild wave.
A banana slug which is common in northwest pacific
Pika…which is something like a prairie dog –rodent in Canadian prairies.
This past summer, my husband and I came across a mama groundhog with two baby groundhogs who tried crossing the bike trail. We pulled over and waited as mama and baby one scampered across. Baby two tried to cross and then startled back when another cyclist rode up. Mama trundle back to the starting side and tried herding baby two across the trail around cyclists and joggers. Baby one tried crossing the trail to get to mama, but was also separated by too much human traffic. Mama was still trying to organize her babies when we returned about thirty minutes later.
On my commutes, I cross paths with cats, squirrels, deer (nine in the past month), a fox (so cute!) and kamikaze rabbits. The groundhogs keep trying to take out the husband.
My most memorable wildlife encounter (southern New Hampshire) was with a big snapping turtle sunning itself in the middle of a back road. This road has wetlands on both sides, so the critter was right at home. I gently prodded it with a stick while directing traffic; it spun around and chopped the end off of the stick! Then decided it had had enough and quickly ran into the swamp. Them critters be fast, at least over short distances!