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Gila's Place

A menagerie of eclectic things…

I highly recommend cruising country roads every chance you get. Listen to a little music, or not. Definitely roll the windows down for good airflow into the lungs. And if it’s winter just crank the heat up to keep your feet warm; you really do need the fresh air.

I am fortunate enough to be just a handful of minutes away from nothing but pasture and woodlands with a house here and there to spot the countryside. I am truly thankful for my access to nature and solitude and take full advantage of that privilege.

I also take a lot of pictures as I am sure you have surmised if you have been here more than once.

I have city friends amazed by all the pictures of deer I post here or on social media. They just cannot believe one can just leave the house, drive a few minutes, and there’s a herd of deer to stare at (or swerve to avoid hitting). As for some of my Texas friends go, they cannot believe we have deer larger than a big dog.

This is Southern Illinois. If I have my history right, most of the small towns in this area were settled where they are because of the “abundance of food”, and by food, the founders meant deer. They are everywhere here; herds of them. Deer are specifically referenced in annuals that I’ve read. (See Randolph County Illinois at The Library of Congress)

There are people around here who go out looking for deer. Some, like me, take pictures; some just admire them; some people are plotting their hunting strategies for the next season. But most people around here only look for deer to keep from totaling their vehicle. You can imagine hitting a couple a hundred pounds of anything at 55 mph or even less. It’s never good.

The cool thing about watching deer is that they are so nosey that they will watch you back! That is provided you keep your distance, don’t make any sudden movements, and stay relatively quiet.

But cute and cuddly looking deer are not the only wildlife you will find on those backroads.

I saw a group of uglies circling a far off spot almost as soon as I got out of town. By uglies I mean Turkey Vultures, nature’s nasty looking clean up crew. It was hard to tell from the distance but I was sure I would come across them having their dinner somewhere on my drive.

They dropped out of the sky and I thought I’d lost them until I notice a large dark shadow in the trees along the road ahead of me.

And it’s not always ugly birds that hang out for a shot or two. This beautiful owl let me get pretty close and sat very still in the deep shadows of the evening. I really lucked out getting this one. It was almost sunset.

Lastly, near the end of this evening’s route, is an old house that just fascinates me. It’s made of block which put me in mind of an old milk house but it’s clear this was a home. I rounded the curve to find what was once a grass yard almost covered, front to back, with daffodils. The road it is on was only mud when I was a teenager and although gravel now, looks like it might me messy in heavy rain.

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