"AROUND SUNOL" by BREE K. JAMES


February 18, 2002

MY LIST OF ANIMAL STORIES continues to grow with each year I live in Sunol. Nobody in urban New Brunswick, New Jersey where I grew up would believe that I have helped tarantulas across the road, coped with several very large rattle snakes on my porch, or gotten myself in the middle of four baby skunks, who, as you might guess, perfumed me as only they can.

Then there was the morning the hubby and I were awakened by what I can only describe as a wild turkey square dance on the hillside just behind our bedroom window. There must have been twenty of them, facing each other in pairs. Gobble, gobble, gobble, and switch partners. Gobble, gobble, gobble, and switch partners. And again. It was just past dawn and there we were, peering out the window with our mouths hanging open. We looked at each other, wide-eyed, said absolutely nothing and sunk back down into our covers. Was it a shared dream? Bizarro.

Of course we get our share of raccoons, including three babies I found cuddled up in our laundry room - we ultimately had to nail the cat door shut. That turned out to be a good thing, for it stopped the cats from bringing in voles, mice, lizards and the occasional bird as gifts of love. Deer are daily visitors and still please me, though they eat the hubby's plants so he's none too fond of them. I've had turkey vultures perched on our deck railing, woodpeckers drumming away on the house, and all sorts of birds taking umbrage at their reflections in our windows.

Yesterday, however, we had a first - hearing the clippity clop of hooves on the back deck, I slipped to the window expecting to see a fine buck nibbling at the geraniums. (Yes, they eat those, too, even though they're not supposed to like them.) What looked right into my face instead was a steer. Yup, a black, shaggy headed, young steer.

Our property line is marked by a weary barbed wire fence, through which the deer slip in and out as if it were a lace curtain. Imagine my surprise when the less than graceful steer found his way to the fence, and with no more than a ping here and snap there, was through the fence and clomping back up the hill to his pals. Hubby's going to work on the fence this weekend.

SCOUTING NEWS: Sunol Boy Scout Troop 912 is having a busy, fun and productive year, according to the February issue of their newsletter. The scouts spent a recent weekend at Lake Don Pedro building fish habitats to help the Black Bass Action Committee with its conservation efforts. With rain threatening, the boys and their adult leaders built 68 steel-framed cages wrapped in plastic fence material and filled with recycled Christmas trees. Once under water, they will provide a protective environment for the fish.

In other scouting news, Kilkare Woods resident Eli Hrabe has the honor of being the third scout from Troop 912 to become an Eagle. His special Eagle Court of Honor will be held at St. Claire's Episcopal Church, 3350 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton at 2 p.m. on February 23. This is a rare and special event, and worthy of major congratulations.

Scouting could not exist without trained adult volunteers. This year, Troop 912 is asking that each of the troop's parents be the Event Coordinator - also known as the EC or Champion - for one scout outing. This requires being a registered scouter, and training is helpful and highly recommended.

Being the adult leader for a scouting adventure is challenging and fun - just ask these folks who give so much of their time and energy to Sunol Troop 912: Jerry Tomaszak, Scoutmaster and Fundraising; Dean Hall, Carmen Sarracco and John Gilchrest, Assistant Scout Masters; Forrest Sass, Committee Chairman; Cindy Pellissier, Committee Vice Chair, Advancement and Equipment; Denise Foster, Training; Mary Jane Bedegi, Treasurer; Marilyn Hall, Outdoor; and Joan Hall, Charter Representative.

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