Thursday, January 1, 2015

A new year in the Urban Wilderness begins with joy!

You've gotta see this crazy mouse I found running in circles on the parkway! Okay, a little context:

What brings you joy? One of the many things that work for me is walking along the rivers in Milwaukee's many urban parkways. Another is encountering wildlife along the way. This happened recently, on the Menomonee River Parkway in Wauwatosa. It was one of the drab, snowless wintry days we've had so many of lately. The colors were muted and the sun near to setting, which happens early so close to the winter solstice.

I was walking at a brisk pace due to the cold when I stopped abruptly at the sight of something moving in a curious fashion ahead on the trail. It looked like a mouse, or more likely a vole, and it was running in circles on the dirt of the path. I slowly moved closer, trying not to scare it off. I needn't have worried, though. I soon learned that it was not going to be deterred by my presence.

It continued running in the same circle, like a wind-up toy, until I was hovering right over it. It bumped into my boot but that only made it swerve a bit. Kept right on going.

I shot several videos of this. It did pause now and then to munch on some grass. But before long it started up again, in the same place, doing donuts across the path.

Click here to view video.

I got tired of its game well before it did and continued on my way. Later I retraced my steps. I wondered about the little creature. If it was gone I wouldn't know if it had become hawk food or had finally decided to end its obsession and wandered away. But no, there it was, still going at it.

I might have left it going around and around, joyfully. At least I could say the curiosity of the crazy encounter had made me joyful. Can't say what the vole was feeling. But I worried about the poor guy. Hawk bait, for sure, I thought. So I nudged it off the open path and under a tangle of brush.

May you have a joyful new year full of encounters with urban wildlife!


  1. Hard to say what's going on there. Looks like the rodent version of whirling disease. Spend some time outdoors - you never know what you'll encounter!

  2. I just posted it to a FB page, Eddee, with the question. What an encounter, indeed! Betsy A.

  3. A whirling dervish, rodentia style!

  4. Though I also messaged you on Facebook, I recently came across your book Urban Wilderness and am in the midst of falling in love with it. Thanks for your writing!

    Could I link your blog on mine? Thanks!

    Peter Dargatz

  5. Thank you very much for the compliment. Glad you found my book. What is your blog about?

  6. Weird. I wonder if the little guy is mentally or chemically unbalanced or just having a fun time? :)

  7. I vote for unbalanced. Betsy A forwarded the clip to a bunch of biologists and got several possible diagnoses.