Walking or running in the Arb and rollerskiing over the roads near our house, I've become attuned to the various fauna that literally cross my path. The slow motion - relative to cars or bikes - lets me notice a lot of activity that I'd otherwise miss.

On our walk in the Arb on Wednesday, for instance, Julia and I surprised a fawn, which leapt up, no more than 10 feet from us, and bounded away to find its mother. Running in the more remote parts of the Arb, I encounter dozens of rabbits. The bigger ones - which are presumably older - usually freeze and then run a crazy zig-zag pattern away from me, down the path, before veering off into the tall grass. Smaller rabbits - which are presumably younger and less accustomed to getting the hell out - often run straight away from me, then make a single sharp turn into the grass. And tonight, I surprised a fox, which ran like hell straight down the path until it was far ahead of me, then *poof* disappeared into the brush.

Among the flying creatures, many birds make like the rabbits and fly, either straight or in curves, down the path ahead of me. Sometimes, as with killdeer on the roads, they're trying to lead me away from the nest or young. Othertimes, the bird just seems stupid: flying ten feet away, landing, realizing I'm still coming, flying another ten feet, landing, realizing I'm still coming... A few, usually very small, birds fly into the grass or up and over it, away from me. I've  seen a few hawks, mostly circling over the most open and short-grassed parts of the Arb, and one vulture, soaring far above one of the bigger rises in the Arb. I have seen lots of feathers, especially in the grassier areas: white ones, black ones, and some striped Cooper's hawk tailfeathers.

Then there are the grasshoppers, like this monster. As the summer's wound on, they've become more and more common, and I've squashed my fair share while rollerskiing over the nice, warm asphalt. More often than not, though, they sense me approaching and get away. One type - a dark brown or black one, maybe the twostriped grasshopper - always leaps up, soars ten feet down the trail or path, and then makes a beautiful hooking turn to land. This J-shaped flight seems to end with the hopper exactly perpendicular to its starting position. As I get closer, they jump again. Inevitably, some of the flights go awry, and having these things hit my legs isn't pleasant. They're big and well-fed. "Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, meine täättä hiiteen!"

email: christopher at tassava dot com