Dateline: Cattaraugus County, western New York state.
Long-time readers will know that our rural western New York idyll is rich in wildlife, not all of it welcome and much of it duplicitous. What could be sweeter than a deer sticking its hungry little face over the woodpile in winter, hoovering up the seeds from the bird feeder? (A fond memory of the days we were actually here in the winter.)
And how do they reward us? By making off with all the new buds and shoots in the garden - that's how. This year's tally already includes 1 rhododendron and two mountain laurels (stripped) and a whole clump of my favourite garden phlox (decapitated).
And as for our Chip dynasty (of which there seems to be only one member at the moment) - they have a whole dramatic repertoire of innocence, charm and conviviality.