We have our share of real-life animals from the woods – deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and the occasional fox and the less occasional mountain lion.
But that is not what this is about. This is about artistic depictions of woodland creatures, mostly in our yards. The woods. The forest. They conjure up fear. When we say that we are not out of the woods yet, the woods are something that is not specifically good. In popular culture, the woods are where danger lurks.
Peter and the Wolf – an archetype of the woods as a frightening and fearful and dangerous place. And – a great piece of music.
Hansel and Gretel, also a narrative in which the woods are dangerous. I have written about it elsewhere, about my grandmother and her six brothers and sisters performing the operetta in German for their parents in the 1890s in Champagne, Illinois, where her father was the head of the German Department at the University of Illinois.
Another great piece of music. My grandmother sang us this song in German when we stayed at her house in the 1950s. I find it profoundly moving.
But none of this is what this is about. This is about the animals of the woods – excluding bears, who are treated elsewhere. Let’s start with the woods themselves- trees and leaves:
Here are the critters that I’m talking about:
I asked my friend about this collection of woodland critters. He had talked to Gabby after seeing the draft posting. Gabby had sent us some photos of the very quirky Magical Garden of Fernand in Brittany and my friend called to thank him.
Gabby apparently got going about Peter and the Wolf, marveling at the fact that it was a piece about a Young Pioneer commissioned by the Soviet government to entertain Young Pioneers. And, of course, Gabby had photos of his Peter and the Wolf record album collection to send on.
We got back to the animal photos. My friend is generally not a critic when it comes to production values, but even he noted that many of my photos of woodlands creatures are not top-drawer photos. I acknowledged this freely, and acknowledge it here again. But what did he think of the critters?