Here at St. Anthony’s, we strive to remain true to our Franciscan roots by welcoming all. We must be doing something right because a number of God’s creatures feel at home here.

Several weeks ago when the Beatification Team was here for spring planting, they spotted the woodchuck. Brother Woodchuck has been an annual visitor for several years and has made himself a home beneath the western cloister wall.

About the same time, Marge managed to catch a photo of a young fawn resting in the tall grass in the back yard. Several of us have spotted him roaming the grounds and woods with Mama Doe, but Mama was not about to allow anyone close enough for pictures, When he was resting in the back yard, though, he was so still he didn’t even flinch.

Earlier this spring, Marge saw a group of six deer, both yearlings and adults, enjoying their dinner in the woods and around the bird feeders. They were quite content grazing until Marge opened the door to go out on the deck for a closer look. As soon as they heard the door open, though, they started making their way deeper into the woods.

At Wednesday’s team meeting, Tracy recited a list of birds that have been visiting the feeders, including several that he has spotted for the first time. He shared the news that Candy took a video of the pileated woodpecker feeding on one of the suet blocks. Of course, the hummingbirds have also returned to enjoy the feeders located on each deck.

JustBob added that he saw four turtles sunning themselves on a log in the pond, and a fifth tiny turtle nearby, and the residents have observed a large snapping turtle this week scratching at the ground on Peter’s Path. Presumably, she is looking for a soft, sunny spot to dig a hole where she can lay her eggs, but the path has proven unyielding. Wednesday afternoon, Tracy went out and loosened up the area with a shovel. We’ll have to watch to see if she returns to take advantage of the assist or if she finds another suitable location.

Then there’s the “mystery” of the leaning shepherd’s hook. The feeders on the shepherd’s hook are not heavy enough to cause the hook to bend. Nor are the squirrels or birds that visit frequently heavy enough to cause the lean. The deer can reach the feeders without needing to bring them toward the ground. A bear might be the culprit, but then the feeders would likely have been torn apart. Instead, they remain intact and dangling from their hooks. That leaves something smaller than a bear and larger than a squirrel as the culprit. Something like the raccoon this Chronicler spotted Wednesday evening emerging from the woods and making his way to the feeder area. It was this Chronicler’s first sighting of a raccoon, though I doubt it was Brother Raccoon’s first visit. He seemed quite confident of the way to his dinner.

Some creatures, like the hummingbirds, are not bothered by the presence of their human siblings. They continue to flutter to and from the feeders regardless who may be near. Others, like the deer and most of the birds, are shy and tend to take their leave of us rather quickly. Yet, no matter how frequent or infrequent these encounters may be, or how long they last, they always seem to bring with them a bit of joy and amazement at the beauty of God’s creatures.

For all of God’s creatures, great and small, and the joy they bring, we say Deo Gratias!