By tradition, the holidays are a time for seeing old friends and new. Here are some of the visitors I saw over Christmas.


The population of wild turkeys around my cabin keeps getting higher. Nine toms and 35 hens marched around my fields on Saturday while sentries such as this kept watch from pine trees.


Newspaperman Ivan Gale, a former reporter for The Point Reyes Light, has been writing for The Gulf News in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, for the past year. Ivan came home for Christmas to visit his parents in Chileno Valley, Mike and Sally Gale, and will move to a newly founded daily newspaper in Abu Dhabi when he returns to the UAE. Here Ivan feeds windfall apples to Lucy the cow, who savors every chomp.

Although some raccoons can become acclimated to human surroundings, domesticating wild animals is often not good for them and can lead to smoking and drinking. This counter-feral raccoon may have taken up bartending to support a corrupted lifestyle.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and thanks to no cats, all the creatures were stirring including these rats. Here two roof rats enjoy a Christmas Eve dinner of birdseed spilled on my deck.

“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country,” Benjamin Franklin complained in 1784. “He is a bird of bad moral character… Like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor and often very lousy. The turkey… is a much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”

On the other hand, if the turkey and not the bald eagle were our national symbol, would it be unpatriotic to eat drumsticks at Christmas dinner?