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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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‘The naturalist thief’

To The Editor:

A few days before Thanksgiving, a moose antler disappeared from our yard. It had been a gift to us the previous Christmas by my sister and her husband. We were honored to display this fine specimen in the yard and could see it from the kitchen window and enjoyed watching it change as the sun bleached it out to almost white, erasing the green and red mold that it first had on it from setting in the woods.

When we noticed it was gone, it was quite puzzling. What animal could have dragged it away? It was good sized, about 3 feet in length with multiple spikes. Bear love to nibble on antlers, as do mice. Mice couldn't have moved it – maybe bear or coyote.

Coincidentally, the antler gifters were here visiting. Unlikely that it was dragged off by any animal, said the gifters. Our hearts sank as the realization set in that it had been stolen by a human. We didn't want to believe it so we walked the surrounding fields and along the woods line looking for a clue to the missing moose antler. No luck. It became clear we'd been ripped off.

After 30 years in The Valley, it was very disheartening and extremely unsettling to accept the fact that someone had trespassed and taken something that did not belong to them.

On Sunday, December 22, we were heading out to enjoy a walk down the beautiful Common Road and walked by the old maple tree next to the driveway. We looked to admire the work of the woodpeckers and general beauty of this fine old tree when with great sadness and a sickening feeling, we saw a white scar on the tree where a mushroom (Latin name Ganoderma applanatum, common name Artists Conk) had been growing for many, many years. Our hearts sank.

Over the years, walkers on the road have stopped to admire the mushroom and talked to Dave about it. We never felt the mushroom was ours to give away or take for ourselves. It belonged to the tree.

So in closing, I realize this letter is part of our grieving process and healing in getting through the awful feeling of violation and disrespect when someone steals from you and your tree. Thanks for listening, readers.

Dave and Joleen Carleton


P.S. To thief: There are more mushrooms on the other side of the tree, but they're smaller and you'll need a ladder. D.J.C.

P.P.S. Please don't take the compost piles; they're a lot of work. D.J.C.


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