Gimme Shelter


A branch-and-leaf structure recently appeared in Riverside Park.

What is it?

What is it?

A closer look reveals a solid low doorway from which the proprietor – or a shaggy interloper – can keep an eye on the grounds.

My house is a very very very fine house.

My house is a very very very fine house.

Built with fallen branches and leaves by an unknown architect, the above ground tunnel looks something like a sleeping animal covered with leaves.

A sleeping animal covered with leaves.

Long, low and leafy.

Tall branches leaning against a tree make for a taller space.

At the other end.

At the other end.

The walls are tightly woven, like the brambles of the 100-year forest that sealed Sleeping Beauty from the world.

Dog inside.

Dog inside.

And leaves are thickly strewn.

Walking the tunnel.

Walking the tunnel.

The structure both hides and reveals.

The view from within.

The view from within.

And speaking of tunnels as well as of hiding and revealing, my friend Charlotte of The Rat’s Nest blog recently observed a gopher near her house in Los Angeles. She videotaped the little rodent with her iPhone as it repeatedly popped its head out of its hole, looking rather like a large thumb, then disappeared. Charlotte reports that she could actually hear the gopher tunneling in the earth.

The rodent holes I see in and around Riverside Park are not gopher tunnels. These, my friends, are rat holes, and as swiftly as the Parks Department fills them in, the rats dig them out.

Entrance to rat tunnel.

Entrance to rat tunnel.

This particular spot, most recently filled in after Hurricane Sandy, sometimes becomes a huge gaping sinkhole leading in and out of the mysterious tunnels where rats live much of their lives, sheltered from predators. Intriguing, but…

I think I’ll stay above ground.

Above ground action.

Above ground action.

For more on man-made structures in Riverside Park:

Riverside Park Weekend: The Tepee Builders

Journey North: Beyond Manhattan’s Easter Island

Beauty and the Tepee: Central Park and Riverside Park Go To the Mat

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, dogs, Domestic animals, Fall, Flora, In the City, Rodents (other than squirrels), Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History

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2 Comments on “Gimme Shelter”

  1. p hoey Says:

    A child’s view of heaven–even now I respond–heaven is having such a cozy place to crawl into in the big outdoors–what a gift
    from the anonymous architect! Hurrah for all such structures!
    Thanks, Melissa.

  2. Charlotte Says:

    Surely that is a hobbit habitat, only hobbits sleep on beds of leaves; when they get a call from their casting agent they can easily jump up and run out the door; not like rats or gophers who never get good roles in movies, and must remain below ground.

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