Nature is always changing with and without the “help” of man, but sometimes the actions of some men negate those of others for both good and ill. Fiddlesticks and Freckles is the ninth book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series and sees the prominent return of an old friend in Bobbette along with her fawns, the titular subjects of the book, around the Sanctuary of Wegimind as well as new friends over in Hawaii.
Sam and his wife Giny spy their doe friend Bobbette in a large clearing with two fawns, each with their own prominent features one physical (Freckles) and the other in attitude (Fiddlesticks). The Campbells decide to make a study of the little family with observations and photos. While Bobbette is friendly, she is overcautious with her young, which becomes even more important when tracks and screams indicate that a cougar is roaming in the area after a several decade absence from all of Wisconsin. However, Bobbette’s caution is not only for the cougar but humans as well as unfortunately poachers violate the Campbell’s land and kill the doe leaving her fawns orphaned with bow-and-arrow and deer season still in their future. Sam and Giny do their best to feed the fawns as well as protect the Sanctuary from hunters violating the property lines, but the adventuresome fawns roam 15-20 miles around leaving the Campbells with high anxiety until winter comes roaring in. Throughout this time, the Campbells have been exchanging letters with a young friend in Hawaii they made several years before and decide to return to the islands to grab video and photos of the natural beauty of the soon-to-be 50th state. While the Campbells spend several weeks around the islands interacting with their young friend as well as previous friends and those newly made, they learn that the deer herds are in trouble because of record-breaking snowfall leaving in question of their orphan fawns were able to survive. Only in the late coming spring do they see the now yearlings reappear in the large clearing they first met them.
This book is just a tad longer than majority of books in the series at 243 pages, but is still not the longest of the series. Campbell’s own prose is used throughout the book unlike some of the previous books when letters from others were put into the text, the “return to form” appears just to be better for this book than anything negative from previous departures. While the looking-forward to and the actual trip to Hawaii are hinted at until the last several chapters trip actually takes place, the main focus is on the titular Fiddlesticks and Freckles and their adventures or more apt misadventures for the most part. Yet this book is different as Campbell spent more time describing his yearly struggle when the various hunting seasons come around.
Fiddlesticks and Freckles is full of the wildlife humor and adventures Campbell likes to write about, but unfortunately it also shows the terrible downside of interactions between men and wildlife. One might say this is a bit of a downer, but I think it’s a strength in this book as Campbell shows the challenges that everything in the Living Forest must overcome on a daily and yearly basis.