Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Too long since the last post....

I haven't posted for so long, not because too little is going on, but because too much is. Too much work, the death of a friend, too many shifts in the weather.

And yet I have managed to get out some days. Coyotes in the field, two in single file, as before, but now they are coming through the yard at night. Two nights in a row this past week. Then there was the night that a dog came through as well, I think. And maybe a pair of foxes? So many canids. And yet there are still rabbit tracks every morning, and although I saw a few tufts of fur in the snow just by the bird feeders a few days ago (no tracks other than rabbit nearby to explain how they got torn out), I saw the yard rabbit again afterwards. So maybe an owl took a rabbit, but at least it didn't that one.

We lost our snow cover and gained it back again, had some very warm weather and some very cold weather, all since February 11! So tracking is pretty fuzzy a lot of the time. But on three warm nights in a row a raccoon came down through the yard and right around the house, leaving lovely clear tracks. I tracked it back to the cedar bush, but lost the trail there.

No more deer sign in the fields, but then two days ago I saw two (it might have been three), on the far side of the far field--past the point where I usually look for tracks. It was a windy day, noisy, so I wasn't sure what I was hearing the first few times I heard what might have been movement in the sumac. Then one of the deer bolted, tail flag waving. But the other one was just out of sight of the first, so didn't immediately follow. It was in clear sight for me. I stood absolutely still and watched it for a while.

It couldn't catch a whiff of me, so we shared my favourite kind of deer encounter. The deer looks, thoughtfully, with one eye and then the other, grazes or walks a bit, and looks again. But it can't interpret what it sees. It is as if it is looking through a tear in the fabric of reality, into another world, where none of the clues to meaning it relies on exist. Sometimes I get bored and move--that a deer understands. This time, the deer that had already bolted on my approach was still nearby, and the hesitant deer eventually wandered over to join it. I started walking again, and they both bounded away.

Friday night (February 18) I was out on the porch at about 10 p.m. and heard a great horned owl hooting, then a second joined it. As I listened, now in amazement, a third began to call. This is the time of year (believe it or not) when these owls are starting to nest, but I have never heard so much owl activity in the hamlet before.

Yesterday I had to leave the hamlet to stay for a few days in Prince Edward County (approx. 50km south). On the drive down, just at Cherry Valley, at about 4:30 p.m., I saw an otter on the ice of a stream, its top half down through a hole in the ice.

It's been one wild winter.

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