Back to the north woods. The warm, sunny, beach, ocean respite is certainly nice, but, oh to be back today watching the arrival of the Golden Eyes…the female plomping under to fish; the male doing his mating ritual (he throws his head back, puffing out his chest – sound familiar?). Saw a Gray Jay at the feeder, sharing it with a Pine Martin (ethnic/biodiversity at its best).
Last fall I noticed a shadow passing the window and so walked out onto the front porch with my flashlight. I scanned the shore expecting to see deer (a sight which is almost a daily occurrence, but which I never tire of), but saw nothing. Then…I FELT something. Maybe warm breath? I turned my flashlight down the steps, and there, eyes now popped open, paw on the top step (about three feet from my nose) is a hulking, full-grown bear. Before I could move anything, externally or internally, the hairy hulk moved as fast as a cat down the steps and up the nearest pine. (You’ve heard you can’t out-run a bear? Believe it!) An experience I’ll never forget.
Of course I wasn’t the only one to have hosted the bear, and next day on a walk I encountered a huddle of neighbors discussing the visitor. A couple I hadn’t met from down the point was arguing for shooting the bear. Apparently the DNR had declined, so why not a little vigilantism? I believe I didn’t make the best first impression when with this couple when I politely pointed out that THEY were the f’ing interlopers, and if they didn’t like wildlife what the hell were they doing in the north woods?
Then there was the evening Mary and I were sipping wine in the hot tub, when suddenly she lets out a whoop, leaps (really…I hadn’t seen her “leap” in years) out of the tub and all I can see is a well-rounded white orb bouncing into the dusk. I follow suit if nothing else but to tackle her before she’s lost, naked, maybe insane, in the woods.
Our trail-cam did not pick up this moose she claims she saw peeking around the corner of our home (I never saw anything?). And fortunately (well, maybe unfortunately) it also didn’t catch two naked tubbers streaking into the twilight. And male moose must be different than male humans because rather than check out this naked nymph bouncing toward him in the moonlight, he obviously made a run for it, himself disappearing into the woods.
One of the coolest sightings: one sunny winter day Mary and I looked out the window and there, about 20 yards out on the ice, were three otters. They’d run about 10 steps and slide on their tummies for about 10 feet…over and over, having so much fun almost made you wish you were an otter.
I’ve seen wolves loping across the ice on our bay; a mink catching a fish and storing it in its nest in our rocks, swimming out and bringing back another (who knew minks were aquatic?). Eagles diving for fish and dining on our rocks. Foxes are frequent guests.
OK. Why mention all this? Except for deer and eagles, the numbers of all the other creatures I mentioned are diminishing. And bald eagles were on the endangered species list until somebody paid attention a few years ago. WHAT IF nobody pays attention now? WHAT IF we don’t listen to scientists and naturalists?
WHAT IF there were no moose? No bears, wolves, woodland creatures? Heck: according to an article in the StarTribune, 12/15/16, even Santa’s reindeer are disappearing! Sure they may not disappear in our lifetimes, but I think about my grandchildren and their grandchildren. Image: no Rudolf? Not a legacy I’d want to leave. You?