At 9 o’clock at night, getting up at 5:45 am to kayak the river the next morning sounds like a good idea. At 5:45 the next morning, it sounds like I want to throw something (anything) at the person who is waking me up. Did you know it’s still dark then? As in, middle-of-the-night-pitch-black dark? I didn’t. But I did get up, pull on a layers of clothing, hat, headlamp, and pogies (kayak mittens and incidentally, a key invention in the evolution of man) and proceeded to put my tired self into the front of our tandem kayak. Let me tell you what I saw.
I didn’t really ‘see’ the flock of geese as much I heard them. We weren’t 10 minutes into the paddle when a commotion sounding a bit like a Mack truck started immediately on my left. The Mack truck grew louder as we approached and started furiously honking for us to get out of the way before it decided to take flight and relocate downstream. A narrow miss.
The low water allowed for a more leisurely Chai-sipping pace and at one such interlude, I spied something moving along the bank towards an obvious den. The masked critter heard us and froze to assess the new bright orange creature on the river. Not often seen in this area, the raccoon decided we were more curious than threatening and we were allowed to safely observe him in his entirety with a comforting distance of water between the two of us. Cool.
Finally, I saw what I had been waiting for- a beaver! Although their dam-building can make them a serious nuisance for river recreation and to homeowners, it is super neat to see them in action. This one had its head above water and was swimming upstream straight at us. We spotted each other around the same time and he promptly dove underwater to resurface later closer to the bank. By this time we were downstream of him and he boogied to shore with amazing swim skills. He was probably breaking curfew as it was getting fairly light out. If this amazing Fall weather holds, I’ll try to find his dam and see if I can catch him in construction mode. But as that will require multiple 5:45am mornings, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Super Cool Video of the Day: Tagging bears in Canada- the three adorable cubs are worth the watch (it’s funny, too).
So it’s not a conventional house – it’s a real-deal old log cabin. And it hasn’t been updated a whole lot since its inception in 1920 (aside from electricity and my high-speed wireless). As such, there is an appropriate flow of what I’d like to think of as “wildlife”.
It all started with the weasel. I was sitting at the kitchen table, reading, when I heard a noise coming from the bathroom. Looking over, I saw a small white face peeking out from behind the toilet. Like any rational being, I promptly jumped on top of the chair (because a weasel couldn’t possibly climb a chair) and started yelling at my boyfriend that there was “something” in the bathroom. He froze on the couch for a moment and the weasel cocked his head as they both wondered, “what’s wrong with her?”.
The boyfriend was beyond excited saying nonsensical things like “that’s why there’s no mice!” and “we can feed him- he’ll be like a pet”. I warmed to the idea that this was the reason there were no mice and we were careful not to startle him when he showed up every few weeks. Sadly, we never saw Snowflake past that winter, but he was only the first in a long line of critters that have acclimated me to life in a log cabin.
Fast forward to Friday morning, when I was laying in the place halfway between asleep and awake. I vaguely recognized a gnawing noise and thought I had a mouse. Forcing my brain towards alertness, I tried to identify the source of the gnawing from bed. Was he on the food shelves? The floor? The gnawing seemed to turn to a fluttering and I began to think perhaps I had a bat. Grabbing my phone and tentatively stepping into the kitchen, I dialed my boyfriend and said, “something is in my house.” He replied that if it was a bat, I would need to put on gloves and get a towel to capture him. My weak response was, “I don’t think I can do that.” He responded that since he was about 6 hours away, I would have to do it. I now have a new appreciation for pioneering women. It’s not that they were inherently fearless and courageous- it’s that they had no choice. So as a women with no choice, I approached the rustling area to discover a field mouse in the bottom of the trash. I covered the trash and brought it outside, where I spied my neighbor’s cat on their porch. Grabbing the cat and placing it directly in front of the garbage bin, I tipped it over and let the cat sniff. She smelled nothing and ambled away as the mouse ran the other direction, probably looping back towards my cabin.
The very next morning I was washing breakfast dishes and became aware of a buzzing happening in the kitchen window a few feet from my face. A crazy black and orange spider had just caught a common fly and was moving to wrap him up. I snapped a few pictures, and while I was reviewing them she disappeared with her kill to somewhere unbeknownst to me.
This is the wild Wyoming world I live in, but I’m feeling like my cabin could be portrayed in a pretty negative light. When my computer maladies are over, I pledge to post pictures of the fabulous views I share with rodents and bugs large and small. At the end of the day, there’s no place I’d rather be.