Share The Land

Posted on January 30, 2013 under Storytelling with one comment

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One of the joys of being a homeowner is that we get to share the land with Mother Nature.  Although Canadians are gravitating to cities in greater numbers in search of jobs and nursing homes, Canada is really a rural country. And when you live in small town Canada, you are communing with nature, even if  you don’t want to.  Most of the time we peacefully co-exist and other times it is an unholy alliance.

This notion crossed my mind while I was attending a hockey game recently  with old friends.  When our children were younger, we spent time together including some overnighters.  We were reminiscing about some of the good times spent together and I remarked about the time their son had suffered a bee sting in our driveway.

Increasingly it seems like Mother Nature is slightly pissed off with the lot of us.  In the good old days, it was a given that at some point in time you would encounter a bees nest on your property. The odd skunk would pay you a visit and rent the area under your porch for a few days. That was about it.  But as humans have increasingly encroached upon nature, we are coming face to face with all manner of bird and beast.

The list is long so bear with me. It is not uncommon to  have a visit from ants, earwigs, mice, termites, bees, bats,  birds, squirrels, racoons, skunks and rabbits. Coyotes are creeping closer to the edges of towns and villages and increasingly there are sightings of deer and even moose in some towns and cities. And if you do live in the country, bear sightings in backyards are commonplace.

Luckily we are not at war with all these species at the same time. While we are normally hospitable people, sharing our house and property with the animal kingdom sometimes presents unique challenges.

Last fall a raccoon took up residence in the roof of the small porch leading into our house.  Every evening for days on end, we had been hearing strange scratching noises. Initially our diagnosis was that a bird was making a nest until we discovered the real culprit. While my wife and I have several university degrees between us, eradicating a raccoon is not among our skill sets. We sought out the services of a wily old trapper. He arrived at the house with a live trap and indicated that with any luck, he would apprehend our trespasser in a matter of days.

I watched with interest as he baited the trap with two day old timbits. I wondered what he used thirty years ago before Tim Hortons became popular. A neighbor dropped by, as these sorts of clandestine operations usually attract curiosity. Our biggest fear was that we would find a Mountie in the trap the next morning. As promised, the raccoon couldn’t resist the allure of the timbits and two days later our problem was solved.

Sometimes getting rid of a bees nest is trickier.  Typically a bee’s nest is hanging from the eaves of your house. You simply wait until dark when they’re asleep and  then you apply a foam or a spray. On the day our friend got stung, the bee’s nest was inside some old railway ties that formed a wall separating the driveway from our front lawn.  As we pondered the difficulty of the task, along came my brother in law,  a psychiatrist. He seemed to be the right person to help us shrink the bee population. Once again, the activity in our yard attracted some onlookers. Unlike the Meech Lake accord, we were able to reach a consensus. We would smoke them out.

Have I ever mentioned that my wife is a worrier? The moment fire was mentioned, her auto panic button was pressed as she had visions of us burning the house down just to get rid of a few bees. Penny wise, pound foolish, as it were.  We assembled the eradication kit consisting of gasoline, matches and a few buckets of water. I kept looking over my shoulder . I wasn’t worried about being swarmed by bees. I was worried that my wife may have already called the fire department and I fully expected to see the pumper truck coming screaming down the street. It wasn’t quite like sitting around a bonfire at the beach singing Kumbaya, but having a fire in your driveway isn’t something you see every day.

And speaking of wildlife, we recently had a municipal election. We are gratefully accepting ideas about how to keep politicians off of our doorstep.

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