Sunday, June 13, 2010

In which Clippy encounters wildlife. (nearly)

a couple of weeks ago my other half and i were having a nice sunday stroll through a picturesque little nearby town. we happened to walk past what reminded me of a very pretty english-looking garden. hunkered down among the perennials and tall flowers, i spied a cat with very long ears, lounging carelessly, as only cats can do.
looking right back at me.
i remarked on the size of those ears to my husband.
'it's a fox' he said.
obligingly, just then the cat stood up and took off.
leaving me in no doubt that i don't get out and about enough.

a few weeks ago kee called me and told me that a coyote had walked in front of her house at dusk the previous evening.
as bold as brass.
the nerve of the thing.
kee lives at the bottom of my street so it's quite possible that this coyote or its friends and family may have also visited my end of the neighbourhood.
further proof of the coyote's existence was backed up by a friend who was driving to our house one night when he saw it nonchalantly cross the road in front of his vehicle.
i never saw a thing.

and i was disappointed.

last year my other half and i were walking our dog on a nearby street where the houses back onto a steep and overgrown ravine.
between two houses, about 100 yards away, i saw what looked like a small pack of dogs milling around in the open back yard at the top of the ravine.
'look at those dogs!' i exclaimed, surprised to see six or seven of them together and slightly afraid that a pack might be tempted to attack us and swallow our little bella in one gulp after first tearing her limb from limb.
perhaps the home owner has a private kennel in their backyard i mused aloud to my husband.
'they're wild turkeys.'  he replied.
with a sigh.

the next day kee who as i said, lives at the bottom of the street where it bends around the corner, phoned down to tell me that six wild turkeys were heading my way. walking in the middle of the road.
turkeys on a mission?
she sounded excited.
i ran outside to get a glimpse.
they didn't make it this far.
at the bottom of the street where the bend straightens out, they cut across a neighbour's front yard and accessed the ravine from there depriving me of seeing those same strange waddling creatures again.

two weeks ago i was driving the highway to work.
part of the road runs through the countryside.
at the side of the road in the bushes up ahead i could see two large black garbage bags.
how can people wilfully throw out their garbage like that, i fumed?
the garbage bags seemed to be moving.
i slowed down for closer inspection.
mr and mrs wild-turkey were sitting comfortably in the ditch minding their own business and perhaps even waiting for traffic to slow down so they could cross.
or not.
they didn't look particularly bothered either way.
i was tickled to see them but had no one to share the sight with, sadly.

last week i was driving a student to visit another location where he will transfer in september.
as we were on the bridge crossing the river i spotted what looked like a very large footstool abandoned at the side of the road.
'look at the footstool.'  i pointed out by way of making conversation.
'it's a turtle'. the student said.
i was passed it by this time so i turned around at the next set of lights in order to head back and verify that a) he was wrong, and b) if it was a turtle then it must have escaped from the galapagos islands because they don't get that big around here.
do they?

we doubled back and i explained to my reluctant companion that if it was indeed a stranded turtle then we would have to get it out of harm's way by picking it up from the rear, as opposed to the business end, and guide it safely back to the river.

as we passed it on the other side of the road i could see that it was indeed not a footstool, as it was walking quite happily along the grass verge.
it was massive!
we doubled back but by the time we got to the bridge on the same side as the footstool  turtle, it was gone.
when we got back from our trip i told the story to my co-worker who lives near the river.
'it was a snapping turtle.'  she explained.
(i'm not from these parts, what can i say?)
they do indeed get to be that size, she confirmed.
she told me that had we approached it from the rear (so to speak) it could have stretched its neck all the way around and its head would have whipped out and snapped right onto my fingers.
well not 'my' fingers exactly.
i was going to let the student do that part.
but still.
it's a good job for his our sake that that nasty old footstool found its way back to the river bank under its own steam.

not many days later while driving near that same location and scanning the perimeters for signs of wildlife or abandoned footstools,  i spotted up ahead on the road what looked like the remnants of a massive squashed pie which i at first pictured as flying out of the back of an unsecured, speeding pie van.
(a mad baker in a massive hurry to an event for which he was late was my guess.)
i had to look away quickly when i came up alongside.
not pies then.

i am always on the look out for wildlife and longing for encounters with nature.
my other half is usually the one to spot them, or i should say, to correctly identify them.
we were cycling on the parkway once.
he was in front and i was peddling madly behind in an attempt to keep up.
the majestic niagara river was on our right.
the green and dense parkland on our left.
"DEAR!" m.o.h. called back to me.
'eh? what?'
not his usual term of endearment for me.
i looked up turning my attention to his rear end instead of my madly spinning front wheel.

"ON YOUR LEFT!" he bellowed, not even slowing down.
"aah!" my head shot up.
a group of deer, does and fawns, were idly nibbling at the overgrown shrubs oblivious to our going by.
a lovely sight.
'OH! DEER!' 
i would've missed them completely.

we caught a large raccoon in a humane trap once in the backyard in our previous house.
we were trying to catch a skunk that was tearing up the lawns.
we, and when i say WE, i of course mean HE, as in my other half, the great white hunter, was going to catch the skunk in the trap and release it into the wild.
that was the plan.
the baited trap was put out one night.

the next morning other half had an early shift.
at four a.m. when he went out in the dark he saw that something was in the trap.
and it wasn't very happy.
a large raccoon had wandered in and took the bait.
and was, stuck.
what to do?
he couldn't release it right there in the confines of our yard.
no means of escape.
for him that is, not the raccoon.
in the dark he wouldn't be able to see where it was going.
there could be an unwanted encounter.
shining a flashlight revealed large, sharp claws and a hissing and growling, most irate beast.
those raccoons live well in these here parts and can grow to quite a size.
intending to release the creature into the countryside en route to work he made room in the trunk of his car by removing a very large set of golf clubs.

enter ma in law, aka great nanny noo noo, who was on her annual visit from blighty and who, she maintained, had been kept awake night after night by what she described as 'creditors' (predators) on the patio.

i have explained, in vain, that any predators are far, far north of us.

she'd heard some scuffling, saw a light go on and off and leaping excitedly from her bed had dashed, not yet fully awake, downstairs to investigate.
she couldn't contain herself at the thought of what had been caught by her son, the great white hunter.
a minute too late.
the crate and raccoon had left for pastures new in the trunk of the car.

flinging open the patio door she stepped outside before the dawn's early light and out of the corner of her eye she felt, rather than saw, the presence of a large, looming, dark outline behind her. something that wasn't there the day before. something that shouldn't be there now.

" BEAR! BEAR!" she screamed.

only to turn around and see her son's golf clubs - standing erect in the dark corner.
which, in their protective cover were a good foot higher than usual. 

she and I have a lot in common it would seem.


the fly in the web said...

That made me laugh so much...thank you.
I shall now be looking for creditors on the patio....

Steve said...

It was like reading an excerpt from Ray Mears Bush Diary. Only funnier. And without rubbing two sticks together to make a fire.

ChiTown Girl said...

Do all Brits have this wicked sense of humor!? Thanks for the laughs, my friend!

Clippy Mat said...

remind me to tell you the tale of my ma in law's yell after spotting a big insect one day in our basement.
a 'GIGGLYWIG' she screamed. and thus are they evermore named.

steve: i wonder what ray misses when HIS back is turned? ;-)

chi-chi: either that or we're all a bit loony. not sure which.

Irritatingly Optimistic said...

Hahahaha, still chuckling at your wildlife adventures!
I suppose even being from 'up here' you wouldnt see footstools or Turkeys wandering around the north east.
I did once have a confused moment involving 'Badges' and 'badgers' so maybe it is that we are all loopy!

Busy Bee Suz said...

You are so funny Clippy.
I say you need a new rx for your eyes.
I see lots of strange things too in the road..sometimes it is just a palm frond, sometimes it is an iguana.
How, I hate it when stepstools get hit by cars. This makes me really sad.

Clippy Mat said...

Optimistic: (now what should I call you? Gail?) the only wildlife i saw in the N.E. back in the day was when the pubs came out at closing time. or when the match came out at full time.

Suz: i once stealthily tracked down a red 'creature' which i spied in the undergrowth only to discover it was in fact an empty bag of chips. you could be right about the eyesight.;-)

C said...

bwahahahaah that was so funny! you silly girl...


Kee said...

Oh Clippy! Your funny! Hope you get to see some critters soon. Might be able to help you out with that!

Clippy Mat said...

C: thanks for coming over. glad I made you laugh.

Kee: I have a feeling I know what you are talking about; slithery reptiles right?

Expat mum said...

Yep - definitely need new specs.

Pamela said...

Brilliant post Clippy! Made me laugh several times. Now get yourself off to the opticians :-)

Sara said...

funny funny!!

Did you hear about the 2 twin babies that were attacked by a fox in London last week? In their own bedroom. Awful story.
I now go to bed in fear that I wake up and find a fox in my bedroom.


Clippy Mat said...

EP Mum:
funnily enought I do have an appointment card for that very thing.

see above. Thought I think it's just that these little events happen so quickly and so randomly I just don't get the chance to actually 'see' them.

Sara: tragedy aside re the foxes, I can imagine that had they visited my boudoir I would've missed that an'all.

French Fancy said...

That was so funny - you should front an alternative type of nature programme.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Found a big hairy ceature in a box of bananas in my Woolworth days. Coaxed it into a matchbox and proudly took it to the bosses office. Look at this I said proudly, putting the empty box on his desk. Never did find it but examined body orifices carefully for days.

Clippy Mat said...

F.F. an alternative type of nature program? featuring 1/2 glimpses of shadowy creatures eh? ;-)

ugh! revolting. Some unsuspecting Woolies' customer probably got that big hairy creature in their 1/4lb pick 'n mix. (that's the counter I worked on.)

TechnoBabe said...

We see turkeys when we take the back road to the library. About six of them. I had to laugh at the story about the mother-in-law's histrionics.
Maybe I would have thought it was a bear too but I wouldn't have gotten up and roamed around in the dark if I thought there were wild animals afoot. You did a great job writing this post. It was fun.

Gill - That British Woman said...

I am actually lost for words for a change. All I can say is please do not move into the actual countryside or God only knows what you might encounter!!

Thanks for the chuckle. I have to say the snapping turtles are huge and do look like squished pies when you think about it.........well only from a distance.

By the way when did you last have your eyes checked?


Clippy Mat said...

TechnoBabe: those wild turkeys seem to roam in packs of six! Gangs of 'em in fact!

I only wear glasses for reading honest. ;-)

Anonymous said...

mom you need glasses, fast!
i also see these things and then when i get closer i realise its never what i had though.

hereditary obviously. i wouldnt make a very good detective.

love ya
x jenn

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yep. That was brilliant Clippy! My husband says that I am the most unobservant person he knows so I'm with you on the nature front (and on the person front). I now try to look closely at everyone and everything to see if I'm registering it all. Not sure I'm going to win though.

Where I normally turn my car around beside the local school (I must have done this twice a day for most of the school year) I suddenly noticed that there is this huge felled Christmas tree. And I can't think that it had been done recently. So yep! That's at least 6 months of not noticing it's there....sigh.

Gill - That British Woman said...

good to hear from you, you will love the fish cake recipe,


C said...

i sure miss your posts. thank you for the sweet comments on my last post. you are always such a nice and good friend to me...

hugs and love to you...


Shammickite said...

Funny funny funny.
We once had a family of raccoons living behiund the basement panelling. They came down the chimney and hubby was determined that they should leave the same way.... so he lit a fire in the boarded up fireplace.... never saw a raccoon move so fast with his tail trailing smoke!