One of the things I love about Monkey Valley, which goes hand-in-hand with the stillness, is the presence of wild animals. Being so far away from people and their noise means being out where the animals live. Having an encounter with a wild animal is a special gift that sometimes happens out in nature. I find that if I haven’t seen a wild animal for a few days I start to feel something is missing. I believe that as a human species we evolved together with our animal friends, and our souls need their companionship. Without interactions with animals we get lonely.
This is a concern for me as we encroach on the few remaining wild areas and the space left for our wild friends to live in becomes more and more limited. Many animals such as deer and coyotes learn to adapt to human presence, coexisting with us in small tangles of brush and stands of trees, but some animals cannot. And the simple fact is that if we are using up all the room, for cities, farms, clear cuts, roads, and mines, there isn’t much wild space left for our animal friends to live in. The numbers of species are dwindling, and I think also the number of animals within the species, especially of large mammals such as wolves, bears, and elephants.
But one day last fall I had an unexpected visitor in the house at Monkey Valley. It wasn’t as big as an elephant—much closer to squirrel size, actually. I was in the living room watching a movie when I heard a strange hissing sound coming from the laundry room. My first thought was that the propane heater was leaking. I went up the stairs into the laundry room, sniffing for the smell of gas, but what I noticed was a strong skunk-like odor! The hissing noise was even louder in this room.
I noticed that Donald was crouched in the middle of the laundry room floor, focused on the corner under the laundry sink. A little creature ran out, puffed up and hissing at me! It was a weasel! It was in the midst of changing from summer colours to winter, when it would become an all-white ermine with a black tip. Right now its back fur was a mottled brown with some white patches, but the tip of its tail was black.
What a feisty creature! It hissed at me very aggressively, although it was smaller than a squirrel, but thinner and longer. I don’t know how it got in the house. Perhaps through a small mouse hole—it was certainly thin enough to squeeze through a mouse hole—or maybe through Donald’s cat door.
I opened the door to the outside, at the end of the hallway, and went to get a flashlight, broom, and towel. I’ve had some luck catching mice in towels in the past, but this creature was more aggressive. I started with the broom, trying to sweep the little weasel toward the open door. He leaped on the end of the broom, biting it ferociously, hissing all the while. What a little character! No fear at all. Donald had lost interest and left the room. I got the camera and took a few pictures of it, and continued to try to encourage the little creature to go out the door. It took many skirmishes with the broom, and retreats behind the bucket in the corner. I had to clear away everything the weasel could hide behind, and close off any spaces he might hide in on the way out the door. More broom work, and then I finally got him to run out the door. I wonder if this is how the honourable Canadian sport curling got started!
What a gift to have this brave little visitor come into my house! The magnificent weasel would be an appropriate symbol for courageous fighting against enormous odds. Also for being true to one’s nature without fearing the consequences!