Friday, August 17, 2012

But Do Flying Squirrels Really Fly?

We of course count a good measure of riff-raff among our cast of beloved friends but oddly enough we have a few cultivated pals too, two of whom paid us a visit. A visit with Stephen and Sheila to our favourite antiques purveyor, Diane at the Den of Antiquity, turned profitable, availing a handsome old floor lamp complete with faded botanical-themed shade. The lamp will provide marvelous light some imminent rainy evening as I read my next Scandinavian police procedural.

Accomplished and celebrated gardeners, S & S identified a favoured bush below the cabin as Nemopanthus mucronata, false holly, and showed us how to enhance its allure through careful and caring pruning. We indulged Stephen’s keen desire, hordes and heat notwithstanding, to hike the ten-kilometre Skyline Trail in CBHNP. Alas, the moose we’d hoped to see stayed sensibly cool in the shade, hidden and unseen. Consolation came by way of a terrific feed of snow crab at the Hometown cafe in downtown Cheticamp.

My previous dispatch alluded to Bigadore’s infinite capacity for generating absorbing projects. Jan liked the yellow proceeds of the cabin floor-painting project so much that she led us on a painting tear. After replacement of rotted pieces and application of a blue-grey solid stain the deck rails now look qualified for an appearance in Better Shacks and Shanties. As for the deck itself, well, rain now beads nicely after the latest application of Thompson's WaterSeal. Now Jan has her eye on the cabin itself. Many moons have passed since the cedar shingles benefited from an application of stain. It seems that is about to change.

Anticipation builds: the inaugural visit of pals Garth and Carol is anticipated in a few days. Such is the power and magnetism of Garth’s personality that it extends even to the hoary old outhouse. Garth professed astonishment when I disclosed in June that, no, the Bigadore privy has no window. I simply cannot have my friend disenchanted with his trips down the trail so with Jim Troke’s borrowed reciprocating saw in hand I aim this week to undertake an outhouse renovation. By the time Garth enjoys his first interlude in the privy he will get to behold a relaxing woodland vista through the new picture window.

Our ongoing saga, Adventures with Wildlife, delivered another intriguing chapter. It is claimed that the northern flying squirrel is just about as common in Nova Scotia as the omnipresent red squirrels that like to defeat all our efforts to squirrel-proof the bird feeders. But the flying squirrel is strictly nocturnal and I could boast of only one past sighting, in British Columbia years ago. Then, on Friday, one turned up in a remarkable place, my workshop. My authoritative The Mammals of Canada makes no mention of the flying squirrel’s preference for sharing human habitation, but there it was, comfortably ensconced in its den of leaves in a corner of the shop. I photographed it in situ then waited to show Buddy to Lynn and Louise, who were very impressed. Long-term cohabitation with a pooping, peeing, perhaps-procreating flying squirrel is, however, something I don’t choose to maintain; I evicted my little pal by gloved hand. It cussed mightily and tried in vain to bite the hand off but seemed none the worse for having been given the bum’s rush.

The deer mouse is a lovely little creature when seen its outdoor element; I am less endeared of it upon finding little turdlets on the kitchen counter in the morning, or freshly gnawed fruit in the peach basket. It would be pleasant to have some non-lethal way of removing the little darlings once they’ve decided to share housekeeping, but I haven’t yet discovered an effective one so I rely on the tried-and-true devices provided by Home Hardware at $1.99 a pair. Lately my mice seem possessed of higher IQ: somehow they’ve mastered the art of tripping the trap without fatal consequence. I check the traps in the morning only to find them bereft of both mice and peanut-butter bait. I await loyal readers’ thoughts on what to do next.

Finally, mention of a minor milestone. We sold the Bigfoot camper in May so never again will Peregrinations report on fresh adventures in ‘Leo and the Taj’. Leo, the ’98 Dodge Ram, made what I expect will be his last transcontinental journey in June; henceforth it will be a strictly Nova Scotia resident. Until Friday Leo had known only one license plate, issued by the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Branch. Now the truck wears another, touting 'Canada’s Ocean Playground’. If while traveling Nova Scotia roads you catch up with and pass a vaguely familiar old fart rambling along in a weather-beaten green Ram be sure to offer a friendly wave.

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