© 2020 Donna Hébert, all rights reserved.
Today is our last day of quarantine. For me, quarantine hasn’t been that different from the past five and a half months of lockdown. Bob was our designated shopper and I rarely left the house/yard in Massachusetts. Here, we’re both sequestered for two weeks but there’s almost three acres and it’s a full time job just to pull things together both in and out of the house when you’ve been gone this long.
Bob has been tidying up the homestead and I’ve been taking expired canned goods out of the pantry for review. Bob taste-tested a six year old can of Del Monte peaches yesterday and lived to tell the tale, so we may check the others out as well. I have a feeling there will be some real estate available in that cupboard when we’re done.
What is markedly different here is the landscape, the beauty outside my window, every window, for that matter. Yesterday in the glorious afternoon sun, we watched from the deck as a battle between a hawk and an eagle played out in the sky above us. First they yelled at each other, raising their voices louder and louder and then the hawk flew higher and stooped, diving at the eagle, which met the hawk with talons up. There was some short infighting till the hawk put a little distance between them. Not done yet, they continued their challenge for about five minutes as we watched them fly in tandem to the northeast, still cussing each other out! Mesmerized, we couldn’t look away.
Besides the two itinerant moose last fall and resident canid Mr/Ms Fox, there are the ravens who roost in the trees and sometimes on the roof. I appreciate their noisy intelligence and their voices are among the only birdsong we hear up here. I’d love to be able to translate their conversations. Ravens, crows, robins, nuthatches, jays, maybe one woodpecker, the raptors, and fresh and salt-water birds are all I’ve seen in our travels and at home here. We hear or see no finches, sparrows, starlings (which I don’t miss). But there are also no bluebirds, no thrushes, no wrens, no liquid oriole song, no mockingbirds or catbirds (which nested in the hemlock next to our Athol porch). There’s very little song, which makes the caw of crows or the “keeROOONK” of ravens, or the aural battle between eagle and hawk, an event rather than a morning and evening backdrop.
Bob has, over the years, done battle with the local critters to keep what he grows for his family. I wandered into a skirmish the first time he brought me to Cape Breton. Maybe my third morning here, I looked out the window and told Bob I saw two rabbits in the garden. A few minutes later, he walked by me with a shotgun and said, matter-of-factly, “I’ll be right back.” Standing on the back porch, he took aim and popped that snowshoe hare. One shot. Total sang-froid. A few days later, he got the other one. I think there might be some MacGregor in his line. Whatever it is, hares have never returned and we don’t fence the garden.
I hesitate to bring the garden demons down on me by saying I haven’t seen a dead woodchuck by the road in Cape Breton. I believe in diversity but woodchucks are the devil. At least deer are cute and you can eat them. I’ve spotted roadkill skunks, raccoons, and deer, of course, but no whistle-pigs. Maybe they got et when they tried living here. Good! I hear they are tough eating, though, as my daughter Molly Hebert-Wilson told me when her boyfriend Alex shot one at work, dressed it out and had it cooked when she got home. Yeah, at work. So it seems she, like me, will survive the zombie apocalypse.
Living so close to the woods, though, you really have to watch out for the flora. Nature stalks you. You don’t want a spruce tree within falling distance of your house or outbuildings. And right now, just outside my window, we have evidence of a floral takeover. One year you have a paved walkway and the next year you have Rudbeckia squatters. What walkway, lady? I don’t see no walkway here!