Monday, July 24, 2006

Small Life in a Small Town

This year has brought a bumper crop of mice and lemmings up here. Our only resident rodents of the arctic (apart from my boarder Yuri who is in my bad books for refusing to share his vodka with me, the cruel, heartless bastard!) can be seen scurrying across the street, hiding underneath houses, scrapped vehicles and old sheets of plywood.

The boom in the rodent population has been paralleled by an unusual number of birds of prey who are summering over this year. I've seen a number of peregrine falcons, gyre falcons, snowy owls and, just perhaps, a golden eagle. These can be seen gliding through the two valleys which border our town and run inland through the mountains from our bay.

The one cat in this town seems to have abandoned its owners for the summer, and can be seen ambling about town, confident of finding fresh food and absolutely disdainful of the dozens of loose dogs roaming the streets. This act of feline bravado seems to verge on the suicidal, since there are no trees at all up here should one of the dogs decide to give chase. But huskies have an absolute paranoia about cats, so much so that upon seeing one they will run away in the opposite direction and cower under houses until the coast is clear. I once saw a female dog in a panic because a cat was nearing her puppies: rather than attack (huskies will take on polar bears), it ran in circles around its infants and tried to corral them into a wooden box. I'm sure those dogs will have nightmares. My theory is that cats, not being indigenous, are almost monsters in a husky's mind.

Up here you become aware of cycles, the periodic rise and fall in animal populations. I predict there will be a lot of foxes born this year since their number one menu item is in such great supply. Remind me to get my dogs vaccinated again. A few years back my husky greeted me one summer morning with a dead red fox, no mean feat since my dog was tied up at the time. We were not able to send the fox head on time to get it analyzed for rabies, and, being a natural-born hypochondriac I spent quite some while agonizing whether my pet had exposed me to the disease. (A dog vaccinated against rabies will not get it, but can still shed the virus through its saliva). But since I'm still alive a couple of years later I seem to have dodged the bullet.

One note about lemmings: the image we have of mass migration and suicide (lemmings jumping off cliffs) was the result of a movie from the fifties which had footage of hundreds of lemmings jumping into the ocean. In point of fact, it was staged by Walt Disney for dramatic effect. This was obviously before the days of the standard SPCA notice in film credits that no animals had been harmed in the film's production.


Blogger Fuff said...

Ohhh erk. That's not a Walt Disney husky either. Tell Yuri to give you some vodka or you'll leave him out for the dog.

12:15 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Fuff: he may be ugly, but he's loyal. So's the dog.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

So they don't jump off cliffs?

Is everything I learned from my childhood a lie?

7:18 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Yukon and 'Strella Dog don’t have any problem with cats, they love them - for dinner.

1:24 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I once had a perm that turned out a lot like that... I'm so glad straight hair is "in".

2:58 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

Mr. Fab - Sorry to shatter your childhood illusions.

TPK: I'm not shitting you. Huskies up here are paranoid about cats.

Anna: What's worse is when he molts, it forms massive dreadlocks. He is absolutely uncombable.

10:43 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Yukon has been shedding so bad the ceiling fan churned up a fur-devil (like a dust devil only with fur).

11:14 PM  
Blogger DutchBitch said...

So the "other" rodents ... do THEY actually share their vodka with you?

4:12 PM  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

Cats ARE devils. Everybody shold be careful with them.... Hehhheheh!

10:38 PM  
Blogger marty said...

I think vermin are cool. Any more pics?

1:58 PM  

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