Yep, most of the snow is gone and a healthy chunk of the yard is dry enough to rake, so guess what I did for a couple hours this afternoon. I went outside and did a little raking. This time of year is kinda risky for me, but the spruce trees aren't dusting the countryside yet and last year's dust didn't get to me either. Allergies are a real pain, but they only last for a little while, thank god. The last thing I need is to start sneezing and coughing cause that only aggravates my bronchitis, not that it's all that bad but it is annoying.
Working in the yard, though, reminded me that I haven't told you about the otter who camped out under out house a couple falls ago. I was out cleaning up the yard and burning trash, and occasionally throwing a stick for the dog when she went charging off into the tall grass off back by my ex-garden. I didn't see anything so whatever it was was smaller than a bear and definitely smaller than a moose. I didn't even see the tall grass waving except where the dog was so it was smaller than she was. I wasn't worried until she yelped. She's never yelped. She might growl. Once in a while she'll bark, but she's never yelped. I dropped what I was doing and called her back into the yard. She's always been good at coming when she was called, but she didn't want to this time. When she did come, she had blood on her nose.
I hustled her into the house before taking the time to look at the damage. She now has a scar across the top of her nose about an inch long and it healed up quickly.
The next day, I kept an eye peeled for our mysterious visitor. I also kept an eye on the dog. Just in case our visitor was still hanging around somewhere. No, I wasn't going to go beating through six-foot grass and weeds to look for something that might be hurt and pissed.
As it turns out, Gizmo wasn't interested in going off into the tall grass anymore. In fact she wasn't all that interested in chasing sticks either. She kept an eye under the house but I didn't really notice it at the time; she was just hanging around the house really close.
That night, Don kept hearing things like a far-away motor, but there was no boat traffic anymore, the season was over. If anyone was running around in a boat, it wouldn't be big enough for us to hear from here. Plus it was late in the evening. I went outside to listen, but didn't hear anything. This happened a couple more times.
The next day, I heard it, and I heard it from outside. Something was under the house. Of course, since I'd told Gizmo 'no' it became 'mine' and therefore off limits and okay to be in the yard. She was just keeping an eye on it. Mind you, I still didn't know what it was, but I now knew where it was. I, very carefully, went under the house to try to see what it was. Whatever it was, it was small cause it could hide among all the stuff under there.
I suppose I got to within a couple feet of it, but I never got a very good look at it - a tail here - a cheek there - and then it was hiding behind something else. Why was an otter camping out under our house? Maybe it was hurt from the fight with Gizmo, but the little pieces and parts that I could see didn't seem any worse for the wear. I could see it well enough to tell that it was a full grown otter. Maybe it would get a little bigger, maybe it was a female. I couldn't tell.
I was trying to burn some fish that was too mushy to can, so I decided to rescue it from the fire and give it to our guest, maybe he was just a little messed up from the fight and was too weak to hunt. Maybe I could entice him out far enough so I could tell. No luck there.
It snowed that night, three or four inches. When I went to see about our guest, he wasn't there, neither was the fish, so he went away full. I found his tracks in the new snow heading out the back of the house and off through the garden, on to wherever he'd been going in the first place.
That was the extent of the visit. I never saw it again. I haven't seen too many otters this far from the water. There used to be a family we'd see at least once a year down by the boats - no idea where they stay.
I saw one once years ago running through the edge of our yard during winter. It was really rather comical to watch as it gamboled along with the occasional slide mixed in.