I am settled comfortably in our tent. The night is quiet and calm. There is not a sound around me. I am thinking about the idea of coexistence. Our outside kitchen not far from where our tent, is where we make delicious meals right here on our land. Unlike before, we no longer have to go out to restaurants to satisfy our hunger. Built solidly between two trees, the kitchen is supported on the backside with strong shelves that hold jars and containers full of bulk foods. Grains, legumes, cereals and sauces are carefully packaged in raccoon safe containers. Mice just love our outside kitchen. It’s a challenge to keep it absolutely clean. Inevitably there are a few crumbs from morning breakfast stuck under the rim of the sink. Or leftover juices from our last meal still present on the counter top.
Regularly during the night I am awakened by the tap tapping of mice feet scampering past my head right outside the tent. I am not scared. If these mice were running past my head in my house in Toronto, I would be freaking out.
Sometimes racoons check out our kitchen supply. They are cunning and agile. Sneaking up quietly in the middle of the night (actually they’re quite cute) opening jars with their skinny hands and tossing aside what they don’t want to eat. From the opening of our tent we groggily throw stones trying to scare them away. Although I do like these animals in a way, I don’t like them eating our food, disturbing our kitchen and waking us up. So we build a cabinet with a door for our shelves! We string bungee chords around our refrigerator, in case the racoons figure out how to open the fridge. We’re not going to let them eat our food!
Our outhouse presents yet another perspective. Recently I was surprised to find a mouse in the pail of our composting toilet. Though lately I have learned to check the toilet before I sit, I’ll never forget that first time! How does a mouse get in there in the first place? And how do they ever expect to get out? Our toilet seat is completely closed on top of a removable 5-gallon pail. The mouse somehow squeezes under the seat and falls far down into the pail, then struggles to climb up again. Imagine falling into a well! The pail is emptied regularly onto a compost heap next to the outhouse. Sometimes we need to empty it specifically in order to release the mouse.
|A Spider's 'home'|
This year there was sighting of a bear on Gabriola. Generally there are no bears here. It is difficult for bears to swim from Vancouver Island and because Gabriola is so small, it’s probably not worth it for them. When the bear was sighted last spring, Gabriolans were informed about how to keep the bear away. “Put all food away. Clean out bird feeders. Wash your barbeque before going inside. Avoid putting out garbage too early.” Although the bear was found on the other side of the island, Paul and I took precautions. We also figured, if the bear were just a little bit smart, he would definitely visit us since we live outside and it would be easiest for him/her to find food. We never saw the bear. We think he’s gone now.
When it rains the slugs come out. Thick, rubbery, slow moving, they slither verrrry slowly across the land trailing a sticky slime as they move. I don’t like slugs! I avoid any contact with them. I definitely don’t want to step on one. My foot might become buried in slime and I can’t even imagine what that would feel like. And yet my stepson Josh and I joke often about barbequing some of them for our next non-vegetarian meal. Co-existing!
The many deer on Gabriola are beautiful, and they remind me to drive carefully. The deer look sweet and gentle. They seem to take such good care of their babies. They prance gracefully through the forest, and are not afraid of people. And… they destroy our gardens! On Gabriola there is no point to plant a garden unless you protect that garden first with a deer-proof fence. The deer are beautiful! They’re precious. I wouldn’t hurt one for anything! And I do everything I can to keep them away from our garden!
Sometimes, co-existing means setting boundaries and taking the steps necessary to make those boundaries understood! We can learn to live in the wild, and, to some degree, we can help the wild learn to live with us. That's co-existing!