Monday, April 11, 2005

Bear Bites Vole

Temperatures approaching 70 in the late afternoon yesterday, we took Curl and the Bear outside after spending the morning doing yard work. Fred getting one segment of the front lawn clear of winter debris and last Fall's leaves, Peg cleaning up around her rose bushes in back and the tiger lily patch in front.

Peg and I don't eat lunch during the weekends, preferring to have a light snack around 4 or 5 with our weekend martinis, retro-suburbanite couple that we've evolved into. When the weather gets nice we have the drinks on the back porch with the cats in tow, Curly allowed to wander free as long as he's in eyesight, Bear in a harness meant for a small dog and on a 12-foot leash tied off to the porch. Part of this is because Curl is 14 and semi-mellow, while Bear is 4, and like Winnie-the-Pooh can be a Bear of little brain... if Bear took off after whatever caught his attention -- or was running from something that spooked him -- I have doubts whether he could find his way back. He'd be more likely to hole up and cry until I found him. In any case we've had Bear on the harness almost the moment we brought him back from Pawstuctaway, and he's grown so accustomed to it that he'll wait patiently at the door until it's on.

While Curly had semi-decimated the chipmunk population last year, chalking up a new record of 5 caught (one kill, I was able to rescue the others, one of whom he caught twice on separate occasions), Bear had essentially ignored the various critters in our yard, preferring to chitter at the birds visiting our feeder and limiting his hunting of chipmunks to sticking one of his boondockers down the various holes that speckle our back yard.

This year, however, Bear's been fascinated by the squirrels and occasional early chipmunk, racing from one window to another to follow them. I suspected he'd be after the chipmunks who camp out under the porch and wondered how he was going to deal with being hindered by the leash.

Snack finished (a pate from Angela's, if you must know, says the ever-snooty Fred), I was enjoying a cigar (I know, I know, could I get any snootier?) and Peg had gone inside for a moment when Bear launched himself from the porch steps and pounced on something in the Hosta bed that Peg had been working on earlier. From the shrilling I figured it for a field mouse, but from what I could see of it (in Bear's jaws), it was too large, but also too dark for a chipmunk.

I grabbed Bear, who dropped it, but I dropped Bear as whatever it was scampered over my foot, and Bear grabbed it again. Yelling for Peg, who was in, ah, a compromising position in the bathroom, I gave Bear a couple of good whacks upside his head (Bear is kinda like a Missouri Mule. It takes a bit to get his attention), and finally made him drop the small brown critter, who looked in extremis by this time.

Peg came out, we got Bear inside, and she guarded the critter from Curly, who had been off to the edge of the pukka brush surrounding our property but was wandering back to see what all the commotion was about. I went to get a shovel, which is what I usually use to dispose of critter corpses in Swamp Bals next door, but when I returned, Peg said this critter was still breathing.

I've had to put various hurt creatures out of their misery at one time or another, never an easy task, especially with the soft-hearted Peg around, and I wasn't looking forward to doing it again. Happily, we saw it that it wasn't bleeding, and when I gave it a nudge, it trundled off the grass to the rose bed.

"What is it?" said Peg.

"A mole or a vole," said rhyming Bals, and upon closer examination, decided it was a vole, since it more closely resembled the picture above than it did a mole. The vole disappeared under the porch, and we went to release the Bear and congratulate him on his first catch.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Headline Correction, fhb: "Bear Bites Vole...Vole LIVES!" The Red Sox break The Curse! The South Rises Again! (Well, two outta three...) :-)

Yes! There is a God, and sometimes her stories have happy endings. :-)! Victory for Vole! Better luck next time, Bear--ever hear of "catch and release?" Go ask your dad about a certain land-locked salmon. :-)!