The forest surrounding the lake near my cottage is dense with pine, birch and poplar trees. There are many kinds of brush, blueberry plants, mushrooms and plentiful wildlife. There’s lots of activity on the banks of the lake in September.
I am also getting ready for the cold weather. I’m building up my stockpile of firewood, doing maintenance on the cottage by ensuring the roof is ready for tons of snow, cleaning the woodstove chimney creosote, properly sealing the windows, and by making sure the foundation is secure and that everything is waterproof.
As I hurry about my day I notice that I am not alone in my chores. The squirrels or Ah-Nee-Koo-Cha-Sh are readying their little homes for the coming winter. I see them when I look up from my own work. They are scurrying here and there with their tiny mouths stuffed with grass, leaves and anything that might help them keep the cold out of their nests.
The other day I caught one tearing the white strands of cotton from the beard of my porch ornament Santa. I had been noticing that Santa was looking like he had been shaving recently. To make matters worse Ah-Nee-Koo-Cha-Sh had decided that this year he was going to move into my cottage crawl space, and he needed Santa’s beard to make his home nice and cozy.
My battle last year with a skunk, or Shee-Ka-K, came to mind. Boris, as I came to call him, decided to move into the crawl space in late September. I fought a long, hard war with him for months before giving up as I headed south.
Now, I realized that I would be dealing with both Boris the Shee-Ka-K and Ah-Nee-Koo-Cha-Sh under my living-room floor so I started thinking creatively. After doing some research I discovered that I could purchase sheets of metal grate from the hardware store that would close off access to the cottage crawl space. In one full day of cutting, shaping and fastening the metal grates I had given notice to Boris the Shee-Ka-K and Ah-Nee-Koo-Cha-Sh that they were no longer wanted as tenants.
For the first time in a while my place actually has a pleasant odour about it. There is the pine scent from the wood floors and walls and the smell of chicken baking in the oven. The distinct skunky and assorted small-animal smells are gone. The scamper of little feet under my floorboards and shuffling here and there are mere memories of my little friends. These creatures have not given up easy as I can see their digging marks all around the metal grating that surrounds the cottage. Try as they might they will never get in. I wish them well in their search for a new apartment, but I must admit I am happy not to be a landlord to freeloading, smelly and noisy tenants.
No doubt about it, winter is coming. The flock of geese or Niska I noticed high overhead the lake heading south today is a sure sign. The beaver or Amisk I noticed out on the lake almost seems frantic gathering wood for his den down the far bay. The fact that he considers the brush on my lake frontage a delicacy delights me to no end. He keeps that tangled mess cleaned up so I consider him a valued neighbour. The Whiskey Jays or Wee-Sah-Ki-Cha-K are beginning to appear here and there like so many grey and white tree ornaments on the tall pines. Soon they will be getting brave and coming close to see if I have something to offer them for a treat.
All those blood-sucking mosquitoes or Sah-Kah-Meh-Oo have more or less called it a season and they took the black flies, horse flies and deer flies with them. There are many wonderful things that happen as a result of the cold weather. Those huge, ugly, monster-like spruce bugs are finally gone too. I believe I spent half the month of August throwing them off my neck or torso, wrestling them to the ground and then stomping the life out of them.
On a sad note, the little songbirds that performed as a choir on summer mornings have likewise flown their coop. I will miss the singing Loon or Mah-Kwa family, though grateful for another summer rich with the sounds of Mah-Kwa far off down the lake in the middle of the night.
All is not yet lost. The eagles or Mee-Kee-Soo are still keeping an eye on the lake. Closer to earth they are assisted by the hawks, or Mee-Kee-Sheesh. The ravens or Kah-Kah-Koo run in gangs up and down the lake and all around the forest reaping havoc wherever they go. They make a multitude of sounds that don’t resemble birds at all and they love to park themselves close by on the tall pines to watch me work.
So winter, come. We are all ready for you. Your frigid winds, icy storms and blowing snow will make us all happy to be snug and cozy inside. It is a welcome turn of the season.