Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hinterland Who's Who - Our Neighbour

Meet our neighbour. 
He lives at #1506 – yup, that's his driveway right there and that's him up on the snowbank.
Funny, seeing him in the snowbank. We'd always thought he was one of those Snowbirds. 
What? You never heard of a Snowbird? No, it's not the Anne Murray song, although that sure is pretty. 
Here, play this... yes, yes you HAVE to.

That's Anne, Canada's Sweetheart, when she was, like, 12 or something singing her heart out. (Love you Annie!) 
But that Snowbird isn't the kind I'm talking about now. Snowbirds are actually rich, Canadian old farts who escape places like snowbanks and spend their winters in Florida. (You can usually recognize them by their black socks and sandals.)
See, we've lived next door to our neighbour for more than a year now and are accustomed to seeing him in the summer. But we never saw him last winter at all. This winter? Whole different story. 
It all started one dark and stormy night a week or so ago. Dave was snowblowing the driveway (just another day in paradise) when something fairly big and dark caught his eye.
He came running in the house with his boots on bawling at me to get the camera because our neighbour was crossing the road - carrying a small tree in his mouth!

Click on the pictures for a better view.
That brown blob in the middle is our neighbour.
He carried the tree over a snowbank, trudged through his snowy yard and disappeared into the darkness near the frozen river.
A while later, he came back. Dave took another picture - sorry, it's not the greatest, but you can see him sliding over the snowbank and onto the road.

He's got snow all over his chin.
We tried to carry on a conversation, asking how he's been and where he got his new fur coat, but he wasn't feeling very neighbourly and basically ignored us (I knew I should have put on more deodorant that day). We watched him waddle into the bush and then lost sight of him.
Well, we thought that was the coolest thing! We chalked it up to one of life's memorable moments and forgot about it.
Then, yesterday, I came home from work 'cause I was feeling poorly and I caught our neighbour in broad daylight, walking across the road with another bit of brush. I didn't even have time to grab the camera but I did yell hi as he was cresting the snowbank.
No, he still didn't reply. I think he's getting snooty in his old age.
Today Dave and I went outside for a bit of fresh air and who do we see?
Yup! The neighbour!
This time we got nice and close.

That's his face closest to the camera... if you look really close you can see his eye, almost closed in the sunshine.
See his long claws on the tree he's chomping? Those are some fingernails!
Dave says they need to be long and strong for digging in the mud.

He must be lacking some fibre in his diet because he lay down on top of the snowbank, chewing at the base of a maple sapling. When he finished chewing, he dragged it back across the road.
This time we didn't let him disappear - we followed him. His trail led to a hole in the ground, right next to the river.
See the river up in the top right corner of the photo?
Dave says the hole leads to the river, under the ice. He says the neighbour probably has a couple of holes like this along the river where he can come up to feed.
Maybe those big all-you-can-eat buffets that Florida is famous for didn't quite cut it with the neighbour this year. After all, us Canadians are known for our love of all things maple. And while most of us Canucks like to pour our maple syrup on pancakes, there are some folks, like our neighbour, who prefer their food raw.
I just pray he doesn't come whining to us when he gets slivers in his butt.


  1. Hey Mark, how ya doing? So nice to see you here!!!!
    Maybe some day you can retire up here and we can be neighbours again, hanging out by the water watching the furbearing flat-tailed neighbours swim by.

  2. He's a cute little bugger- I mean neighbor.

  3. Yeah, Gen, he is cute... if you don't mind a guy with an overbite.

  4. Ah, yes. the Canadian snowbirds are the ones you can find swimming in the ocean in Florida in January and February. It feels like summer to them. Year-round residents shake their heads and call them crazy.

    I've always liked Anne Murray. Saw her on TV once try to sing a Rolling Stones song though. Big fail. She needs to stick to the sweet ballads.

  5. Sorry, didn't have the courage to watch that Anne Murry vid. I thought those Hinterland nature spots were pretty cool, back in the day. Perhaps you could send your neighbour over, we've got a couple of tree that need taking down in the back yard. Will he remove them as well?

  6. Pretty cool neighbor. I thought it might be a bear in the first pictures. But then, bears are supposed to be hibernating aren't they? Beavers too? I liked the Anne Murray vid, I like the looks of where you live and I always like these observations and your stories of LOTMR.

  7. You know, I've never seen a beaver in real life. I just realized that. He looks pretty awesome.

    And as for those snowbirds, yep, we've got them here in Florida right now. You can also distinguish them, not only by their black socks and sandals, but their ability to completely ignore the rules of the road and drive 30mph in the left hand lane. And, they're the ones on the beach, feeding the seagulls while the rest of us yell, "Stop feeding the seagulls!" Usually the first big plop of bird crap on their heads helps them figure it out.

  8. Whee! I loved following your neighbor through the snow and down by the water...all from the comfort of my warm home.

    I'm thinking we should get your neighbor some floss for his birthday. Couldn't hurt, right?

    And maybe a general book on etiquette...'cause, ya know, he could at least say hello. Maybe he'd be more neighborly if you offered to carry the branch next time. I'm just saying...


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