In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hare hearsay

Most times when I say rabbit somebody tells me these are hares. But then people call them both names. The first one Greg and I saw was last spring, along the lower road from Mark and Patsy's camp to ours, sitting very still. The second one I saw while I was painting the picket fence early last summer. It was hopping peacefully from the back orchard stone wall to behind the tool shed, followed by a quiet and slinky mink. Greg saw one in early summer, along the southern stone wall, while he was cutting brush. They could be hares, or they could be rabbits. I guess if we saw a winter hare with its white colour we would know for sure, since the cottontails don't change their colour.  But we haven't.  

What I am about to tell you is almost all hearsay. The story is that there used to be hares in abundance here, back in the old days. The old days go back at least as far as the 1960s and 1970s, when Harry Van Buskirk and Barry Crowell were the lighthouse keepers and their children regularly set snares over on the southeastern part of the island.  Hare stew was an island staple back then.

Then, sometime, somebody had a mink farm somewhere on the mainland around Carleton Village or Gunning Cove, and somehow the mink got over to the island. Maybe they swam. or maybe they stowed away on a lobster boat, or maybe somebody brought them over here on purpose, since they prey on rabbits and snakes. Nobody knows, or if somebody knows nobody tells. If the mink were brought over to keep down the hare population they may have been mighty successful in their work.  And if there are foxes here then that would be another serious predator. 

But then we don't really know how many hares or rabbits are still on the island. Lately I have noticed tracks in the snow that I think could be one or the other. Especially in the woods between our stone wall and the old field where the hotel used to be.  Like so much else, we may think they are not here, when we just haven't yet acquired the awareness or the skill to look for their presence, or to understand the signs we see.   

The island is a place of mysterious signs both literal and metaphorical. This one appeared on the main road last fall. Nobody knows how it got there, or if somebody knows nobody tells. 

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