Monday, April 27, 2009

Furtive time

I met a deadline today and the next one is on hold until Wednesday, so suddenly, surprisingly, it looks like I might have time to think about a linocut tomorrow. No promises, but fingers are crossed.

This morning's walk was cold and windy, but I never regret getting out. I saw my first Wilson's warbler of the season, I was entertained by the antics of swallows, AND I walked in to the middle of one of those dodgy human-caused wildlife messes.

Story goes like this:

Next to one of the lakes I frequent is a house. In this house is a woman who no doubt has a kind but misguided heart. Years ago someone dumped domestic ducks and geese at this lake. It's possible they would have succumbed to fate had it not been for this woman and others like her who insist on feeding these interlopers. Now, instead, the domestic geese are the most prolific breeders... fat and happy and noisy and aggressive. At this point I don't think any wild waterfowl species breed on this lake anymore, except a few mallards and maybe a pair of Canada geese.

I met this goose-feeding woman one morning. Caught her in the act of tossing corn, actually. She beamed at me and happily prattled on about how much she loves birds. Bird Loving Woman is also, apparently, Cat Indulging Woman. Her cats were skulking around the periphery. "They never bother the birds," she told me, with utter confidence. ("Right," I thought. "They don't bother the geese that are four times their size, but what happens when you're not around?")

It's probably a good thing I haven't seen her since, because by now I have a thing or two I'd like to point out to her, in addition to the excess of Chinese geese on the lake.

Last year, for example, I discovered downy woodpeckers nesting in a tree between this woman's house and the lake. (This is a distance of MAYBE 10 yards.) A few days later I saw her cat with a paw in the hole. I never saw woodpeckers there again.

This morning? Not birds. A fox. And a cat. And a potential for disaster that I did not stick around to see. (Although I'm fixin' to put a bug in the ear of my local wildlife officers.) I was on the trail, just about to come even with the house, when a ruckus came out of the bushes. Fox, pursued by cat.

I am sure that the fox was after food at the house. The cat was having none of it. The cat chased the fox, the fox ran, but then stopped and tried to go back to the house. My appearance slowed the action, but did not stop it. Cat would approach, fox would back off. Cat would stop, fox would try to head back to the house. Both looked at me, but neither was intimidated enough to break off the skirmish.


My sympathies, I admit, were with the fox. Not the fox's fault that the lure of free food would be so strong. It infuriates me to no end that "problem wildlife" have to be killed when the problem is not the animal in the first place. But you KNOW that if something happens to that cat, the fox will take the rap. And what if the "friendliness" of this fox turns to aggression when it's hungry? What if it bites Bird Loving, Cat Indulging, Wildlife Baiting Woman?

Oh, golly. I seem to have gone on a rant about Humans Behaving Badly when my intention was to relate the furtive behavior of a fox snatching treats to my goal of snatching some unexpected time for linos tomorrow.



I'm not taking it back. But I am taking time. Tomorrow. For linos. Really. Even if I have to be sneaky about it.

Maybe I'll do a fox.


  1. Hello Sherrie,
    I'm delighted to learn about your work! I too, am resolving my interests in art and science. Your paintings and prints are beautiful and I look forward to following your blog. I confess, you've also inspired me to explore tiny lino-cuts! They're such fun to make and so gratifying.
    Best wishes,

  2. Ex-colleague in FNQ complained about the decline in frogs on her property. Blamed chytrid fungus but never noticed that the decline coincided with her getting not one .. not two ... but three cats. Hmmmm.

  3. I have a love hate relationship with cats. I love how they look but hate how many things they kills :/ but a lot of cat owners do not see a problem with letting their cats out, and either don't see or don't care that the cats are killing local wildlife :/ The cat has to go outside, it doesn't go in your yard, it would never kill a bird *rolls eyes* Here the cats are breeding with the Scottish Wild cat, which are become more rare all the time :/ People need to start fixing their cats.

    I wish they would do here what they did in a town I lived in Alberta did. Only 2 cats a house hold, must have a collar and tags on if it is outside, and it might be trapped and brought to the pound if caught. People were getting sick from all the cat faeces, so it was more to do with the well being of humans then the wildlife, but at least it was a start. I know of a few towns where cats must be leashed when outside.

    i know people mean well when hey feed a lot of animals, but they are more often doing harm then good

  4. Maria- Thank you so much... I look foward to seeing how your own "tinies" develop. Your website is lovely!

    Snail and Jennifer: (sigh) Cats. They can be wonderful companions and entertainment. We had them when I was child (now I am dreadfully allergic to them). Admittedly, our cats ran free, too, and every spring they would bring us a nestling robin or house sparrow. We would desperately try to raise the bird, but I don't think we ever successfully got one on its way.

    Audubon and the American Bird Conservancy have a Cats Indoors campaign,

    An official cat policy? Wow. That's amazing, really.

  5. people of all ages were starting to get really ill from all the mess and even bitten so I think since the town had a dog policy it was only fair that there was one for cats too. The policy that the Audubon has is a good one, that doesn't hurt the cats and protects wildlife. But at least around here people seem to think their cats have free range everywhere :/

    I have had cats and they can make such nice companions, I even let them out, but I don't think I would let one out now (hubby is allergic too tho). Too many ways for the cat to get hurt and to hurt other things.

  6. Yes, a huge problem in so many places.
    If it's not our introduced animals, it's our over-use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.(I'm betting that's how swine flu got started!)
    Your goose feeding woman does need to have the situation explained.Maybe she simply doesn't know? Ostrich Syndrome?

  7. The Cat debate.
    I've had cat owners tell me that their kitty never chases birds and in the next breath tell me that the only bird their cat kills are humming birds...

    Love your blog and how when we talk about our art
    we wind up including all of our artist's life 'cause it's all connected.

  8. My cat is an indoor kitty and I've gotten all sorts of comments (particularly from my mother *eye roll*) about how I'm being cruel to her, but she seems perfectly content with her life and happily watches the wildlife from our window. She'll live a much longer, safer life that way too!

    Your linocuts are gorgeous. One of these days, in my copious free time, I have to attempt one.

  9. Patrick, you are absolutely right, 'tis all connected!

    Oh, Idle... we could go on and on about "better living through chemistry," couldn't we?

    And Gabrielle, your kitty is in good company! All the best cats I know are indoor cats. Their people keep them well occupied and everyone is happy!

  10. Sherrie, If anyone is voting count me in for a vote to notify your local wildlife officer. Surely the antics of this woman and her cats is going to cause harm to the local native wildlife (if it hasn't already).

    BTW - I have 2 spayed, indoor cats. All humane societies seem to agree - to keep cats happy and healthy and keep the birds alive keep your cats indoors. Perhaps ask your local humane society to have a chat with this lady? :-D