I’m sure each of us could tell of a time when a close encounter with some wild animal took place.
Some could even speak of an instance where life and limb were threatened.
Often we hear news from the Rockies where people dangerously meet up with grizzlies, or bull elk – who have also made the news lately – but luckily we don’t have to contend with them here.
While people in our area occasionally run across a black bear, it’s still a rarity, and although cougars have been sighted nearby, they are few and far between.
Nope, here on the Prairies our wild encounters aren’t usually hazardous unless we hit a moose on the highway.
As is often the case, I have a couple of accounts to share with you along this theme.
These tales couldn’t be measured as life threatening; they’re more unhygienic and nasty than anything; revolting even.
The first one begins on a visit to see a friend years ago. I’d arrived at midnight to her home in the country, and there was only time for a few hurried greetings before we bustled off to bed.
Yawning, I swiftly changed and tumbled in. I’d been driving much of the day with three small children clamouring, “Are we there yet?” and it was good to stretch out and relax.
Granted, there appeared to be areas of some crumbly grit under the covers but, no matter – I dropped off to sleep.
Next morning I awoke as sunlight crept in through shutters I’d forgotten to close, causing me to squint blearily over the comforter and into the beady little eyes of – a small, grey mouse.
“AHHHH!” I screamed, flinging the covers away and launching myself up perpendicular to the wall.
“AHHHH!” screeched the mouse as it flew, flipped by the blanket, to plummet through the air into a far corner of the room.
I cannot presume to enter the mind of a mouse or speak on his behalf, but it seems pretty easy to play out the preceding events from his perspective.
Here he was, a mouse of the world, with places to go and things to do; minding his own business after a hard night rummaging for crumbs on the kitchen floor.
Having found this place of quiet repose in the attic he’d quietly retired to his hidden haven between the sheets only to find a hulking big intruder.
Noiselessly he’d crept to the edge of this soft home to scope out the scene and been murderously flung against a wall for his trouble.
I, on the other hand, shuddered compulsively for the next week thinking how I’d spent the night slumbering peacefully in the excrement of a mouse.
Another incident also occurred on a visit, but this time with my Uncle Don and Esther.
Again, I’d arrived the evening before and we’d visited happily before turning in for the night.
Arising before anyone else, I enjoyed sluicing my face with a refreshing splash of water, leisurely brushing my teeth, and bathing luxuriously in a hot, deep tubful of water.
With a sigh of contentment, I reclined backward into the sudsy liquid, until, interrupting these morning ablutions, my uncle addressed me tersely through the bathroom door.
“I hope you haven’t used the water yet Helen?” he asked anxiously. “I forgot to tell you we found a dead mink floating in the cistern last night.”
“WHAT?” I hollered, rearing up from the steamy depths. I emerged moments later in a hastily knotted bathrobe to see my uncle peering sorrowfully through a trap door built into the floor. I knelt to join him.
Yes, there it was, bloated, black and shapeless; riding the ripples of my recent water consumption.
Wasn’t that just my bloody luck! I’d never get to see a mink in the wild, oh no, my introduction to the elusive creature was to view it drifting face down in my drinking water.
Three cheers for an active immune system too, since as you will notice, I didn’t in fact die from this event.
Needless to say, these accounts can’t honestly compete with stories of real animal confrontations.
I mean, who hasn’t dealt with a mouse at one time or another?
Of course, perhaps you haven’t locked eyes with the rodent three inches from your nose – while recumbent in bed – but still. And although running into a live mink might qualify, bathing in juices rendered from his watery tomb fails to make the grade on any scale.
Clearly I shall have to do better in my quest for true wild animal encounters. Sorry.