If it’s a nice day, the first thing I like to do when I wake up on the first morning of each Manse visit is to grab my cup of coffee and take a little stroll around the house. (Pacing the acreage, you might say, although there’s not all that much acreage to pace.) Since Raymond and I usually pull in after dark on Friday night, we don’t get much of a sense right away of whether there’s anything new and different about the place. But on a sunny Saturday morning I can inspect the garden (and groan about how tall the weeds have got in our absence), and make sure the plastic drainage pipes at the end of the eavestrough downspouts are properly in place, and see which bushes might be in bloom, and whether there are any bird’s nests in the eaves, and so on and so on.
Sometimes I see signs of creatures that have paid a visit in the night – or perhaps even in the daytime during our absence. The footprints that you can see in the photo at the top of this post were one such sign: evidence that a raccoon (at least, I think they’re raccoon tracks) was checking out the Manse property. Another time I saw deer prints (at least, I think they were deer prints) in the snow, which isn’t surprising since deer seem to show up in “downtown” Queensborough fairly often. (You can read about my encounter with one – complete with video! – here.)
I kind of like the idea of visits from the local wildlife, as long as they don’t cause any damage – those deer had better not eat my newly planted herb garden! – or aren’t frightened skunks. When one spends most of one’s time in the centre of a big noisy city, it’s a good feeling to occasionally be in a place where it’s so quiet and so close to the woods and wilds that animals feel free to come poking around.
But speaking of wild animals, our next-door neighbour Sylvia told us something on our most recent visit that really made us sit up and take notice. She told us that there are a pair of timber wolves (I believe they’re also called eastern wolves) that sometimes come around their place. Timber wolves! Can you imagine? I find that thrilling and ever-so-slightly scary at the same time. She says they tend to come in the evening and just stand and have a look round for a bit. They are huge, and beautiful, she said, and I am very sure of it.
I wrote once, not long after Raymond and I first started staying at the Manse, about the lonesome, slightly spooky late-night sound we can sometimes hear, of wolves, or coyotes, howling in the distance. At least, it seemed like the distance. Perhaps it was not quite so distant as we’d thought!