Thursday, December 4, 2008
Women may be possessed by mink, so I read
When I went out for my morning walk on Tuesday, I had to look way out past the ice sheet to find the few remaining goldeneyes, mallards and Canada geese. Lucky I had my binoculars with me this time, or I would've thought they'd flown south yesterday.
I saw a huge flock of about a 100 ring billed gulls gathered at the edge of the ice having a party. They were sitting on the ice, nonchalant as can be, undeterred by the fierce westerly winds whipping along the shore. Suddenly, as if a signal had came from some mysterious voice, an urgent call from beyond the blue, the entire flock shot straight up into the air. This tight cloud of flying gulls hung over the ice, with the birds at its outer edges dispersing into wider and wider rings, like ripples from a spiraling gyre, while a breakaway stream of birds flew silently single file over my head. I was the sole audience. Transfixed, I watched this morphing body of birds shapeshift before my eyes, then suddenly the bird ballet ended and the cloud descended in a rush back onto the ice.
These beautiful bird clouds are all around us.
The ice made constellations spangled with dusty stars.
Orbiting like a flying saucer. But after walking further along the shore, I thought that opening to the other side might be less celestial and more a watery portal
where the mink comes up for air. I was surprised to see his chocolate brown body swimming in the icy waters, as you can tell from my haste to catch him. He likes to travel the edges of water, hunting for his favorite food, muskrat. He must like birds, too, as I saw a bundle of white feathers and a scattering of delicate bones on a rock nearby
his rock pile home. He is both hunter and hunted. Trapped not only for his glossy fur, which I once read sometimes ends up being made into scarves and shawls in China, the mink also has a thick layer of fat below his skin that is used to make mink oil to prevent wrinkles on human faces and to condition leather shoes and bags. But mink is not only a commodity, Mink is also a clan. When other animals burrow away for the winter, the mink continues to lead an active life throughout the cold weather. He likes to burrow and slide in the snow, too. If you look close, you can see the white patch at his throat [click on the photo to enlarge]. He has a good sense of smell, because after climbing out of the water and slipping in and out between the rocks,
he turned to stare right at me
then went out hunting again.