Notes from the Food Chain

Storm Clouds over Beaver Rock Cove, Lake Superior
Thunderheads over Steep Rock

Another guest entry from Ranger Tim, who keeps the bunnies coming back for more.

Aug 31, 8:00 pm

“Down at the beach to tend to the boats, I’m startled to find hordes of Blue Darner dragonflies zigzagging through the warm dusk air. These are imposing insects with 5-inch wingspans and irridescent bodies the colour of gun-metal. Over an average year I might see a scattered few dozen, but there are hundreds in the air now. At first I think it’s a copulatory swarm but the body contact is minimal. Turns out the aerial orgy belongs to another species, a familiar small red carpenter ant. The winged males emerge from the pupal stage all at once, and a lucky few will mate with one of the handful of queens which go aerial the same night. The dragonflies are picking them off midair, one by one, in a tremendous show of acrobatics and gluttony.

These are the same ants that have been noisily hollowing out the gable end logs of my cabin. About this time last year my cabin colony hatched inward and I spent a tedious hour with the ShopVac hoovering them alive out of the air, the wardrobe, and the bed. So I mix martinis and we go back down to the beach and root for the dragonflies.

Sept 2, 10:30 pm

Moments after relieving myself off the cabin deck, I’m sitting at the picnic table undoing my bootlaces. A young snowshoe hare lopes into the small cone of porchlight, nose and ears twitching. He is wilfully oblivious to me as he beelines for the little patch of asters and sarsaparilla that I have dampened. He starts mawing down the vegetation there, barely two paces from me.

At five minutes I find myself shocked at just how much roughage such a small animal can pack away so quickly. At ten minutes it dawns on me that he is in fact being quite selective. He snuffles around rather carefully from leaf to leaf, clipping and consuming only the most thoroughly urine-drenched of them. Cherry-picking, so to speak. The real soakers he just licks dry, presumably to stretch out the feast.

I wonder whether there’s some element in my emission that is scarce in his regular diet, a salt or an alkali or somesuch. Or maybe it’s just the good old-fashioned gobsmacking tang of ranger-piss vinaigrette that keeps the bunnies coming back for more.”

This time next week I’ll be watching dragonflies and drinking martinis with him. And peeing off the porch.

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