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Posts Tagged ‘easter’

Easter bunny Spring 2014

Local bunnies are quickly changing their winter coats for brown ones these days.  Though they may still be streaked with white above their noses and along their backsides, soon the snowshoe hares will be wearing solid brown.  Make that, solid chocolate brown.

snowshoe hare spring coat

Peter Rabbit on the runActually, it’s more like tawny brown.  But let’s not split hares.

Why you ask?  Well, it’s neither because brown is the new white in the Spring fashion world.  Nor is it because Peter Rabbit wore brown in Beatrix Potter’s children’s books.  Though naughty as he was, he did look quite charming.

They’re not wearing brown because the snow has *finally* disappeared from our neck of the woods and with it, all winter season apparel.

No, the reason why the local hares are wearing brown this week is because the daylight hours are getting longer.   Snowshoe hares have the most sensitive of eyes when it comes to differences in light.  Perhaps this is why they respond so readily with a change in fur color in spring and fall.

Easter bunny in woods

And since Easter takes place in late April this year, I’m sure the Easter Bunny will also be wearing a tawny coat.  However, in years when Easter takes place in March, he may very well be wearing white.  It’s all about camouflage with bunnies, whether they’re keeping a hop ahead of predators or sneaking around to hide Easter eggs.

bunny thinking

Wondering where the best places might be to hide eggs in the yard.

Hoppy Easter to all!

Text and photographs copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2014

 

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The woods awakened this morning under a deep cover of snow.  A fresh snowfall over the holidays is usually welcome, except that it’s Easter today, not Christmas.

The snow likely convinced the spring bulbs to wait a couple more days before blooming.  I thought for sure they’d be open by Easter morning.

mosquito on snow

Mosquito walking on snow

Of course we can always depend on the resilience of certain creatures to hang in there, regardless of the weather.  Above freezing temperatures are anticipated for the rest of the week so all of that snow will soon be history.  Unfortunately, the mosquitos are just getting started.

Happy Easter to all.

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loup garou

Loup-garou howling under a full moon

Although wolves were made extinct in much of Eastern Canada in the 1800s, there may still be wolf-like creatures prowling our woods at night, especially under the light of a full moon.  When I was a child, my French-Canadian grandmother would warn me about the dangers of staying outside after dark, especially near forested areas.  What was to be feared above all was a creature she called the loup-garou.  I knew that loup meant ‘wolf’ in French, and since the meaning of the word garou was unknown to me, it fueled my imagination by amplifying the cunning, bloodthirstiness of the feared creature.

Would you venture into these dark woods alone at night?

Reluctant to come indoors at the end of the day, I discounted my grandmother’s stories as nonsense.  After all, she was in the habit of telling other far-fetched tales, ones of horses acting strangely around men of questionable character or of ghostly hands pulling on your hair at night while you were asleep.  It wasn’t until I read about the loup-garou in my French reader in elementary school that I realized there might be more to her tales than I had previously thought.

That account of the loup-garou was far more detailed than anything my grandmother had told me.  It explained how the transformation from human to wolf took place when a person missed Easter Sunday communion for seven years in a row.  The only way such a wretched soul could be ‘saved’ was to go to confession and ask forgiveness from the priest.  Once they then took communion on Easter Sunday, they would no longer be doomed to transform each night into a ravenous wild animal.  So much for the silver bullets used to destroy werewolves in English stories.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there were numerous convictions and executions of loup-garous among the French during the 16th century.  I wonder if any loup-garous came to Canada back then to escape such persecution.

A full moon is expected for tomorrow night.  If you’re out walking near woods after sunset, do consider taking an extra look over your shoulder.  If you’re a loup-garou reading this, and have grown tired of having to be on the prowl at night when others are tucked in their cozy beds, you might want to find out this weekend if there’s any truth to the Easter Sunday remedy.

Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hopping down the bunny trail…
A hippity hop and a hippity hop,
And he’s on his way…

thesnare

There’s an art to setting a snare.  The key is to set it along a bunny trail.  No need for bait.   The rabbit or hare is simply captured as it hops along its regular path in the woods. 

Over the years I’ve come across several snares set up in the woods by trappers.  Many were cleverly arranged with branches that would prevent an unsuspecting hare from going anywhere but through the snare while travelling along the trail.  

Though snaring is illegal in many countries, Snowshoe Hares can be snared in Nova Scotia from November 1st to the last day of February.  Much snow falls during this time, making both animal and human tracks visible for some time afterwards.  It always bothered me when I’d see snares that were set before a snowfall, show no evidence of human activity anywhere nearby for long periods of time after the snow was on the ground. 

The cruelty was not in setting the snare (though many would consider this practice cruel enough), but in not checking it regularly once it was set.  If a snare isn’t frequently checked, some poor creature (not necessarily a hare) could die a slow painful death once caught.  Hopefully all snares will have long been removed from the woods by the time Peter Cottontail sets out on the bunny trail this year.

I hear a sudden cry of pain!
There is a rabbit in a snare:
Now I hear the cry again,
But I cannot tell from where.

But I cannot tell from where
He is calling out for aid!
Crying on the frightened air,
Making everything afraid!

Making everything afraid!
Wrinkling up his little face!
And he cries again for aid;
– and I cannot find the place!

And I cannot find the place
Where his paw is in the snare!
Little One! Oh, Little One!
I am searching everywhere!

~ The Snare by James Stephens 1882-1950

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