We live very close to Burnaby Mountain, and we can walk to the trails that run all over the Mountain, all the way to Simon Fraser University if you like to go that far. I took the dog for a walk on the trails the other day, and she wasn’t very willing to accompany me at one point. I wondered if this was a Lassie moment. Is she trying to tell me something? A bear, Lassie? A cougar? Or was she just objecting to the light drizzle, the increasing distance from her bed and the fact that if we use that trail, she’ll get her paws muddy?
I know I have mentioned before, probably very often, like a really boring guest at a dinner party, the bear that got into the compost bins the summer we moved here. Then there were the reports of bob cats, cougar, lynx, and of course the coyotes, skunk and raccoons that constantly threaten our dustbins. I am thrilled that we live in such a wild environment, and we have done everything to learn how to deal with meeting a bear, beating off a cougar or getting rid of skunk-stink, but the bottom line is that, although I am very happy they are there, I would rather the wild stayed over there. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not that crazy lady from Over The Hedge, with the security lasers, alarms and Depelter 3000. I’m not trying to keep them away, and I am excited that my parents have had a close encounter with a bear at Whistler, that we have seen wild orcas hunting in the Straits, that the seals love chasing the Dragon Boats in False Creek, and that I occasionally get a glimpse of a solemn family of raccoons, lined up by the road. But I’m not going looking for them. If the wild chooses to stay away from me, I’ll return the favour and leave the critters well alone, and I know it disappoints my father in law that the Wild is not lined up by the road waving little flags to welcome him to Vancouver, but I think I know why. It’s the reason we moved here in the first place – it’s Space. Not the vast, dark, “to boldly go where no one..” etc Space, but the huge, rolling, wonderful regions of the completely uninhabited and uninhabitable space beyond where we are. It means that birds do not rely on my bird feeder, hanging forlornly in the garden with no customers. It means the squirrels couldn’t give 2 squirrel-squeaks that my bird feeder is not squirrel-proof. It means that the wild animals can choose our company, or not, and if we are careful to avoid tempting them into our garbage, they will stay safely away and I will know they are there, but not see them. That seems fair.