Movember Day 4

I’ve noticed a couple of things in my walks through some local parkland over the last few days. First, the squirrels are getting chubby.

Squirrels are ubiquitous in Toronto. Common enough that visiting for a while, and certainly when you’ve grown up here, you don’t think twice about them. Common enough that with seeing them for all the decades of your life, you don’t think that, for instance, they aren’t just everywhere all the time. But I’ve seen enough tourists taking photos them that it’s clear that they’re of course going to be a (cute) novelty for many people from places where squirrels aren’t a thing.

For most of the year they’re pretty sleek. But when it’s fall here, they start going to town on fattening up to hold them through our sometimes long winters.

Squirrels can be destructive — think of them burrowing into your attic to set up house and you start getting some notion of what they can do — but day-to-day, when they’re just doing their thing and staying outside your household, they’re objectively pretty cute critters. And moreso when they start getting chunky.

Secondly, I didn’t have the time to post about it yesterday, Movember Day 3, but on my so-far-daily walk through that park to reach that 60 km goal for he month, I also, for the first time, came face-to-face with a coyote.

Coyotes aren’t uncommon in this area. They aren’t squirrel-common, but they show up often enough that there are official city signs printed up and posted in local parklands warning about their being around.

But it’s one thing to be warned about them and hear about their sightings, and quite another to actually see one up pretty close. I was coming around a blind curve in the commonly used pathway and saw it there, I’d think no more than 30 or 40 feet away, though probably like any time you encounter an apex predator, it seemed much closer. It looked as if I’d caught it crossing from one cluster of bush to another, standing perpendicular to me.

They’re interesting creatures, a kind of wolf-dog hybrid. At first you see the wolf aspect. Then your brain tells you that no, that’s not quite right. Maybe a dog? But no, that’s not exactly it, either. Then you settle on realizing you’re seeing a creature that’s a mix of both.

What also stood out to me was its stubby tail. Coyotes normally have full, furry tails, but this one had perhaps narrowly gotten out of a scrape with something and had lost almost all of its tail in the process.

I froze when I saw it.

It looked at me. Then it looked back to the bushes ahead of itself that it had perhaps already been heading toward.

I started doing some quick math in my head about how far I’d be able to get before it was on me if it opted to chase me down. (Answer: Not very far at all.)

It casually sauntered forward, probably the way it had been heading when I showed up, and quickly disappeared into the bushes and trees. I quickly moved past where it had been and continued on my way, only sparing one glance behind myself to make sure it wasn’t following me, as I’ve heard various stories about how clever coyotes can be in trying to hunt their prey.

Well, I wasn’t prey yesterday. Which made it a good day.

Off for another walk shortly. Here’s hoping it’ll just be pudgy squirrels again today.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *