Written by William Butt, reproduced from the Fortune Teller
Winter has come at last and with it, out come the warm clothes and winter boots. We all want to be comfy for those long days ahead. The outdoor people will dress up a little warmer and take the fun machines to the great outdoors; to the favourite camp sites for a cook up and to make necessary repairs to the winter trails that will be used for winter visits to the cottages that dot our countryside. We will be visiting our neighbouring towns on the other side of the Peninsula like Point May, Lamaline, Lords Cove, Lawn and other towns in between. There will also be winter runs to the Golden Sands from Fortune, down through the centre of the Peninsula. This will mean two or three boil ups with one good meal of ones choice. Sometimes the pot luck comes into play - only this is done country style - what everyone brings along is shared up between us all. Of course we have a favourite saying: 'You must eat it or wear it.'
Days and outings like this make for great friendship for those who don't mind a bit of fun, work and a good day outdoors.
At this time of year people who travel the country should take great care in making sure they have the necessary equipment in their bikes and snowmobiles for a safe trip in the country. Most outdoor people know that how well they prepare their survival kit depends on how good a night they will have if they are caught in a bad storm or get a breakdown away back in the Country. Riders in small groups have the best chance of survival should something go wrong.
Markers should be put up along the trails to show the way to the careless riders and children who frequent the country trails with nothing on their mind but a nice ride on the snow covered wilderness. Let's make it safe for our children to enjoy this great outdoor sport.
Field glasses and a camera are a must in your backpack - you never know what you will see. The country has so much to offer if you just take the time to look. The memories that you capture on film will last a lifetime and the things you see with your extended eyes will be yours forever, in your memories of the days you spent in the great outdoors of the Fortune area.
On trips to the country you will see many cans and bottles left by the campfires. If you pack those containers in, please bring them out again as they will only be eyesores for campers who clean up their sites. Please remember this little slogan. Remember: if by the campfire should you litter, the boys that clean it up later will be bitter.
Remember to keep the campsites CLEAN in Fortune Outdoors.
As the Sun creeps higher in the Eastern skies, a lone Partridge is silhouetted against the sky. Its starting flight - because of me that gave him the fright - was very erratic but once he became air-borne he loomed over the landscape, looking every bit like the shape of the bomber that took his shape for long flights over low terrain. Then another movement caught my eye. It was not me at all that startled my feathered friend, but Mr. Fox who was slinking close by looking to make a daily meal of some unwary creature that might have got a little careless.
As morning came on the bright sunlight filled the morning sky and the frosty air seemed to take on a foggy look. Down by a small river that runs into the watershed, I could see a young bull moose. His flared nostrils emitted two jets of steam that looked like the exhaust from some sleek sports car waiting to go. I watched him for a while. He too had someone on his trail but very much smaller. A lynx was poised to strike but I think he was ever so wary about those sharp horns and hoofs that must have caught him in the rib cage some time back, on a morning just like this. This is the time of morning when the outdoors comes alive if you have the time be still, to watch and listen.
Farther along the morning walk I've noticed that fur trappers have set their snares for foxes, they
should do well in this area as our furry friends are multiplying very fast. Of course, this is part of the reason for the decline of rabbits & partridge in this and other areas. However, if nature was left to take care of its own the fox, for some reason, develops an illness called 'mange' and only the very strongest survive. I talked to trappers in this area and they are using a very good trap for other species like beaver and otter. If anyone should come across those traps in the rivers and ponds please don't attempt to remove them. They are very dangerous to persons not familiar with the operation of the Conibear traps and very expensive for the trapper.
Christmas was a great success for the children. A walk around the town to see all the nicely decorated houses and store windows was enjoyable; almost every year there are some new light arrangements that make it all worth while .The last of the year 2002 has left us with memories of things that happened in the past year, some are great, others of sadness, but we must take what ever life deals out and make the best of it. Let us take some time to think of the good things that we had & remember those we hear about who are less fortunate than us.
As we move into the New Year I would like to take this time to thank all the readers of my column. I do get lots of feed back from readers who like the Fortune Teller Paper. We are growing. Thank you for your support.
Keep fit, keep healthy and we hope to see you all in Fortune outdoors.
February came in with lots of snow. Skidoos and Quads made for very nice trips into the country. The landscape was dotted with outdoor people from all over the Peninsula who made their way on the winter trails that lead from each town and crisscross all over the countryside.
Old friends met at cabins along the route and many football (soccer) stories were told of days gone by - banquets after the games, girl chasing and fights - but all for the love of soccer.
I made many visits to cabins, where the kettle was always on and other refreshments served if you wanted a change from the coffee or tea, as some crew would be staying in for a few days. The smell of fish or moose that was either cooking, or had already been cooked and eaten, was ever present. Everyone was out to enjoy the great outdoors, with snowshoes tied on bike racks or skidoo racks, just in case one wanted to take a walk through the fluffy white snow. Anther reason for packing snowshoes was that if one got stuck they were better to walk for help or home with. The giant steps in the snow looked like some flatfish had given up his life in the sea and took to the land for a change.
Then the rain and foggy weather came, our fluffy snow was going as fast as it could. I went for a walk in the country to see if it was any good for the quad. It was, but it was not good for some of the fur bearing animals that take on white coats for the winter, as most of their cover was gone. I saw a rabbit keeping to the edge of the woods on the snow, so as not to be spotted by predators looking for a quick meal.
A snow white weasel was darting back and forth over the hard snow looking for a meal. The tip of his tail, about 1 inch long, was jet black and waving in the wind like a flag. I wondered about the purpose of this only black spot on the extreme end of the animal. It looked to be a decoy, for there was a hunting Owl perched on a limb high above, waiting his chance to strike. When he left the tree with claws extended and swooped to make the catch, the black tail was what he aimed for, but it slipped through his claws like a greased feather. Nature has a funny way to protect the species. This miss gave the Weasel a chance at life for another day or some other purpose - maybe to feed hungry mouths waiting in a burrow below the frost line.
The trout season opened at this time. The winter season opens for a three-month period and there is lots of activity on the ponds. From almost every cabin you can see the smoke coming out of the stovepipes and gently soaring upward through the woods. You can be sure the kettle is on, with the smell of fish or moose cooking on the stove, waiting for visitors to come by for a meal and a yarn. The excuse to go fishing is one thing and to tell your buddies of the big ones that got away is another, but it's outings like this that make it all worth while - in and around Fortune Outdoors.