Marsh Dwellers

Finch and I were in Quebec City for Thanksgiving weekend, looking for my roots and snow geese and hunting down lots of good food. Our flight left at 8pm, so after another enormous breakfast and a quick visit to the Citadelle (sidebar — how did I not realize it was built by the British after the War of 1812? and that the regiment based there is french speaking, has English trappings including the same bushy hats of the soldiers in front of Buckingham Palace, and a garrison goat gifted by the Queen?? — we went up to the Laurentians in search of fall colours and the pine grosbeak.

We saw stunning colours en route to Jacques Cartier National Park, but managed to lift ourselves out of the deciduous zone by the time we reached our destination, a little enclave where Laval University trains its forestry students, among others. Lots of birds drawn by a feeder, but the grosbeak was elusive, as were the colours.

It was still incredibly lovely to walk around a little lake.

(10.8 – #282)

Except for these… signs.

In a short 3 km hike, there were about a dozen of these cheerful signs. And it took us a couple of them to do the mental translation and recognize the pattern that each of them illustrated how to trap a small animal.

Complete with explication of the best baits, uses of the animals, and a jaunty illustration of the best type of snare.

Here’s the thing.

My mother’s family name means “of the marsh” in French. And Finch has long teased me about being a marsh person. Of my ancestors having to hoist themselves out of France when the aristocrats drained the territory where they eked out their livings. That my Canadien ancestors clearly had to survive by trapping and hunting small animals. And then there was my ex whose grandmother (same ancestry) regularly served muskrat stew, and once, notoriously bashed one on the head with a shovel.

And I have to admit that I ate rabbit pie on Sunday night.

And here we were, accidentally in the playground of my ancestral urges.

Such clear instructions for trapping le renaud rouge, le raton laveur, le lynx, le marten, l’écureuil roux, le rat musqué! Even le raton laveur, which we had to furiously work out meant “washing rat” — i.e., raccoon.

“She looks so gleeful,” Finch said of the muskrat trapping woman. “She must be related to you.”


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