Killing time

Few would deny this has been a nasty if not brutal winter. The backyard bird feeders have been emptied daily not by the jays, cardinals and chickadees I expected but by the deer that have come off the hillside in front of our house to browse on any of the neighbor’s unprotected ornamentals. We have deer tracks all over the backyard and even have them coming right up our driveway from the street and past the garage door. I wish our paper delivery person would come as close.

The deer may be cleaning me out of birdseed, but that’s all they are going to get because I outfoxed them this year by erecting a secure net fence around the azalea bushes they relished last winter The bushes are located along the back fence and last year the hungry critters succeeded in knocking down the fence I hastily erected after naively thinking the insecure barrier would deter them. It was a lesson learned because they just about devoured what was a long-ago Mother’s Day gift from our children to their mother. So far, my new fence is holding and the tracks go around my bushes over to the neighbor’s property.

This winter posed another problem for me because it kept me indoors most of the time, and that’s something that has never happened to me before. For more years than I can remember, my neighbor and I never missed a weekend of ice fishing. He died and my ice gear now remains in the attic above the garage. If I wasn’t ice fishing and we had enough snow, I took frequent walks on my snowshoes to my favorite deer haunts to see what was going on. The snow doesn’t lie and from the tracks left by various woodland creatures I read a story I would have otherwise missed, but not this year.

Various writing commitments had me away from home for a few weeks and the resulting work after my return had me chained to my computer in order to meet the editorial deadlines. Arthritis in my knees kept me from heading out on my snowshoes this year, and the bitter cold along with biting wind made me think twice about venturing too far from the wood stove.

I may have slowed down a little but not enough to stop altogether. Fishing season is just about here and we’re planning an early summer fishing trip to central Quebec for walleye and northern pike. I’ve spent several bitter cold afternoons building a set of arrows and refletching some of those I use for target practice, and one afternoon I even cleaned out one of my two packed tackle boxes. Now, let me tell you that was an experience. I couldn’t believe the assortment of rusted hooks, loose sinkers, plastic bags and used Power Bait I found in the bottom of the box. Now the box is ready to go and everything is in order, at least in the first box. Only one more to go.

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