Otter – A poem by Lorna Crozier

 

 Lorna Crozier, North Saanich resident, is a highly acclaimed poet. She has graciously permitted us to publish this rich, surprising poem on our website. We thank Lorna for her generosity. 

river otter 2

OTTER

The river otter spotted on the lawn at twilight
was only passing through they thought, their faith
in fences and the closeness of the creek a block
or so away. When morning broke the backyard pond
was stripped of lilies, marsh marigolds and rushes.
At the water’s edge, a creamsycle turned out to be
the head of the Shubunkin who’d been with them
fifteen years. Two nights later the otter killed the others,
the koi they called The Golden One,
the Black Moors, the humpbacked carp.
The wildlife officer confirmed their fears.
When the fish ran out, the otter would crack
the turtles open, the smaller female first,
then the next, wider than a dinner plate.
A live trap, he told them, wouldn’t work. Otters
were too smart for that. No, he wouldn’t use a leg-hold;
he’d set a baited cage on the bottom of the pond,
the door would drop and the otter die by drowning.
We’ll get back to you, they said. After the second raid,
they’d been so angry, so bereaved, they’d talked of ways:
rat poison—they had some in the shed—a rifle and a jacklight
though someone on the street was likely to complain.
“I’ve never killed a living thing,” she said, “not
deliberately at least, except for insects.” The murderer
inside her was as shocking as the finger bone
that met the air that time her skin split open.
“That’s because you were a girl,” he said. Every boy
he knew had a BB gun, a slingshot, and they’d used them.
They walked around the fences, filled in the gaps,
he built another gate. The otter tunneled under.
They dug a trench and poured cement. That night
they listened for the barking of the neighbour’s dog,
wished the turtles could cry out. The trapper said
the otter would thrash in the cage, it could take
a while, the claws might rip the lining. Who could bear it?
Months before, through the bedroom’s sliding doors,
she’d seen an otter reclining on the front deck.
Longer than the average man and lush—
could it see her through the glass?—its life force
so intense quills of light quivered all around it.
Fleshy but not an ounce of wasted flesh—surely it was
female, this liquid creature, gleaming as if just risen
from a bath and, indolent and vain, was posing
for a painter or waiting for a slave to fetch some herring roe,
some towels of  Turkish cotton. How extravagant
and human this conceit. Would things be better
if she could see herself as otter?  Feel that blast
in the blood that means a different way of being
deep inside, her body rising from a river,
a sea-run fish whipping in her grip, that shine
on teeth and tongue the pearly scales of steelhead.

60 + Supporters Attend the Friends of Shoal Harbour March 1, 2015 Birdwalk and Tea

Kerry Finley (foreground) informs the  FOSH Birdwalk attendees about the obliging waterfowl presenting themselves along the Scoter Trail

Kerry Finley (foreground) informs the FOSH Birdwalk attendees about the obliging waterfowl presenting themselves along the Scoter Trail

Attendance exceeded all expectations as about 60 to 70 FOSH members and supporters turned out for the Guided Bird-Watching Stroll (March 1st, 2015) at Patricia Bay Park.   Attendees arrived to enjoy the clear weather and listen to naturalist, Kerry Finley, talk about the waterfowl foraging in the shallows off Scoter Trail.  The birds cooperated by gathering in variety and numbers for us to examine  with with cameras, binoculars and spotting scopes.  Luckily other attending experts, such as Dave Bird, ably provided information for those at the back of the group on the narrow trail.

Following the walk, almost all of the group repaired to St. John’s United Church the for refreshments and an information session.  After setting the stage with a slideshow highlighting the natural beauty of our Peninsula, presenters informed the audience about the Friends of Shoal Harbour Society, its current and its planned activities.  When attendees were asked if they would enjoy similar gatherings in the future, the response was an enthusiastic “yes” and many good ideas were offered.
Our thanks to the presenters, who managed technical issues, informed and inspired us.  A big thanks, too, for the wonderful support of the FOSH members very helpful spouses.   Last, but certainly not least, thanks to the attendees for giving us the encouragement to move forward with our projects and to plan more community activities.
Watch this space for  formal notice of  our annual general meeting, currently scheduled for Saturday, June 27, 2015 at Lillian Hoffar Park on Tsehum Harbour.  We’re proposing a short meeting,  a picnic and other enjoyable activities in this beautiful space.

Habitat partitioning of two main Duck Tribes – The Puddlers and the Seaduck Divers in Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary

 Wigeons and Buffleheads forage at dusk in the southeast (lee) corner of Roberts Bay, high use habitat due to fine, detrital substrate and accumulation of Sea Lettuce and the Detritivores ( amphipods, shrimp and tanaids). At a precise time after Civil Twilight, Buffleheads depart for the offshore waters of Sidney Channel, where they roost over night. Feb 16th, 2015 19:02 PST


Wigeons and Buffleheads forage at dusk in the southeast (lee) corner of Roberts Bay, high use habitat due to fine, detrital substrate and accumulation of Sea Lettuce and the Detritivores ( amphipods, shrimp and tanaids). At a precise time after Civil Twilight, Buffleheads depart for the offshore waters of Sidney Channel, where they roost over night. Feb 16th, 2015 19:02 PST

At low tide, the Sea Lettuce detrital zone is exposed, and Mallards dabble (sieve) the substrate and probably the same organisms as Buffleheads do throughout the day. In winter, Mallards and Green-winged Teals occupy this habitat during the night when it is exposed. Feb. 25th, 2015 16:24

At low tide, the Sea Lettuce detrital zone is exposed, and Mallards dabble (sieve) the substrate and probably the same organisms as Buffleheads do throughout the day. In winter, Mallards and Green-winged Teals occupy this habitat during the night when it is exposed. Feb. 25th, 2015 16:24