I know the risks here. I know to keep an eye on my purse, to lock ground floor windows at night, to look both ways before crossing the street. I am in my comfort zone.
Out there, at the lake place, I see daily reminders that I am nowhere near the top of the food chain, that there is no buffer zone of humanity to shield me.
strange scat deposited at the base of the deck one night was likely a
calling card from the Fisher that lurks in the riparian zone. Ambush
hunters, they list unsuspecting city cats as a favourite treat.
Woodtick strip searches have become routine. The risk of Lyme disease may be small, but the ick factor is a powerful driver.
Emptying mouse traps in the crawl space and cleaning up the detritus of their late-night parties takes on the urgency of a level 4 biohazard lab. Work gloves and tea towels tied over faces fill in for hazmat suits. I count off the days since exposure and watch for symptoms of Hantavirus.
This is black bear country. Locals talk matter-of-factly about bear encounters. They know what the scat looks like, they instinctively know how to park so that the truck is always between themselves and any black bears who may be feeding on the Saskatoon bushes. To the black bear who sauntered through the yard last year and swam effortlessly across the lake, we are a minor annoyance, nothing but a mosquito buzzing around her living room.
Back home, in bed after another ten hour trek across the prairies, I lie for a few minutes before drifting off, grateful for the faint glow of the street lights, comforted by warm pinpoints of light radiating from windows across my neighbourhood. In the distance, the soft lullaby of traffic lulls me to sleep.