This has been a great fall for hearing wolves howl. For several nights in September the west end of the lake was treated to a magnificent concert. On a number of nights, the wolves were calling from somewhere in the south west. On another night, one group called from the direction of the Naylor cottage and was answered by an individual somewhere in the vicinity of Tony Storey’s cottage. Wolves can hear each other from 3-5 km away, humans hear them up to a distance of 2 km. Wolves can detect odours from 2.4 km away and have a sense of smell one million times better than we impoverished humans. Wolves in this part of Ontario are “beaver wolves” for obvious reasons.
Cottagers at Outlet Bay off Drag Lake have had a unique six-week encounter with a two-year-old moose this summer. The male moose has been unusually amiable, allowing people to stroke its coat and feed it leaves. It has companionably shared a small beach with children and looked over the shoulder of a cottager who was quietly reading. What sounds like an idyllic interaction between humans and a wild creature has been somewhat spoiled by the MNR’s suggestion that the moose’s brain is infected with a parasite which moose pick up from deer, resulting in atypical behaviour. Many people phoned the MNR wondering how the moose could be protected from hunters. The MNR recently tranquilized “Mortimer” and moved him to a large enclosure at the Haliburton Forest Reserve. “Mortimer” is very thin and the MNR hopes to monitor his health.
Michael Pollan in Second Nature: a Gardener’s Education recounts a famous seventeenth century experiment by a Flemish scientist named Van Helmont. Van Helmont planted a willow sapling in a tub containing 200 pounds of soil and for five years gave it nothing but water. At the end of that period, the tree weighed 169 pounds, 14 ounces and the soil 199 pounds, 14 ounces. From two ounces of soil had come 169 pounds of tree. Pollan was reminded of the experiment when he harvested a superabundance of squash. What the squash extracted from the soil could be replaced by a handful of compost. The great increase was largely a gift from photosynthesis and water. Nature is indeed beneficent.