The content started to vary dramatically as, having learnt how to handle wild animals, Oscar was given responsibility for his first creature – a snow hare with a limp, AND allowed to go out on 'rescues' – what a word!
The most dramatic was catching two skunks, stuck at the bottom of an eight-metre well. There’s a video of him dangling on a rope, more Mr Bean than Ethan Hunt, and being bitten and sprayed before he can grab the skunk. The scent was so strong that people turned and stared for a few weeks afterwards.
|Oscar and Meisce|
Check out the feet!
More animals arrived at the centre and more bites. I only found out that an angry raccoon had taken a lump out of my boy when someone else tagged him – hand wrapped in ice, on Facebook. I demanded a close-up – it didn’t look too bad.
|This raccoon is back in the wild|
|This adorable cub will be released next year|
Oscar was due home last weekend, but at the end of March he texted saying he thought he might stay – he’d been offered the chance to look after the 2013 bear cubs, about to wake up after the winter but needing care until their release in summer 2014. No brainer, as Kevin Bacon would say. No surprise either, that April saw me boarding a plane with my daughter, Honor, to go and visit him.
He was big.
The same size, but bigger.
We had an amazing holiday, spending days off with Oscar and the rest of the time doing tourist stuff, but the best part was seeing him at the wildlife rehabilitation centre. It wasn’t the fabulous animals, or even the lovely people he works with, as much as the sense that he was in his element, absolutely.
|White Rock B.C.|
Wandering one evening along the beach at White Rock with Oscar and Honor, a bald eagle flew over. Further along a blue heron lazily flapped a few times to move out of our path. Ten years earlier, there’d been a similar scene. That time we were in Tofino, on Vancouver Island, as part of a six-week escape prompted by my husband losing his job. Bald eagles were as common as pigeons, black bears were everywhere – one crossed the road as we were walking to the beach, whales were blowing, seals collapsed on rocks.
I wonder whether that once-in-a-lifetime trip, Oscar aged nine, tipped the scales, turning the little boy fascinated by dinosaurs into the one living the life in Canada, where wildlife is truly wild (and let’s face it, bigger).
And the raccoon bite, well . . . the photo he sent was of an entirely different finger with an old wound. This one swelled up like a pumpkin, leaked pus, was as shiny as Downton silver, and had to be sliced open by one of the supervisors.
'Didn’t want to worry you, Mum.'
My son currently goes into the bear den, picks up the poop, feeds them and jangles about to keep them wary of humans. The bears are around a hundred pounds each. There are four of them. Who’s worrying?
|Halo - turning blacker as she sheds her winter coat|