Here is a little winter tale for one and all.

One December, I had to get some work done on some of my mineral claims, so I was out by myself for a couple of weeks staying in a small non-insulated bush cabin my friend Dave let me use.

Unfortunately, we were having a real cold snap. It was all I could do with an airtight stove to keep the place habitable. It was a classic battle between the heat the stove could create versus the incredible cold trying to freeze everything.

I was up at Banting Lake and for my stay I saw and heard no one and only my tracks were on the lake. So I certainly felt isolated from the rest of humanity. In those two weeks, I only heard three or four planes go by. I was on my own if I ran into any trouble.

Invasion of the tiny muskox

One night I was lying in my sleeping bag close to the wood stove with my dog curled up on the bed in the bend of my knees. I heard a funny little noise at the door, so sat up and by moonlight watched not one but two voles creep under the door and into the cabin. I was absolutely amazed that they could make it through the tiny little crack. Later I read that they can flatten themselves, including their skulls in order to manage such a feat.

Voles are about the same size as mice, but they have smaller ears, smaller tails, longer fur and are stockier. In a way they remind me of tiny shaggy muskox without the horns. Also, they eat mostly plant matter so while they may come into a cabin, they don’t set up homes as mice would.

Once inside they scurried over to the indoor wood pile and disappeared.

I put another log in the stove, which I could do from bed and lay back down pulling the covers tight to contemplate the situation. I could jump out of bed, open the door, grab a broom and try to chase them back outside. But not only would this be a lot of work, I would let a whole lot of cold air in and hot air out and it might take an hour or two to get back to the comfortable state I was in now. Or I could get up and set a couple of traps to try to catch them.

Maybe the voles had been outside in the frigid cold, felt a bit of heat escaping from the cabin and had decided to come in to warm themselves up. I couldn’t fault them for that. I would do the same thing and it would be kind of mean to attack them for it. Heck I would let almost any critter in to warm up.

There were two of them. Maybe they were young adults and courting and the inside of the cabin seemed like a good place for a rendezvous. I wouldn’t want to interfere with that.

Or maybe they were already a couple and she was pregnant, and they needed a warmer place for the birth. Was I going to say, “No room at the INN” and force them back out to the cold?

When you are snug and warm inside on a cold winters night one can enjoy contemplating. I lay thinking about all the various possibilities until I started to drift off to sleep, deciding to do nothing. I didn’t want to be the villain of this winter pageant. I never did see the voles again but when I left the cabin to head back to town, I wished them both a very Merry Christmas!

I would like to thank all the people who work over the holidays to keep us warm, safe and keep the essential services like the hospital running. They are all doing a tremendous job. You are all very much appreciated!

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