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When I was about 8 we took a vacation to Quebec,

by Ziks511 / February 25, 2010 5:29 PM PST

Quebec City has an Old section which comprises buildings from the 17th century, because Samuel de Champlain settled there in 1603. North of Montreal there is an area of old and very grand cottages, and my father knew a Montreal businessman who invited us up. It was like something out of a 1920's memoir, mahogany boats and beautiful tall trees and sand and rocks and a lake dotted with islands each with its own population of cottages the size of large homes. I got interested by the handy-man, who was a trapper during the winter, that was his primary job, and what, in the main, carried him through the year, along with his little piece of sugar bush which he tapped every spring.

He taught me a lot about birds and animals, and how to stand still and wait for things to settle down so that you could see the wildlife once you'd stopped moving for about half an hour. I saw pine marten, and once some wild mink playing by the shore. He also showed me how to trap "petit suisse" which is what chipmunks are called in French. You take 3 bricks and make an enclosure with one end open, just as wide as the bridk is, and then you take a fourth brick, and support it with two sticks of wood and a nail. The nail boes in the ground, a stick with 3 prongs, 1 central, two side branches cut to fit in the space with the end flattened is set on the nail driven into firm ground, and then a short stick is set on the flattened end of the three pronged trigger, supporting that lasst brick at a 45 degree angle. Bait the trap with peanuts and waid about an hour. Chipmunks are not as inclined to bite as squirrels are, but it's good to have leather gloves when first handling them.

Marcel and I made a cage out of an old dynamite box and some strong galvanized mesh over one end. I kept him for 3 days and then let him go, but he'd gotten used enough to me to feed out of my hand. I was a minor celebrity for part of that two week visit, the boy who charmed chipmunks.

They're fun little animals who pack their cheeks with peanuts until they look positively peculiar, and then run off to hide them and come back for more. Being the allergic type I am, I had to have gloves to handle the peanuts too, and a pan of soapy water to wash in before I did something dumb like rub my nose or my eyes.

Bricks, while the structure for the original trap, have a drawback. They're heavy and sharp. I cried when one of our trappings cut off the poor chipmunk's tail, so Marcel and I built a better trap out of 2x4's cut like bricks a permanent floor in it and a sliding board covering the end with an opening to let the chipmunk out into the little cage. I remember that summer very well, not least because of the photographs of me thinner than was healthy (asthma) and looking like a refugee from a Japanese POW camp, all ribs and pipe stem arms and legs.

It's sort of a shame I never got to do that with my own son, but I'll leave him the story and the plans for the trap, and perhaps he'll do it with his son or daughter. Hope I'm around to help.

I did have a pet racoon at our home in Md, named Ivan (as in Ivan the Terrible), he was always getting into trouble with us and the neighbours, but that's another story.


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