Several days ago, my husband and I were “chased” by a wild, mysterious critter while walking along the lake. It chased us not out of aggression, but rather curiosity, I think.
We were strolling along Lake Michigan’s rocky shoreline at Rotary Park in Port Washington, Wisconsin and enjoying the excellent weather.
I had stopped to take several photos of the night mists and cloud-covered moon. Suddenly, our dog Beau started tugging on his leash to get at something. That “something” was dark and furry. A rat, I feared!
It stood still not backing down, a fearless dark, shadowy outline. We backed up. The dog tugged, danced and whined to get at it. I turned on my cell phone’s flashlight and directed it towards this small, bold being who was willing to challenge our bulky, old Lab.
Gorgeous, small, cute amber eyes lit up with a reflective glow from the beam of the flashlight. They blinked back at us curiously. It had a button nose and cute, short, fuzzy rounded ears. Its black coat gleamed shiny and glossy in the light. It took a few hops towards us and its outline became clear.
Oh, squeeeeeeeee! How cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuteeee!
So lovely, what a treat! This mink was a small one, young perhaps, and was around 14-16” long. It seemed curious about us, or perhaps our dog. It kept doing a combination of a hop and a lope towards us. Dit, dit, dit. We kept backing away.
Was it rabid? Was it looking for us to give it food? Honestly, I think it was just curious. Either way it kept scurrying towards us, then stopping and staring at us, and we kept backing up.
This interaction went on for 70 to 80 yards along the sidewalk, quite a distance! Hop, hop, hop. Back, back, we went. I giggled with excitement and wonder at this pleasant, unusual interaction with nature. I was giddy, as we examined it, and it examined us. It was sleek and shiny and its playful-like curiosity reminded me of the ferrets we had when I was growing up.
Sadly, our interaction came to an end, when we came to an intersection on the path that we were on, where we ran into other people that we knew. The mink, perhaps now frightened, scurried down into the gaps in large rocks that lined the lakefront, and was gone.
Lakeshore mink are quite common from what I now understand, although this was my first experience with one. They feast on birds, eggs, mice, amphibians and fish, which are all plentiful at the lakefront. I knew all this before, having dated a professional trapper for 5 years in my youth. However, I had only seen mink in rivers and streams before this. I never gave it any thought that they would live on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Unfortunately now, I fear for the well-being of my little minky friend. Because several days later, we were hit with never-ending rains, floods and devastation. I hope it survived. There was a substantial difference in the condition of lake front in just the matter of a few days, which saddened and astounded me. Debris, trees and dead fish clogged the once beautiful harbor.
My only regret is that I didn’t take any photos of it, I was so caught in the moment.
Perhaps some memories are better without photos, as we can create and embellish how we remember them, with our own imaginations. Kind of like the stories that fishermen tell, about the “big one” that got away.
Would the photo have caught the moment? Perhaps. Maybe it would have ruined it. I think sometimes it is just better to focus on how something once made you feel, and embrace that warm glow of recollection.