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It is a safe bet that in the continuing rumbling and ruminating following (there’s a decent string of “ing” words) the recent elections that a reader could reasonably think my weasel was meant to be either of the presidential candidates depending on which one they think the most weasely of the two. In my view could most easily be either but in this case is actually neither. But in this case I refer to an actual two toned weasel. These active and curious little hunters share a general predator line with mink, ferrets, and others. All of these share a distinctive behavior of getting up on the hind legs to look around periscope fashion. When you’re near as low to the ground as a snake an elevated look see would be most beneficial for spotting your next meal and for avoiding becoming fresh chow for someone bigger and faster. Rising up on the hind legs is called stoating. The weasel like predators that do this behavior are sometimes referred to as stoats, a term not heard often but that has been around an awfully long time.
My first view of this particular weasel came as a flicker of movement near the not fully shut garage door, the one that requires brutal force to jam it down far enough to lock. There is a simple fix for this problem, but I have not done it because the garage has become a mouse sanctuary for the rodent equivalent of refugees from harsher situations than an insulated garage space. The first year it was built the rodent, chipmunk, and etc. crews got busy gnawing away the rubber seals at the bottom of each of the three roll up garage doors. Six holes the size of a half dollar (when’s the last time you got one of those in circulation) was enough to admit the rodent masses on a scale of migrants heading to Germany for free housing and medical. My garage lacks medical benefits, but there are lots of potential housing spots to colonize; the old Land Rover being a favorite, one that reveals mice as being more adventure inclined than ever I realized. (Last time I took the Rover out I was a mile from home when several agitated mice began panicked dashes on the passenger side floor as they looked for escape before clambering up the side and bailing out the open window. A UN High Commission could have been called to investigate this refugee crisis but it was near lunch time and I figured they’d be busy until late afternoon when they’d return to be present for quitting time.
(I apologize for being snarky and cynical about a UN High Commission, but they’ve made it so easy of late being critical of the US for not having done more to end slavery and therefore should pay reparations. Could we have done more? Of course, but we along with Britain actually did a great deal to stop the slave trade. This was certainly much more than those many nations which did nothing. The UN High Silliness Commission would be less mock worthy if they turned their focus on Saudi Arabia where slavery was supported and allowed well into the modern era; it was 1962 to put a date on it.)
I imagine the weasel found my garage a good hunting ground because there are lots of ambush places provided by stock of building materials needed for projects that go on never ending like paradise minus milk, honey, and gold paved streets. I grudge that little stoat no meal it earned with stealth and speed. He or she can have all the garage mice it desires with no complaint from me. I’d even be fine with the Stonewall Jackson command to “Kill ‘em all!”
Being quick as a flicker allows a weasel to be curious while being safe about it. When it came out for a look see at what was moving around outdoors it knew it could duck back inside for cover much faster than I could move to stop it. It was cocky self-assurance that allowed me a good look at the agile little stoat. It wore the classic winter coat of white with black tipped tail to make it ermine. But this was ermine with a difference. The weasel’s back quarter was distinctly yellow. I don’t mean tawny or tan. I mean yellow about on a par with the yellow snow of jests legendary.
This was not my first winter weasel. That came when I was twelve and spent long periods waiting watching for the weasel that frequented our back porch. Over the years I’d seen many more. I’ve seen them in the mottled phase of seasonal color change, but never before a weasel with a pronounced yellow hind quarter. There could be a survival value being two tone in winter and thereby appear camouflaged for more conditions. But there could be a negative, too, if other weasels (especially ones needed for mating) rejected and fled from a two toned freak. Nature is not always kindly disposed to diversity. Put an odd chick with other chicks and see if it is not soon pecked to death. Within a species or outside, sympathy is not guaranteed. On one job we found a mouse nest full of babies and set it outside for mama mouse to rescue her brood. A chipmunk found it first and promptly killed the entire batch thereby eliminating that number of competitors. In nature being different can have serious costs.
We like to call and think of ourselves as a diverse nation. This is truer here and in other western nations where less priority is placed on conformity. I think, however, diversity none-the-less represents an agreement on shared assumptions or values. Being different or diverse in matters of style or temperament or food preferences is I think much more acceptable than that “diversity” which separates, segregates, and sets itself apart from others. That kind of supposed diversity is really exclusionism. In weasel or human the intent or result of diversity needs be examined before it can be determined acceptable.