Monday, March 8, 2010

Mustela frenata

Long-tailed Weasel (Mustela frenata)

As a nature writer with an endless curiosity I am always happy to come across something new and enlightening. Though I am familiar with the work of Annie Dillard, whom I consider one of the true, great nature writers, I had not yet read her essay, "Living Like Weasels," from Teaching A Stone To Talk, published in 1982. I highly recommend it.

I am very fond of weasels and their busy energy, as was Timothy Treadwell, another great nature writer (if you have not listened to entries from his journals narrated in the series, Grizzly Man Diaries, you're really missing out). I do love the way Dillard describes the weasel's physical appearance:

"Weasel! I'd never seen one wild before. He was ten inches long, thin as a curve, a muscled ribbon, brown as fruitwood, soft-furred, alert. His face was fierce, small and pointed as a lizard's; he would have made a good arrowhead. There was just a dot of chin, maybe two brown hairs' worth, and then the pure white fur began that spread down his underside. He had two black eyes I didn't see, any more than you see a window.

The weasel was stunned into stillness as he was emerging from beneath an enormous shaggy wild rose bush four feet away. I was stunned into stillness twisted backward on the tree trunk. Our eyes locked, and someone threw away the key."

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