Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cape Spear's Black Fox

This photo was taken at Cape Spear a few years ago, just outside the Park boundaries where some friends and I had camped for the night, after hiking from Fort Amherst.

There are a couple of things to think about here. The first is that overgrown rock wall. These are the remains of the walls that lighthouse keepers and their families built to enclose their vegetable gardens, and as you can see, they are disappearing into the brush. Every year when I go back to this spot less and less of these walls are visible, and this grassy clearing where we camped is now almost completely overgrown.
Lighthouse keepers lived in unique circumstances in coastal Newfoundland, and these remnants of how they supported themselves are disappearing. I imagine some archaeologist digging down through the dirt in 500 years and finding these walls, and trying to piece together how they relate to whatever remains of the lighthouses by then.
The second thing to notice is the small black fox, just in front of me. This little guy was a bit of a regular at Cape Spear, although I haven't seen him in a couple of years. He has/had a pretty sweet life, living off the scraps thrown to him by tourists. As you can see, he has almost no fear of people. In fact, he crept up to within a couple of feet of us to steal a bag of pancake mix. He still has my spoon.
One of the things I think about when hiking is how our presence is affecting the environment and the wildlife, especially in areas like Cape Spear (or anywhere on the East Coast Trail) where the trails are very close to communities. As this fox demonstrates, when we interact with nature, we change the behavior of animals and affect the natural landscape around us. And not always for the better.
I also think about what that archaeologist will make of a spoon, made of 21st century plastics, buried somewhere among a 19th century rock wall. Should be an interesting puzzle.

1 comment:

  1. Cool, I was not aware of this aspect of Cape Spear. How far of a walk is it from the lighthouse to see one of these walls?