Bits and bites of everyday life


Animal wisdom and children

'Nature is a never-ending source of inspiration'

True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

Spring is finally here! Enough of winter now! No more cold and snow! We want warmth so we can shed those heavy coats, mittens, scarves and winter boots. We want to breathe the fresh air without freezing our nostrils, to lace up our running shoes and explore the outdoors...


On the Friday of March Break, my daughter packed the children and a picnic in the family van and we headed for Parc Oméga on Highway 323, just north of Montébello, Québec. I had never visited this park so I was glad to accompany them. The children were very impressed by the ferry ride that took us from Cumberland, across the Ottawa River to the Québec side. They followed the river’s course along the highway and surmised its majesty.  /sites/default/files/2011_03_25/coyote_small.jpg
We entered Parc Oméga around eleven. Well situated, the park is divided into sections clearly laid out on their hand-out map so you can choose the course you want to follow. Our ultimate goal was to make our way to its sugarbush for lunch. Adèle purchased two bags of carrots so the children could feed the wapitis, elks, red deer and Fallow deer, on route. We were advised not to feed the wild boars or the bison.
Members of the deer family are quite comfortable with visitors. They walk up to your car and sniff it out to see if you have anything to offer; they will even poke their head into the car so you can pat their nose. They have become the ultimate beggars! The children enjoyed feeding them.
The conversation was lively as the children identified the different animals. We saw huge bisons munching hay. I was reminded how these strong and courageous animals were once mercilessly hunted by rich hunters who just left them to die on the prairie. (I much prefer the aboriginal respect of nature and the way they treat animals as brothers.) Wild boars were hobbling along on their short legs, sniffing the ground, watching out for their little ones.
We slowly made our way to the sugarbush situated on a craggy hill. The sap was running but the season had just started due to the recent cold weather. We headed for the log cabin where a wood stove made it a comfortable place to have lunch. Two large picnic tables and two beautiful wooden rocking chairs made for perfect accommodation. Adèle and I chose the first table and promptly served the lunch. Two deer sniffed around the log cabin while we ate. After lunch, Mommy fed Baby Jessie while we headed over to the sugar shanty to buy some maple taffy. A gentleman was carefully stirring the thickening syrup on a wood stove. When it was ready, he brought the steaming pot outside and slowly spooned the thick syrup over a dripping pan filled with fresh snow. We promptly twisted the cooling delicacy around a popsicle stick and headed back to the cabin with our treat and an extra one for their mom. The taffy was yummy sweet and real sticky. Lea got some in her hair and Nathan, on his coat. Sticky fingers and all, it was worth it!
When we left the area, refreshed and ready to explore some more, we saw some Alpine ibex on a steep crag. Even the young ones were climbing and, believe or not, so were some of the wild boars. Hoping to see the black bears coming out of hibernation, we weren’t disappointed. There stood a great big male parading on a stone platform and female bears with their cubs on the hillside. One cub was practicing how to climb a tree but without much success. Two others were running to catch up with their mom.
My grandchildren have all chosen a totem animal. Nathan’s is the bear. And like the bear, Nathan is a “bon vivant”. He loves life and he loves to eat. Like the bear, Nathan is the one with the sturdier build and he is very comfortable with being on his own. His capacity to fully concentrate on a game or occupation means he is very self-reliant and can entertain himself for long periods of time.
I was reminded of the bear’s capacity to retire for long periods and not suffer from solitude, something we should practice once in a while instead of always being on the go and running ourselves ragged...
Then we saw a pack of Arctic wolves. Spencer was thrilled. His totem animal is the wolf. And like the wolf, he is a lively and intelligent little boy. For him, family is very important. He often likes to tell me what the others are up to and he loves Mommy and Daddy. As the wolf values the pack, Spencer values the family clan.
We also saw some coyotes. There are some in our area and the children had seen a dead one along the roadside once before. The coyotes were pacing up and down their enclosure, probably wishing they could go out and hunt those lovely wild turkeys in another area. Since they have been re-introduced, wild turkeys have prospered and there were quite a few to be seen. It’s mating season and some of the males could be seen fanning out their tail feathers to impress the females. The park now has a small herd of reindeers and they were quietly resting, free and trusting in a safe environment.
We talked about Logan’s totem animal, the dog … man’s faithful friend. Some dogs, like the husky and the malamute share the same ancestry as the wolf. And like his totem, Logan is always there to help and is extremely responsible when it comes to looking after his brothers and baby sister. You can trust him. He is quick to spot things and in two instances, he was first to notice an animal we were looking for and share that information.
Lea is our monkey, agile and intelligent. She is the eternal entertainer, always imagining something new: writing a story, inventing a new choreography or singing a new song. She loves glitzy clothes but also loves to climb trees and play structures.
And Baby Jessie has been offered the lamb as her personal totem because she makes those funny little bleating sounds and she is very cuddly. Will she be a very patient and trusting soul? It could very well be! One thing I know, if she is offered a secure and loving environment, she will grow up knowing she is loved and loving others. She will learn to trust herself and trust others. There is a whole new world out there for her to discover and the clan will be happy to show her the way.
I invite you to visit Parc Oméga. Check their website for more information and enjoy nature at its best!
P.S. Monday evening, Logan called to tell me there were impressive flocks of wild geese in the sky. He enjoys and appreciates the circle of life and that is good!


I loved the article, Alberte! I was sooo pleased to read about the grandchildren's totems, because, as you know, I have the NA Indian background...and the wolf is my totem, also.

Angela Verlaeckt Clark

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