My Secret Life as a Poacher

Christine Thomas reveals her secret life as a poacher, “stealing” moments of joy from the country around her.

October 29, 2010 | | Blogs | Community | Leisure | Red Squirrel Musings

Living in the country you sometimes do things you normally wouldn’t.

By Christine Thomas
I think I’m a closet poacher and I don’t mean the egg kind!

Living here in god’s country makes you do things that you normally wouldn’t do… pee outside (out of sight of course!). I mean really! I would NEVER have done that in any urban setting, unless I was homeless, jobless, and really didn’t care too much about what others thought!

I poach on my neighbour’s land — and they let me! Almost every day I enjoy the vistas. From their fields I watch turkey vultures, hawks, blue jays and indigo buntings fly by unannounced. I can’t do that very well on my property because it’s a little wet!

I poach on my neighbour’s pond….it is the most magnificent pond….fresh, clean and oh so refreshing on those muggy days. The gunk factor is minimal even for my squeamish feet! My poaching doesn’t even bother the frogs who serenade me while I flip and splash about.

This summer I discovered a great walking trail with the dogs. Problem is, I have no idea whose land I’m poaching on. My neighbour tells me it’s okay. He’ll “cover my six,” he says. Just mention his name. That will be my get-out-of- jail card! So, you see, it IS true, it’s not what you know it’s who you know!

Sometimes I can poach a weak wi-fi signal from my neighbour’s house. (The weather has to be just “so”, the wind almost negligible and I have to stand on one foot with the laptop at a 45-degree angle.) On those days, I feel very urban! I actually email, surf the web and talk on the phone all at the same time! And though it is only slightly better than dial-up, I never look a gift horse in the mouth.

One of my dog-sitting clients let me poach her garden while she was away. All these lovely vegetables and herbs… yummy! It felt like highway robbery! So in true guilty fashion I brought home the poached vegetables and turned them into an incredible pasta sauce and two kinds of soup and took them back to the homeowner! I don’t think this is what she had in mind when she granted me permission to try out her squash!

My brother recently came up from Philadelphia with his three boys for a quick visit. In a matter of hours he came back from the store with milk, bread, eggs and a suspicious-looking bag of potatoes. Where the heck did you get the potatoes, I asked him?

Well, he says, they were just sitting in an open field. I just walked in and took them.

EEEKKK! I thought. I’ll be thrown out of the county, my rural passport evoked forthwith, and I’ll be banished to the concrete jungle forever!

My brother gave me that “what has happened to you?” look.

I’m a bit of a conservative ninny on certain things and STEALING is one of them! It’s not to say I haven’t seen the wild side of life, but this is different….this is my home and my community and my neighbours!

That afternoon, during a family BBQ I relayed the story to a local who said, “Heck yeah, take ‘em. It’s a foregone conclusion people will come along and pick the little ones. They don’t make the grading machine!”

Well, I thought, where have I been for the past 10 years? Why didn’t I get that memo from the ratepayers’ association?

He proceeded to tell me about pears from someone named “Fred” and how they are great and he can’t eat them all so I should help myself. Oh, he continued, the crab apples, take a basket!

So, I went out to gather a few potatoes from a busy road nearby, but I still felt guilty. It took me forever to get 10 or 12 mini-potatoes in the bag because I thought every passing car was a police car and I pretended I was picking up garbage out of the ditch. (I did find three beer cans, one pop can and a diaper!)

Well, after the twelfth potato, my heart couldn’t take it any longer. I rushed back to the car and drove home like I had just stolen the crown jewels!

Tonight, however, I will dress in my black ops uniform and sneak out to gather a few more….I have company coming over!


A chef, caterer, dog walker and novelist in training, Christine Thomas also claims mastery of forklifts, composting, car racing and Italian regional cuisine. Christine lives in Mono with her husband, dog and three cats.

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