Despite the number of folks gathered in Arrowhead Provincial Park for the Ontario Winter Games, the "locals" were going about business as usual.
That business, however, happens fast, and is hard to photograph... so these are perhaps not the best pictures of a weasel in his winter white. The short-tail weasel, also called a stoat, sheds out his brown summer coat in the fall and puts on this excellent camouflage. When they are in their white coats, the animal is referred to as an ermine, or as 'being in ermine'. The entire coat turns snowy white, except for a distinctive black tip on the tail. That little splotch of ink serves a purpose -- any predator who spots the ermine's movement will be drawn by the black tail-tip, and will aim for that. Which of course means the predator will most likely land behind the target!
The winter ermine has been used in art as a symbol of purity or virginity. (although the chickens will tell you a very different story -- the last thing you ever want is to get a weasel in a chicken coop, summer or winter!) The white fur was highly prized, and used in the robes of the Lord Chief Justice of England. The furs would be sewn together, the tail-tips making a pattern of black dots on a white ground. The Pope's ceremonial robes are trimmed in ermine, as are those of the Queen of England's Order of the Garter robes. A version of this pattern is used in heraldry as ermine tincture. Both the animal and the heraldic tincture are symbols of Brittany. .
This chap, however, had no intention or aspiration to garnish the collar of a velvet robe. He was busy climbing trees and zipping through the fallen branches, in pursuit of his next meal.
We saw several of them, boldly running across the ski course during a quiet moment, and vanishing into the pines.
It's always nice when the locals come out to cheer at these events.