Full Bloom

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Is it midsummer? Well, the longest day has passed. In spite of the wet summer the flowers insist and will have their way, they will come out. When I see the Orange lilies I really believe it is summer. The first summer we were in Canada my father had a mania for driving us around and showing us parts of Quebec. To tell the truth I think he liked driving around in a big car. The first car he bought in Canada was a little English car but within a month he had traded it in for a huge blue Mercury. Perhaps the reason was that he forgot himself one day while driving the Morris and sped up Peel street on the wrong side of the road. It was prudent of him, then, to adopt a monster of a Canadian car which would find its own way around the town.

On one of those expeditions the following summer, my father took up us to Quebec City and to the Montmorency Falls. The place was totally undeveloped, just the silvery fall of water, tumbling down to run quickly across,the narrow plain into the wide St. Lawrence. I have like a snapshot in my mind the sight of the tall grasses and the stands of orange lilies, day lilies that bloom for one day only and are replaced on the stem with another flower. It made a great impression on me and in our family we called them Quebec lilies after that. If only we could be simple and true to the essential meaning of what it is to bloom for a day,and then relinquish our place, how beautiful it would be.

I have them in the lane along the line of my fence. The lilies are among the first green shoots to appear in the lane in Spring, coming up fearlessly, sometimes even getting pinched by a late frost. They never fail though and come back year after year in spite of the most bitter winter weather. One even encroached this year into my garden proper. Should I call it a garden? With all the rain and humidity it has become a well beloved jungle. I have only nominal control.

And the other pictures? Well. The dark clematis has sulked its way out. The other little new one only put out one flower! I hope it will do better next year. On the pink butterfly bush you can see one of my neighbour’s domestic bees. It is a new plant that has done very well. My neighbour has a bee hive this year so we must hope for more sunny weather. Very nice to have bees in the city, I think. Tomorrow is Canada Day. I will paint the mailbox red! Happy Canada Day to all.

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Strawberry picking

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I had never been strawberry picking until today. A kind friend and her daughter took me. We were accompanied by a delightful 2 year old girl who was very good about respecting the rows. We went out of the city to the big river plain of the St. Lawrence where a lot of the produce that feeds the city is grown. It is best to go early in the day as there is no shade and the sun beats down without mercy. Today there was a kind breeze so my hat, forgotten in another car, was not missed. The farm is what is known as a “u- pick” which means that you can buy a basket and spend as much or as little time as you want filling it. You can eat as many strawberries as you like too! There were plenty of pickers, domestics like us and down at the end of the field, professionals. They wore sensible hats and never lifted their eyes to the amazing little white clouds that sat cheekily in the sky like something out of a surrealist painting. There was a school bus that obviously shuttled them to and out of the fields and a bored looking man sat in a lawn chair and watched them? supervised them? made sure they didn’t wander away? You can see that the fruit is quite big. There are clusters and the individual fruits ripen at different times so picking will certainly go on for another couple of weeks. The edges of the fields are full of wild flowers and I wonder how the farmer keeps down weeds. Herbicides? I must hope that the straw( strawberries, right?) keeps them down. I came home and washed and froze them. I liked doing it….next blueberries.

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Visit to the Redpath Museum

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Today I took two of my three gradndchildren to the Natural History Museum on McGill campus. It was a funny feeling to wander around the campus,where I spent many hours gas a youngster. My father was superintendent of all the buildings and grounds of McGill for years and we always lived very close by. Our addressed were elite before we knew what elite meant; Redpath Street, University street and right at the beginning Peel street just behind the Law Building. It meant nothing to us except that when the phone rang in the middle of the night, my father was at hand.

It was exciting to walk through he beautiful doors of the Redpath Museum with my grandson, eleven and my granddaughter almost seven. There are all the things that kids love, beautiful shells, minerals, fossils, dinosaur skeletons and taxidermy galore. There is a wonderful section on Egypt and mummies and a rather cramped section on ethnography. The shrunken head was an item of great interest to my granddaughter and I was at a loss to explain how one shrinks a head so we asked one of the educators who was walking around as a resource person.

What a charming person! Once Iman discovered that this was a person who actually listened and had the answers, there was no stopping her. After a startlingly complete explanation of the head shrinking process he was called to task to explain how trees are petrified, the meaning of tree rings and taxidermy procedures. Samy did his best but Iman fairly peppered poor Bruno until he finally realized that this child was not to to be fobbed off with the routine script. He finally took us into a sort of store room to,show us some rare specimines. There certainly were some odd looking animals in there.” Ah, a gnu”, remarked Samy to my surprise. I didn’t know the names of any of the various horned creatures in there among the piles of dusty books and old display cases. Then, best of all we were taken to a locked classroom where the ” first lion” is kept. His nose and mane are quite worn out by years of petting so he has retired to academia. We were imortalized posing with him in a picture taken by the kind Bruno.

To top it off,while we were sitting on the steps outside the museum musing (nice, huh?) on the lovely day we had had, I fished out some knitting that Iman had been wrestling with. Well, right there she got the hang of it. It is a little difficult to convince her to loosen the white knuckle grip on the needles, but she certainly got the four steps of completing a stitch. She knitted several rows and I had a bit of a flashback to my own grandmother teaching me. Many ghosts on McGill campus.

My only deep regret,is,that,the middle child was not able to come but….the others will regale him with their stories and next time he will be there marvelling at George the gorilla.

Evening flowers

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It occurred to me that almost all the pictures I post are taken in the light of early morning. There is something lovely and mysterious about the evening though and the flowers seem to know it. I have some sort of starry woodland white blossoms that cannot be picked as they wilt almost immediately. I am convinced they have a soft other life when we are all asleep. They bend and sway with night breezes and see the alley cats as they prowl about. They are the first to hear the song of birds just before it is light. They take warning and fix their innocent cheerful faces for me to see as I pass by on the path. My beautiful roses, almost spoiled by heavy rain give a little light to a spot where shadows prepare for the evening. Wild flowers in the lane or calmly intruding into my garden shine for the last few moments of the day. Beautiful white clusters on impossibly tall stems share the green lane with something that looks like millet and super-sized dandelion clocks rival the 24 hour day. Time to come in to the little house and leave the garden and the lane to the night.

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A visitor!

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So exciting! I went out into the garden to see if I could get it into some sort of order before two very dear friends visit his evening. It is threatening rain so I doubt I will get much done. To my surprise I spotted this beautiful dragonfly. Can you see her on the rosebushes? I usually think of dragonflies as brilliant fly coloured, not brown and almost transparent like this one. He is huge! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one like this. If readers know what it is please tell me. Quite a surprise in a little city garden. Enjoy your day.

Catalpa blossoms

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This is such an ugly tree for much of the year but when it comes into leaf and bloom (almost simultaneously) it is stunning. I love the pale color of the leaves and the white blossoms that are like orchids. They don’t last long but when they fall they drop onto cars and sidewalks like a careless blessing. They remind me of people who we think of as unattractive but who suddenly put forth some beauty that takes us by surprise.

PS. Someone has given birth to a kitten in my storage under the balcony. I only hear one high pitched meow from time to time so I hope it is only one. Whatever it is, it will make getting the lawn mower out a bit of a problem.

New visitors

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The past few days have been changeable. We had a little sun but lots of rain and grey skies. How surprised I was, then to see the poppies out this morning. When do they unfurl, I wonder, in the dark night even if rain is falling? That yellow columbine is a newcomer as is the pink rose. Both were only planted last fall. I almost pulled out the columbine as a weed, a fate which befell a magnificent poppy a few years ago. It is sad to say goodbye to the lovely irises. They don’t stand up well to rain, but we have to remember that many flowers love cool wet weather and so we gardeners get our little rewards even if we can’t always sit out and welcome in the newcomers. They just appear as I am wondering if it is safe to hang out washing, or just as I sweep up the seedlings or disturb the stray cats who seem to have developed a great fondness for a particular folding chair. The rusty black cat with the crooked tail has certainly sat there more than I have. Good luck to him. Maybe it’s he who calls out the new blooms.

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