Anyone who reads this blog knows I can go off into raptures about nature in all its forms. However, living in the country brings home the dark side of Mother Nature. As I told a dear friend of mine today, I had considered myself on top of the food chain. Black flies do not appear to have been informed of their position on the hierarchy and have bitten me unmercifully over the past week. In spite of bug spray, bug jackets, ugly nerdy looking hats with nets attached and a nineteen-thirties look around the feet due to pants tucked into socks, they were not deterred. A couple of the little blighters even managed to get into the house and I awoke on Wednesday morning with my eye swollen shut due to a vicious bite just below the eyebrow. The local pharmacist was quite impressed with my chest – not the first to have exhibited a vivid interest if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, her awe struck gaze was due to a livid string of welts. “Like Christ before he was put on the cross.” was a rather dramatic description by my boyfriend. I doubt Our Saviour was afflicted by the intense itching behind the ears and down my legs incurred by the damned black flies. I had great hopes that the pharmacist would produce some miracle salve – this is 2017 for heaven’s sake. She led me confidently down an aisle and triumphantly produces a bottle of ……calamine lotion. Sixty years ago this chalky liquid was slathered over my legs after I fell into a patch of stinging nettles. Crushed I was led whimpering out of the pharmacy.
Yesterday was a hot and humid day. I helped a bit with the garden and took refuge in the cool house hoping to catch an episode of Coronation Street. It was not to be. At exactly 4 pm – air time for my favorite dose of British working class soap opera, a tornado hit our house. With amazing speed a storm packing gale force winds, torrential rain, thunder and hail engulfed our house and land. I was convinced the living room window was going to blow in and took shelter in the bathroom. The picture shows a substantial tree that was uprooted during the ten minute storm. Many trees in the neighborhood were felled and we had no power for six hours.
So, you can perhaps understand that my feelings towards Mother Nature are a little cooler than usual. I know all moms can have bad days but really, I shall expect some pretty spectacular lilac to make up for this.
There is enough Irish blood coursing in my veins to think of planting potatoes as a sacred task. I doubt any ancestor of mine ever planted Blue Russians or Congo Pot varieties but scrabbling around in the dirt seemed to come naturally. I have never planted potatoes before and in spite of the very annoying “no see’em” flies which plagued us, we got them all into narrow beds. Ready for the first showers of the weekend.
A bit of sad news…the little birds that nested over the door of the shed lost their eggs. We think it was the blue jays that attacked them. As a consolation ( to us) we saw a lone turkey running over the farmer’s field and a partridge and what was either a mink or an otter. The joint is jumping
Here are a few more beauties that just appeared as I was going around this morning. I have no idea what they are called but I will try to find out. Lovely, aren’t they? It is very interesting to see all the nesting pairs of birds and see how they are enjoying the bird feeder. We saw a pair of Jays this morning. Lots of people think they are noisy and bossy and I suppose they are. I love them, though. Part of the crow family, like Magpies they make their presence known. The little nesting pair in the shed are still holding us hostage. I don’t know what we will do when it is time to go to Montreal as we can’t close the door. I hope the little ones will have hatched by then. The days are long but as soon as it gets dark we can hear frogs making that high spring chirping sound that means….what exactly….we’re getting ready to do our springy thing?
Now, about the title – I had this feeling when I found the little pink flowers this morning. What will come next? What is all this? Where does it go in winter? Why and how does it all come to life in Spring? Who am I in all this? Was I like this, springy and innocent when I was young? Am I now like an old tree with a rough bark and what will happen when I die? Will I be like some old fallen trunk rotting away on the floor of the forest? Am I a tadpole? So all these questions come down to one question. What is the meaning of this? So many philosophers and religious leaders, writers and thinkers have wrestled with this. Do we always come to a tie, a draw, a no contest? I think so. These little pink flowers brought forward this question. They are more profound than any newspaper or TV show or book. I bow to the little pink flowers and recognize that I am helpless before them.
Spring is slow to come to Eastern Canada this year. It has been cold and extremely wet all through April and May was not looking much better until today when a weak sun actually cast some shadows. We even ate lunch outside with a few strategic returns for socks and sweaters during the meal. Last time I promised you pictures of the little trout lilies if they ever opened under sun and here is proof that clouds did actually part today. I also found another treasure; a red trillium. I only knew white ones but this beauty bloomed under a big tree and there are quite a few other buds nearby.
What strikes me is how these beautiful creatures persist and even thrive even while nights are registering below zero temperatures. Every morning I notice that the pan of water we have out for birds (the lake fifty feet away might be too much of a struggle for them) is topped with a fairly thick skim of ice. How then, do these wonderful flowers manage to bloom? The dark cold night lasts many hours. I don’t think I would like to stay out unprotected and yet these delicate flowers set out their beauty without worrying about the weather forecast. Miraculous!
The many birds are wonderful too. A pair of barn swallows have decided to nest in the shed where the lawn mower is stored and now we have to leave it open so that the parents can go in and out. Yellow and red finches and nuthatches as well as a pair of mourning doves are constantly feeding at the feeder hung high in an old tree. I saw a beautiful robin this morning. His breast was a lovely red and he had that typical fearlessness around people. Joe noticed that a pair had chosen a hole in one of the trees and he thought they should have a bit of shelter from rain so he installed a sort of wooden overhang . He even strategically placed some hay for nesting materials on top. Our birds are spoiled.
The truth is that we are spoiled. This constant unfolding of a late Spring brings with it a wonder at the silence, the slow growth of favorite saplings and the company of birds going about their important business. Another blessing is that black fly season seems to be delayed. However, this wonder is to come I am sure.
Float down from silent trees
white bouquets of snow.
In the still air of early winter
bare twigs and branches are outlined
with layered fine snow. Like icing sugar
or impossibly fine sand a spotless mantle
sits contrasting with the dark, sleeping, Winter wood.
Last night in the silent darkness,
one by one in their billions, snowflakes
floated down through the dream hours.
In daylight, weak sunlight, shadow-casting light,
little clusters float onto the barely frozen water of the creek.
In this image two mountains hover, real or illusion?
For you to decide.
Here are some turkeys crossing the farmer’s field. His dairy cows are safe in the barn, their mild eyes turning to the door, their coats steaming in their winter home. The turkeys are wild and although they stalk around the properties around here, they are skittish of people or dogs. I even saw them take fright when a small deer approached. I never thought of turkeys flying but it was quite a sight that fall day. Yesterday in brilliant sun, I was surprised to see these bronze-feathered beauties slogging through deep snow. They walked in single file but stopped when we parked the car to take a picture. When the ground is clear the flocks cover the ground with their heads down, looking for insects or grass or other delicacies to eat. What do they like best, I wonder? Yesterday they came out of the woods, crossed the snowy field and even went over the road to reach the other side. Why did the turkey cross the road? Turkey Mysteries!
“What do you mean, you’ve never been in a canoe? You’re a Canadian aren’t you? And so I stepped into a tippy canoe and sat very still and paddled out into the middle of the lake and heard with a chill up my spine the observation, “Hmm….we must look at the little tear in the bottom of the canoe. More water is coming in than last year” . It certainly was fun to glide down a little rapid spot between two lakes but later terrifying to discover that I must paddle really really hard to get back into the first lake. No question of stopping or the little craft would be swept against some nasty rocks and since we already had that worrisome tear, we wouldn’t want that! My arms!
” I wonder if we could drive the car through this bit of water? Bring a long branch and we will test how deep it is. ” This after several kilometers of torturous track during which I had to get out several times while the intrepid driver navigated what looked like a river wash out…..no ATV for us, of course. A Toyota sedan will do. “What do you mean there’s nowhere to turn around!”
” You don’t know how to ride a bicycle? But it’s simple physics. If we lower the seat and the centre of gravity is low enough, you won’t have any trouble! What kind of childhood did you have? OK? Look here’s a tandem. You can do that!” Oh, I can
A bookish childhood. A studious childhood. A dreamy childhood. A thoughtful childhood. A shy and rather timid childhood.
Time to make up for lost time under the kind guidance of one who understands physics…and other things.