Parking Spot

imageThink you have parking problems? This ” Mr. Cool” had it all figured out. Just pulled into the  Canadian Tire parking lot in Parry Sound and found a two-vehicle slot! Sorted! The charming pilot/driver told us his plane only weight 200 pounds. Was he joshing us? Certainly his car had no problem pulling it. Just one of the things one is liable to see in Parry Sound.

It is a strange town.  There is one supermarket, a Sobey’s. Since it holds a monopoly it is pretty expensive and before the new manger took over I took a perverse pleasure in finding mistakes in the prices of things. The policy of the chain is that if you find a mistake you get the item for free. Joe and I had quite a run of getting free stuff every single time we shopped. A spirited exchange with the new boss was my swan song. I had so many mistakes on my bill that she wanted to impose a sort of statute of limitations…. let us say that we were both satisfied at the end —I got a generous voucher and she got an “issue” to work on with her staff.  Boy, did she whip them into shape. No more gloating over the cash slip. Those who know me in my regular shopping life will know how atypical this is of my habits. Oh, it was just fun!

Besides the Supermarket there is a small hospital. In summer the population of the district soars. All the Torontonians flee (the heat? the shootouts?) and head up to cottage country. They fall into the bar=b=que. They get stung by wasps. They cut themselves with knives or saws – they shoot themselves with sport arrows. They faint in the heat. They narrowly escape drowning or forget their meds in all the excitement. The beleaguered staff of the hospital deal with this and then the doctors quit so that it is quite a task to get on the rolls of a family doctor in winter time.

In the summer there is  money in Parry Sound – our friend who parked in Canadian Tire lot is not the only person who flits around in a little plane or who zooms over Georgian Bay in a fancy boat. A water-side restaurant offers “fly and dine” for a couple of hundred dollars. A plane slightly larger than this will fly you and your date to a distant restaurant where you can dine and then (if you can keep your dinner down) they fly you back to Parry Sound.

Of course, there’s a Wallmart and a McDonald’s in Parry Sound and it seems to me there are a lot of people riding around in mechanized wheel chairs.  When the cottagers go home a lot of the money goes with them and the winter mood is, to me, sadder but less frenetic.

I prefer the little village close to our house and land – Orrville. There are two churches, about forty houses and a blessed library in this village. In a pinch I can walk to the library. I like the little yellow plane but the library is good enough for me.


Sad sight, scary sight

Joe and I have been following the progress of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds. For the second time a pair made a nest in a box he made from old junk salvaged from the dump. We gathered from the internet, universal source of all wisdom, that these birds can live up to ten years and that they often return to the same nesting spot. They had some endearing habits. The male would buzz Joe if he came too close as he cut the grass or tidied up the veggie patch. The female often sat with her head poking out of the entry hole and would peep out if we whistled. Last year the nest was abandoned after a spectacular tornado that felled a huge poplar close by. So we were happy to see it occupied again and enjoy  the beautiful flight of the two birds as they came and went to the little nesting box.

Imagine my shock to find this morning the nesting box torn off its post, thrown down in the field and surrounded by feathers and hay. I could not imagine what had happened! When I called Joe out we explored the area a little and found clear evidence of a bear’s presence. He had uprooted a corner fence post and forced his way through the wires. It is the only animal curious and strong enough to reach the box and tear it off.

We reattached the box and within a minute both birds returned. I was very surprised but our happiness was not to last. It appears the pair only came back to see if there were any surviving eggs and now for a couple of hours they have not been around.

In the past we have found other evidence of bears coming around the house. One day two summers ago when it was very hot and dry we found a small tree stripped and its main trunk snapped in two. There were few fruits or apples because of the dry weather and the bears came into the neighboring town quite a lot. I found it spooky to think of the big creature lumbering around so close by as we slept. They are big animals and require a lot of food. Were the few little eggs in our bluebird’s nest enough to make a difference to a mother bear perhaps? It was very sad for us to lose our favorites but here it is clear that we are visitors here no matter how we strive and work to claim our bit of the environment.

We read that bluebirds can have two clutches of eggs in a season so we must be hopeful. Next item a search on Amazon for a bear repellent.

Elections in the Country

Wandering beside the silty creek I noticed a curious frog who approached the bank to stare up at me with a fixed gaze. I sat down on a broad smooth rock. He swam even closer. “Are you a prince?”I whispered whimsically
He immediately croaked and jumped into the deeper water with a splash. He had no time for my nonsense. What was he doing there all day, I wondered. The afternoon stretched out before me, the banks of the creek rich in green and brilliant wild flowers. buttercups, indian paint brush, a wild white baby’s breath, cultivated daisies and forget-me-not gone rogue. Above all grew the tall and prolific grass, intensely green, thick and full of a whole world of insects, frogs and other mysterious life.
We like to say all is still and quiet in the country. Yet there is a movement, even a level of noise here. From time to time a breeze moves the new leaves, fresh and tender, high on the birch and poplar trees. Mysterious bubbles disturb the surface of the little pond formed as the trickle of the creek fills out a broad shallow space between two flat expanses of rock. Large dragon-flies buzz nearby, a bumble bee rumbles and fumbles in the wild flowers. A fat black fly settles on my arm and I shake him off. A mosquito meets his maker as I smack her into eternity. If only she had been content to nibble on my ear like her sisters she might have lived to draw blood another day. Sitting boldly on my hand was more than I could bear.
The banner? In our recent election, Mr. Mole ran as an independent candidate. I longed for him to win but it was not to be.

Did someone say mouse?

  No, we don’t like those! Getting rid of one curious field mouse involved baiting and placing these……overkill you say? The cupboard door came off and the whole mysterious process of fixing the well pump was suspended while we ensured that the little creature was disposed of. It is disconcerting when these things go off…particularly the big ones. You could do a bit of damage with the rat traps.
After all that he ran away by himself. “I’m off” he said and slipped away into the cool early summer grass. Good! I don’t know what I would have done if we had caught him

Did someone say mouse?

IMG_7070In the middle of a mysterious manipulation with the well pump the alarm was raised. Two mice had sneaked in and were skittering around in the house. Who knew we had so many mouse, not to mention rat traps? Well, it is the country, I suppose. There is even a sinister sort of box trap in which, I am told, a rabid racoon was once caught. That whole episode ailienated the neighbor’s cat to such an extent that to this day he refuses to come near Joe’s house. The dog has no such qualms and begs shamelessly at the door. Setting the traps is a nerve wracking business as they naturally enough tend to snap at clumsy fingers. Joe’s theory is that traps must be set in a sort of starburst formation so that if a mouse manages to steal the bait without tripping the trap, he will be caught as he steps backward. This calculation of mouse choreography seemed such a specialized knowledge that I was quite convinced that we would soon hear a volley of trap snaps.

It was not to be. The mice, apparently knowing what was good for them,escaped into the lush grass of early summer. Good thing too as neither of us was up to disposing of anything we might have caught.

Back to the water pump!

Cardinal in the lilacs

I know you can’t see him. She appeared too, a moment later sitting right in the middle of the gate for just that moment before I got the iPad ready. You’ll have to take my word for it. The other picture  is just to show off my pink lilac bush. I took the last bunch of lilac as a hostess gift last night. They are finished now, the mauve ones drying off into little brown annoyances and the pink fading away. For their annual two weeks of glory they were intoxicating but this week they will revert to their tree-weed status. 

The garden is poor. For the first time I am plagued with squirrels. I will ask my grandchildren for a surplus water pistol. I have no pity or mercy upon them. The birds are wonderful this year, probably fattening up on the many snails that have appeared. 

I count on the peonies that are almost there and the irises who never let me down. They are of a watery blue, an ink blue and a deep almost black. My indigo plant is growing inches every day and the clematis doing its best to recover from some O’Henry type pruning. You know, The Gift….look what a disaster I have wrought, my love, for you. 

If anyone knows of a way to make hydrangea bloom please tell me. Having inflicted coffee grounds, egg shells and ground up banana peels on my little darlings ( and subsequently learned these things do nothing to help) I really want to help this faithful climber to put forth a bloom or two! It’s been growing vigorously for about five years and last year there was one flower!

This was meant to be about consolations. Those birds? Bustling around and calling or fluttering excitedly early in the day is a beautiful beginning. They don’t care about anything except what their own natures call them to do. Their single-minded purpose is a good point of meditation. 


  Sometimes it seems to me that Spring blossoms give off light. This little Saskatoon berry bush in the city lane outside my garden gate is glowing in the light of evening. The winter was harsh and the tulips late and sparse but this is a consolation