Changing and staying the same


 Why is the rosary hanging on the clothes line? To guarantee good weather  on the wedding day of my neighbour’s daughter. This is a very old French Canadian and Italian tradition. It seems the Poles have the same idea as I just found it mentioned on a website for the Wilnus polish community in Ontario.

Yes, people still get married in a white dress in church.  The New York Times had a recent article about how many churches in Quebec have been transformed for use other than worship. A particularly grand church right in my neighborhood is now a theatre. The Montreal church of St. Jude, patron of hopeless cases, is now ,somewhat ironically, transformed into an upscale gym!

What is it that makes us cling to some things and discard others? I wonder

Nature’s plan


Black flies, horse flies, deer flies and mosquitoes

To them I am a tasty treat, like Cheetos or Doritos.

I rub my skin with Insect Off and spray with DDT

But still the pesky insects love to make a meal of me.

My blood type’s O – I must admit. A magnet draws them near

But I’m not pregnant, don’t wear black and never have a beer.

I tend the garden, water plants and drag out pesky weeds

I pray to all the Nature gods – but not one ever heeds

my fervent cries I swat and howl. Why must they bite so much?

But then a pretty bird flies by. He tweets out, “That’s my lunch!”

I get it! I am just a part of Nature’s magic plan.

The bugs eat me and I eat steak that’s fried up in a pan.

 

PS the top picture is of a snake that we found in the well in the garden.  Poor baby!

 

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.

At Last

image

Hello pale blossom.
Hello damp cool green beauty
so frail, so delicate
forcing your frail delicate way up through
dark dense earth.
Hello faint hope, hello rebirth
hello vanquisher of winter,
pale bell that heralds all the rest.
Golden trumpets and scarlet or dark frilled tulips
and later roses, lilies , dahlias and exuberant vines.
You, small and modest are first.
Herald of change, of relief from cold and dark.
Hello snowdrop and welcome.

Sights for St. Valentine’s Day

imageThese are white goats, not sheep. The rams had long grey horns, not tightly curled but twisted close to the head and then jutting out. We saw them just outside a rather touristy sea-side town. The shepherd looked like a professor of philosophy with his grey beard and stick. He nodded gravely when we asked if we could take a picture of his flock but his black and white border collie fixed us with his steady eye as if to say, “Take your silly picture, but if you go near even one of them, you’ll have me to deal with!”

The other wonderful thing we saw yesterday was a hoopoe, quite close up. I have learned not to fumble for a camera when a bird or a fox or anything that might take flight is the wonder of the moment. I just look and look and afterwards I can find a picture and read all about it. How I remembered this was a hoopoe, I cannot tell. Please take a moment to look for a picture and you will see why I was so enchanted. This pinky/brown bird, about the size of a small pigeon sat beside our car and he very politely unfurled his crest of black and white and then flew off as we gasped at the beautiful patterns of his wing and back feathers. Wikipedia says he was the messenger to King  Solomon about the Queen of Sheba so seeing him was a fitting end to Valentine’s Day.