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

Real Perfection

Spring has been a very long time coming in this town. All of April was cold, cloudy, snowy, rainy, generally miserable. We’re well into May and it’s not much better yet. We had torrential rain today followed by one of those exasperating beautiful and weird sunsets that consist of a brilliant strip of sky at the edge of a heavy dark sky. Clearing up just in time for night! 

I went out for a walk and ended up in the grocery store. I was buying limes for a yoghurt cake I plan on making tomorrow. Three teenage boys come to my house quite often and cake must always be in the house. Spring flowers were on display. There were some spectacular hyacinths carrying their heavy scent out over the flower pots and garden ornaments. An employee hurried by and saw me admiring them although daffodils are my favorites. For me that scent of sap, of Spring enchants me even more than the drowning perfume of the pink and blue hyacinths. 

She stopped for a moment, sharing the wonder with me, touching the tiny bells on their firm stems. “Look, they’re so perfect. They look like they’re  plastic, right? They’re perfect enough to be fake, eh?” And so we stopped sharing and I went away from the flower stand.

This is what is in my garden now. Growing out of the dead leaves of last year, through the ugly fence. So wonderful in their neglected blooming, so domestic and uncared for. 

They say we might have a little sun tomorrow. Oh, and on the way home two of the three boys were on the other side of the wide mains street, calling and calling , ” Granny, Granny” and they were’nt even my grand-kids! So that was my consolation.

Good Friday


At last night’s Good Friday service we sang for a long time. Orthodox Christians sing what are called the Lamentations of the Virgin and also the Cannon which show the many Old Testament references to Christ’s burial in the tomb. ( think Jonah in the whale). I must say my faith is very clouded and in some ways I envy people who entertain no doubts about their faith whatever it may be. I even envy confirmed atheists for their conviction. Anyway, I still love  to sing these long and profound services. Last night after it was over, one of the choir members began to sing by himself in that dark chapel  I understood it was the many verses of the Lamentations. He was singing in Romanian in a melody that was not familiar to me. It happened that during this Holy Week the daughter of a couple who have attended our church for many years died. I went to sing at the funeral on Thursday. Last night that single voice brought home to me the reality of all the parents who lose children. The idea of God suffering and dying as a human was in that music. The world and the human spirit can be very beautiful in spite of tragedy. 

It is very cold for Pascha this year. In the cemetary I was amazed to see snow melting and running away in a beautiful little stream in spite of the bitter wind. The bright sun was strong enough to do that. So Pascha brings in hope for better days.