My Neighbors

Ducks in my Pond

It’s the park pond after all. The pond is almost frozen over except where running water is pumped into a pool leading to a stream that flows under a bridge. I have to cross that bridge when I walk to the Metro. This morning I was going to church because today is the Sunday of the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have also been much affected by news of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria and so needed to go to church. I often don’t go to church because my teen- aged grandchildren have developed the habit of sleeping over on Saturday night. It’s hard to detach from them in time for church. This morning I managed it.

Please!

And here on the way were many ducks, out of the water and exceptionally wandering around on the path. I often thought of this flock of ducks during our harsh winter and particularly during the intense cold of last weekend. Their webbed feet, their difficulty in finding food, all nagged at me. And here they were, rushing towards me asking for food, it seemed to me! I didn’t have anything to give them and so, foolishly perhaps, I promised them that I would bring them something from church.

Church was wonderful but a little tiring. I was the only soprano, and I felt a bit submerged by two young altos and two male singers. We had a talented and courageous fill-in conductor so I was on my toes all during service. Basically the soprano’s job is to carry the tune and I lost the plot a few times so that some unusual harmony only versions of well known pieces emerged.

The Prodigal Son and his father and brother sustained me. I admit sometimes to wondering what Mum was up to and to a deep sympathy for the older brother. Of course, the turning point of the story is when the ( anti) hero “ came to himself”. The awakening, the realization that things can be fixed, that courage, action, humility can cause a wonderful outcome, is such an electrifying moment for me.

Back to the ducks… I had to keep my promise and I did. I gave them blessed bread from church. Traditionally one takes a piece of this bread for someone at home, someone who cannot take communion. I don’t really understand why water is blessed. I think it’s such a blessing and in fact, blesses us all the time. In the same way, ducks don’t take communion but they’re in communion all the time, I think. I’ll bring them more ordinary bread tomorrow. I have to salute their courage , after all.

PS those are the new boots, by the way!

In the Spirit of the Season

In the Park

As a rule I don’t rush into decorating or playing carols. The 16th of December is my daughter’s birthday and that is the day usually reserved for “starting” the Christmas festivities. This year nature cooperated. Heavy snow has fallen and draped itself beautifully over the bare winter twigs and branches. My tree, hmm yes, my tree has been delivered. It is skinny and frankly pathetic.

Odd but lovable

My grandchildren, when they came to visit were surprisingly merciful and immediately got to work to beautify this rather unlovely tree. The result is that I am starting to love it. It is so meagre, so “ minimalist” as one of the kids remarked, that the old ornaments, full of memory and meaning, are all the more evident.

A feast for the eyes

A struggle to walk the required ten thousand steps. There were lots of cross-country skiers in the park today but I stuck to my boots, well anchored with crampons and my hiking poles.

A Surprise!

Recently many Canada geese came back to the cold ponds of the park. I can’t say I was overjoyed but I certainly thought it odd that should reappear after several weeks of absence. Perhaps they were putting their faith in a warming climate. The heavy snow settling on the frozen water must have convinced them that they were not yet in “Florida Nord “ It was odd to stamp around in thick snow and hear overhead the cries that one associates with brilliant fall colours and strolls through falling leaves. Off they flee to mark Christmas Day in a warmer spot.

Since I have decided to do Christmas shopping “on line” I have had a couple of other surprises too. The former owner of my condo forgot to charge her address and I carelessly opened a package outside my door without checking the name. Fancy chopsticks? Hmm never ordered those! I managed to get them to their right owner but I suppose if I order sight unseen I must expect surprises. like my tree! There are still a few days to see what, and when will end up at my door.

Beyond Lizards

A nest of the well-known oval eggs….

of a magical creature. Out on my daily walk yesterday I was astonished to see a typically sparse nest, close to a deserted parking lot in a city park, fully exposed to the elements and to the curious gaze of passers-by.

Where a cautious mother might nest

On the verge of a path in brush, perfect for adequate cover but with access to easy prey such as toddlers or old ladies with flimsy walking poles.

A mother dragon with her hatchling

This bold mother, however had chosen to flaunt her brood. I noticed most walkers gave her a wide berth and rightly so! Mother dragons are famous for their ferocity. I wondered if those walking sticks were all that was left of rash pedestrians who had irritated her. I kept a respectful distance and cooed admiringly at her one hatched dragonette who was perched safely up on mother’s back.

Pole tips a little too close for comfort

As mother dragon warned me off with a baleful hiss of steam, I bowed in respect and continued on my laps around the lake. What else lurks at the bottom of the lake I wonder and what will emerge before winters end?

Home for a nice cup of tea!

All fired up

Back to walking in Angrignon Park

After a month on the West Coast it’s time to get back into my routine of walking… and training for my next Camino. This afternoon the temperature was a little cooler than what I experienced on Vancouver Island. The angle of the sun was lower and it was clear that we are in full- on fall mode. The colors are spectacular and I am sincerely grateful to live one hundred paces from this spectacular park. However, I miss the “ wild” feel of the semi-rural community where my daughter lives. I miss the rooster crowing every waking hour and the baa of the sheep next door. From certain spots on my walk I don’t see just this beautiful pond, but a six -lane boulevard, its roar mercifully muffled by the trees in the park. There’s no mistaking the city vibe here.

Salmon Run

I took this picture a few days ago. That bank of stones on the far side of the river would normally be submerged. The big adult salmon working their way upstream are barely covered with water. Already in other parts of BC there have been huge die-offs of salmon that never made it to the spawning sites. Will the salmon I saw this week make it? After a 40-day drought with no rain in the forecast, I doubt it. Vancouver Island is a designated Pacific rain forest area. During the first two weeks of my stay there, my daughter and I enjoyed the sun and high temperatures. As time passed, we became more and more uneasy.

The moon, the sun, all of nature

After unpacking my suitcase and after a good night’s sleep, I made a decision. I’m going to fight for this beautiful world and the creatures that live here. I owe myself and my grandchildren that. I have already written my MP ( the Federal one anyway) and Extinction Revolution to see what I can do. Next on my list … Greenpeace and, how do you buy carbon credits anyway? Even though I don’t drive a car I’m flying around quite a bit lately. Why am I putting this idea out on my blog? Accountability, folks! Nag me about this, ok?

Back on Track

Long winter shadows

It is very cold and last weekend we had quite a lot of snow. In the park near my home the trails are almost deserted. In fact, as long as there is no wind it is lovely to walk in the brilliant sunshine. At noon it is about -15 and I got quite hot marching around the lake with my hiking poles. I am trying to train a bit. If Covid dies down I might try the Portuguese Camino. Got to keep moving!

A tiny joy

Snowy afternoon in the park

These two friends were standing in the picture- book snow, their hands outstretched , birdseed on their palms, waiting for tiny finches to come down and take what was offered.

Once again it was a struggle to force myself to go and walk. Instead of my usual track park. I decided to go to Angrignon Park. It is closer in and with huge snowflakes drifting down in a thick veil, it was a paradise for cross-country skiers and devoted dog walkers. I figured if I walked around the big lake a couple of times it would make up about an hour of exercise. I took my walking poles and it was a good thing as the snow was already thick underfoot.

I was fascinated to see the little finches come down to feed from the hands of these patient bird lovers. I arrived just as they were leaving and I called out to ask if they had had to wait long for the birds to come.

“Oh,no. It’s easy to attract them. They know people come here to feed them. We just saw two big cardinals too. Beautiful! “ I guess I must have looked like a bird-feeder wanna-be as one of the men pulled out a little container of seed and poured some into my hand.

“Go on,” he said. they don’t care who gives them the seed.” He and his friend walked off into the thick snow and there I was with a handful of birdseed.

And down they flew, one after the other. Their little claws wrapped around my fingers and the boldest of them stopped to pick up two or three seeds. One, a little smaller than the others, made a few timid passes and I thought he would never pluck up the courage to take a seed. Finally he did, however, and then his wings whirring, he retreated to the safety of the bushes.

My hand became very cold and after a few moments the little finches disappeared. I have had a few unexpected lovely moments with birds over the past few days. I wonder why.

It’s winter

And it’s beautiful. Close to my home is a large park. Today as I walked through to go to the Metro I noticed that the pond was starting to freeze over. The reflection of the few leaves left on the trees will soon disappear but the sky was still lovely. After a dark and dreary day, the clouds lightened up and colour from the coming sunset softened the mood. The Canada geese have left and the fat squirrels are almost manic in their search for food for winter. I confess to hating squirrels, a hold-over from my gardening days when they were my mortal enemies.

In Angrignon Park

I went to my volunteer English conversation class today. I had a chance to walk through a city neighbourhood where our family used to live. In fact, from my bedroom window my husband and I could see the bell tower rising over our flat. This church is one of a couple of Byzantine revivals built in the early twentieth century. It’s a magnificent building. The cold air made me take notice of my surroundings as I walked after class to get myCovid booster shot. I had my flu shot last week so this pincushion is ready for the onslaught of winter. Bring it on!

Against a winter sky