Wouldn’t you know it, a Grackle can live for 23 years or more! So, the Grackle that comes to the corner eves of our house, where there used to be a big hole in the facia, looking to nest in her traditional spot, won’t be giving up any time soon. Every spring a Grackle, and I am assuming it is the original mother Grackle, although it might be one of her offspring, returns to our eves and pecks away at the wood and metal that Attila has installed to cover the previous hole in the facia. Every spring is a Grackle serenade of beak on wood, beak on metal, rat a tat tat. This has been going on for six years. This morning I looked up the life span of a Grackle, and I can see that we must accept this visitation as an annual event, quite possibly for the rest of our lives. It may be that over the next 17 years the Grackles will actually manage to peck their way through the inches of wood covering the hole in the facia. It may eventually reclaim its nesting spot, starting the whole cycle over again.
Yesterday was a beautiful day. It dawned cloudy here at Mist Cottage, but we were not deterred, we packed up tank with our rakes and shovels and a picnic lunch and hit the road. A local service club hosted a fundraising event, selling rain barrels. I ordered one about a month ago, and yesterday was the day it had to be picked up. the pickup location was just off our route to the Rideau Camp, so it was our first stop on the way. We joined the long line of vehicles, the drivers waiting patiently to present their invoices, and load their rain barrels into their back seats and trunks. We waited in line for about about 15 minutes, and within another 15 minutes had the rain barrel loaded into the back of Tank and were back on our journey to the Camp.
The landscape we travelled through was painted with hints of green, as the buds had swelled during the warm spring night. At the Camp the tall Sugar Maples were golden light green with promise, and red buds of the ash trees waved in the breeze. The birch trees were jewelled with catkins. The sun shone bright.
As beautiful as it was, over 20C, the black flies were insistent enough that they would not be ignored. Insect repellent was generously applied to face, neck, and ears, which along with the wind kept them from biting. Attila says that biting insect season begins when the dandelions bloom, which has proven to be the case this spring.
The forest floor was carpeted in green islands of Mayflowers, white and mauve, and Trout Lillies, yellow and bold. White Trilliums bloomed on the south facing hills. The wind set the blooms to nodding in dappled sunlight. Sitting listening to the wind in the trees, watching the branches and flowers dance, quiet seeped into the centre of me. It might be classified as joy, it is definitely a feeling of perfect rightness.
Attila spent the day alternately removing the last of the cedar logs from the wood pile, which was at that point mostly earth, and taking half full loads of crushed stone in the wheelbarrow, to deposit them in the area designated to expand the parking area. We plan on planting squash in the earth that used to be the wood pile.
I spent my day gathering dry brush from around the last of the wood pile, and from around the parking area, and burning it as a campfire. We estimate that if I spend the rest of the summer burning campfires, by next autumn we will be done with burning the brush pushed into piles around the driveway and parking area.
While we were busy with our projects, we heard loud noises off to the side of the property. It sounds like several motor bikes trying to get up the cliff near us, on the neighbours property. Attila went to investigate, and could see nothing from our property boundary, they were not on our property. We wondered if it was the neighbour, but we didn’t know. It went on for quite some time, and it must have caused a lot of damage to the forest floor.
A short time later we paused from our tasks and looked up as three young teenage boys roared up our driveway. Trespassers. Two of them were on cross country motor bikes, a third was in a small ATV which sported some kind of a flag waving from an antennae. They stopped short when they saw Attila, standing by Tank with his hands on his hips. One of the three boys was dressed in a red and white outfit and helmet, seemingly a competition costume for cross country biking, and he sat astride a red and white motor bike, with no license. The other motor bike was older and less ostentatious, the rider dressed in dark street clothes, and a black helmet, and again the bike did not have a license. The ATV rider was dressed in street clothes and a ball cap, and his vehicle did not have a license.
After a few brief words to one another, they turned their machines around and exited the property. One of the bike riders obviously had trespassed here before, leaving the deep rut beside the parking area.
We estimate they are local kids, as their vehicles were all unlicensed for the road. Attila feels they will not be back, as we now know what they look like, and could probably find out who they are. They did not appear to want to have to tangle with Attila. They also know we are aware that they did possible damage to neighbouring property, and that we have seen them, to know who did it. They are only interested, so far, in tearing up the ecosystem, destroying wetland, wildflowers and native plants, wildlife habitats. None of our trespassers have interfered with our personal property, there has been no vandalism of that kind.
If we see evidence that they have been back, I will be calling the local police.
We enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches over the open fire, for our midday meal. Since I now make our bread without sodium, I can afford to eat a cheese sandwich. Since lactose is now an issue as well, it was a real boon to find lactose free cheddar on sale at the local grocery last week. Cheese sandwiches grilled over an open camp fire are the best!
As the day waned the black flies became more intent on reaching succulent human skin. The Mayflowers, Trout Lillies, and Trilliums slowly closed their petals tight, forming perfect droplets directed at the imminent night sky. It was time to pack the tools, put out the campfire, and drive off into the sunset. The first of the leaves had burst forth from the buds by late afternoon. Soft clouds, consisting of hundreds of shades of green, decorated the scenery during our journey.
As beautiful as the weather was yesterday, it is that miserable today! A cold rain falls steadily from the sky, and the temperature has risen to only 4C, and it looks as if it will not increase significantly today. Grocery shopping was on the to do list, so today was a perfect day to get the job done. Baking is also on the list, which works on such a chilly damp day. Laundry must be tackled as well, as clothing worn around the campfire, and working on the log pile and crushed stone, and coated with insect repellent, is not smelling so sweet.
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 30 April 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Dew point: -0.7°C
Wind: NE 24 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Which will make those who rely on apps to function the new illiterati.
I’m glad to hear that Attila has now ‘met’ the young people flying around on their vehicles. Hopefully, for the most part they’ll now stay off your land.
We also now have young leaves opening up on our trees. I was so glad to see them on our large maple! I was worried that the buds had been nipped by cold and there would be problems with the leaves.
Thanks for the report on the forest fauna. I’ll now be looking for trillium any time we go by a patch of forest-like growth.
It’s a cloudy, rainy day here, also. Our temp only went to 5C, and we even had a short thunderstorm with accompanying heavy rain. I’ll be glad for us to get back to more moderate temps.
Teri, I hope they stay away too! When we bought the property there was significant erosion where one of the neighbour’s sons rutted the landscape with his ATV, more than 20 years ago. The scars left by these male children do not disappear.
Leaves are much less sensitive to freezing than are blossoms; I remember what a concern frost was for the tender fruit tree blossoms on our farm, and then again when Attila managed the large apple farm.
I love to see the Trilliums. My Mom said that she was out for a drive with my brother and they found that the trilliums in the area where they used to lie in carpets were stripped bare of the flowers, people had been picking them. Trilliums should not be picked, as they do not bloom again for seven years afterwards. If the bloom and leaves are picked, the plant may die. There is an act, Bill 184, Ontario Trillium Protection Act, 2009 http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2194&detailPage=bills_detail_the_bill, that was carried through first reading to protect the Trillium, but it has not been carried any further to my knowledge. Which is too bad!
It looks like we in southern Ontario are in for a week or so of below seasonal average temperatures, with clouds and rain abundant. It still seems like paradise for us though, compared to the weather where we lived at the country house.
I’m so glad you took the opportunity to enjoy the great weather, even if it was short-lived. Don’t worry, it will be back! We’ve had a miserable time this spring—it has never been over 12C, most unusual for us! Loved your story of the grackle. She really hangs in there!
Diane, I guess it has been and continues to be a cold wet spring for most of Canada. Our next few weeks will remain cool, but green things are growing despite this, which is heartening.
It seems Madame Grackle likes Mist Cottage as much as we do! 🙂