I’ve been sitting here in the living room this morning, comfortably ensconced on my easy chair, sipping my morning coffee, and staring up into the bare tree branches just outside the window. The sky can’t make up it’s mind about the morning, bright blue sky one minute, then black overcaste cloud cover before I know it. My attention has been focused on a fat robin perched on the branches. It is a female I surmise, based on the rotund profile, and she is preening with great care. By the time she flies away, the sky has changed from blue to dark gray.
Spring is advancing, slow and steady, mostly cloudy and dreary so far. The temperatures have been around average for this time of year, which is single digit (Centigrade). Not unpleasant, but combined with the copious amounts of rain we have been receiving, not great outdoor weather either.
We had rain warnings for the Easter long weekend, Friday and Saturday saw a lot of rain here, some flooding in areas, but luckily our property was not affected by that. Yesterday, Sunday, was cloudy and cool. The temperature was supposedly going to reach 18C, but that did not happen, the high was more like 13C, and that 5C made a big difference. Neither did the sun shine yesterday.
But Thursday last was beautiful! We sat out on the back porch comfortably for the very first time this spring. The birds were feeling glorious, Blue Jays, Robins, Chickadees, Rock Doves, and in the distance Crows. The Grackles were nowhere to be seen, I guess they found a more amenable area to grace with their presence, they were not missed.
The earth turned green on Friday night, so on Saturday morning, despite the chilly, wet weather, I was out on the porch in my parka, enjoying the green grass, as were the birds. Now it really does feel like spring out there.
We have only one blooming flower in our garden, the Lungwort, the plants closest to the house are blooming. The earth would be warmer there, as the cement would warm in the sun, and heat would escape from the basement, where the interior temperature remained just above freezing all winter. The rest of the garden is beginning to awaken. The Wild Geraniums are about six inches tall, and the Heliopsis is the same. Onions and garlic are pushing their way out of the earth, and the Rhubarb is putting forth an abundance of unfurling leaves. There are buds on a few of the maple trees in the neighbourhood, but no buds on any of our trees.
Now that Attila has a dry workshop to work in, the garage with the new non-leaking roof, he is keen to get started on projects, garden projects, his favourite kind.
I decided I wanted some raised beds of my own this year, to tend. Crawling around on my arthritic knees would be madness, very painful, so the raised beds would allow me to enjoy gardening. Attila has his garden, in which he makes all the decisions, which makes it a lot of fun for him. I enjoy watching that process, but I wanted my own space. My plan was to use two large totes as raised beds, which I could do on my own, making all of my own decisions.
What ended up happening was that Attila, upon realizing I was really going to create raised beds, began to think about it. He decided to build a raised bed out of wood, one for himself, so that I could compare it with the totes. OK, I thought, he can build himself a raised bed out of wood if he wants. I continued on with my own raised bed plans. But once Attila built the raised bed out of red pine, he became enthusiastic and built another, both were offered to me, if I wanted them instead of the totes. I thanked him for this unexpected gift, and accepted the wood raised beds as my own. He is working on a third raised bed for himself, which he will work in addition to the vegetable garden. He also has plans to build a cold frame. The lovely side effect of all this is that all that wood he bought when he worked in the lumber industry is now going to a good use, and won’t need to be stored any longer!
Attila has a way of working his way into my plans. He “helps” at first, then slowly asserts what he thinks would work best. In the past, before “the big mistake”, I would allow this process to develop as it would, lots got done, and I didn’t really care how. His technique did not change, but now I care. Now I carefully think through what I want to do, then proceed to make it happen. If Attila offers to help, I carefully consider how that fits in with my plans. When his suggestions do not fit in with what I want, I am up front about it, and stand my ground. This surprised him at first, he didn’t like it, there was conflict. But he is resourceful, and working through plans has become more of a mutual process, which is getting easier all the time. We both like this a lot better than the way we interacted before. There is much that is positive in this “afterlife”.
Yesterday, Sunday, we suddenly decided to make a quick trip out to the Camp to check things out. I was very happy to find that there were no new mouse droppings in Grace the trailer, nor had the mouse trap caught any mice. I dare not hope that blocking the small opening, that I discovered on our last visit, will solve the mouse problem… but wouldn’t that be grand.
On the last visit the range would not work, the spark ignition was working last fall, but not this spring. Attila suggested trying to light the burners manually, and voila, they all worked perfectly. I can live with manually lighting my burners, no problem. Grace is a 2001 model trailer, which means she is 18 years old, the appliances will probably work for decades to come, if maintained, even without the spark ignition. Small things need fixing though, like the mechanism that opens one of the windows. We are also spending a bit of time during every visit to give Grace a good exterior wash.
It was cloudy and not at all warm at the Camp, jackets were needed. Attila tended a camp fire, which was challenging due to the heavy rainfall on Friday and Saturday, all the wood was soaked. We cooked grilled cheese sandwiches, which are back on the menu since my success at baking whole wheat low-sodium bread, from our own milled whole wheat.
While Attila was tending the fire, I took a bucket, and some tongs, and headed down to the small creek on the property, it drains our swamp. The swampy area around the creek was used as a dump by some of the locals. We don’t know who it was, but we do know it was quite some time ago, because some of the broken glass is old style beer bottles, as well as an older style of juice bottle. The high run off in the creek, from the rain, revealed a lot of broken glass, which I fished out of the creek with the tongs, and placed in the bucket. There were tatters of plastic bags as well, which also went into the bucket. When the bucket was full of broken glass, I was done collecting for the day. Along with the broken glass, there was a perfectly sound Pyrex mixing bowl, and a plastic hummingbird feeder, which I rescued. Once the black flies and mosquitoes start, working in the swamp is not going to be much fun, so I was glad to get some of the cleanup done. There is more to do of course, but that can wait for another day, or even another spring.
The water level in the swamp is very high, so that four mallard ducks were enjoying the temporary pond. There are a lot of frogs in the swamp, which was probably the big attraction. The first summer we owned the property we saw an otter in the temporary pond, the next summer it was completely dry, one never knows what the weather conditions will bring. I also spotted blooming Marsh Marigolds, the first wildflower find of the season.
After lunch, and after the fire had been extinguished, Attila and I went for a trek in the bush. Attila, with his pail and shovel, was after some fresh wild leeks, which grow all over our property. The terrain is very rough, and there are a lot of dead trees on the ground, so walking is challenging. It was a relief to be able to manage it though, I love walking in the bush. To my delight I spotted blooming Mayflowers, and a few small Trilliums that were budding but not yet blooming. Only two trees had visible buds, both red maples. We have some magnificent trees on the property, very old, and very tall, mostly Oaks and Beech. We had a lovely day.
After arriving home just before dark, preparations began for dinner, a pork roast in the Instant Pot, oven baked potato wedges, mixed vegetables, and sweet potato. It was a late dinner, and we enjoyed every bite after being in the outdoors for the afternoon.
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Monday 22 April 2019
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Dew point: 8.5°C
Wind: N 2 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.”
Michel de Montaigne
1533 – 1592
“Living, as he did, in the second half of the 16th century, Montaigne bore witness to the decline of the intellectual optimism that had marked the Renaissance. The sense of immense human possibilities, stemming from the discoveries of the New World travelers, from the rediscovery of classical antiquity, and from the opening of scholarly horizons through the works of the humanists, was shattered in France when the advent of the Calvinistic Reformation was followed closely by religious persecution and by the Wars of Religion (1562–98). These conflicts, which tore the country asunder, were in fact political and civil as well as religious wars, marked by great excesses of fanaticism and cruelty. At once deeply critical of his time and deeply involved in its preoccupations and its struggles, Montaigne chose to write about himself—“I am myself the matter of my book,” he says in his opening address to the reader—in order to arrive at certain possible truths concerning man and the human condition, in a period of ideological strife and division when all possibility of truth seemed illusory and treacherous.”