Yesterday Attila and I arose early, packed Tank, ate a hearty breakfast, and drove off towards the camp early in the morning. It was a glorious day! The journey to the camp took us though a landscape lush with green grasses, and there were even a few trees that looked as if the buds were about to burst.
Upon arrival my first task was to get a camp fire going in the fire pit. Luckily Attila had dragged a dead pine tree over near the fire pit, during out last visit several weeks ago. The branches were brittle and dry, broke easily, and made perfect kindling. The fire started on the first try. The rest of my day was spent burning the pine boards that had been under the back deck at Mist Cottage, and collecting and burning fallen branches from around the perimeter of the clearing where we spend our time at the Camp. I even grabbed the rake and spent fifteen minutes raking crushed stone, which was quite a chore, some of the pieces of stone are four or five inches in diameter, and quite heavy.
On a walk down the driveway to our pond I collected fallen branches, which I burned in the fire pit. Along the way I enjoyed the Mayflowers scattered at the side of the drive, and off into the bush. There were also clumps of bright yellow Coltsfoot in and around the end of the driveway, near the pond. All day we were serenaded by the frogs in our pond, the one by the road, and the two further back on the property. The ponds dried up over the course of the summer last year, as it was a very dry year. This spring the ponds are full to capacity, and full of life.
Attila felled three dead trees that we had marked last autumn, and released a fallen dead tree which was caught up in the branches of living trees at the perimeter of the open area. He worked on releasing more logs from the log pile, digging them out and throwing them into sorted piles by size, so that he could easily stack them when they dried out a bit, later in the spring. As well, he moved a few barrels worth of crushed stone into the area we marked out to be covered with stone and gravel. We will work on this project slowly, moving a little bit of crushed stone every time we visit the Camp, and eventually the job will get done. We are hoping it gets done before the weather is nice enough to go camping!
With so many restrictions on my diet, it is difficult to find food to consume for portable picnics. We decided on homemade hummus, sodium-free, with low sodium crackers for me, and pita bread for Attila. Commercial bread has too much sodium in it for me to be able to eat it, and I haven’t ventured into making my own, not yet anyway. I brought my homemade low-sodium, low-sugar, low-cholesterol muffins as well, for snacks. And I always keep a handy small container of walnuts and chocolate chips in Tank, just in case we hit a low energy situation, which happens from time to time when we are working all day in the outdoors.
When we arrived at the camp the driveway was partially flooded with less than an inch of water from our adjacent pond. Upon investigation, it was discovered that leaves and dead branches had collected at the outlet to the stream, keeping the water level high. Attila spent an hour or so with the rake, clearing the channel, and by the time I went for my walk down the driveway, the water level had gone down by several inches, leaving the drive high and dry.
I was dismayed to find, near the fire pit, that some trespasser on a dirt bike or ATV had done a “donut” at the edge of area of crushed stone, and had torn up the soil, leaving a deep rut about ten feet long. We are now talking about putting up a gate at the end of the driveway.
And oh yes, last but not least, I got my first black fly bite of the season, along the hairline, behind my right ear. Little devils!
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 24 April 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Dew point: -2.7°C
Wind: NNE 20 gust 29 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page.”
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants
I have borrowed this as an audio book from my local library, and am listening to it as I crochet. The above statement was made by a 90 or 93 year old man in a nursing home, of his family, who don’t tell him things because they don’t want to upset him. The not telling upsets him a lot.
Your mention of yellow-flowered coltsfoot send me to Google Images and then to my wildflower bible, The Standing People, by Kahlee Keane and Dave Howarth. I see that what I’ve been calling “coltsfoot” is actually “arrow-leaved coltsfoot,” which has no yellow flowers, but white ones instead. I had a re-read and a timely reminder that the scented flowers bloom in early spring long before the leaves form. I’m still learning, after all these years! -Kate
Sounds like a good start to spring at the camp. Sorry you’re having to consider a gate at your driveway.
In our travels, I haven’t noticed any blooms in the brush yet. I guess what is out there is still too small to be seen from the roadside. DH says we might be seeing trillium in a few weeks, though. At home, our hyacinths have started blooming and DH’s cottage rose already has new leaves.
Time to start thinking about outdoor chores. Looks like we’ll need to repaint the deck this year. And maybe we’ll get to putting in a new front sidewalk sometime this summer. We’ll see!
Kate, I had no idea there was a variety of coltsfoot that sported white blooms! Always something new to learn. I love the wildflowers of spring!
Thanks for sharing the name of your go to wild flower book, I will look that one up.
We did have a great start to the our season at the Rideau Camp Teri, I realized how much I missed it over the winter, once I had been sitting in the sun for a few hours.
Mayflowers are tiny, and I don’t see them until I am standing almost on top of them. There were quite a few trilliums up, there were flower buds on them on the south facing slope in the bush, it won’t be long now. We also have large swaths of trout lilies growing all through the bush, and it won’t be long before they bloom. I love the yellow and green carpets that they form in the bush, on of my earliest memories of the farm I grew up on, which we moved to when I was four years old.
We don’t have hyacinths here at Mist Cottage, they are so pretty! There are wild violets growing in the back yard, in the “grass” at the back, purple, very pretty, but you can hardly see them from the kitchen window.
Repainting is something I don’t like to do. It is the preparation work that really irks me. Removing old and flaking paint and cleaning are hard work! It makes a case for those new decking materials made out of articial something, that don’t need painting or staining. I imagine there is some drawback to them though, that I don’t know about. It sounds like you have your projects cut out for you!
Your days at your camp sound idyllic to me but alas, my days of hard work outside are about over. Besides back trouble, I have passed the 81 year mark and my body is tired. I used to love to do yard work and I think I got my love of burning trash and limbs came from my dad who was a borderline firebug! Just think how it will look when your are finished cleaning everything up! My mom had a real love for wildflowers and every time a happen to see a buttercup or wild iris, I think of her.
Ava, I remember when my Mom passed the 80 mark, she said she slowed down, it was a change for her. Before that she had worked on her farm with my brother, side by side, then it was too much. She still spends time on the farm, my brother lives on the property, and she starts seeds in the bay windows in the house, he plants them, and does almost all of the garden work, they enjoy it. I am a little ways behind her, she was very young when when I was born, so I can see that won’t be keeping up this pace forever. I am hoping that the bulk of the clean up and projects here at Mist Cottage and at the Rideau Camp will be behind us in the next five or six years, so that when I need to slow down things will be pretty much the way we envision them, and we can just enjoy being in our spaces. Truth be told, if I had enough money I would probably have chosen spaces that didn’t need cleaning up, or renovation, but sweat equity properties are all we can afford, and we feel lucky to have accomplished even that while we still have the wherewithall to put in the time and labour.
Wildflowers are so beautiful, what wonderful memories with our Moms!
I tried to grow coltsfoot once, having been told that it would be good for my daughter’s asthma. I remember that it liked shade and moist, and I especially liked the way it spread like a dense ground cover.It looks like you and Attila are on the way to a wonderful spring and summer season!
Diane, coltsfoot spreads quickly! We discovered this when we transplanted some into our front garden at our first house in the small city. It took over the garden and then attempted to replace the grass in the front yard. I had to aggressively remove it, for years! Luckily at the Rideau Camp we don’t mind it anywhere it wants to grow.
We are looking forward to spending time at the Camp, but I think I will be finding projects to work on during the worst of the blackfly and mosquito season; mid-May to mid-June are usually the worst months for flying biting insects.