Leaves

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.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 30 April 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.9°C
Dew point: -0.7°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: NE 24 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Alvin Toffler

Which will make those who rely on apps to function the new illiterati.

Black Flies!

They’re here! Black file season has officially begun for us. We spent Friday and Saturday at the Rideau Camp. Friday was cloudy, and not terribly warm. We kept busy all day, Attila finishing the camp fire pit, and me burning wood and broken bits of brush in the camp fire pit. We had our usual lunch, grilled cheese sandwiches over the embers of the camp fire. I managed to go for a walk with Attila around the periphery of the property, it is pretty hard going in some places, lots of rocks, fallen trees, and hills. The day was a long one, just couldn’t tear ourselves away, so many interesting things to do.

The black flies were noticeable, but not too bad, we had no trouble tolerating them.

Our camp fire pit, finished. This is best camp fire pit I have ever used or designed. In the picture at the bottom of the pit is the air trench, this trench allows air to be sucked up from below the level of the burning fire, oxygen! On either side of the burning wood are two large pieces of granite, between which the fire burns. The granite rocks circling the fire pit prevent logs from rolling out, and helps to channel the wind into the burning fire. The air trench faces in the direction of the dominant wind flow, so that the wind blows in through the trench, hits the taller rocks across from the trench and creates a draft parallel to the predominant wind. This fire pit is so effective that I have only needed to use one match, a sheet of newspaper, some dry kindling and some sticks to get it going. It burns the wood completely and keeps the burning wood well confined. When I want to cook I put the grill across the two large granite rocks inside the ring, and I am all set up. Over the course of the weekend I burned all the wood from two of the dead trees that Attila felled last weekend.
Camp fire pit
The trilliums are out in full bloom. We are careful not to tread on them as we hike through the bush, but sometimes it can’t be helped, there are just so many of them. We have a few of these Red Trilliums on the property, so pretty. The Trillium is Ontario’s official Provincial Flower (white Trillium).
Trillium

Saturday I wanted to walk down to the waterfront to which we have deeded access. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for a little walk. We observed something on a beech tree that neither one of us had seen before, and we still haven’t identified what we were looking at.

We looked up into this 60 foot high beech tree on our walk to the waterfront yesterday. The objects attached to the branches of the tree look ominous, we don’t know what they are. If anyone can identify what they are I’d love to know. I couldn’t get a closer picture, with more detail, because they were so far up.
Nests in tree

The waterfront is not idyllic, and it is obvious that the ownership is shared by many. There are discarded tires lying under the water, old boards and lumber pushed into the bush along the driveway, and the dock is literally falling apart, I won’t venture out on it. The shoreline is mucky, with a sand bottom further out. It is shallow, so that one might launch a canoe or small boat, but nothing larger. The view is lovely. I think Attila and I will eventually put in a bit of time cleaning things up down there, bit by bit. It doesn’t look like anyone else really cares. Most of the properties sharing this access point are waterfront properties, so they don’t really use it.

Our waterfront. We have deeded access to this waterfront, which we share with many others. It is shallow, and quite mucky along the shore, but I think we would enjoy bringing a picnic down here during late summer, when the bugs have died down. I don’t see us boating, although we may eventually get a small aluminium or fibreglass boat for fishing. We both like to fish. I used to canoe, but the arthritis in my coccyx makes it difficult to find a comfortable sitting position in a canoe, and my wonky knees mean that kneeling on my knees isn’t much fun either. Paddle boats work for me, but are too bulky to move around on land to and from storage. Wading is a good option on a hot day!
Water access

Attila had a look at the neighbouring property, and he says the view from the hill is lovely, but I would have trouble getting up there with my knees being what they are. Perhaps when bug season is over I might give it a try, wearing my knee brace. I tended the camp fire, burning the last of the dead trees that Attila felled last weekend. I also sprayed the weeds on the core area of the driveway with the vinegar/epsom salt/dawn detergent mixture. It worked right away with some of the weeds, and not at all with others. This will be an ongoing project. I also planted many clover seeds around the open area where we park, hoping it will grow as ground cover.

The black flies became more numerous as the day went by. By the time we left at 7 p.m. they were swarming around our heads. May and June are usually months when biting bugs are at their worst in Ontario. We won’t be doing as much work at the Rideau Camp for a few months. There is lots to be done at home, and Iris is waiting for attention, to ready her for the camping season, which we hope will begin in July and extend into October.

We headed home tired and happy after our day in the bush.

On the drive home we observed another phenomena that neither of us had seen before. It was a short rainbow in the sky, just a short straight line of faint colours, high above and to the right of the setting sun. It wasn’t raining.

Today, Sunday, we stayed home. It was raining when we got up this morning, making a day out of doors less appealing, particularly when the temperature was only going to rise to 9C. So Attila spent his time organizing the garage so that he can get the lawn more out, it will soon be needed. I spent the day making croutons, cooking vegetables for my meals this week, and baking Blueberry Squares for Attila’s lunches.

A dreary looking day out there today, but our little world needed it. The grass got greener as the day wore on, and the gardens are looking happy.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

9°C
Date: 4:23 PM EDT Sunday 1 May 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 3 km
Temperature: 8.5°C
Dewpoint: 7.4°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: ENE 11 km/h

Quote

“Peace is when time doesn’t matter as it passes by.”
Maria Schell

Bright and Early

Attila and I left for the Rideau Camp bright and early. Attila works tonight, so we wanted to come home early enough so that he could get a good “night’s” sleep before heading off to work. We drove along under a cloudy sky, there weren’t many people out and about at 7:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

The sun was shining by the time we reached the Camp. It was 7C, but we didn’t really feel the chill because we were so busy with our little projects.

The first task was to take the cold ashes from the fire pit and place them in the ruts left by the bulldozer. The bulldozer, we theorize, was employed to clear the trees and stumps to create the clearing where we park our car. The ruts are deep, so we are filling them with clean fill. So far two pots of dead fall Mums with soil, and the cold ashes from our fire pit, are the only clean fill we have, this might take years. We have time.

There are big spiders at the Rideau Camp. The bodies are about the size of a nickel, and the legs give them the circumference of a Loonie. I am not a fan of spiders, particularly in my personal space, I kill the ones that venture near my feet, or any other part of my body.

Attila spent time saving trees. Wild grapes have grown up some of the mature trees on the property, they compete with the tree for sunlight, will eventually weaken the tree, and may even kill it. Attila cuts through the vines about a foot off the ground, which will kill the vine growing up the tree. Attila then cuts a section from them, so that they hang swaying in the breeze, about a foot overhead. Seven wild grape vines were severed today.

The garbage that we found on the property is almost all in bags now. Attila gathered it all up while I was tending the fire, going so far as to open the apple juice bottles to release the fermented juice, and recycle the bottles. There are two apple juice bottles that would not open, left for another time, and a small pile of mugs and bowls, perfectly serviceable Corning Ware mugs and bowls.

My job as fire tender ties me to the camping area, as I will not leave the fire unattended even for a few minutes. Things are dry out there, the wood catches fire easily, and I want to make sure the fire stays in the fire pit. I keep four large jugs of water, that I bring from home, beside the fire pit, and also two pails full of water filled from the wetland on the property. In addition there is a part bag of sand sitting near the fire pit, in case it is needed to smother the fire. I let the fire burn down entirely at the end of our day at the Camp, stirring it to make sure there are no combustable bits of wood in the ashes. When all the flames are spent, I use all of the water to carefully douse the embers, and soak the soil all around the fire pit. By the time we leave, there is no smoke or steam emanating from the ashes of the day’s fire.

While Attila and I sat chatting around the camp fire, we looked up to see two large birds circling the area. We think they are eagles. Then we saw eight large birds far above them, very high up, so high up that we had to strain our eyes to make them out, they were so small in the distance. They looked like eagles, but they might have been turkey vultures.

Turkey Vultures are carrion birds, they eat animals that are already dead. Eagles hunt for live prey. I don’t think these two types of birds compete with each other in the food chain, and that it is quite possible that we are seeing both Turkey Vultures and Eagles.

We have a few more flowers blooming now at the camp. I spied a white Trillium in the bush, and Attila says there are carpets of them at the back of the property. The wild Coltsfoot is blooming in several spots along the creek, pretty yellow flowers. We also found a flower that we could not identify, a pretty white flower, which I took a photo of and had to look up on the internet when we got home. The carpets of Mayflowers and Trout Lilies are beautiful right now. I have been looking for Hepaticas, but so far I haven’t found any.

I think this flower is Bloodroot, please correct me if I am wrong! There were quite of few of these little flowers lining the edge of the driveway at the Rideau Camp, there were some along the creek as well.
Bloodroot

There were no mosquitoes today at the Camp, I think it was too cold for them. There were a few black flies, but they were not swarming, so they were quite bearable.

Attila is sleeping now. And me, well I’ve been tending an open fire for two days, time for a shower!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Sunday 24 April 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 7.4°C
Dewpoint: -7.9°C
Humidity: 33%
Wind: SSW 16 km/h

Quote

“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls.”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
1815 – 1902