Canada Day Weekend

Our Canada Day long weekend was peaceful and rejuvenating. For us, a weekend spent in each other’s company, tucked away from the rest the of the world, watching the birds, the insects, the clouds floating in the sky, and the trees swaying in the breeze, is a perfect way to celebrate that we live in Canada.

On Friday evening Attila hooked Tank up with Iris the Trailer and we headed for the Rideau Camp. It is a lovely drive to the camp, we take back roads that are not heavily travelled, due to the low speed limit. Since we are in no particular hurry the low speed limits suit us just fine.

After we arrived Attila took some time to position the trailer, and it was odd that the battery light in Tank came on during this process, so Attila turned off the interior lights, so that as we were in and out of Tank over the weekend they would not turn on automatically each time the door opened.

We set up the trailer, and a kitchen canopy that we bought almost two decades ago for a camping trip when Terra was a teenager. We seldom get rid of things if they have a practical use. It took us a very long time to need the kitchen tent again. It is in pristine condition, set up very easily, and was placed over the picnic table. It smelled a bit mildewy when Attila set it up, but a day in the strong sun cured that, so that by the end of the weekend the smell had completely disappeared.

The Rideau Camp, all set up for the weekend. Attila’s strimmer does a wonderful job of keeping the weeds short, it almost looks like a lawn! Most of the greenery is white clover, which I planted in the early spring, just after we finished tearing out the hundreds of bramble plants. Attila and I still spend an hour or so on every visit, pulling out short bramble regrowth; eventually it will just give up and be gone, but not this year.
Rideau iris

On Friday afternoon the clouds rolled in, big black clouds, and thunder could be heard in the distance. Eventually the thunder passed us to the north, but the rain poured down. Luckily the kitchen tent protected our kitchen gear, and us, for the duration of the downpour, which didn’t last long. The sun came out again, only to be followed a few ours later by another big black cloud, which poured rain down on us a second time. It still wasn’t enough rain though, to refresh the dry forest. The rest of the weekend was sunny and warm.

On Saturday morning Attila and I went for a walk down to our shared waterfront. It was a disappointing experience. The water level was low, and the wind had washed quite a bit of organic material onto the shoreline, which was rotting and emitted a mildly unpleasant odour. The lake bottom was shallow and there were lots of plants growing, obscuring the sandy bottom. Although this isn’t wonderful for human recreation, it is wonderful for fish, and fish breeding. The dock had been repaired, and a new section added, which provided a nice place to sit at the waterfront. At some point we will take our chairs down to the lake to sit and watch the passing big boats that are travelling the Rideau Canal system. Whoever repaired the dock threw around four or five large plastic barrels, which littered the water and the shore. Obviously no one in particular is caring for this piece of real estate.

As we were walking back towards our camp from the waterfront, a couple with a medium sized black dog were out walking towards the waterfront.

As they approached us on the road the woman called out, “Don’t worry about the dog, he is friendly!”

Immediately the man called out, “Don’t worry I’ve got him on a leash.”

So we didn’t worry. As we drew nearer the dog began to growl, then began to lung and loudly bark at us. The man had tight control of the leash, and the dog was kept under control. In what universe would a dog like that be defined as friendly!

Attila and I chatted about the proliferation of dogs in the area, there seem to be a lot of barking, unfriendly dogs. Attila thinks it is because there are so many monster houses and expensive cottages near us, people keep guard dogs. There are some exceptions though. We have met the neighbours on either side of our property, and their dogs are friendly, very friendly.

However, dogs that are in a pack are extremely dangerous, even the gentlest, most loving pets, as they will revert to predator pack behaviour immediately. I learned this when I was teaching at an outdoor centre and one of our students was attacked by a pack of pet dogs, who came close to killing her, had she not escaped serious injury by climbing a tree. The dogs were all beloved pets, running loose and free in “God’s Country”, as the city people called it. I love dogs, but at the same time I respect who they are.

Our Rideau Camp is surrounded by monster houses (country estates) and waterfront cottages. The people we purchased it from intended to build a large country estate on the property. The couple in the expensive SUV that drove in one weekend to inquire about buying the property intended to build a country estate. The people who had an accepted offer on the property just before we bought it, had lost the deal because they couldn’t get financing to build a large country estate. Other former owners included: a fellow who flew in by float plane from the USA to stay in a “tin shack” on the land during his stay, we have found no evidence of a tin shack; owners who intended to build a cedar stack wall home; owners who installed a well; and owners who built the driveway. We suspect that the property was originally settled as part of a farm, and used as a pasture.

We know about the cedar stack wall home because the cedar logs were stacked on skids, then bulldozed into a huge pile on the property, probably when the driveway was put in. According to one long time resident in the area, nearby neighbours have been helping themselves to the logs for years and years, to use as firewood. We are finding logs embedded in piles of roots and earth, shoved aside when the driveway was built, or so we think. The logs are old, some rotted quite away. Yet when Attila removed some from the huge pile, and split them, we found that beneath a one inch layer of weathered wood lies sound, fresh looking cedar. What a terrible waste!

A front end loader pushed over dozens of smaller trees, and stacked them on the top of the huge pile of cedar logs. Attila spent our long weekend pulling down the dead trees, sectioning them, and piling them near the fire pit. I spent the long weekend burning the wood that Attila piled for me.

Before: The cedar log pile with the dead trees piled high on top. There is a sea of brambles in front of it, which is now white clover.
DSCF8022
After: The cedar log pile with the dead trees removed and burned. The pile is still taller than Attila, but not quite as intimidating as it was.
Rideau cedar log pile july

I have decided to see if I can figure out any practical used for the sound cedar logs, it seems such a shame to burn them. But it is unlikely I will discover any good use for them, and it is most likely that I will spend the rest of the summer burning them.

We were able to spend a fair amount of time just sitting in the shade, watching the clouds roll by, and the trees swaying in the wind. We observed a Hawk, a Blue Heron, a Scarlet Tanager, an unidentified tiny bird that flew like a small rocket across the clearing, several Crows, a Robin, and a Blue Jay. We heard Pileated Woodpeckers in the forest, and a Loon on the lake. I thought perhaps it was a bird that sounded like a Loon that we heard, but I have been unable to discover any birds that sound like Loons.

On our walk we observed many wild plants. Wild Daisies, Chicory, Red Clover, Mullein, Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Purple Vetch, various grasses, and many plants that I cannot identify.

Comfrey growing by the side of the road, it has many medicinal uses.
Rideau Comfrey
We were amazed at the masses of wild daisies growing along the sides of the road, so very pretty.
Rideau daisy
I am suspicious that the plants with three leaves in the right of the photo are Poison Oak. I haven’t seen Poison Oak before, so I am not sure, but better safe than sorry.
Rideau poison oak

We had a wonderful weekend that was over all too soon. On Sunday morning, after a pancake and pineapple breakfast, we began to pack our gear to return home. Just after lunch Attila hooked Tank to Iris and off we went.

The weather was lovely, sunny with cotton candy clouds floating across the sky. The drive home might have been more enjoyable though, had it not been for the battery warning light, and the falling battery gauge. At first the gauge maintained its position, but when were about 40 km from home it began to fall. By the time we were entering our home town it had fallen drastically and all the warning lights on the dashboard had lit up. It was a tense drive through downtown, and finally, just as we turned off the main road into our neighbourhood, the engine began to falter. We chugged along the road, ever more slowly, until finally we turned the corner of our own street, at which point the engine died completely. We coasted down the street, coming to a stop just in front of our house.

As Tank came to standstill, Attila and I looked at each other and broke into riotous laughter. What are the odds of Tank making it all the way home and dying at just the right point so that we could coast to our own front door!

It was one lucky weekend!

This morning I called the garage, and Tank is in there now for repair. We think it is the alternator, but won’t know for sure until we hear from the mechanic. They kindly drove me home for the day, and we will pick up Tank tomorrow, when Attila after gets home from work.

So today started out busy, then it played out very quietly. They drove me home, it isn’t far. I have busied myself with laundry, sorting through the camping gear, paying bills and figuring out where to get the money to pay for Tank’s repair bill. It is all working out, with a little effort.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

27°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 4 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 21.3°C
Dewpoint: 17.4°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Humidex: 29

Quote

“Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882

Aging seems significantly different to me now than it did before I was middle aged. Until that first pinch of agism entered my universe, I thought very little about aging, and perceived it as feeling similar to youth, and just appearing outwardly more worn. In reality, looking different is the least of possible disadvantages of getting older. Since middle age I have known being older is not at all like being young, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Age added much more than it took away. It made me invisible, but only to the superficial and the shallow. It took some of my health, but gave me respect for my body as the vessel of my journey. It took away loved ones, which taught me to value every minute spent with those who remain. I like being old, and I hope to do it for a very long time.

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