Bring on Spring!

It seemed just over a week ago the lake was covered in a sheet of ice, how time flies! It was 8 days ago actually. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. At first small holes started to open, then along the edges free spots slowly began to widen into small pools. In the late morning the otter was catching fish, sliding into the small holes and reappearing on the ice with some nice bass to lunch on. The muskrat that has been living under the floating dock appeared, dragging bits of weeds and sticks back to spot neat the lake edge, a nest in a cavity there perhaps? By late afternoon it was gone…the ice, just like that, the wind was howling and off it was pushed down the lake and it seemed to slowly sink! We have our lake back!! Celebration time!

Across at our neighbours the stream by their bunkie is roaring. Between the rise in temperatures and the warmth of the sun the snow and ice was disappearing before our eyes. The swamps were filling up and overflowing into the small creek that runs along the road and down into the lake, when it is still you could hear it rumbling! Water is magical!

A Hooded Merganser male glided across the still water between the ice and lake side with his perfect reflection. What a stunning bird, my first time seeing one so close. He seemed unperturbed by my presence and continued to explore the open area. The big predators have returned as well. As I sat at the table I glanced behind me out the window at what I thought was a big ass Red-tailed Hawk. I quietly made my way out onto the front deck and realized it was a juvenile Bald Eagle, perhaps three years old. What an amazing beak that creature has!

He/she looked a bit wet, maybe missed a fish and came up to the branch to sit and wait for something else to catch it’s eye. Bald eagles are strong, aggressive birds but like everything that flies they are governed by aerodynamics. The wings of an eagle need to support the eight to 12-pound bird as well as whatever the bird is carrying, and best estimates put the lifting power of an eagle at four or five pounds. But lifting dead weight it very different that coming in at speed, grabbing and going! That is why these Eagles hunt fish, goslings, ducks and other small aquatic birds, a large Canada Goose would just be to much to carry away! They don’t carry away children or dogs, unless you happen to own a very small one, cats, maybe, good thing Groot and Rocket are probably too heavy! Look out Gamora!

Mike caught a large rodent out of the corner of his eye while looking out the kitchen window….”What the…??? Squirrel?” Nope, a large very round looking Groundhog was lumbering about on the rocks outside, the cats were very interested! Our first Groundhog! Yeah! Only the chipmunks and squirrels need to keep a watch out for the sharp fangs and teeth of the felines. We keep them on the leash but they have been known to dart in, grab and run with a furry small creature. Some good Shakespearean insults are hurtled the cats way as they dash for the safety of their rock dens! I think there is a “Cat alert” code they have!

The smell of the ground is intoxicating in the Spring. It is so primal, wet earth, molds, decomposing leaves, it creates an incredible aroma of life coming back from the dead of Winter. The birds are changing as well, the cheerful little Common Redpolls have headed North towards the Artic tundra as of yesterday. In their place the Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived cackling away all day, as well as the Song Sparrows and Juncos. At times I am reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” when their, the grackles and black birds song (can we call it that?) is in full swing and the ground is covered in these feathered hoodlums!

The Juncos and Song Sparrows rummage about on the ground under the feeders, they are very polite. The American Robins were picking what small seeds were left on the Sumac buds, their song is the sound of Spring returning! The Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds sound like an out of tune punk rock concert 😉 ha! The American Goldfinches are gradually turning more and more yellow. They stay all year and are a cheerful burst of colour on drab days.

The White and Red breasted Nuthatches go about their day snatching seeds and quickly flying off. I have heard the Pileated Woodpecker but he has been scarce at the suet feeder, as is the Red-Bellied male. Either they are nesting or busy foraging for other foods. The Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are still in full force! and as I said, the Blackbirds and Grackles make up for all the lost woodpecker noise…ha! All that puffing and calling and showing off to the ladies, who are, I might add, pretty brutal and picky! All that grandstanding, strutting your stuff, and she just turns and flies away…

The nicest thing about Spring arriving is everything that comes back to life. I often feel quite bird-centric, it’s what we have all Winter to watch and marvel at but Spring brings all kinds of other lovely big and small creatures!

They understand social-distancing as well;) Today we are back onto lock down here in our county. Not a bad thing really, things are getting out of hand again, stupid people, lots and lots of stupid people…sigh…I am glad we are surrounded by something other than homo sapiens most days;)

and yes, the geese are back, sigh, more birds. Someone once asked me if I took anything BUT bird photos…sometimes;) I think she was referring to the fact I don’t really photograph that many people:) Not that I don’t like to, kids are especially fun to photograph, they don’t pose, they just are, guess I don’t like posers much;) hahahahaha! That overhead honk of the Canada Goose is a wonderous sound, that amazing V flying formation in the sky. My husband dreads it, I might burst into song! ♫♪♫ Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wing♫♪♫…you know the song, he hates the Sound of Music…poor man;)

I have a great deal of respect for geese, they can bite;) you just have to make sure you are badder ass than they are in close quarters;) In the swamp between us and the road a pair look like they are maybe nesting, they honked at me profusely as I walked by, I apologized and said I would in the future watch from a distance;)

So, I think we are caught up, enough babbling, can’t make it, this too long or some may not read it;) ha…the short attention span theater group;) To those looking at this on your phone, wait until you can actually see the pictures on a monitor! Put your phone away when you are walking in town, and how on earth can you jog with your phone in your hand? and to those worried about getting the vaccine, that Bill Gates maybe implanting something in you, he doesn’t have to, you “are” your phone already…hahahaha;) My pet peeves from the weekly shopping trip to town! I’ll leave you with yesterdays sunrise, even the little red canoe got to go for a spin…Spring is finally…here! Saludos amigos, can’t wait until we can hug again! In the mean time I’m going out to sniff some more of that Spring dirt!

Spring keeps teasing us…wait, we’re not quite there yet are we?!

Let it melt! let it melt! Let it melt! It’s ALMOST Spring-two days away! In January you are still mesmerized by the beautiful snow, February comes and you know it’s still Winter, expect a few snow storms still, sometimes you get lucky and there is a February thaw, not this year, but March, March holds promises of warmer days, and sun-glorious sun, the snow slips away almost overnight, well, sort of…maybe tomorrow? Ha! I think the Canadian weather forecasters are somewhat sadistic, they love to post those days…15°…sunny, you get your hopes up and suddenly the day approaches and it gets downgraded…to a high of 3°…what job could you be so consistently bad at and not get fired, I don’t know;) So, tomorrow, yes, we have a forcast for 15°. I will not hold my breath but if it does arrive I will do a little hobbling happy dance (plantar fasciitis is flaring up) and watch the rest of the snow recede into the ground! Halle-f-ing lujah!

Mike has been watching the entire collection of “The Sopranos”…It is beginning to show up in my vocabulary on a regular basis;) oh dear, we need to work on this! I can’t keep swearing like Tony Soprano! So, bring on Spring! We had our one last big dump of snow this month, the laneway was so narrow the dually was having a hard time squeezing through! After the big dump, of snow, the wonderful plow guy was stuck, again, I am beginning to think we didn’t make him any profit this year with the amount of times the tow truck came to haul him out, no amount of raspberry muffins will lure him back…sigh, we’ll cross that bridge this coming Fall:)

The good thing is the deer have stopped walking on the ice, must be a sign! The local porcupine has been out sunning him/herself ( however do you tell???) I know how nice that feels! We Canadians love to chat about the weather, probably as it plays a huge part in our mental health! ha! I’m just excited by the little things! The emergence of our gravel laneway is one of them! Who knew I would be so happy to see gray gravel again! And this was a mild Winter, A “good one” to break you back in folks keep telling us, “It went easy on you!”…no ice is all I keep hearing, and we were so well prepared with barrels of sand and salt! It will be here for next year, or, I’m not counting out any sudden ice storms or freezing rain just yet! Call me a pessimist right now and I’ll agree, no surprises please!

The Common Redpolls are still here in great abundance…shouldn’t they be headed to the Tundra? I keep worrying, a sign Winter hasn’t had it’s last laugh! Both the Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been scarce this week. I think they are nest building, or they didn’t like the beef suet? I’m back to pork and peanut butter this week! We’ll see! Babies would be a real treat! They are always a welcome blast of colour!

It’s time to start cleaning up…no snow to hide last years leaves and dead plants. Little piles of tree struggles, dead branches and enormous quantities of sunflower seed husks! The rake is waiting…and the wheelbarrow…It will feel good to breathe in that moist Spring air. We had a few minutes of rain this week, we opened the sliding door and sat with the cats sniffing the air, it was delicious! Earth, the beautiful smell of dirt and decay…

…and we can see the little red canoe! yeah! Break out the bubbly! I don’t need much encouragement to celebrate these days;) The lake has gone back to burbling and groaning, think of a giant, with stomach indigestion, no farts, just grumbling! With the quantity of water rolling in, and nowhere for it to go I half expect a blow hole to form in the middle of the lake to let off stream like a pressure cooker! Have you every had one explode? I have…

The traveling Mewberries have gone back to leashes…sadly….with the lake ice melting and sudden Spring fever they are wild! As the snow melted and they discovered they could go anywhere it was time for them to play “Catch me if you can!” with the underneath of our neighbour’s cabin being the first place they pranced off to on the lake ice…flipping their tails around in great amusement as they scampered off…bad kittens! I liked those tall snow paths they couldn’t see over, but not enough to wish for more! NOOOO!!!!:)

Down at the Narrows Lock where the lake is opening up the geese are being very cranky, must be that long trip up from Florida, and the lack of social distancing…some people just don’t get it, sadly…I would love to “sic” this gander on a few of them…he voiced what I feel when I go to the store and see people’s masks hanging around their chins…No vaccine in sight for our age group here yet. Glad to see so many friends and family South of the border with both their shots! We’ll get there, and then hopefully we can go back to exploring, our neck of the woods for now, but yes, a few more adventures for the traveling Mewberries and their faithful servants! Until then, I’m out to visit our latest arrivals, the Red-Winged Blackbirds are back with their friends the Grackles! Stay safe amigos, or you might find that goose chasing you down;) ha!

If Birds were Star Trek characters;) ha!

Captains log-star date 02062021 in the Milky Way galaxy… Meet Captain Picard (or Captain Kirk with that great hair!) here (although some might say a Bald Eagle or a California Condor would be more appropriate, none came by today;)…He takes life slowly, thoughtfully, savoring it, with some suet tea, hot…The rest of humanity out there could do with a bit of slowing down as well. I think perhaps the pandemic currently sitting on our shoulders has forced us in many ways to do so but I still shake my head in wonder at those that travel at a pace they see nothing on either side of them, just a small dot in the future, your life is today…

The log cottage below us went up for sale, American owners that can’t visit during the border closures decided to put it up for sale. The realtor fails to mention this is a one kilometer long lane, snow piled up on either side, very small country road that at a few times this week requires 4×4 or very careful driving to get in and out, one car at a time. There are no turn outs or places for two vehicles to pass, you have to back ALL the way out if you encounter another car…most people can’t do this on a slippery snow covered one lane road. It has been a three ring circus of comings and goings, when I thought we were supposed to be in lockdown? Here are people traipsing about the country side in minivans and small low clearance cars that have no clue where they are going, or what will meet them at the end. How have humans lived as long as they have if this represents a large segment of our population, maybe Darwin was wrong? ha! Last weekend of showings…we’ll see how many times the tow truck has to arrive, only one 4×4 tow truck around in the vicinity and you can imagine, it is busy at the best of times. Anyone have a Romulan disrupter out there I could borrow? 😉

So, we are not exactly stranded here, but we have to call the realtor to see when and for how long visitors are coming as we leave, and again as we try to go home, or risk running into someone, over someone;) It has been tempting, and that is not counting the looky-loos who just decide to drive in on their own…We walked out to check our mail and the speed at which drivers were flying in was astounding…they don’t deserve a place in the country if they can’t slow down even enough to take the view in as they drive in…ok, people rant done;)

Humans can learn a lot from cats…they are curious, take their time, sniff a lot of things to see what, and who has been by, they know how to play…They come from the planet Risa, they are Risians;) They don’t understand why we can’t keep the climate purrrfect…;)

and definitely know how to relax;)

They even get involved with my bird watching….Although I think Gamora may be a changeling…

I have to admit, they are not always helpful for bird photography;) Good thing they are easily distracted, food, warm fireplace etc….damn, what am I thinking sitting out there in the snow?

It pays just to sit quietly and observe, the behaviors of each of the birds are distinct, their attitudes and how they interact with each other is always fascinating. The small little birds, Goldfinches, Redpolls and Chickadees all seem to interact rather amiably with each other. Fluttering off at the first sight of danger, and just as quick to fly back to the feeders, and under the where they pick about for seeds thrown down from above. Could they be the Tribbles?

The Woodpeckers round out the top echelon, Pileated is in charge of the ship, We’ll call him Picard, the Red-Bellied is his Number 1. In line at the feeder, the Hairys are the Science officers, they battle back and forth with the Blue Jays, I think they are Romulans. The Downys fall in as the lowly red shirts;)

The next step up in the hierarchy involves the Nuthatches, White boss about the Red Breasted, they are the engineers of the Star ship! The Red breasted might be the counselors;)

The Blue Jays aka the Romulans, they don’t like anybody really and stay in the neutral zone the rest of you! The Black Squirrels, well, Ferengis, (Do you know the name Ferengi was coined based on the Persian term Ferenghi, used throughout Asia, meaning “foreigners” or “Europeans”) They don’t work well with others:) and the lone red squirrel, maybe he’s Data, never without food, all by himself…smart cookie, he might even be Vulcan;) Isn’t birding fun!!

I shall sign off for today, the crew, I mean Risians are waking up, it shall soon be play time, hoomans must amuse them;) Stay warm, stay safe, and can you stay off our road this week?! hahahahahaha!

Colour in our lives

Whenever one of these rather large Woodpeckers lands close by, or flies over, their size is what usually surprises me. We have been graced with the presence of a male Pileated Woodpecker for the last few days. I’m hoping he is going to stay and have high hopes as I see a rather large new nest cavity being excavated in a fabulous large dead tree very close by. “What does Pileated mean?” I asked Mike, he’s my go-to Buddha for all questions;) “I dunno!” was the reply, so off to the dictionary. “Did you know?”. It means crested…makes sense, especially when you see him/ and or a her head on! In French, I think I like it better, Pic Grand, or Large Peak, or is that beak? I like that, in Spanish Pájaro carpintero, Carpenter bird:)

I can’t help but hear the Woody Woodpecker voice in my head whenever I see one of these guys! Listen hear if you are not familiar with it: Woody.

According to Wikipedia, the inspiration for the character came during the producer’s honeymoon with his wife, Grace, in California in 1941. A noisy Acorn Woodpecker outside their cabin kept the couple awake at night, and when a heavy rain started, they learned that the bird had bored holes in their cabin’s roof. As both Walter and Gracie told Dallas attorney Rod Phelps during a visit, Walter wanted to shoot the bird, but Gracie suggested that her husband make a cartoon about the bird, and thus Woody was born. Woody shares many characteristics in common with the Pileated Woodpecker in terms of both physical appearance as well as his characteristic laugh, which resembles the call of the pileated woodpecker…..That’s all Folks!

Check out their actual calls: here! These are non-migratory birds. They range all over North America from Central California to British Columbia, all across Canada and the Northern States to the East coast, down to Florida and into Eastern Texas.

Map is from Cornell Lab-All about birds, my go to ID and information site.

We had a pair here this Summer with one youngster, maybe this is him!

The yellow feathers around his beak are beautiful! Groot said that dagger he had on his face was impressive and he’d look from afar, but didn’t actually want to get very close thank you…smart cat:) This fellow seems to be very very fond of the suet block I put out. I make them, rendering pork fat in the slow cooker in the outside entrance (it can be quite odiferous!) then adding peanut butter and safflower/and or sunflower seeds. He says it is very tasty, along with the dozen or more Hairy’s and Downy Woodpeckers we have about, as well as our lady Red-Bellied and the mob of Blue Jays;)

We had a fabulous burst of sunshine this morning, welcome light in an otherwise gloomy week, tonight the snow is supposed to start and not stop until Sunday. I can’t complain, my thinned Mexican blood was expecting a January from hell, -30° Celsius, howling winds…but no…last few days have been above zero, practically unheard of here where the average temperature in January is -10°…a sign of our times? or are the weather Gods being generous and breaking us in slowly…we still have February! Ha…we’ll see!

Some new visitors to our feeders have been a flock of Common Redpolls, now these birds do Winter! About the size of a small finch their bright red poll and streaky red chest (males) make them a standout in the white snow.

These small birds can withstand temperatures to -65°, they tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. Tunnels may be more than a foot long and 4 inches under the insulating snow. They breed around the world in the lands that ring the Arctic Ocean and can eat 42% of their body mass a day! They would need it in those temperatures! and they are SMART! Animal behaviorists commonly test an animal’s intelligence by seeing if it can pull in a string to get at a hanging piece of food. Common Redpolls pass this test with no trouble. They are a delight to have around in such large numbers, I’ll miss them when they head North! They seem to interact quite amicably with the Goldfinches and Black-capped Chickadees as well.

It seems the Redpolls are wanderers like us! A few banding records have shown that some Common Redpolls are incredibly wide ranging. Among them, a bird banded in Michigan was recovered in Siberia; others in Alaska have been recovered in the eastern U.S., and a redpoll banded in Belgium was found 2 years later in China. Although I think I’ll stick to below the 49th parallel in Winter!

It hasn’t been much of a landscape photography time for me, the gray skies, they can be beautiful, but a certain melancholy sets in, must kick myself and get out to photograph something other than birds! This morning it was foggy, mists rising with the above zero temperatures. Last week the deer dashed across the lake on the ice and snow and some rather foolhardy snowmobilers as well, there are open spots now in front, like portholes, the deer walk around them, I stick close to the shore, if it breaks, I can hit bottom, not about to wander out there where it is deep! I’d like to continue exploring this amazing planet of ours:) We’ll be digging out tomorrow no doubt, the forecast is for up to 25cm, almost 10″ of snow, may it be light and fluffy:) (my South Westerly and Mexican friends are now rolling with laughter holding their bellies, shoveling? what’s that? I can hardly wait for the comments…)

Saludos y abrazos amigos, stay warm and watch those backs shoveling tomorrow my local friends!

The miracle of Mother Nature

It was a year that we needed a few miracles, some have happened, some perhaps will, but all around us Mother Nature performs these on a daily basis. These flowering bodies of lichen for example. These are the sporophytes, or reproductive bodies of the moss. -16° Celsius. no problem, how do they do that?….

From the newly flowered lichen popping up like small cauliflower heads to the bright orange Witches butter, yup….there aren’t that many mushrooms you can forage year-round, but this orange “witches butter” will pop out of softwood logs any day of the year. That includes -20° days or nights! While it may not taste like much, it is edible (think survival;) hahahahaha!). Tremella mesenterica (common names include yellow brain, golden jelly fungus, yellow trembler, and witches’ butter, it is a common jelly fungus in the family Tremellaceae of the Agaricomycotina, and wait, it comes in different colours! If that is not a freaking miracle what is;)

A short walk through the woods is a journey to another land. With the small amount of snow cover, different living things pop out of the once busy brown and gray foliage. Trees come to life with lichen and mushrooms, fungus with very odd names, and a plethora of life sometimes we don’t stop to see. We often fixate on the large, the landscape, the tall trees and looming cliffs, sometimes it is good to sit and look for the minute, or more:)

The small stream beside the road offers a marvel of sights. The icicles come and go, change shape, reconfigure themselves to the current temperature, snow and currents in an ever moving, changing world. We are in constant motion, our earth rotates at 1000 miles (1600 kilometers) per hour, our orbital speed around the sun is about 67,000 mph, good thing for gravity or we would be holding on for our lives;) We are in constant motion, nothing stays the same. As nostalgic as we can get as humans, looking forward if far more beneficial that looking back. So, Goodbye 2020, no looking back;) Hello 2021!

The last full moon of 2020

Feliz año neuvo amigos

Happy holidays to all!

To peace, love and health for all!

Por la paz, el amor y la salud para todos!

Pour la paix, l’amour et la santé pour tous!

Zu Frieden, Liebe und Gesundheit für alle:)

Peace on Earth

-16°celcius is damn cold….yeah, yeah, I am part Mexican now, gimme a break! hahahaha!

How does it always seem to change so quickly, a few nights of this…is now…

THIS!

I can walk on water, actually tried today around the dock, I have now performed a miracle, that’s enough for now! I’m now working on turning the water into wine, if I can keep it unfrozen! The good news is the fireplace insert is working like a charm, the insulation in the basement is keeping all those areas warm and we can stare at the thermostat in disbelief in the early mornings for giggles;) We have had some lovely donations of winter vests and jackets as well! We are READY for Winter!

Cats ARE not amused. The snow was bad enough but this!?!

You expect me to WALK in this?

I’m going to miss my lake reflections for awhile. Right now the snow has blown off most of the ice at this end, leaving trails and cracks as the Northern part of the lake is still open. Yesterday it was gurgling and humming as a strong wind, yup, on top of the -16°, was pushing the water under the ice, at one point it sounded like low sub sonics from helicopter blades, whoosh, whoosh, whoosh (acoustic dispersion Mike just told me! Think Blaster sound, Star Wars, my wonderful geek friends!)…weird enough for Rocket to head down to the dock, only to come racing back up on the handrail chased off by some weird lake monster groaning down there…he wanted in, “Thanks” he said, “none of this monster noise stuff for me! There is a fireplace waiting!” Groot agreed, shivering, in his luxurious fur coat…”Really” I said? After a bald eagle flew over I let him in as well, no use in tempting the eagle with a warm furry meal:)

The birds are always happy to see us! Peanuts for all, refill the feeders and suet, and even sit and try not to freeze and take a few pictures…true madness, it was SUNNY! A rare Ontario phenomenon! Ha! The telephoto gets very slow and stiff at these temperatures! I must have lost my mind, love photographing these amazing flying creatures, OK, huddled, perched cold, can you please move away from the feeder, creatures;)

Slowed the creek and waterfall right down! It is still running all along the road, the swamps are still draining into the lake, just at a much slower rate, and it’s not even Winter, December 21st yet! ha! Who made up these arbitrary dates like solstice anyway? According to Scientific American: “In ancient times, Dec. 25 was the date of the lavish Roman festival of Saturnalia, a sort of bacchanalian ( bac·cha·na·li·an/ˌbäkəˈnālēən,ˌbakəˈnālēən/ adjective characterized by or given to drunken revelry; riotously drunken)….(Oh yeah!) Thanksgiving. Saturnalia was celebrated around the time of the winter solstice. And in 275 A.D., the Roman Emperor Aurelian commemorated a feast day coinciding with the winter solstice: Die Natalis Invicti Solis (“The birthday of the Unconquered Sun”). The ancient sky watchers had no understanding of the sun’s migration; they thought this celestial machinery might break down someday, and the sun would continue southward, never to return. As such, the lowering of the sun was cause for fear and wonder.” ( I get that!) Doesn’t that beat a baby in the manger, frankincense and myrrh?…yup:) Speaking of Saturnalia, on December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will meet in a “great conjunction,” the closest they could be seen in the sky together for nearly 800 years. Not a Jesus star, just two planets hanging out, no social distancing, shame on them;) Hoping for some clear skies in the next few days to see this! I’ll try to take some shots, our view here from the cottage is too treed in so we’ll drive out on down the road a bit.

In the mean time, we’ll be keeping warm! Finding a sunny branch to hang out on;) Rocket says send more cats treats by the way, he thinks he might be able to take over the photo editing in the future….Stay safe amigos! We thank our lucky stars everyday.

“Where is the “eat and delete ” button?” Rocket asks….

♪♫♪ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ♫♪♫

For me, it is preferable to rain, but ask me again in April and I may have changed my mind! Ha! The rain today is currently pitter-pattering on the metal roof. A wonderful muffled silence comes across the land with that layer of snow, the first, a few days ago was heavy and wet, but what followed was a lovely fluffy layer that carpeted everything for a day or two. The sun came out in all it’s glory, the clouds sailed across the lake making beautiful reflections in the still morning air. Perfect Winter picture postcard…

The cats, well, were not amused at all. The look of horror on Groot’s face when he stepped into the white stuff was priceless, Rocket zoomed off through the snow and Gamora, part snow leopard went over to stalk her birds. Each morning we go to the basement crawlspace to check our mouse traps, 12 deer mice so far, they are awarded to the cats (dead) based on seniority, Rocket usually manages to steal someone’s, after they have lost interest or are distracted, but the other day he went off into the grass, and came back with his own…live one, that turned out to be amazing said the others, strangely, theirs didn’t move they said….sigh…hope that is the end of the mice boom, last few days have been very sad for the three as they wait for Mike to go into the basement, get all excited, then nothing….

I would turn the traveling Mewberries into the basement/crawlspace but I’m not sure if I have cleaned up all the rat and insect poison that I have found there, so safer not to let them wander down. Next year we can perhaps pull up all the plastic currently covering the rock we live on, that is on the ground and replace it before they get the run of that area! Another item on the list!

Our lovely snowplow man came with the first snow, he wanted a trial run as he has not plowed this road before! It was like a grader had gone over it! No more bumps. The 2nd light snow we told him not to bother and we did a test run out with the 5″ or so, not sure if we could make it up the first steep hill but it did not prove to be a problem for Hagrid, the truck, 4 wheel drive and 10,000 lbs. of truck helps as well;) Good to know these things! We spent a day last week shoveling out the back of the truck filled with salt and sand and filling barrels at strategic points (hills) along the kilometer road in case things ever get (when they get, what am I thinking!) icy.

We try to walk out and get the mail now that deer hunting season is over, there are still a few booms as ducks are being blown to bits somewhere but not near the road, we hope? Country life. It is pretty quiet our little corner of the lake with the other two cottages closed for the Winter. A Muskrat has been swimming by the dock. Rocket goes down to sniff where he climbs ashore, and a beaver has been busily crossing the lake to his lodge in the swampy area dragging reeds and small branches with him/her. The otter was sitting on a horizontally growing tree by the lake with a fish in hand and chirped his way across the lake as he swam away quickly, complaining of my presence no doubt in his/her private domain;) I had no idea they made a sound like that! It was nice to see them here still! The Mergansers are busy herding fish around the lake, the bald eagle has taken advantage, as well as the seagulls, as the Mergansers chase the small minnows up towards the surface, there is a smorgasbord for all!

The bird feeders are getting cleaned out quickly with the cold and snow, the greedy Blue Jays wait patiently for their peanuts each morning then scarf them down! The Red-Bellied Woodpecker seemed to go into hiding when it snowed, but reappeared after a few days, hiding in a nice nest hole I can imagine:) The goldfinches also made an appearance as the sun came out. The large family of Hairy Woodpeckers were bickering over the suet perches, the Downy’s sweep in when they are distracted for a crumb or two, as well as the White and Red Breasted Nuthatches.

I have been busy experimenting with suet, making it from scratch. Sunflower seeds, oats and corn thrown into a pot with melted peanut butter and pig fat….they say it is delicious! I am so pleased we have such a wonderful variety of bird life as it seemed so quiet when we first came! If you feed them, they will come! Yeah!

The red canoe had to be bailed/scraped out to avoid sinking! But what a sight after the gray days of November it all seems so clean and bright again! I had some practice with snow flakes and with a few wonderful hints from fellow photographers we’ll see what I can capture next snowfall:)

There truly is beauty everywhere, from the streets of Perth with the holiday décor, the shop windows and homes and out to the snow covered fields. I had Mike stop at a bridge so I could take a picture of the Tay River, flat calm, and the reflection of the red Rainbow Bridge was so lovely. I never seemed to notice these things when the horse barn consumed our days and nights, I loved the work we did, but I can take the time to explore just a little but more now, and if I don’t want to go out, I don’t have to! ha! That will be novel!

Stay safe, stay warm amigos.

Next project I think may have to be miniature donkeys, in the snow, with red ribbons and other surprises! Stay tuned!

…and now back to warm…and cold…who bribed the weather Gods last week?? hahaha!

Ok, it is November 9th and I really should not be able to wander around at dawn in my bathrobe and slippers down to the dock, no frost, no snow, not even a freezing night (THAT will change soon!) but hey, I’m taking it as a sign to get out and enjoy, sorry Mike, that means staining the telescope building, cleaning out the eavestroughs, now what else is on my warm weather list to do again? Funny, he just ran off screaming “NOOO!!!!” 😉

…and now November 15th-it is snowing/ freezing rain/ raining…all of the above…welcome to November;) Ha! We did get that shed stained! What a difference a week makes;)

Last day of hunting season today, glad our neighbour farmer is not shooting up the landscape this week. He scared the crap out of the cats firing off the ridge beside the house, about 250′ feet away from us, and drove off in a huff when we said we weren’t really comfortable with that, “He wasn’t going to shoot us!” he said…so, he can barely hear, I wonder what his eye sight is like? Rocket decided the dryer provided an armored vehicle just in case, and Gamora has stuck near the house all week, not wanting to venture where the gunshots roam…ah, country life. The good old boys probably are not happy we are here fulltime, before they had the run of the property to themselves with the cottages closed down, hey, life is all about change:) I don’t think the property owners would have been happy with them shooting in their backyard if they had been here either, last day today, halle-fucking-lujah, pardon my French;)

A beautiful family of Otters graced us for a few days in the bay before moving on. They would fish and cavort, the two siblings stayed close together as mother went off in her own direction at times! Lots of food here to go around! When they left a squadron of Mergansers moved in like Tie-fighters ( Star Wars fans will get this;) in formation, followed closely by the seagulls picking off little fish that got too close to the surface:)

So, as you can guess, no hiking this week, or walking out to get the mail. Stuck close to home and watched the birds. A beautiful Mrs. Northern Cardinal showed up to add some colour to the lovely Red-Bellied Woodpecker Mrs…where are the guys I want to know? Maybe just as well, these ladies are so polite!

A swarm of Hairy Woodpeckers have arrived much to the chagrin of the local male who is doing his best to keep order but he has not been successful;) Lots of racket from the maple as the newcomers barge in for seed and suet! The Downy family is far more reserved, there is enough for everyone they must think:) A family of Red Breasted Nuthatches that were quite quiet all Fall have also descended, the White Breasted guys are like “Whoa, dudes you move even faster than we do!” Great cat window TV;)

They have been very excited by the quantity of feather balls flying about. The Chickadees get quite bold, Gamora caught one, then let it go, i.e lost it, unharmed save for a a bit of down…ha! She is now a Goddess in the boys eyes! “How she do that?” she is not sharing her secrets to the louts she said;)

When Rocket isn’t racing both down, and up the railing to the stairs to the lake he has discovered a tiny hole under the deck, in which he climbed into…sigh…took two boards off this morning to get him out…we won’t be playing that game tomorrow;)…bad kitty! We should have named him Dennis the menace…;) Looks like we have a new Fall project, fixing all the very small cat squeezable holes to under the deck! He gleefully ran straight there this morning, and laughed, as we had covered up one hole with a large rock, he dashed under the stairs, where he had found a new one…

We’ve had a beautiful Bald Eagle doing flybys in the morning. I’m wondering when they all head South, is there a timetable? Are they WATCHING the weather Canada app? ha! The Great Blue Heron is still fishing in the swamp, and I heard the Kingfisher as well. I’m sure they know when to leave, maybe the squadron of Mergansers will be the telling tale:) In the meantime, I’ve fixed the canoe seat finally:) We have had some stunning mornings and a couple of moonrises on the lake early this week that were spectacular. I may have to name the old red canoe, radio flyer, a friend suggested, like the old wooden hand carts we played with as kids…could work, now to brush up on my fine painting skills, wait! I have a madly talented painting cousin! Maybe we can talk her into a visit next Summer:) it might look better than my wildly third grade handwriting /painting skills;) How does that look? hahahaha!

Maybe I should consider vinyl stick on letters;)…Mrs. Red Canoe is not the final name choice, we’re working on it;) la canoa roja sounds nicer:) I’ll leave you with another glassy look at the lake, my it is a stunning sight for early morning eyes, a long as it goes along with a steaming cup of dark roast coffee…saludos amigos, stay safe, wear your mask, change, it is a coming our dear South of the border friends, it is a coming!!

From warm to cold….

♪♫♪ Clouds in my coffee ♫♪♫

There will be upcoming days I will stare at this for strength and resilience if we are battered by bad weather and cold, which we will be. 13 years of being Mexican and avoiding truly Canadian North weather has turned me into a cold whimp, I’m not sure I will be taking off my fleecy long underwear anytime soon;) November is a month of climate extremes. Two nights ago the thermometer sat at -6° Celcius (21.2F) the frost covering the trees on the other side of the lake in a swampy spot behind the small island was beautiful. It’s hard to tell it is an island without paddling around it. Mike said he tried to rouse me earlier when it was even frostier, but I think I just mumbled go away, I’m warm;) FYI…the shame of my wretched canoe seat did finally spur me into fixing it;) ha!

I did get up, eventually, and with my coffee watched a flock of Common Mergansers arrive on the flat calm lake. It makes such a difference that wind at times, it can make it brutal when it’s howling, even if the thermometer isn’t below zero!

The leaves are almost all gone, a few stragglers hanging onto the trees here and there. Is it soil, or genetics that dictates how long those leaves hang on? Something to ponder:) In a matter of a week…almost all gone…

Each ensuing rain and wind storm steals a few more leaves. Now we see where the evergreens reside, and that there are hills and rock cuts, previously hidden from view by the trees in the woods. Somewhere in there a bear is entering hibernation. He/she was walking up the driveway towards me last week as I walked out the front door. I must have scared the poor creature half to death judging from the rate of speed it galloped down the driveway and up the hill behind the house, never even turning back to look at me. Cats had great fun sniffing the depressions it made in the driveway gravel as it spun and ran…Groot’s tail even got big;) Makes you realize you could NEVER outrun one;) Food for thought:)

Not sure if the cats are enjoying the temperature change either;) When it is windy they are like wild thoroughbreds on a racetrack, ripping about, pouncing on falling leaves, but when the raindrops start they make a beeline for the door, or any vehicle sound. Rocket is terrified of the neighbour’s 4 wheeler that drives around checking on the other two three season cottages. The bogeyman no doubt of his small cat world. I am wondering how they will react to the snow. There is a small sled in the basement/crawlspace that no doubt will come in handy for pulling cats around in the snow, or sending them shooshing down the driveway hill…ha! Fun times to come! For me anyway;)

We have a few new visitors as well. A beautiful female Red-Bellied Woodpecker showed up this week and seems to come for breakfast and dinner every day. She holds her own with the squadron of of Blue Jays that descend upon the flat feeder, even taking a peck at them, so she’s a tough one! Absolutely spectacular colour, sometimes it looks deep red, at other times a fluorescent orange. Fingers crossed she wants to spend the winter here! I made a suet feeder out of a piece of paper birch, drilling holes for suet and then smaller ones, I used sticks for small perches. It has been popular already!

The range of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker is slowly creeping Northward but they are not that common. The Juncos have shown up as well in the last week, will try to get a picture on a nice sunny day! These small ground pecking birds are a delight. Amazing how they are found all across North America. The Goldfinches are slowly losing their bright yellow colour, the drab olive maybe protects them in the Winter for camouflage (?) or the bright yellow is simply there to attract a lady friend;) and only a handful of Purple Finches remain…I have my fingers crossed a Cardinal may stumble across us. We have some pines nearby so maybe?

The Woodpeckers, Downy and Hairy are very busy stashing seeds this time of year, I keep telling them the feeders will be full, as well as homemade suet on the menu;) No sign of the Pileated but I have heard them from far. The remains of a small male downy tells me we have owls, the Barred for sure, but maybe something smaller nearby, not sure if a raccoon would get a sleeping bird (?) Hope to see the owls! I look for trees with guano to find perches but nothing yet. We’ve heard the Barred Owls all Summer, sometimes right outside our window in the large maples. We had another visitor early in the morning that attracted the cats attention.

Something tells me I will have to fence in our vegetable garden next Spring;) Right now they are welcome to what is left after a few hard frosts! In the mean time a few flowers seem to be holding their own against the weather. It always amazes me what can survive the frosts. The catmint is still in bloom! Must to the delight of our feline friends:) Time to cut some to dry. I think I may try to plant every variety I can find! It is hardy, and, hey, the deer don’t like it, yet;) When the temperature pops up a bit, even a few bugs appear. A wasp was crammed into the basement doorway trying to stay warm!

As the rain pours down today, the forcast for later in the week in sun and warmth…but that can change;) Weather person…Only job you get to keep when you are consistently wrong at it;) hahahahaha! The clouds and intermittent sun have given us some beautiful skies! Mike says this is an Orca eating a lamb…yup…ah Mother Nature:)

Did I mention we have a waterfall now as well? It is going to be pretty amazing come Spring thaw! The recent rain has filled the many swamps between us and the main road and the small cascade beside the cottage road is a lovely trickle that can be heard from quite far away:) Running water is magical!

We may have a few large puddles to drive out in come early Spring;) Oh well, not that we haven’t faced some bad roads in our past;) hahahaha! People remark about “How we are going to survive winter on this kilometer long gravel road?”…hahahaha…go to Baja for 13 years, there are not many roads that shock us, our current one feels like a wonderful super highway here! We still have to place our sand and salt barrels near the hills, they are ready to go, and with all honesty, if there is a storm coming, you prepare…and stay home once it hits! It is not like we do not get weather warnings here!

And how is there are still mushrooms? Bright orange ones! Pycnoporus cinnabarinus, also known as the cinnabar polypore, is a saprophytic, white-rot decomposer. Its fruit body is a bright orange shelf fungus. It is inedible. It produces cinnabarinic acid to protect itself from bacteria and it’s said is quite rare! Also very medicinal for several types of cancer! In the backyard…who knew? The purple striped ones I still don’t know what they are, and the oysters and wood ear mushrooms I brought in on branch were eaten, overnight, by? a raccoon? a deer? It maybe time for a wildlife camera!! Getting correct ID’s is always a challenge-I upload shots to inaturalist-it gives clues to ID’s, as well as others found near you which is helpful. Also some lovely groups on Facebook: for mushrooms and fungi: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ONTARIOMUSHROOMHUNTERSANDFORAGERS and Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Ontario.Reptile.and.Amphibian.Atlas/?multi_permalinks=10158753667065751

There is always someone out there that can help!

I hope to keep making discoveries of the weird and wonderful even through Winter, even if it just the hilarious cats! Cats with hats, cats on sleds, cats on their backs, yes, the harbinger of things to come….hahahaha…the fireplace insert is going and I think I might share the sofa with a cup of tea and Rocket! Saludos amigos!

Time for a nap

♫♪♫ Take me home, country road…♪♫♪

You can see so much, if you slow down and look:) Not just the dazzling array of colours, those yellows, oranges, rusts and reds, but the lingering greens, trees that are hanging on, not willing to give up their leaf cloaks just yet! Just look up! The colours against the blue sky today were mesmorizing!

The reds are slowing receding to burgundies and the rusts and yellows have started to take over the colour canopy. It is as if all the colours of an artists palette have come to life blowing in the breeze:)

I wasn’t prepared for all the flowers blooming! At the edges of the road the bright purple Asters are still in full swing. Bright yellow Clouded Sulphur butterflies were flitting about, had you not heard? Winter is coming! A few Mulleins were making a brave stand next to their shriveled and dead neighbours and a beautiful Queen Anne’s Lace bloom was thriving, with other flower buds about to open. The majority of them are now dried up brown seed heads so these glorious blooms were a welcome surprise! Some red berries I’ve yet to discover their name were also is different states of being, some had leaves on the plants, others were bare. Fascinating how Mother Nature works;)

Most of the mushrooms turned to goo after the frosts but we came across these beautiful little golden brown mushrooms growing on a dying hardwood tree, Flamelina Velutipes/Ennokitake Mushroom-Velvet Foot Mushroom, I think! There are ones that resemble this that are quite poisonous so we won’t eat these little guys, just watch them grow! They are only about 4″ tall in total!

I thought the frogs and bugs had gone into hiding as well but not quite! “She turned me into a Newt!…but I got better!” Mike said as he pointed out a tiny just over an inch long bright red-spotted newt, which did in fact turn out to be just that! ha! Don’t you love it when something resembles it’s name! Mike’s great astronomer eyes picked him out on a rock. We rescued a Woolly Bear caterpillar sauntering down the road, I didn’t want to see him squished like a small snake a few paces before so we moved it to the side:) A few Tussocks caterpillars have been seen wandering about the woods as well. So much life:)

I spent one sunny morning just watching our locals. The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are quite cheeky! No fear! The Blue Jays hide and wait for me to leave to come in for the peanuts;) I hide in the shade to get them! The turkeys are safe, Thanksgiving is gone now, here in Canada anyway! I do love to photograph birds while it is sunny, the colours, especially with the leaves now creates such a beautiful backdrop. I keep trying to prepare myself for the gray days of November. One year I don’t think the sun shone the entire month…I can still shoot these glorious little birds, just higher ISO and shutter speeds! The Chickadees and Nuthatches always bring a smile to my face. The Goldfinches are back to their olive drab uniform of Winter, hardly recognizable from their bright yellow Summer feathers! I’m not sure if the Purple Finches stay or migrate, we’ll wait and see!

The traveling Mewberries have been having a blast in the leaves. Tearing about, chasing one another. Groot and Rocket stick close to us, crying if they can’t see us, Ms. Gamora on the other hand has a wild independent streak and we have discovered best to keep her leashed unless we want to go bush wacking after her! They enjoy their morning walks, especially if it’s windy, they are like a stable of thoroughbreds! 0_0…thoroughbred owners know what happens when it is windy and cool! ha!

We’ve had one quiet afternoon when the wind died down and we decided to go for a quick paddle before sunset. We didn’t get far, ran into our neighbour across from us, on the small island and introduced ourselves and chatted for quite a awhile. He knew many of the same people Mike had grown up with so it was an interesting conversation. He was closing up his cottage, taking the water in and said we might see him in the Winter. He’d walk down our road and cross over the lake once it froze! Hoping that is a ways off yet!

For now, I just want to soak in all this astounding colour and warmth on the days the sun is shining! A walk out to check the mail at the end of the Long Lake road is a real treasure of natures beauty. It keeps me grounded when the news of chaos