Gun metal,
And Slate.
Words that describe our sky as I wait
For a day like this...

That the Magnificent Frigatebirds made even more so.
A day, like this one in Samana, Dominican Republic, when all was right with the world, and our cares and worries drifted away in a little yellow boat..

Today, I will take my place on the pelican perch, and wait 'til the weather takes a "tern" for the better.

See the world as others see it at  http://www.skyley.blogspot.com/


Fowl Weather Friends

Driving home tonight, I crossed the bridge into Quebec, and there, grazing on the golf course was a large flock of Wild Turkey. Gorgeous birds that just looked like they belonged exactly in that spot. And they do. Did.
Until they were hunted to the brink of extinction in eastern Ontario throughout the first 75 years of the 20th century
Thanks to the  conservation efforts of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the National Wild Turkey Federation, who began to reintroduce the birds into Canada about 25 years ago, there are now about 100,000 turkeys estimated in eastern Ontario, and about 13,000 in our area. Those are good numbers and testimony to the fact that these big birds are pretty wiley.

Gotta be a turkey to beat to a turkey who's hunting a turkey!


Future Plans

This weekend I planted a lovely Christmas buffet dinner for all the big black squirrels in the yard. If by some wonderful twist of fate, they all suddenly vacate the premises, then I will have a beautiful spring show of colour instead!

Crocuses, daffodils, and tulips will hopefully burst through the dismal days of winter and announce that we have once again made it through!

I don't think it's just Canadians who make plans for future bursts of bright cheerful splashes of welcome. But as I drive down the road and see the russet, gold, and orange heralds of change I feel myself begin to hunker down. I begin to get in touch with my inner bear, and I start thinking about soups and stews and hearty meals, that will help see me through winter.

I see seed pods and immediately get into gathering mode. Not that I collect seeds for making wampum or whatnot, but I do get this undeniable urge to go roaming about the countryside, and pick lots of bittersweet and raspberry branches and winterberry with which to decorate our home.

And I begin to make lots of  lists of Things to Do.
Like cleaning and organizing stuff. Even the Junk-oh is thinking this shed needs a little work!

It's a conflicting time of year...out with the old, even though you may not be quite done with it yet, and in with the new, despite the fact that you're not quite ready for it.

Like the Christmas music they were playing at the mall today. Egad!


The Gaspé

Nature’s palette is amazing, and in the Gaspe region of Quebec, she surpasses every expectation with cobalt blue, ivory white, tan and turquoise. The fact that she has lined the cliffs of Bonaventure Island with Northern Gannets takes your breath away, as they don’t just cling to the rock, they define it.
And just when you think you’re sated with her painting, she draws a line of black around the lip, gently adds a touch of melted caramel, and forevermore, changes your idea of a kiss.

Just like she did with the rock.

You can see more photos from around the world at: http://www.skyley.blogspot.com/


Creepfest aka Hallowe'en

I feel old. NOT because my joints ache sometimes (they do), or  my hair's turning gray (it is), but because Hallowe'en has gone beyond the pale. At least, it's gone beyond my pale! As a young child in Lloydminster, I'd get dressed up in a home-made costume, usually an Indian Princess or a Fairy Princess, or a Wood Nymph Princess. My brother once went as an amazing Jolly Green Giant with green skin and leaves and stems. My sister (who's now in health care) went as a Nurse or a Doctor, and my other sister who was cute and chased by all the boys went as a Cheerleader or maybe it was Sandra Dee. The point is we reinvented ourselves every Hallowe'en into safe, funny, friendly characters. We'd go trick or treating, with our UNICEF boxes in hand, and come home with bags of junk that would be carefully sorted by type and colour. All apples  and popcorn balls went into a bowl...likely to be fed to the birds later...not because there was any fear of razor blades or poison, but because the apples were generally bruised and hours old popcorn balls were plain yuck! Candies we didn't like (like those thick and sticky molasses kissespulloutyourfillings things went into a pile for the adults, the good stuff went into a pile that was kept under the bed, where no one would find it -or remember it, til spring cleaning day, when it would get tossed as green and gross. Then of course, being in a small town, 'round about nine o'clock, all the little kids were indoors, trying to get the greasy make-up off and the teenagers would start their run around town throwing eggs and yelling and upsetting garbage cans. Pretty racey stuff!!

But NOW?? Now, thanks to all the forensics shows, the special effects shows, Martha Stewart and Steven Spielberg, Hallowe'en has gone berserk. If my kids were little there is no way I would take them out to see the decorating gone amuck show that has in recent years become the norm.They would have nightmares for weeks! I would have nightmares for weeks! So I ask, do you really need the blood, the guts, the gore??

 You do? Hmmm...guess it's tricks for you then. Wonder where Freddy and Jason are?

(Ed.Note  -these pictures were taken yesterday in Lindsay Ontario which is having a Haunt Your House contest. Winner will receive $10,000 - half of which will go to the Boys and Girls Club. Gore With Heart.  It's a good start!)


Caution. Birder in Front of You.

The Northern Harrier is one of my favourite hawks - not the least because it's so easy to identify with its white bum patch. This afternoon while I was on my way to a friend's place, this handsome fellow flew right in front of the car, and over into the field beside me. I grabbed the camera, pulled the car over to the edge of the road, got the window down, the camera turned on, and stalled the car...all in about 20 seconds. This reinforced two thoughts I've had on previous occasions:
1) I need a bumper sticker that says "Pay Attention!Birder on Board. Watch for sudden swerves and stops."
2) Maybe I shouldn't have bought a car with a manual transmission.

Now, this hawk, a gorgeous Red Tailed Hawk, swooped in front of me yesterday, while we were driving to the garbage dump (a Saturday thing to do in the country). Luckily, in this case, John was driving, so he didn't  have to try to multi-task. He just pulled over, and I got the camera out. Still, the hawk was faster than me and by the time I was ready to shoot, he was pretty far away. Oh well, at least the truck didn't stall.


My View

It's Skywatch Friday, and  our sky  -just outside the window -has been absolutely incredible in the past 24 hours....
I glanced out, and this little rainbow caught my eye. It must be raining in Westmeath.

Ten minutes later, the cloud lifted. Literally.

Early the next morning, the show was still on...and the sky was ablaze.

Imagine having a wall this colour.  I did.

visit Skywatch Friday for views from all over the world

The Auction

"Gimme $20 now, who'll gimme $5 more? Lookit $25 now, c'mon, gimme $5 more!"

The song of the auctioneer was loud and clear last Saturday as he cranked up the volume and frenzy to get the buying mojo going. I love auctions, especially if they're held in the meeting hall at the village fairgrounds, which this one was. Oddly enough, it wasn't all that well attended, perhaps because it was a gorgeous, sunny fall day, and the long Canadian Thanksgving weekend was in full swing. Families and friends together to celebrate the harvest with every root vegetable known to man, roasted turkey and pumpkin pie.
But I digress.
Back to the auction, which was a combination of three different family estates. Lots and lots of old, rusty, battered tools; sheets that might serve as rags; plain old trash, and here and there, a treasure or two!

Like this Massey Ferguson tractor. The auctioneer brought the crowd outside to take a look at this "dandy, handy thing" and he immediately got the ball rolling.  "All right folks, $1500 bucks...let's get'er started." he said. Silence, finally broken by the old gent standing next to me who called out "$1300." That to me is a lot of money in these trying times, especially for an old tractor. But, the auctioneer didn't think so. He merely looked at him, and said to the crowd in general, "Folks, this here is a damn fine tractor, and if you want to get serious and make me a good offer - over $1500 - then talk to me inside." And off he went! Back to schlep  all the other schlock. Old gent with the pretty good offer turned to the drifting crowd and said to no one in particular, "Ah, that's just foreplay!"

I love auctions!

My daughter and I were actually there by accident - having shown up a week early for  another event to be held in the hall. But, women with wallets, and lots of stuff to wheel and deal over, what more can I say? Four (!) hours later, we were the extremely  happy owners of an art deco maple veneer breakfast hutch; two bedside tables, handmade with square head nails;  two charming antique chairs with star stamped seats; one lovely bevelled glass mirror; a hand made fruit box with lid; an original soapstone carving featuring two owls in flight;a Henry Dreyfuss chrome biscuit clock  in excellent condition and still ticking; a green glass Eagle Decanter complete with six shot glasses; a Mad Men era martini shaker with stirling silver top; two metal peacocks; and orginal RM Wells oil painting -a beautiful seascape in an ornate plaster frame.
Total price for all this? $122.32
Afternoon at the auction with my daughter? Priceless.



On Thanksgiving, we are encouraged to be thankful for the many gifts we have received throughout the year whether it be good health, food, shelter, friends aplenty and family to embrace.
I am thankful, very, for all of the above. But, I am really thankful this year for the kayaks that John bought so that he and I could spend time exploring our shorelines. We rarely found the time to do this -maybe once or twice all summer.
But then came the magic moment for me. A quiet time, no wind, no work, a perfect time to take the kayak and find out what was down in the bay to the right. The minute I slipped into the kayak, gliding quietly over the water beneath , rocking ever so slightly... time just shifted. I began to breathe.
My paddle started to write its own ode to the river. And slowly the shoreline began to reveal itself.
Walking along the shore you are tethered to the land, and your viewpoint is always outwards, over the water.
In the kayak, my viewpoint rotated inwards, towards the land, towards whatever was between it and me.
I was seeing the plant life from a linear perspective...a duck, an otter, a muskrat...this is how they see the river. Is pretty purple plant a thought only humans can have? Does the mallard look and like too?

I paddled further along the shore, and the reeds began to thicken as I approached the bay. This particular morning was the quintessential hazy, hot and humid summer blessing of a morning. I was determined to get as close to this world as I could. And did. I was surrounded by buzzing, humming, practically sighing, life. Bees, birds, bugs - and they all ignored me completely. I was no threat in my little blue kayak and so they continued around me, and I soaked it all in.
There is a whole world that we don't usually get to witness...this watery realm that has inspired artists and poets and songwriters (and bloggers).
I am so thankful that I could just, literally, point and click. Pure artistry presented on a lily pad. By Nature...
but captured this fleeting morning by me. Come winter, I will remember this. If I lived in a big city I would crave this.

The glimmering water world revealed itself in glorious showy perfection. A water lily...point and click. I am in awe.
And I am becoming, like George, curiouser and curiouser. I look around me, and there, just there - is a trail of sorts...an opening in the ever thickening reed bed. Who has been here before me? When? I am driven to paddle ever onward, now in complete sympatico with les voyageurs who first explored this beautiful river. They kept paddling, looking for furry gold. I kept paddling, wanting to know where the trail led. I was eight years old again!

How can one say "No" ?
Well, perhaps one can, but I certainly took the bait- hook, line and sinker.
This, as you can see, is practically a little river!

So, on I forge.

Every explorer is presented with diversions. I am not unique, but the white lily beside me is. Up close and personal, it is beautiful. I breathe deeply and smell the sweet clean scent of summer. And still I continue, for I am on a mission!

This little journey has totally captured me. I don't know what I am expecting to find really - perhaps a little cabin or campsite that someone is in the process of establishing. Perhaps a simple clearing.

What I truly didn't expect to find was a dam!
And of course, it makes perfect sense! Quiet, private, end of bay, lots of reeds, fallen trees -it's prime real estate for a beaver. I've seen lots of beaver dams before, and beaver lodges, and beaver ponds. I've seen lots of beavers. But until this morning, I had never paddled up the beaver stream, right to the beaver's dam door!
Needless to say, I couldn't get out of the kayak, and after much backing and forthing I managed to do a U-turn and in fairly short order, I was homeward bound.

However, the morning wasn't quite over yet. As I paddled east the sun was warm on my face, and directly overhead, I heard the distinct call of the Osprey. I often see her fly by, fish held firmly in her feet, heading towards the bay I am now leaving.

I know you aren't supposed to look directly into the sun, but if there's an Osprey there, well, you just do. And then you point and click.

My adventure, my perfect summer morning, was almost -but not quite - over...

I paddled towards home, and in the last minute or so, brought out the camera for one final shot of our beachfront cottage that we love.
Now, it may look like there's a bit of morning mist burning off the cottage...and if you thought that, then you'd be wrong.
Because what you're actually seeing is a mini-miracle. It's actually water condensation in the camera, and proof positive that John is a true whiz, who was able to rescue all of these pictures from the camera, which I dropped into the river as I pulled the kayak ashore!
As I bent over to pick up the kayak, the camera, nestled ever so snuggly into my bathing suit strap, dropped into the water. I picked it up immediately but... it was total toast.
( I thought.) Next day, I had a new camera (which I love, and for which I am thankful), and a week later I found a folder on the desktop, entitled Susan's Lost Pics. Again, I am thankful!
Best day on the river all summer, best outcome possible as a result. Happy Thanksgiving!


Grey Friday

It's a cool, wet and rainy day... a grey day, a curl up with a book by the fire day. Maybe just one little stroll around the backyard...just to see what's happening. Or not happening, as in laundry being hung out to dry.

Lots of action around the yard though. The hated black squirrel (and his four or five brothers and sisters) is a mere consideration of cute here -Really, in my books, a rat with a big furry tail. And when they come creeping down the screen window, from the nest they've created between the sunporch ceiling and the roof, they aren't even remotely cute!

On the other hand the little red squirrels are quite cute, and I especially love it when they put the run on the black squirrels, which they do pretty much constantly, as they establish that THIS yard is red squirrel turf. Just have to figure out how to get them to kick the black beasts out of my porch without moving in themselves.

Of course the chipmunk is the King of Cute. They can go where ever they want.

The birds are out in force today as well, grounded by the rain I guess. The White Crowned Sparrows and the Juncos arrived in the yard yesterday. A clear signal to pack up summer and get out the shovels.

Once it stops raining.
But while I'm waiting, I will go and look at Skywatch Friday posts from around the world:http://skyley.blogspot.com/


It's Just Another Day

24 hours. Nothing special planned. No where to go, no one to see, nothing that has to get done. A take it as it comes kind of day. And so I did.
Busloads of tourists come to our area every year to see the fall colours. The tour operators tag the tours with catchy names like "The Flaming Leaf" or "Autumn Rhapsody". We call them a sure sign that winter's on its way.

As I was taking the shot of the leaves, I could hear a little chirping. Saw a quick flit out of the corner of my eye and swung the camera in that direction, hoping to capture the source of the commotion. Ah Ha! A little Yellow Rumped Warbler...so cute. Often called "Butter Bum" and you can see why.

This is a shot of the Ottawa River from the bridge that links Ontario and Quebec. These rapids were used as a "Toll Gate" by the Algonquin back in the days when the fur trade and les voyageurs were combing this area, seeking pelts and prospecting for tall pines for masts for her majesty's ships back in England. The Algonquin wouldn't let them use the portages on either side of the rapids until they paid with tools, utensils, beads, or whatever the hot commodity was in favour that season.

The sky on Tuesday evening, through the living room window. Raining in Greenwood. Funny thing about living on the river, in the Ottawa Valley. There are hills to the north and south of us (hence, valley) and the weather will often circle around us. It was the other side's turn to get wet.

This morning, the view from the window is completely different. Large flocks of Canada Geese rest in our bay overnight, lulling us to sleep with their chatter, and waking us up with the same...only more insistent and considerably louder.

Just after I took the shot the geese from the window, the sun burst through the clouds...day break. And that's the past 24 hours at home in the Valley. Now on to the next.