Play Misty For Me

Driving in the early morning, in such a hurry to get there, I realize suddenly, that I am here.
In the middle of the mist.
Nothing is as it seems.

If I were driving fast and past, I wouldn't have notice the tree that has figured out
how to leverage its own weakness. And become stronger.

And when I look, really look, the most amazing things appear that I didn't realize were even there.
That hawk I dare not try to identify is just sitting there, in the mist,
waiting to take wing.
Hidden from his prey, for now.

In each droplet is a universe. Life as we don't know it.

Is the fence defining my view of the world?

Can I overlook the obvious  and see the world beyond?

And what will I discover as my world branches out...like this porcupine.
The mist is playing with me, and I like it.

To my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving.
I'm a better person for knowing you. Thank you!


Hold Your Horses

I have always loved horses. When I was nine years old, my parents sent me to Pioneer Ranch Camp near Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. It offered  swimming, crafts, archery, and horse back riding. I was so excited! First day of arrival we were given our horses...and lo and behold, there before me stood my mighty steed - Crash. Who names a mighty steed Crash? I won't belabor the fact that I hated camp with a vengeance, was desperately homesick, and never did make friends with the bow legged, sway backed, big bellied old nag they had saddled me with! Crash's sole mission at camp was to unseat me. And this she did successfully at least twice a day.

I couldn't wait to get home.
Oddly enough, I stuck Crash in a forgetaboutit compartment with all the other hateful old nags, and  retained my love of horses. At university I was fortunate to have a friend who had a boyfriend who had a father who had money...and lots of it. And he also had Tennessee Walkers that needed regular exercise. These are magnificent animals with five gaits- walk, trot, canter, gallop and a special fast walk that makes them excellent  horses that you can ride all day without having your innards completely jiggled away. They're used by the judges in competitive  bird-dog trials. I never owned one, but I decided upon graduation that once I was settled I would have  my own horse some day.
That day eventually arrived, and I was so excited! Perhaps I was guilty of putting the cart before the horse, as I really didn't know much about quarter (or whole or half) horses, and when I met this crusty old horse trader (who I must say, was a bit of a horse's arse),  he promised me that Cinder was an excellent horse...maybe a little long in the tooth, but this was a one horse town, and I was champing at the bit. Cinder came home with me. I lived in an old, square timber cottage at the time. Cinder lived, uh, outside. As we didn't have a barn or anything. What was I thinking??

This horse of a different colour was dapple gray and as gentle as a lamb with any child that came near  her. A two year old child could sit on her back for hours, and never, ever be in danger. But an adult? Hah! Memories of Crash, and then some! Cinder simply would not submit, nor go gently anywhere if a human weighing more than 50 lbs was on her back. This deplorable situation lasted about a month. As fall was approaching, it became imperative to find her a barn to live in for the winter, and a local farmer who just happened to love horses, offered  to board Cinder. He took her out into the bush almost daily, had her hitched to a wagon that we used for sleigh rides, and just generally gave her a life she loved.  Come spring, rather than pay for her room and board, I got off my high horse, and gave her to him.
I still  love of horses, but now that means riding them on occasion, and taking pictures whenever I happen upon them. Like the wild horses of Assateague, that we saw this past October in Virginia, and the draft horses that I found just down the road last weekend.



Good Morning

It is a good morning. Southern breeze, northern geese. I wake up and sigh.

They write words on the water while I listen to their clatter chat.

A lone Scoter is as rare as this morning in November. I linger.

View more at http://www.skyley.blogspot.com


Just Scraping By.

Yesterday morning the sunrise was spectacular...a sailor's warning. In this case, to put on your woollies before embarking on your boat. As it's beautiful, yes....

But it's also very chilly.

As winter warms up, figuratively speaking, she presents us with her frigid patterns. Perhaps her cool way of saying,
"Sorry.I know it's cold...but look what I made for you!"
In this case, the sun paints a golden wash on
the ice that I will need to scrape away.

Indeed. This is commonplace here in  Canada. I get up. Start the coffee.
Grab my coat and boots, go out and start the car...and on some mornings, start scraping the ice off the windshield and the windows. Winter paints a dangerous picture that must be removed before the  daily drive begins.

The view revealed. Hmm. The Mums are truly toast now. Or frosted.

 And on the beach, the very first Snowbuntings of the season arrive.
A cheerful note that takes away the chill.


Castor Foil (Canadian Icons, Pt. II)

This November has been amazingly mild and dry. It is usually the gray, wet and rainy month, the month where there's hardly any sun and not much to do but hunker down and eat too much. Not so this year...it's been great for woody rambles, like the one I took the other day and found the marbles someone had "lost". I found other treasures as well.

This is a pretty common scene around here, one that we generally take forgranted and don't do much about, unless of course you're a farmer and the field that has become a pond  thanks to the industrious dam building of the mighty beaver is posing a problem.
It is truly awesome how  big toothed, furry rodents with a leathery tails can gnaw their way through huge trees!

 Must be great for their fur coats, though as the beaver is a primary reason that the Voyageurs explored this area, seeking beaver pelts to take back to the kings and queens and lords and ladies of the Old World.

While wandering down the side road, enjoying the afternoon quiet, I heard the tell tale "Slap!" and in the small pond beside the road, I just caught a glimpse of the beaver before he headed underwater, leaving nothing but a few beaver bubbles behind.

I thought, well, I can wait. He'll have to come for air sooner or later. I mean, how far can he swim underwater?

Very far it seems. He's hardly visible, in the upper left, where the water meets the edge of the land. Farther than my camera could take me. The beaver is a Canadian icon, renowned for his industriousness, strength in adversity and an uncanny ability to perceive danger and act accordingly. And eat big trees for breakfast.


Have You Lost Your Marbles?

Still in a rambling mood, as the mild weather persists, drawing me outdoors to go gathering Christmas decorations. Pine, cedar and spruce boughs, sumac flowers, raspberry canes, some winterberry, and suddenly it's Christmas.
The well dressed Ottawa Valley girl always has her clippers with her...no, not nails, but garden variety, and as I was busily trimming out the cedars along a dirt road, I tripped. Didn't fall, but when I regained my balance I looked down to see what had sent me sideways. Oh. Well, of course. A bunch of polished marble slabs. "Give your head a shake," I told myself. And a second look confirmed the first. Why, I ask, would anyone in their right mind leave four 2 1/2 foot square marble tiles that weigh about 30 lbs each laying on the ground, in the woods?? In the middle of virtually nowhere I might add. (The photo of the bush is where I found them.) They had to put these slabs in their car, drive out into the country, find a path that didn't look beaten, then carry them -one by one - about 20 yards into the bush, and drop them. The regional garbage dump is about  2 km from this site, easier to get to, and the guys there would have helped unload the marble, and placed it where others might see it and take it if they wanted. You know, like recycling?
Instead, I had to make the reverse trip, lugging these very heavy suckers to the trunk of my car, straining my back and hoping I wasn't going to break my car struts or whatever breaks when the load is too heavy. But, hey. Thanks.It's a great find, all the more so because I was totally not looking for any marble to decorate with for Christmas!
You know, a few years back, I took the Myers Briggs test and was told that I am an INFP. One of the rarer types apparently. That didn't bother me, as I was just pleased to know that I wasn't NUTS. But you who are missing your marbles? You're at least a little bit nuts.

I on the other hand am now trying to figure out what to do with this marble currently leaning up against the garden shed. At very the least, come spring, I will have the nicest garden path on the entire island. But I have about 5 months to think about this, and welcome any suggestions- except from you who didn't even lose your marbles...you left them! And that's just not right.


The Canoe

The leaves are gone, the birds are gone, but the forest still remains...filled with silent sentinels waiting for winter's cloak to envelop the land. It is a good time to go for a walk, to see the bare bones of these woods that we call our back yard.We live beside the Ottawa River in eastern Ontario, a land once ruled by the Algonquin. They are still present, and still play an important role in our community...not the least of which is the preservation of their culture. It is to the Algonquin that we owe our thanks for the ubiquitous Canadian canoe. Originally made of birch bark, the canoe was common on the lakes and rivers of this area.
In our back yard are many birch trees who's botanical grandparents  may have contributed to a canoe or two. On a day like today,with no leaves to block the view, and no birds to distract me, one can easily see why the birch was chosen as a prime building material. It's strong yet pliable, waterproof, light, and readily available.
Former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, loved the wilderness and being out in it. He was an expert paddler, who was seldom thwarted. He once wrote, "What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature."

The canoe is a Canadian icon. Renowned author and historian, the late Pierre Berton, once wrote, "A true Canadian is one who can make love in a canoe without tipping",  to which the clever reparte is, "Anyone can make love in a canoe, it's a Canadian who knows enough to take out the centre thwart!" This is the stuff of culture...and that keeps us from being thought of simply as fur  bearing lumberjacks who yodel.  yodellolaaaadddddyyyywho!     If you would like to learn more about either the Algonquin, or the canoe, visit: http://www.algonquinsofpikwakanagan.com/Culture%20birch%20bark%20canoe%202004.htm


15 Minutes of Frosty Fame

Roadside weeds are just that ...shaggy, scrubby twigs, reeds, seeds and tangled tough stuff.    I pass them daily and sometimes in heat of summer they are overwhelming with their lush, passionate growth. They overcome the land that hosts them,  but in so doing, they become hosts themselves to birds, bugs,butterflies and all manner of creature that we don't encourage on our  tidy urban patches of manicured bland.   The humble weed field is more or less ignored, left alone to its own devices...visited occaisionally by birders and  bears.   But then, the day arrives when it is, indeed, the Weed's Day.

The day that nature turns her attention to the ditches, meadows and swamps. With a quick dip of her brush into the crystal container she instantly turns the bland to grand. Queen Anne's Lace becomes a delicate incredibly rare piece of art.

The lonely Robin's nest etches its longing for summer in the frosty fringes.

A simple branch becomes the essence of an entire season.

It is the Weed's Day....Magic minutes of frosty fine art, that melt our hearts just as the sun arrives to remind us that fame is always fleeting.
Treasure your moments.

 Find out how the sky looked elsewhere around the world at www.skyley.blogspot.com



Definition of a nice day?
It’s way too nice to be in doors. A gorgeous mid November day, with lots of sunshine is not to be missed – so I didn’t.
Definition of cute?   The little Black capped Chickadee. When Nature created this fistful of feathers, nothing was left to chance. Perky tail. Wink of an eye. Kiss of colour. Sweet call a dee dee dee. And friendly disposition. What is there possibly not to love?

Definition of a teenager?
The Bluejay. Smart mouth, and constantly in use –whether imitating clothes lines or coming in for a landing and screeching at others to “Getouttatheway, Now!” Snappy dresser, likes to draw attention to its brilliant and various shades of blue. Picky eater. “Not just any nuts thank you., and next time? Shelled would be better!"
Just this side of gluttonous. I counted 5 peanuts this guy was able to carry in his mouth – all at once. He had that dish done in less than 15 minutes! And a party dude. This guy travels with all his friends…usually about 10 of them, eating me out of house and home, while scaring off the little ones. But still, there’s something you just can’t help but like about’em.

Definition of a banker?
The Hairy Woodpecker. Wears a prim black and white suit. Constantly working, rarely seen just hanging around the local branch. Always exploring places for new deposits. Always makes a big entrance, wings extended, “Hey look at me!” type. And definitely a little bit nutsy.


The First Snow

Several years ago I read an interesting thriller by Peter Hoeg entitled Smilla's Sense of Snow.  It was set in Denmark and Greenland and what struck me while reading it was the many different kinds of snow that revealed clues about a murder.  I'd never really thought about different kinds of snow before, although that's odd for a Canadian who spends about five months of the year dealing with the fluffy white stuff. 
We northern climate dwellers spend an inordinate amount of time talking about the weather. And today, as the first snowfall of the season fell around us, the chatter turned to snow in all its variations. I agreed with the Treasurer who stated firmly that we all love the first snow...until we get to the age that we are the ones sent outside to shovel it. And it's true. Today it fell gently around us, and you could almost hear the jingles warming up to start the bells of Christmas!
The Operations Department Manager called today's snowfall "white rain". It took less than 5 seconds to process that it meant he wouldn't have to arrange for any snow plowing or sanding of the roads and sidewalks, because it was melting on concrete and asphalt surfaces. This kind of snow makes really good snowballs  as it sticks tightly together in your hands, and holds its shape when thrown at your friends or enemies. It's too wet for snowmen, and there isn't enough of it on the ground...which is still warm(ish) and preventing accumulation.

Tomorrow, all this snow will be gone. In time though, within weeks, there will be sugar snow, that is slippery and dangerous on the roads. Powder, which is excellent if you happen to be at a ski resort. There will be skiffs of snow, and crystal snow, and yellow snow. And there will be drifts, mounds, mountains and dumps of it.
 Ah snow.

For today, the sky was beautifully soft and grey. And we all took a private moment and watched as nature blanketed our world with her cold and beautiful duvet.


Linear thinking.

 In a world gone mad with shapes, sizes, whirls, whims and fancy sometimes it's nice just to keep a few things straight between us.

A few things that rely on function first, and form second. This pier jutting out into Chesapeake  Bay is functional. It's for fishing. Secondary is the fact that it's rather pleasing in a pillarish sort of way.

 Dreamers dreamed of building this. Knowing someday, some way, it would happen. A bridge over the bay would be built. And both ends of that bridge would change forever. Did they ponder the effects of their dreaming?
Should they have?

Now the artist who dreamt this chair was thinking of many things.
Where we are when we eat food.
  Where food goes.What's the natural flow of food.
How do I keep people from sitting on my visual feast.

November is a good time to think about sort of serious things
in between Hallowe`en and Christmas.