Sunday, May 29, 2016

under the wire

I raked autumn leaves today. Well, actually I swept autumn leaves. It was my token spring cleaning.
My grandson told me that the first day of summer is still off in the distance but I could hear a bell tolling. I figure the end of May is about as late as I can leave things go and still get under the wire. Still call it spring cleaning.
We had exceptional winds this past winter. They stripped leaves from trees far and wide and swirled them up our driveway and wedged them around the foundation right in our home's entryway.
Looked pretty in October. Kind of festive.
Looked wild and wind blown in November and sort of 'bleak mid-winter' in December. I distracted visitors with big pots of cedar and holly.
More leaves arrived in January, brown and curled and crisp.
More in February too.
By March I was averting my gaze.
Still, April came and went without my lifting a finger.
And May too.
And then inspiration struck.
My grandchildren were working their way through a stack of post-it-note chores for my daughter.
They seemed to be having a grand time.
I'm a joiner I guess.
What's good for the goslings is good for the old gray goose.
Hey! I just had a flashback. I remember a book from days of yore that had a picture of an old gray goose on the cover. It was Mother Goose of course and she had a gaggle of laughing children on her wings as she sailed above the clouds.
Sign me up.


"What's this?" I ask my tiny granddaughter.
"A zebra," she says, emphatically,
"And this? I ask.
"A jagular," she answers, modestly but confidently.
A jaguar going for the jugular.
Yep, that would be jagular I guess.

watching for them

You'll never guess what we saw at Aldergrove Lake Park this week. We couldn't have been more surprised.
It's a great wooded park filled to the brim with animal and reptile, bird and butterfly, mushroom and moss, berries and bark and all kinds of natural delights.
We've seen turtles soaking up the sun on gray logs floating in the pond. Snakes, fish, dragonflies, ducks of every sort, birds that shrill and hum and zeep. Scruffy little country mice, huge owls on silent wings, coyotes eyeing bite sized pets, mushrooms in every shape and size and color, sun sweet berries, dew dappled Bleeding Heart and ferns as high up in the moss fringed branches as you can gaze.
We thought we had seen it all.
As we climbed out of the car I asked my husband what he thought we'd see. We headed off down the gravel path chatting happily about the similarity between snake heads and turtle heads. As we rounded a corner, I was jolted into the moment.
It was just a Park Ranger but talking about snakes tends to make me jittery about things that move in my peripheral vision.
And then, there it was.
In my peripheral vision.
A very large turtle.
How strangely out of place it seemed there, about a foot from the walking path.
It had clearly clambered out to the marshy edge of the pond, up a tangled bank and across a stretch of meadow.
It had crossed the foot path.
And there it was, blinking in the sunshine, its head adorned with yellow and red stripes.
It was my husband who noticed first.
Noticed that the turtle had dug a hole and was laying eggs.
Great white, glistening eggs.
Bigger than robin's eggs.
The turtle turned her head and held us with her steady gaze.
The ranger thought she was an endangered Western Painted Turtle and was pondering elaborate measures to protect the nest.
A glance at google and a conversation to headquarters confirmed Red-Eared Slider instead.
If you aren't endangered, you're on your own folks.
The ranger did plan to linger and pace a bit while the mother focused all her energies and then escort her safely back to the pond.
I'm not sure what would become of the nest, right there by a busy walking path.
The eggs can incubate for several weeks to several months.
I hope they do fine.
And stay safe and snug in the dark, dark ground.
Until some warm summer day the ground shakes and moves and crumbles away as little turtles haul themselves out into the tall grass one after the other and march towards the cool green water of the pond.
Towards gray logs in the sunshine.
I'll be watching for them.

slow escape

We had a pet turtle when I was a child. I don't remember his arrival nor really his departure. Easy come, easy go, like a cowboy in an old western. I can see him climbing out of the tepid water of his shallow bowl, to perch on a flat stone. And I can still see the blinking eyes and tiny yellow striped head and feet. And the patterned shell. And feel the scratchy feet. Tiny, tiny feet with teeny tiny toe nails. He fit so neatly on our hot little palms. And he didn't seem to mind being gripped by the shell and suspended over vast nothingness while he peddled and paddled the air.
He loved to explore. Well, we thought it was exploring when he launched off across the lino and disappeared under the great squat armchair but it may have been a slow escape. Head for the hills!! Keep heading, keep heading....
I don't remember his eventual, inevitable disappearance. Wanted Dead or Alive. It can't have been too traumatic. But i do clearly remember, when we were packing up for our big move to the city, and the World Book Encyclopedia were boxed up, and the shelf lifted and born off to the moving truck, the amazement at finding a turtle shell.
It seemed no one was home, no little occupant.
Just a shell.

'Oh bury me not, on the lone prair-ie.......'
 A lone tumble weed rolls by.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

very silent

Wooden chickadees, carved by my husband and painted by me. These ones are very silent and sober, not at all like chickadees in Campbell Valley Park.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


"Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-ee-ii-oohhhhh," we warbled as my granddaughters and I skimmed along the highway towards home.
"And on his farm he had a..."
I waited expectantly.
"Alligator!" cried my tiny granddaughter.
Alligator?! Must be a farm in Florida.
"With a..."
The girls happily supplied the sound effects in unison. It was a wonderful hissing growl. Just the sort an alligator would make.
As I drove along listening to my two, dainty darling granddaughters hissing and growling in the back seat it occurred to me that if ever proof was needed of a big brother, I was listening to it.