RSS

Monthly Archives: August 2013

Buzz Buzz

This will be short. I couldn’t post them in the last note because they aren’t orange but I love them.

So I was watching my wee niece playing in the yard the other day when I got distracted (only slightly!) by some buzzing in the flowers. I looked over and I don’t know what they are or if they are flowers that are finished blooming or if this is what they look like when they are blooming but immediately they reminded me of Phyllis Diller’s head with that old lady, blue-tinged, dye job and then I focused in on the bees.

There  were two different species enjoying Phyllis’ hair-do. Check it out! (You can click to enlarge the photos)

Phyllis Diller Flower

Phyllis Diller Flower

Aren’t they awesome? The bees and the flowers!!!

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Tags: , , ,

Things on the Farm that are Orange

I’ve developed an appreciation for the colour orange in recent adulthood. It had always been not just my least favourite colour, but the colour I’d avoid at all costs in the crayon box and on clothing racks. I suppose I figured why would you choose orange when you could have red? I never saw it as a stand alone colour but a diminished version of the stellar and lucious reds in the world.

Then, I don’t know what happened exactly except that I had this abstract print of a sunset from IKEA for a few years and I loved the colour scheme of it and after a difficult break up with a boyfriend, decided to paint the walls of my condo the colours in the print to try and rid myself of his imprint in my home and on my heart.

I can remember the first roller of orange on the walls and turning to face my friend Laura who had flown out from Winnipeg to High River to help me paint and gasping, “It’s pylon orange!”

It wasn’t. It was “melon” but after the walls having been what Laura affectionately referred to as “Red River Sludge” browny-grey, the orange was rather astonishingly bright. Whatever, one black dog turned orange and one orange wall turned black hairy dog later (Scout fell asleep against a wall) and the place was orange and I was a convert.

I now own orange clothing and last week while on vaca at my other close friend’s family farm, I started to realize there was a lot of orange on the property.

I had been deadheading her mother’s English gardens. Well, I don’t know what actually makes a garden English but she came from there originally and her gardens are supreme and peaceful and flowing and brilliant so I’ll just make THAT my definition of an English garden.

And anyway, I began to pay attention to detail and then I couldn’t help but take photos of every little thing I could find that was orange. Here you go! My Farm Photo Montage to Orange (say it with a French accent and it sounds better for rhyming)

Things that are Orange 016    Things that are Orange 020 Things that are Orange 021

Things that are Orange 028    Things that are Orange 031 Things that are Orange 033    Things that are Orange 034 Things that are Orange 035

Things that are Orange 039      Things that are Orange 040 Things that are Orange 042

Things that are Orange 044

Things that are Orange 045

Things that are Orange 046      Things that are Orange 049 Things that are Orange 052

Things that are Orange 054      Things that are Orange 056 Things that are Orange 057    Things that are Orange 064 Things that are Orange 067    Things that are Orange 068 Things that are Orange 069      Things that are Orange 070

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 28, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Tags: , ,

Adventures with Wildlife

I’ve had remarkable opportunities lately to interact up close and personal with wildlife that I’d only ever appreciated from afar. The unfortunate thing is that two of those occurrences happened because the critters were injured due to human activity.

I don’t have photos. Sometimes I just have to live most presently and put what I see to memory and be grateful that I’ve had the experience even if there’s no one else around to share it with. In fact, sometimes I think those moments are more special than being able to whip out a photo album and show others what you saw. This way, I get to carry something extraordinary in my mind’s scrapbook that will forever evoke emotion and reawaken my senses. I’ll probably even remember what songs I liked this summer because they will be linked to and anchored by these experiences.

I will write each experience as its own little story so you can skip around and read what you’re interested in.

THE HAWK

The first event had to do with a small hawk that had hit a car and was found along the road. I thought I was being given a dead hawk to dispose of but buddy handed me a very alive hawk with a serious beak on it. I wasn’t sure what to do. It obviously had a broken wing but still had lots of vigour. I’ve never killed anything other than fish that I was going to eat for supper so I couldn’t fathom trying to euthanize it, but neither could I imagine planting it in the forest somewhere on its own to possibly suffer and starve over several days. I started driving around getting more and more worked up about what to do and getting irritated that human beings have such a huge and often negative impact on wildlife with all of our technology and need for speed. That hawk should have been happily hunting away, not running smack into someone’s car or boat trailer.

Anyway, I remembered there’s a friend who lives in the bush away from town and decided (whether true or not) that he was likely more capable of putting the poor thing down if needed, but could keep an eye on it in the meantime in case it was able to recover on its own steam. Okay fine. I was a coward and dumped it on him. Sigh …

He wasn’t home when I got out there so I tried a few different things with the hawk. First I found a fantastic tree with a thick branch that was maybe 5 feet off the ground and perched it there but it fell out backwards. As I went to pick it up again it started screeching like they do and I can tell you it’s about enough to pierce your eardrums! We’ve all heard them do it from the sky and it’s sharp and stunning enough that it always makes you look up so to have it screech in my face was CRAZY!!! How does such a small animal make such an imposing vocalization?

In the end, I built up some firewood near a tree and tucked it in the hollow to rest. Buddy came home so I was able to show him the hawk and he said he’d see what he could do which is actually a whole incredible story of its own but not mine to tell. Sadly it turns out the hawk also had a broken back as determined by a vet and was humanely euthanized.

THE PELICAN

We have American white pelicans here. I think they’re pretty cool. They look so prehistoric and strange and it strikes me as amazing that they can fly so well when they look so disproportionate with the long neck and huge bill and stubby legs. I’ve seen many pods in my years of canoeing but never gotten up close enough to see the fine details.

Wednesday this week, I received a call that there was a pelican in distress on a large lake north of the town so I rounded up some help and we booted up there by boat to check it out. Once again, because of some human being’s need for recreational sport, who then cut loose a hook without retrieving it from the water, this gorgeous bird had the giantist fishing hook stuck in its body and bill forcing its head down and to the left.

The people who called in for help were there videoing apparently. I’d love to see it because I’m sure we looked RIDICULOUS at first. The pelican could still swim and it tried to evade us by swimming in tight circles which worked very well because our big boat couldn’t do as tight of circles. My buddy was driving and I was hanging off the bow ready to grab the pelican (after a 10 second “This is How to Catch a Pelican When We Get Close to It” lesson) getting dizzier and more nauseous with each doughnut in the lake while this poor pelican just kept spiraling. Very funny. Ha-ha pelican!

We took a new strategy that involved a sudden veering off to the other side of the bird at the last second that did work and I was able to put a net over its head and we pulled it in the boat.

The hook was about 2-3 inches thick and looked like a fish with a spoon on the front end and two claw hooks with three prongs each hanging down from it. It was about 6 inches long in total. Not your average lure for this area and so realistic that of course the pelican thought it was scoring dinner! One claw hook of three prongs had pierced through the top ridge-line of the wing and into the chest tissue while the other had gone through the bill and tongue. Thankfully the hook had mostly been de-barbed. There was one barb that still had an edge that got hung up in the mouth.

Anyway, selfishly, it was amazing. I got to spend maybe 30 minutes with a pelican snug between my knees while crouched in the bottom of the boat and hanging onto its head so it couldn’t thrash around and nip my partner. I got to look in its grey-green eyes and look at the bill that reminded me of pale orange fibreglass, and observe it’s rubbery feet as big as my hands with three toenails each and feel how strong an animal it was when it would decide to stand up in an attempt to get away from us. It was tired so didn’t put up much fight until we got the left wing loose of the first hook which freed its head from being pulled to the left and then it half-halfheartedly tried to bite my buddy’s bum when he went to look for tape to cover up the hook we had loosened before working on the second claw of hooks.

There were some feathers missing and two small areas of bone exposed along the wing and jawline from it thrashing to free itself but I didn’t think it looked too bad off. Remarkably, we think it might have just happened that day so the pelican was not starving and super weak or anything. I’m so thankful that those people stumbled across it on such a huge lake and were observant enough to realize that something was wrong and call it in.

We hoisted the pelican back into the water and it puttered off at a fair pace, swimming to a nearby island of rocks and reeds. We’re thinking the main concern will be if it lost too many feathers to recover in time for the migration south. In any event, it has a chance and we can sort of keep an eye on it as the summer winds down. A more hopeful conclusion for the pelican!

The winning line and pun for the day was, we had been talking about whether we thought the pelican would be able to fly alright and then carried on trying to get the hook out and then my buddy said completely inncocently,”Well at least we’re giving it a flighting chance.”

Love it.

WOLVES

Last night I went for a solo paddle on my favourite little lake. The day had been hotter than it has been all summer and the breeze felt good out on the water. I’ve noticed the last two times that I wasn’t seeing any wildlife beyond beavers and I should have remembered what someone told me recently – If you see the deer around then the wolves aren’t close by.

During my first paddle this week I heard a wolf howl from the far side of the lake which was great but I didn’t expect what I got last night.

I had to pee so was looking for a spot to pull over when I realized a white mask was staring at me from the long shoreline grass. I was about 75m away. I thought, ah it’s just a deer, but then right away I realized the body was all wrong and deer don’t have white faces like that so I started getting excited. I paddled and drifted quietly towards the shore and sure enough it was a wolf standing there. I got about 30m from shore and we simply watched each other for several minutes. Then it wandered off into the trees.

So then I was pumped and I started just slowly drifting and paddling back down the shoreline and it paid off. I came across two more wolves, one a pup. The day had been hot – 30C – and I figure they were enjoying the slightly cooler evening by lounging on the muddy shore at the water just the same as me. Again, we all watched one another, the pup sniffing the air lots to try and figure me out.

After a few minutes they got up and nonchalantly moved off into the woods. I could hear a fair bit of crunching and cracking of twigs and branches breaking so I’m thinking there were more of them in the pack then I could see.

I’ve never seen wolves that close before and for so long. They let me get a good look at them and it was thrilling for sure!

MISCELLANEOUS WILDLIFE SPOTTINGS AND NEAR MISSES

FOX KITS

I parked my car in a wood lot the other night after paddling and watched two fox kits, or I guess they’re really teeny boppers at this time of the summer, wrestling and romping. One even got curious enough to circle my car and peek up into the windows.

ELK CALVES

Driving home from paddling the same night, I stopped with two other cars because a large group of elk cows with calves were along the road eating grass and two of the spotted calves were playing tag. They were sprinting up a hill then back down through the ditch, up and across the highway into the other ditch, out around the field, back over the highway and up the hill again. They did that a few times until both were panting heavily and their mama was squeaking at them to settle down and get back home to her.

BLACK BEAR

And the near miss that has me buzzing a bit. I drove to the lake to go paddling and when I got out of the car, my buddy who lives nearby the canoe dock seemed to sprint back inside his house. Honestly, I was a bit concerned and hurt that he wanted to avoid me so badly but I decided to leave it and headed down to the water. I thought I heard a bit of commotion as I paddled away but didn’t think much of it until he told me a story two days later. He saw me get out of the car to walk down to the canoe when he spotted a black bear bigger than me not 20ft away so he ran in the house to get something to chase it off with.

Awesome! CRAP!

I never saw it and I’m so glad he didn’t yell “BEAR!!”! or I’d have probably done everything wrong and made matters worse. And it goes to show that a person should never judge someone else’s behaviour without talking to them about it first. HA! I’m such a loser!!

Well, those are my adventures with wildlife lately. Sorry, but not really, for not having photos to share. All I have are vivid memories living wild in my mind’s eye. One day when I’m old and stuck living in some care home, I’ll disappear into my inner scrapbook and I’ll be able to hear the wind blowing through the reeds and the waves lapping against the shore. I’ll be able to smell the scent of pine and campfire and hear twigs snapping as the wolves take their leave. I’ll be able to feel the hawk’s breath on my face and remember the intimate searching look of the pelican’s eye staring into mine less than a foot away. And maybe the staff charged with my care will only see a senile, helpless, old woman but what they won’t know is that I’ll be as free as bee and leaving them all behind. I’ll take myself for a paddle and not return, which is how I’d prefer it in the end anyway.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 16, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bison, Dragonflies and Frogs, Oh my!

I had A day!

Know what I mean? A fabulous, fantastic, wild, wild day. Finishing up with a great week.

It started with a road trip which is always a good start in my books. I know it’s not the Eco-friendly thing to say but it’s true. I love the open road and when time is my own with the potential for anything to happen and nothing but time to think and dream and plan.

Plains Bison

There was weather to watch, hay being baled and canola and flax in flower creating a mosaic of beauty as I drove across the prairie.

I went to Elk Island National Park, arriving around dinner time. The plains bison were there to greet me upon arrival and the bulls are in rut. WOW!!! They actually sound like lions and there were four bulls bellowing and chasing each other around. The young males were sparing until one of the big guys would march over and then they’d scatter like skinny high school boys in the face of a college dude. So funny!

Bull Plains Bison Roaring 2013

Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 164

The calves are beginning to shed their baby down for the darker brown coats but there were some late-born calves that were still red which is why they’re called Little Reds.

I couldn’t get enough of it but they started to move into a meadow so I headed on. I wasn’t hungry though so went for a hike. I got myself all freaked out that I’d come around a corner face to face with another bull so to distract myself I started paying close attention to detail and taking photos.

Beaver Pond Trail

Amisk Wuche Trail        Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 043

Dragonfly Beaver Pond Trail         Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 050

Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 052

The foliage and scenery were spectacular and after weeks of dealing with swarming mosquitoes at home, it was sweet relief to hike in freedom and be able to enjoy my surroundings. Then I started seeing the ground moving and realized there were wood frogs and boreal chorus frogs hopping left and right. They’re hard to catch but I finally got a wood frog halted long enough for a cameo.

Wood Frog

I was taking a wildland fire course and was so inspired again that I took one evening and parked myself in a coffee shop to do the final edits on my story for that international short story writing competition.  Yes, it really did end up being about a wildfire. I had a co-worker read it to make sure the scenario I posed was possible and that the fire language I was using made sense. I hit it about 95% accurate. Anyway, I got the story submitted with 24 hours to deadline. It felt super to have completed it. I have no thoughts of winning but then a person has to start somewhere and I have officially started. You never win a competition if you never practice or compete, right?!

I’m IN the game!!!

I spent one night tenting in a cool little shelter that is both hammock and tent that I’ve had for years but never figured out how to set up. It took some time getting used to only having about six inches of clearing all around my body but then I slept like a baby, pretty certain I’d set up in a spot that a bison wouldn’t forage its way into during the night. And he didn’t … THAT night. Two nights later he did but by then I had moved inside to sleep in a proper bed in park housing. Thank goodness! Imagine having woken up to this big guy munching on the leaves above your head in the pitch black of night. Ug!

Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 094       Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 098

Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 195

Other than my one night in the coffee shop writing, I spent every other evening soaking up those crazy rutting bison and exploring more trails.

Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 182       Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 178                                                                                              Elk Island Bison Rutt 2013 026

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 4, 2013 in PonderQs

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: