Tag Archives: nature

Blowin’ In The Wind

The teacher comes when the student is ready…..

Someone wise once said this, I’m sure. Sometimes it is difficult to know who the teacher is. Lessons learned this week. Living with your 88 year old mother-in-law, who tells you she doesn’t understand the word “happy” in any language is a lesson. Unable to live alone because of health and age issues she pines for her former unhappy life. There, she was in control by locking the world away. She was asking for her beautiful curtains that were in her house that was sold. “Sold with the house” I said. I might as well have ripped out her  heart. “All my beautiful things, gone. Everything is blowing in the wind”

Everyday is the same conversation. Only her things will give her back her life. Her control.

I was miffed at the beginning of the week. A drive into town, only 26 km. away and this is the sign I saw.

street cleaning signNot fair! Why was it spring there and not on my street?IMG_1607

 

Everywhere on social media people are talking about spring. Yes, officially it was the first day of spring last week. Posts have shown beautiful pictures of flowers popping up: happiness everywhere. Spring is like that. We come out of hibernation, shake off the dust, the closeness of hibernating for the last 3 months. We are like the grumpy bears, woken up from our slumber. Ready for action with an insatiable appetite. I wanted spring!

It only took a bit of contemplation and another unhappy conversation with Oma for the whack from the cosmic baseball bat to realize spring was blowin’ in the wind.

I planted seeds, cleaned my greenhouse, bought more seeds.

I was so glad that the weather was still cold. I would have time to seed some more perennials outside in milk jugs.They would need some freezing nights to split the seeds and help them germinate, and be  transplanted to bloom in the spring and summer.

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Outside they went. I still needed more winter time.

I needed to remember my favourite bible passage, and my favourite Pete Seeger song Turn Turn Turn

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;”

I also needed to remember another favourite quote and song.

“The answer , my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

 

Bees, Butterflies & Bats

Dragonfly in delphinium

The garden is humming with all sorts of insects and creatures. I have planted to attract butterflies and bees and its working. All day you can see and hear them feeding and gathering.  They love the Delphinium, and I love to watch them go in and back out until they are loaded with pollen.

Bee in Delphinium

IMG_3426The pond attracts creatures as well especially since it has been so hot. We had 30 days of sunshine in July, and the temperature has reached 30 degrees C. most days.

It cools down considerably in the evening and our friends the bats come out in droves to feed on mosquitoes and other small bugs. We built houses for them last year, and we have quite a clan now.

Bat House

Imagine my surprise to wake up this morning to find one of our friends came for a sleepover. He was hanging from our bedroom door. I didn’t want to wake him after such a hard night’s work.

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Butterfly

Is the brightly coloured butterfly more prized than the common white one?
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Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”
~Hans Christian Anderson

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We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
~Carl Sagan

Do we love the moon only when it is full?IMG_3109

Freshet and Flieder

waterfall-pinantanSome people are celebrating the beginning of summer, others the full “berry” moon, many are suffering the devastation of floods and fires.

I am happy just to have a full on spring. We had one hot week in May and I spent the whole week planting, mowing and enjoying my garden. It has rained almost every day since then and the weather has been cool. The grasslands are still green and lush. Spring run off is still flowing and the rivers are high. Freshet is beautiful this year. Ten years ago we were not so lucky. The hills burned in August with a devastating fire,  that the wind kept moving. Evacuation due to natural disaster  is a face to face with attachment and letting go.

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Today I am just grateful to have flowers in bloom to pick and bring into the house.

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Compassion for those not able to be in their home right now.

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Trees

It is interesting how themes run through your life or even a day. Lately, it’s been all about trees. Almost everything I have read or watched has had trees attached to it. Trees have always been part of my samsara and my joy.

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The trees of my childhood, the giant maples, the clipped holly trees of the boulevard and massive dogwoods that lined our driveway.

Trees have always been outside my windows in the rooms where I have cried. No matter where I have lived there has always been a special tree. There was the stag-horn sumacs in the first house we renovated. Then the 50 ft. deodar cedar at the next house. The next move brought tortured giant bonsai, ornamental cherries, hawthorns, dogwood and magnolia’s.

Today in the sub alpine I call home, trees are everywhere. There are 75 less than there was 13 years ago when we moved in. Most lost to weather, insects or age.

If you look at a tree, straight on you can see it grows up to the light, reaching higher, for the precious nourishment of sunlight. When you sit under a tree you can feel how  it reaches down and sits firmly in the earth; roots attached nourishing itself with water and the goodness of soil.

“The tree as an iconographic metaphor is perhaps the most universally widespread of all great cultural symbols. Trees appear and reappear throughout human history to illustrate nearly every aspect of life. .” Theodore W. Pietsch

I have spent numerous hours outside working at gardening,trying to carve a sacred place of favourite flowers. Even after 12 years it’s hard to give up the habits of a growing zone 3 times less than where you live now. I am reading The Garden Parable by Margaret Roach and was fascinated with her description of her special tree, Sciadopitys verticillata. It got me thinking maybe I could add a special tree to my garden.

I went for a walk around the property. I wouldn’t add anything to the back acreage that borders the creek. I have resigned myself to leaving it natural for the wildlife. Even the fallen trees in the creek stay. It’s natures way of creating habitat.  After devastating wildfires, what comes alive in the ashes is amazing and meant to be. Even the red osier dogwood we cut for poles for the sweat lodge has come back with a vengeance.

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Our front acreage where we spend most of our time and where we have the most tree loss still has over 100 trees. For the first time I really looked at them and realized how much I loved their beauty. I walked, I laid down and looked at them from all angles. I noticed the creatures, birds and bugs that lived in and around them. They are survivors. All special.

“I know that in our previous life we were trees, and even in this life we continue to be trees. Without trees, we cannot have people, therefore trees and people inter-are. We are trees, and air, bushes and clouds. If trees cannot survive, humankind is not going to survive either. We get sick because we have damaged our own environment, and we are in mental anguish because we are so far away from our true mother, Mother Nature.”—Thich Nhat Hanh

We water each other with our tears.

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Garden Ornaments

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Who needs garden ornaments when you have these?

Cinderella’s Last Bath ~ Spring

Spring has come to the grasslands. It wasn’t a particularly cold winter; just lots of snow. Once the weather warmed up everything else warmed up too. Calves are born in the fields, the wild horses bring their new foals down from the hills, trees bud, water flows, hummingbirds return, old cats get to sleep in the sun. We live in the sub-alpine just above the grasslands. I work in town, where the original settlements were built on the delta at the meeting of two rivers. The two major ecosystems, grasslands and forests, form a boundary between the gently rolling plateau and the vast, rugged highlands just to the east  Soil is rich and the climate is warm; semi arid. I experience two springs. The one in town and the one at home, another 900 feet above. We marvel at the difference. It snowed last Monday but this week it has been 30 degrees C. in town and about 25 degrees here.

Gardening has started. Cinderella our Muscovy duck, now at least 10 years old, moved out of the barn last week. It was time to come out into the sunshine, wash off the dust of winter and start anew. Being a duck, she loves to swim. We have a kid’s pool for her and I filled it with water. Her tail wagged back and forth as she waddled over to the pool and hopped in. I am sure it felt magnificent. Spring is like that; the ability to start anew, clean, refreshed, reborn.

The next day she died. I found her lifeless beside her pool. I am so glad she had time for one more swim and to feel the warm sun again.  It’s  really all we have. The moment.

Sophie, The Pig

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I read a very interesting blog today from blogger Shreve Stockton. I actually get an e-mail from the author every day because she has raised a coyote from puppy hood. I thoroughly enjoy the pictures of him everyday. Her blog post In Defense of the Family Rancher really made me reflect on why I do what I do and why I eat meat.

This time of year and living on the cusp of the grasslands, I see calves born every day. I pass through a ranchers farm every morning. Last week he was plowing paths through the snow in the big field and I knew that he would be bringing the cows down shortly to calve. It’s closer to his house and barn in case anything goes wrong. These are free range grass-fed cattle. Farther down the road there are cows everywhere. This is reserve land and the aboriginals leave their cattle out all year. Again they are free range, grass-fed.

I don’t buy my meat from any of these farmers as I prefer buffalo and usually buy one every year. I just find the meat tastier, with less fat.
The ranch I buy from is owned by a couple from Switzerland. I know they love their animals. We are welcome at the farm anytime. There is nothing cuter that buffalo calves. One animal is enough to feed us for a year and to share with friends. We supplement it with venison (in trade, no shooting for me), free range chickens, ducks, wild turkey and trout (available all year, if you like ice fishing).

I could easily be a vegetarian. I have learned that you are a lot happier if you eat something living everyday, fresh picked from the garden. I am addicted to farmers markets.

What really gave me a passion for meat was Sophie, the pig. Her life was changed when she fell out of a truck on to the road in the city. The driver must not have noticed as she was left stunned on the pavement. A passing motorist picked her up and took her to the SPCA. They had no where for her so they knew that we had acreage and a barn, (we had already taken a family of goats, seized due to cruelty) so they brought her up to our little farm and dropped her off. They then left a phone message to say she was there. What a surprise when we go home. She fit it in well with the goats and the barn rabbit, so we kept her. She was a Yorkshire pig. A friend said they liked raisins, so I fed her raisins every night on her dinner. She also like skim milk powder sprinkled on her dinner.

She severely chastised you if they were not forthcoming.

Sophie loved the barn rabbit Oreo. During the winter she would go into the barn at night and cover herself with straw. Oreo would cuddle up to her in her armpit. She loved to help you with your chores and stole your toque or your hammer every chance she got.

Sophie learned to do agility alongside the dogs.  She learned to do weave poles by following my hand that had raisins in it. Just like the dogs.

Sophie grew to be 200 lbs. at two years old. Pigs are not pets. They get cranky and stubborn as they age. Pigs have their own expectations and Sophie wanted to be bred. She started to break boards on the barn and the fence.We were told it was time to butcher  her.  What an awful word.

It was a teary day when we sent Sophie off to the butcher. I cried buckets. We picked up the meat a week or so later. I wasn’t keen on eating it but what a terrible waste if I hadn’t. It was the best tasting pork ever.

Sophie lived her life well-loved.

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Read the blog post. Know what you eat, who produced it and how they treated their animals. And I don’t just mean meat. It will be a better world.

Even In The Depth Of Winter

The sun still rises, light sparkles

Joy is found.

To Every Day There Is A Season

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;

Last week was the end of summer and the first day of fall in the astronomical calendar. In the meteorological calendar  autumn started on September 1st.     Here in the mountains you could have fooled me. This summer started off unusually cold and wet and September has been unbelievable warm and sunny. In agriculture the growing season or summer  is the period of each year when native plants and ornamental plants grow; and when crops can be grown. Everything around here goes usually goes by the ecological calendar.

  • Prevernal (early or pre-spring): Begins late March to April. Deciduous tree buds begin to swell. Migrating birds fly from winter to summer habitats. The bears start to wake.
  • Vernal (spring): Begins May . Tree buds burst into leaves. Birds establish territories and begin mating and nesting.
  • Estival (high summer): Begins July. Trees in full leaf. Birds hatch and raise offspring.
  • Serotinal (late summer): Generally begins mid to late August. Deciduous leaves begin to change color. Young birds reach maturity and join other adult birds preparing for fall migration.
  • Autumnal (fall): Generally begins mid September. Tree leaves in full color then turn brown and fall to the ground. Birds migrate back to wintering areas.
  • Hibernal (winter): Begins November. Deciduous trees are bare and it’s freezing! Migrating birds settled in winter habitats.The growing season is coming to an end.

Our climate and elevation , and the plant-crop selection, should be telling us summer is over, but when I came home today there seemed to be a quirkiness in the front yard. Even though I have seen the bees getting cold as they try to get the last bit of pollen from my flowers, the hummingbirds have come, moved north, come back and gone south for the winter and the bear has been feasting nightly in the back getting ready for his winter hibernation, I was still reveling in the beauty of my garden and the warm sun still there at the end of my day.

What a shock to come home and see the first signs of winter; dumped unceremoniously right next to my beautiful hummingbird, bee and butterfly garden.  Who dares to force such brutal change on me?