Unlimited Access

Day use at Ontario Parks1

  1. What is the Advance Daily Vehicle Permit pilot project?

Beginning June 7, 2021, visitors will be able to obtain a daily vehicle permit, providing guaranteed access and greater certainty when planning a day visit to a provincial park. 

Noteworthy:  The first sentence ought to read “visitors must obtain”. Also, this includes everyone who had already purchased an annual or seasonal park pass.

The advance daily vehicle permit service will be available at:

Algonquin
Arrowhead
Batchawana Bay
Craigleith
Darlington
Forks of the Credit
Kakabeka Falls
Kettle Lakes
Lake Superior
Long Point
Mono Cliffs
North Beach
Pinery
Presqu’ile
Sandbanks
Sibbald Point
Turkey Point

Since June I’ve been going on-line at 7:00 on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays to get day passes for Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of the following week. I’ve never been unable to secure a pass.

Following each visit, a survey appears in one’s e-mail inbox and one of those questions is the subject of today’s rant:

My response (entered in the comments at the end of the survey):

No, I do not like the park’s attendance limited – not even a little.  It was a terrible decision!

Presqu’ile is my park, I visit four to five times each week and am never happier than when I’m walking Jobe’s Woods, or mucking about in the marsh looking for turtles and frogs, or picnicking and swimming on the south shore, or exploring the marsh boardwalk – all and always with camera in hand.  I am a wildlife photographer so one might presume that I like the park less busy (read: quieter) but that is definitely not the case.  

Nothing makes me happier than to see the park being enjoyed and used by as many people as possible, particularly those toting kiddos – be they their children or grands.  The joy they experience – flying their first kite, or their shrieks of glee as they jump into the (usually) too cool waves of Lake Ontario, or their utter awe as they see their first turtle up close, or, or, or – that joy is infectious and delightful.

Engaging:  To interest someone in something and keep them thinking about it; to become involved, or have contact, with someone or something.

Presqu’ile is a place of enormous and complex engagement for people of all ages, abilities, likes and dislikes.  Limitations should never be imposed upon a place with such power of captivation, education and pleasure!

Once within the park’s embrace, a regular anomaly happens – I’ve witnessed it myself too many times to count – phones are set aside, turned off, even, as senses are overloaded by the natural world:  Instead of swimming in a sea of social media hipsters and their long lists of ”must-haves”, folks are swimming in the lake.  Instead of surfing the net, they’re surfing the lake’s waves on their boogie boards.  

There is an enormous social and personal cost to participating in the unlimited world of the internet where advertisements pop up all too frequently and without context.  Advertisers know our kids better than we do, hell, they know us better than we know ourselves – all thanks to techies the world over who spend all their waking hours designing algorithms to reel in unsuspecting and naive viewers.  Click bait.  The only bait at Presqu’ile is worms and minnows.  

I’ve seen first hand that Presqu’ile is more engaging than those algorithms.  Apple’s Maps is redundant in park exploration whether by bicycle, SUP or on foot.  Video game play pales when choices like swimming, fishing, watching for wildlife, visiting the nature centre for talks with the Naturalist, seeing their first lighthouse, enjoying an ice cream cone (complete with drips running down their hands), watching the black spiders scurry through the pebbles on the south shore, pitching their first tent, watching a turtle cross the road (maybe even helping it along so it doesn’t get hit), seeing a snake sunning herself on the rock retaining walls on Atkins Lane, seeing their first cygnets and ducklings up close on the lagoon at Calf Pasture Point, seeing their first Oriole nest and marvelling at its architectural beauty…

Now, if overcrowding was preventing some visitors from enjoying those activities, the limitation of guests would be completely understandable.  However, even in the busiest months (July and August) on days when the barricades were in place and park access was sold out, the park was not overly busy; there was still plenty of space for more visitors and their vehicles, there were lots of empty stretches of beach, there were empty picnic tables all along the south shore and seldom was there more than two vehicles in either the Jobes Woods or Calf Pasture Point parking areas.  

Park visitors eagerly embrace an unplugged, fully manual, vacation or day visit.  Instead of with a screen, they engage in the natural world with all five senses and relax into awareness of its beauty and scope.  Their mental, spiritual and physical health is improved. They leave feeling restored.

Truly, not you folks (Parks Ontario) nor anyone else have the right to limit access to a place that offers such riches and enrichment.

’Til next time, y’all…

1Ontario Parks

Eclosion

Last week Ontario began emerging from its COVID-chrysalis.

Two million plus students and one hundred twenty-five thousand plus teachers all returned to their classrooms allowing untold numbers of parents and grandparents to return to work after sabbaticals for daycare and home-schooling.

For some, this much-anticipated return to classroom learning and to extra-curricular activities is a relief, for others  it is stressful, some are nervous, some happy, some are filled with trepidation; and that’s just the parents.  No one knows exactly what to expect, nor even how long the current arrangements will last.  Returning to school is, however, undeniably a step forward.  An emergence.

Has your eclosion begun or, like us, are you still tightly cocooned?  

Everyone’s steps forward during Ontario’s reopening are different and for many different reasons.  Despite being fully vaccinated, my own emergence has yet to begin and it is sounding more and more like that will not happen until I’ve had a booster shot.  Honestly, I thought hoped that my second jab would set me free.

It takes character to wait well – not usually my strong suit. Sometimes these states of limbo last much longer than we’d like and, in our my impatience to resume my regularly scheduled programming, I have a tendency to overlook the perfection of the moment.  Buddhism teaches that whatever is happening right now is exactly what we need.  When accepting that wisdom, everything is delightful, indeed this summer has been a wonderful season for Cam and for me.

Nothing special, really.  Just our typical summertime lives; lots of golf for Cam and lots of Presqu’ile time for me.  Days that are plain and simple, but halcyon and hallowed.  I know that as the weather changes, we shall look back on this summer with gratitude.

The depths of winter will tell a different tale altogether.  Those long, dark, cold months of isolation, too many of those days housebound, are my personal wilderness during which my mettle and temperament are sorely tested, a battle I frequently lose.  Just ask poor Cam!  If only our bubble could expand.  If only my emergence could begin!

In the meantime, I shall aim for contentment whilst waiting – yearning for anything more changes absolutely nothing

“The Moon Bird’s head is filled with nothing but thoughts of the moon”1 and, with nothing but thoughts of my own eclosion dancing in my head, I’ve become the Eclosion Bird.  

’Til next time, y’all…

1Kabir.  Kabir Das was an Indian Mystic who lived during the fifteenth century.  According to Indian folklore, the Moon Bird, a Crow-Pheasant (native to northern India), makes its home atop the moonbeams.

The act of emerging from the pupal case is called eclosion.

grand legacy

a grand legacy

my granddad left a legacy
of family and faith
I feel his presence guiding me —
my ever-present wraith

a rural Scottish minister
he lived a life of grace,
fidelity and modesty
a birthright I embrace

his bequest lies in his writing,
wisdom in his journal
his lessons I’ve been studying 
steadily, diurnal: 

to love all people, to be kind;
life’s goodness we must share —
compassion, hope and charity,
perpetually fair 

absorbing his enlightenment 
is like inhaling God
witnessing his life-long mission —
the path on which he trod

integrity, abiding faith,
his standards oh so high
i fear i’ll never measure up
but hope he loves my try

granddad was a virtuous man
clever, honest and smart
forevermore his memory
is etched upon my heart

Happy Grandparents’ Day!

‘Til next time, y’all…

Let me hold the door for you.

Let me hold the door for you.
I may have never walked in your shoes,
but I can see:  Your Soles are worn,
your strength is torn…1

In a thoroughly disheartening and sad discovery, a friend’s financial and food insecurities were revealed to me this week and I am utterly gobsmacked.

This gent is a pillar of our community, a hard worker for countless causes, a volunteer with many organizations and the kindest and friendliest lad you’d ever hope to meet.  He is now calamitously disillusioned.

Without anyone knowing, he sold his car, many of his possessions including his golf clubs – sans car, how could I even get to the club? – and gradually ate the last crumbs from his fridge, freezer and pantry.  He confessed to me that he’d been hungry a few days before giving in and making the trip to the food bank.  Even that was problematic for him without transport.  He is still in his home, but his utility and rate payments are in arrears so that tiny bit of security is precarious at best.  His strength is torn.

Honestly, I was hard-pressed not to burst into tears but in no way did I want to convey pity to this gentleman with so much pride.  

There are a million questions swirling in my mind — how and why, of course — but most of all, what does he do next?  I’m feeling so, so angry – with all three tiers of government, with Cobourg, with my neighbours but mostly with me.  

One of Mother Teresa’s pearls of wisdom is pertinent:  I want you to be concerned about your neighbour.  Do you know your neighbour?  Clearly I (we) did not.  Certainly not well enough.

Community compassion is more important now than ever before; we have to sharpen our focus and dedicate more effort towards those who are experiencing insecurity – financial, mental and food.  We cannot afford to be distracted by the promises to and assumptions about what Canadians need that are being made by politicians in the midst of this very controversial pandemic election.  We must not give up on each other.  We must fight — tooth and nail — to ensure that the survival, dignity and humanity of every Canadian, most especially the vulnerable, are not overlooked, jeopardized or trivialized.  

Regardless of the outcome of Election 2021, on Tuesday morning, 21st September, the politicians will all disappear — some home to pack for their Ottawa residencies, others to resume their former lives.  The rest of us will still be here in the trenches, slogging through the same mire, trying to find solutions to impossible problems, trying to get the necessary assistance for our vulnerable.  It will be months and months before any of the campaign promises trickle down into our communities.  Help is needed right now.

There’s an entire bandwidth of worry to be shared, worry for so many different people, each bearing overwhelming loads of their own.  Injustice is rampant.  Solutions are not always apparent nor easily achieved.  Indeed, many of you are struggling yourselves, likely with unseen problems, all adding up to the need for our communities to sing from the same hymn sheet, to unite our voices in a resounding chorus of compassion for every single person.  Together we can make a difference and we must begin now.  

Let me hold the door for you.
After all you’ve walked through
it’s the least I can do.1

Hey, N’umberlanders, if you’re reading this today (18th August) – today is the “All Hands On Deck” food drive, it’s running from 10 until 6 today and your donations will be accepted at Metro, Giant Tiger, No Frills, Foodland, Food Basics and Independent.  Tip:  If you’re stuck for time, hop on-line to the PC Express App, fill in your order and they’ll pop it into the box for you.  Easy-peasy!    This food drive benefits Northumberland Food 4 All which supplies all the food banks in our beautiful county.  Thank you so very much! 

’Til next time, y’all…

Dandelions are symbolic of overcoming hardship.

1Morgan Harper Nichols is a writer, performance artist, musician and songwriter.

Let Me Hold The Door For You

Let me hold the door for you.
I may have never walked in your shoes,
but I can see:  Your Soles are worn,
your strength is torn
under the weight of a story
I have never lived before.
Let me hold the door for you.
After all you’ve walked through
it’s the least I can do.

[Morgan Harper Nichols]

94

May — the month of flowers, warm sunny days, new beginnings and unbridled hope — ended tragically, without hope, at the discovery in Kamloops of 215 angels, their resting places hidden from their parents, families, and tribes and bands.    Since that horrible day, many more covert graves have been identified using ground-penetrating radar.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission expects that ultimately between 4,000 and 6,000 children’s remains will be discovered – innocent souls who died from tuberculosis and other diseases resulting from neglect and despicable living conditions, from malnutrition and from abuse.  It is most important that we understand this is not ancient history; residential schools were operated by churches and the federal government until 1996.  Until twenty-five years ago.  More shameful is that vast numbers of Canadians were either unaware that the residential schools existed or that they remained active until 1996.  

The grief and emotional pain of our Indigenous People is as horrific as it is unimaginable and since that May discovery, their voices are becoming ever louder and more insistent – as well they should be.  

We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.1

It is time for Canadians to listen and learn.  Throughout most of the world Canadians have historically been regarded as a polite and nice people, indeed we ourselves believed that image to be accurate.  Now we are forced to acknowledge this misconception; our psyche has never felt more fragile and our conversations have swerved to a discussion of privilege.  White privilege.  Of how we have grown up knowing nothing else while Indigenous people and so many other Canadians have never known any privilege.  There is shame in that knowledge and, amongst many, a strong desire to help make things right.  To correct injustices.

There is also fear and panic in those conversations. By owning that privilege, by admitting that white folk were on the wrong side of oppressor and oppressed, by conceding that our justice system has been cruelly biased, is our wealth and way of life threatened?  Despite working hard most of our lives, do we deserve what we have? 

Deserve is the key word.  Of course none of us, no one – anywhere – deserves wealth or status or privilege.  No one deserves to wield the power of writing all the rules or rewriting them to their own advantage and the authority to justify that position.   For too many years, that power has been the sole purview of the strongest, the highest in social hierarchy (as defined by themselves).  And that’s the crux of the matter —  white folk have dominated our country’s history, their voices, values and morals alone imposed upon the original, Indigenous Canadians – by force if necessary.

But now we are aware of this prejudice and mistreatment.  So what happens next?

You don’t need to be a voice for the voiceless. Just pass the mic.2 

Now we listen.  And learn.  Listen as they tell of being denied their language and culture.  Listen as they tell of being forcibly assimilated.  Listen as they tell of being told they were not good enough.  Listen as they tell of their fear.  Listen as they tell about their shame at yielding, giving up.  They possess very articulate and emotional voices that need to be heard and understood.

As to what happens next, what is to be done, there is a 94 item, detailed and comprehensive plan for us to follow:  

In December 2015, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission published its final report – 94 Calls to Action, broken down into 21 categories:

Child Welfare
Education
Language and Culture
Health
Justice
Royal Proclamation and Covenant of Reconciliation
Settlement Agreement Parties and the United Nations
Equity for Aboriginal People in the Legal System
National Council for Reconciliation
Professional Development and Training for Public Servants
Church Apologies and Reconciliation
Education for Reconciliation
Youth Programs
Museums and Archives
Missing Children and Burial Information
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Commemoration
Media and Reconciliation
Sports and Reconciliation
Business and Reconciliation
Newcomers to Canada

As far as I’ve been able to confirm, thus far, of the 94 calls to action, 14 have been completed, 23 are underway, 37 projects have been established for future commencement which means that — after five years — 20 have had no action whatsoever.  

Any undertaking with the scope and importance of the 94 Calls to Action requires both political and societal willingness, perseverance and industry.  Although the report and its recommendations are factually aspirational – it is not legally binding – it ought to be a moral imperative, not a legal obligation.

September 30th is now a statutory holiday:  National Day for Truth and Reconciliation –  a day when naming and acknowledging are of infinite importance.  Please start planning how you and your family will spend that day. Please think about acquiring an orange shirt to wear that day (it’s a Thursday) and plan to incorporate the ideals of truth and reconciliation in your family’s activities.  To honour their suffering, pass the mic, listen, learn and share.

’Til next time, y’all…  

1Epictetus

2Dr Suad Mohamed

Relentless Tenderness

Ara vos prec1, please treat each other with grace and relentless tenderness.

At A&L we’ve been discussing COVID-19 inoculation and Vaccine Passports from ethical, moral and privacy-related points of view.  Many of these conversations have been confrontational and uncomfortable.  My concerns all lie within the morals bailiwick.  ‘Though we refer to a moral code, ethics feels like the discipline with the code and its list of rules aimed at right behaviour.  Morals seems to me to be much more about striving to be good and doing no harm.  

The Privacy Commissioner is stating that when the pandemic is declared over, the government would have to agree to destroy all the information gathered for the vaccination passports.  Red Flag!  Exactly what information would have to be included?  Doctor’s name?  Injection clinic?  Dates?  Serum?  The more information included, the more of a privacy issue it becomes.  About the serum – AZ shaming is a growing sport. ’Though it was not banned for ineffectiveness (only the blood clot issue) it is, nonetheless, now considered substandard or second rate, apparently making it worthy of ridiculing its recipients. If the serum type is included on the passport, do businesses have the right to limit entry from those who have had the AZ jabs?  Honestly, to me this entire concept seems fraught with pitfalls.  I fear it may be of the nature of building a club to later be beaten with.  But the passport idea is not the only raging debate… 

Although, whilst on-line, it feels very real, the world of social media is a specious environment; I choose who to follow and befriend – mostly based on aligned interests (there are a lot of photographers).  Most of my followers and those who have befriended me are kindred spirits or life-long friends.  Together we have forged a creative, supportive and encouraging society.  Within this haven there is kindness, gentleness and everyone is treated with a modicum of delicateness.  Having been confined to my bubble of two for so long and with no end in sight, these sweet souls have been my universe and my lifeline. 

Regrettably, the comity we share is not steadfastly mirrored beyond my front door, where right now the immunization debate is raging.

Some Canadians are not yet vaccinated.  As their numbers shrink, they are increasingly becoming targets for on-line judgement, shame and vitriol.  There are many reasons for not attending a vaccination clinic — the single mum, working two jobs to make ends meet and who is simply too damned tired to go out again, stand to wait for a bus and then stand again to wait in line for her shot, all that after having to fork out for a sitter; then there is the mesothelioma patient, on her 14th round of Keytruda (go C go!) whose oncologist has adamantly forbidden her to get the shot; then there are the members of religious groups that have theological objections to any vaccines (there are two such churches, both with big congregations, in this area); then there are the conscientious objectors, both those who irrationally mistrust the science and those who prefer to wait on their inoculation until the long-term effects of these chemicals on humans are better understood; and then there are the many people with impaired autoimmune systems.  Indeed there are many other reasons as well as those I’ve listed.  

These poor folk are being backed into corners, many feeling as if they need to publicly justify their decision to abstain.  In many cases this necessitates the need to share private health information which, of course, is no one’s business but their own.  

At this very moment, heartfelt compassion and respect are needed more than ever.  There are two key Buddhist tenets, both part of The Noble Eightfold Path, that serve as a moral lodestar:  Right Understanding and Right Speech. 

Right understanding is the awareness that every action has consequences, some even beyond death.  Right speech is a refusal to lie, or use divisive and/or abusive speech. 

Applying right understanding and speech to our daily lives is not always easy but with the best intentions and a little practice, slowly your mind will default to right understanding and speech.  Many of us, our family members, friends, co-workers, neighbours are desperately in need of our relentless tenderness at this time and we must rise to the occasion.  

Let’s strive, every day, to be good to each other and do no harm.  Ara vos prec, please treat each other with grace and relentless tenderness.

’Til next time, y’all…

1Ara vos prec is Latin for “now I pray you”.

In the language of flowers, Queen Anne’s Lace symbolizes sanctuary, a haven and delicateness.

Wafting Wildflowers

“Today alone,
I distract myself with flowers
that attract my eyes like magnets.
The wind roughhouses with them
bending them over.”1

Wildflowers are the ultimate in joyspotting.  On Friday I set off on a rural ramble and one of my goals was to collect a few more wildflower pictures.  June, July and August are splendid months to watch for wildflower blossoms along our roadsides and Friday’s jaunt yielded a wealth – they attracted my eyes like magnets! I shot all of the images in this post along a 1km stretch of the beautiful Crossen Road in Hamilton Township.  If you enjoy searching for and admiring wildflowers, this is definitely the time to do it!

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Field Sow Thistle (Sonchus arvensis)

Beginning quite early in the spring with Coltsfoot and lasting well into the late autumn, Ontario’s wildflowers never fail to impress with their rainbow of colours and sweet scents.  More importantly, and beyond beauty, they provide many benefits to the natural and human worlds.


Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annus)
Common Evening-Primrose (Oenothera biennia)
Spotted Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis)

Wildflowers are valuable elements of our ecosystems.  Their foliage, flowers, seeds and even roots provide food, nectar, pollen, habitats and places to breed for insects, birds, and small animals.  The dependent wildlife needs a broad range of wildflowers throughout all three seasons.  These plants, mostly herbaceous perennials, generate food for our all-important pollinators (mainly bees but also any insects that pollinate plants and crops).  Many of our favourite fruit trees, for instance, must be pollinated to generate a good crop.

Fully one third of the world’s food crops depend on pollinators.

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)

During our long, cold, snowy Ontario winters, months when food is scarce, wildflower seeds sustain many a bird and small animal.

Wildflowers support farmers in their efforts to increase and enhance forage crops for their livestock.

Wildflowers also support people, directly and indirectly.  Besides nourishing the pollinators necessary to food production, many wildflowers are essential herbal medicine and dietary supplement ingredients.

Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)
Cow Vetch (Vicia cracca)
White Sweetclover (Melilotus albus)

For the most part, wildflowers are hardy and thrive wherever they take root.  They improve soil quality and prevent erosion.  Natural filters, they also improve our water quality. 

Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
Bird-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)

So, benefits galore! Yet for my money, their true worth is their loveliness and the joy they bring into our lives. By attracting our eyes like magnets, they distract us in the nicest possible way. If you’re at a loss for how to amuse your kiddos (or yourself), why not go outdoors for a walk and see just how many wildflowers you can identify.

‘Til next time, y’all…

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis)

1Ibn Zaydun, an Arab poet from Spain who lived 1003 to 1071. He is widely believed to be the most important poet of Andalusia.

Joyspotting #11

Joyspotting #11 – Rural Ramble, Friday 23rd July

Yesterday was a perfect summer day; sunny, hot (25℃), with not a bit of humidity and a constant, sweet, soft breeze stirring the wildflowers and cooling my skin.  Fridays are rural ramble days and yesterday I took along my Joyspotter’s Guide.  

I’m often asked why I need the guide and the truth is, I don’t need it to find beauty – it’s virtually everywhere in nature and easy to spot.  What the guide brings to my outing is a reminder to be perpetually aware of all my senses whilst wandering and to widen my focus beyond eye-level.  I’m often surprised by what I “find” when I’m using the guide.  So, yesterday’s Joyspotting:

  1. Look up!  At the risk of being boringly repetitive, yesterday was another “big cloud, blue sky day”1 and they always seem to be such sweet days for me.

2. Look down!  It is often the case that, beneath bridges, creek beds yield some lovely treasures:

3. Keep an eye out for colour:  Cinquefoil, Bugloss and Trefoil – yellow and blue has always been one of my favourite colour combinations. Mostly, though, Cinquefoil’s five petals look like wee hearts – now that’s joy!

4. Follow the curve.  There were lots of curves yesterday, and I followed all of them!

5. Go where the wild things are. Usually I like to include something much more wild than a butterfly but yesterday the Monarchs were impossible to ignore – clouds of them fluttering above all the wildflowers.

6. Seek out symmetry.

7. Search for signs of abundance.

8. Watch for weirdness. Do you folks decorate your power lines with European Grape Vines? No? Just us, then!

9. Zoom in. I. Love. Cows. Methane burps notwithstanding, they’re sweet and gentle and friendly and – just look at those faces!

10. Notice the invisible. This meadow is bordered by Percy Creek. The most predominant wildflowers are Milkweeds (both the Common and Swamp varieties) which is wonderful for butterflies and moths, particularly the Monarchs. Yesterday, though, it was the loud hum or droning of the bees that I first noticed when taking this picture.

11. Take the scenic route.

Stoney Lonesome Road – a perfect name for Mr. Costner’s “Yellowstone”, non!

12. Use all your senses.  Wandering along the TC Trail, through the Northumberland Forest and along the roadsides, the sweet fragrance was impossible to miss. Lady’s-Thumb (perhaps you know it as Red Shank?) and the sweet grasses are all in bloom and the smells borne on the breeze were delightful yesterday.

“When the frogs dream, and the grass waves, and the buttercups toss their heads,
and the heat disposes to bathe in the ponds and streams,
then is summer begun.”2

On hot summer days, when the sky is lucid and the sun shines through the trees like spotlights hung from the sky, our world looks especially beautiful and spotting joy is the easiest thing on earth.  Yesterday was exactly such a day and, however you spent your Friday, I hope it was every bit as lovely as mine!

‘Til next time, y’all…

1Megan Giddings from her novel Lakewood one of my favourite expressions and my very favourite kind of day!
2Henry David Thoreau, from his published Journal entry dated 8th June 1850.

Charmed

“All the diversity, all the charm, and all the beauty of life are made up of light and shade.”1

Yesterday at Presqu’ile there was plenty of both.  It felt like the stars aligned to give me a near-perfect experience without, even, a magic charm to be seen.

First, the weather – perfection!  Warm but not hot and no humidity.  Thermometer read 21℃ feels like 21℃. 

I was camped out at the lagoon enjoying the antics of the baby ducks.  They were foraging for their greens under the watchful eye of their mum and dad.  Each time one of the ducklings popped their head back out of the water, they’d quack – very loudly.  After a bit I began to chuckle; it was, for all the world, like they were playing Marco Polo.

View of Presqu’ile Bay from the lagoon at Calf Pasture Point.

A lady toting her own camp chair, a scope (sign of a very serious bird-watcher), a camera, tripod and a note book wandered over and asked if she might share my patch of shade.  It took a few minutes for her to set up and settle but then we began to chat.  She is a naturalist employed by the Quebec provincial parks so I of course — not one to miss out on such a splendid opportunity — bombarded her with questions and she, very graciously and with much humour, responded.  

We compared our wildlife experiences of 2021.  She “won” hands-down! Earlier this year she’d flown to the north of the Ungava Peninsula and returned with a portfolio of exotic (to me) images – polar bears with their cubs, pods of seals, and some raptors, owls and waterfowl that never venture as far south as Presqu’ile.  We exchanged e-addresses and she has promised to send me some of her more interesting shots.  Score!  In exchange I’m to send her a selection of my turtle shots. Done!

We spent the happiest two hours together, making notes, taking pictures, and chatting away nineteen-to-the-dozen, quite as if we’d known each other all our lives.  She was charming and I was utterly charmed by her!

For her first visit to Presqu’ile and her first time at the lagoon (Calf Pasture Point), it was a perfect day.  The Swan parents, who typically keep their kiddos corralled in the inlet at the mouth of the lagoon (better to protect them?), guided the sweet, rambunctious, competitive and busy Cygnets out into the open water of the lagoon where they made a circuit of the entire perimeter before heading back into the safety of the inlet.

No problem foraging.

It has been a little more than two weeks since last I saw the “babies” and I swear they’ve doubled in size in that fortnight.  Their plumage is still very fuzzy and motley grey and their beaks are still gunmetal grey, but they are robust and seem to be very strong swimmers.  No indication yesterday of whether they can fly yet or not but, judging by the watchful and very protective eye being kept on them by both adults, I should doubt it very much.  

A pescaterian among the vegans.

During their promenade, the parents guided the Cygnets very close to the Egret who was fishing in the reeds, to the duck family who all seemed very inquisitive about their neighbours (much more-so than the swans who all remained regally aloof), and finally past the Great Blue who was fishing on the sandbar.  To us it appeared to be basic orientation to the wildlife of the area.

Hey! Where’d everybody go?

It was a lovely interlude to be sure, all the more enjoyable because of the sympathetic company I shared.  I am definitely one of the luckiest ones; Presqu’ile Provincial Park offers a spectacular world of beauty, adventure and relaxation — opportunities abound and there seems to be no limit  to its charms. 

’Til next time, y’all…

Wildflowers of the day:

Spotted Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis).
Musk Thistle (Carduus nutans).

1Leo Tolstoy, from his masterpiece Anna Karenina.

More Today Than Yesterday* – a love letter.

1984

In 1984 the average annual income was $21,600, the average monthly rent was $350, the average cost of a new home was $86,730 and of a resale home was $72,400.

The first Macintosh computer by Apple was sold in January.

Band Aid was formed in Notting Hill, London and their song “Do They Know It’s Christmas” was recorded to raise badly needed funds for Ethiopia Famine Relief.

Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was assassinated 31st October.

Discovery, the Space Shuttle, and Virgin Atlantic both made their inaugural flights.

MuchMusic went on the air in August, TSN in September and TeleLatino in October.

Labatt introduced the twist-off beer bottle cap.

Jeopardy returned to the airwaves with beloved Canadian Alex Trebek at the helm.

The Honourable Brian Mulroney was elected Prime Minister of Canada.

Canadian, real-life superhero, Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space aboard Challenger, the space shuttle.

We lost Canadian broadcast icon, Gordon Sinclair.

It was the year of the Los Angeles summer Olympic games.  Canada’s flag bearer was the amazing Alex Baumann, a double gold medal winner who, with Anne Ottenbrite and legend Victor Davis, lead one of our best-ever swim teams, winning 8 medals.

Perrault & Storie established 21st July.

To my very dear Cam:

I love you more today than yesterday
But, darling, not as much as tomorrow.*

My sweet happy today is recognition of and gratitude for a marriage that, for the most part, has come easily for us.  Ours is a union within which we have both found a sense of  comfort with who we are individually and as a couple which may be our greatest accomplishment.

Ohmigosh wasn’t it a scorcher?  37 years ago today, on the hottest, most humid day of the summer, at Zion Wexford United Church in Scarborough, I became a Perrault and my mum officially gained her much-beloved son.

I am endlessly thankful that we’ve always intrinsically understood each other and accepted in each other the quirks that make us uniquely us.

And if all my dreams come true
I’ll be spending all of my time with you*

Happy Anniversary Cam! I love you to bits and pieces, indeed more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.  xoxox

— — ~ — —

We’re still constantly in our bubble of two, and I am still forbidden to dine in a restaurant so I am happy that we’ll be at home tonight, grilling and sharing a delicious supper and relaxing together.  Life is good!

*Patrick Upton, for his song “More Today Than Yesterday” sung by Spiral Staircase.  Have a listen — More Today — you’ll be boppin’ in your chair – promise!

More Today Than Yesterday

I don’t remember what day it was

I didn’t notice what time it was

All I know is that I fell in love with you

And if all my dreams come true

I’ll be spending time with you

Every day’s a new day in love with you

With each day comes a new way of loving you

Every time I kiss your lip my mind starts to wander

If all my dreams come true

I’ll be spending time with you

Oh, I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow

I love you more today than yesterday

But, darling, not as much as tomorrow

Tomorrow’s date means springtime’s just a day away

Cupid, we don’t need ya now, be on your way

I thank the Lord for love like ours that grows ever stronger

And I always will be true

I know you feel the same way too

Oh, I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow

I love you more today than yesterday

But only half as much as tomorrow

Every day’s a new day, every time I love ya

Every way’s a new way, every time I love ya

Every day’s a new day, every time I kiss ya

Every way’s a new way, oh, how I love ya

Every day’s a new day, every time I love ya

Every day’s a new day, every time I love ya

Songwriter: Patrick Upton
Performed by:  Spiral Staircase

Have a listen to More Today Than Yesterday – enjoy! xxxx