I. Love. Spring. LOVE!

My drive to the park is pure joy this time of year; scattered along the roadsides are handfuls of the most beautiful wildflowers like these:  Bloodroot, Blue-eyed Grass and Colt’s Foot.  Bright, happy colours of spring.  Bright and happy — exactly how I feel!

Spring 2016 has gifted me with some of the loveliest babies; goats, calves, lambs, one colt and still more calves.  I. Love. Spring.

For the record, I’m absolutely not a birder and yet this week has been mostly about birds. I’ve had some fun with geese, finding them in all the usual, and some unusual spots.

On a farm:

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Surveying our acreage.

On an island:

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Private island.

On a nest:

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Nesting

On reflection:

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Just reflecting…

Common as dust are Canada geese and yet they give me countless hours of pleasure.

Another spring baby this week is this adorable fellow; a fuzzy, chubby, clumsy (he twice fell off his perch whilst I was watching him), and completely unafraid (I was within four feet of him) baby jay:

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Fuzzy baby Blue Jay.

I had surprisingly few duck sightings this week. There were these two, simply meandering:

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Chilling in the creek.

Then there were these two; slightly more frisky:

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Shake a tail feather!

But, the highlight of my week were these two beauties – Muscovy Ducks:

This is the first time I’ve seen a Muscovy and they are, apparently, seldom seen this far north.  Their red, warty faces took a bit of getting used to, but they are truly beautiful birds, the male very particularly so:

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Male Muscovy Magnificence

Spectacular, non?

My photographic nemesis is the Red-Winged Blackbird.  My photog buddies all have scads of images of them but for some reason, once they’ve clapped eyes on me (with camera in hand) they immediately and completely disappear.  This week I did manage to capture two – the one with the nesting goose, and this chubster.  Yes, I get that it’s not a great shot but I am counting it as a victory because it is clear that this is a Red-Winged Blackbird (obstructing branch notwithstanding).

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Tubby

I. Love. Spring.

I’ll leave you with two shots that make me smile; I hope they make you smile too:

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Nope. No shadow.

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Luscious Lashes

‘Til next time, y’all…

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The advancing spring…

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Marsh Marigolds 27th April 2016

“Come with me into the woods where spring is
advancing, as it does, no matter what,
not being singular or particular, but one
of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.”
[Mary Oliver]

It is cold!  Surprisingly cold considering how bright and sunny it is, but the breeze is up, the lake has whitecaps and it’s definitely too cold for a lakeside picnic even, the way I am dressed, for a walk along the shore.

Every year Mary Oliver’s words resonate with me; they perfectly describe this glorious season, and today especially, my experience at Presqu’ile.  Every day now, more leaves are bursting open, the woods are becoming denser and it is getting more and more difficult to see through the trees and bush.  I even found a couple of clumps of marsh marigolds already in full bloom.  Early?  Yes.  In my recollection I’ve not seen them this advanced before early May so this is indeed a special springtime gift.

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”
[Robin Williams]

Today’s visit was pure fun, quite like a party – a lens party!  Some evidence of the fun I had with my fisheye…  Silly, twisted, distorted images:

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‘Til next time, y’all…

 

 

 

Thank you!

Thank you for following my blog; I am always excited and pleased to find your feedback awaiting my attention. The most common question my readers pose is:

“Why Presqu’ile?/What makes it so special?”

Although it is an idyl for me, the scenery in the park is unpretentious; there are no grand mountains, crashing waterfalls, gurgling rapids or elegant flower gardens to draw gasps of awe from its visitors. It is a very natural, safe haven for birds and waterfowl, and for the many species of reptiles, amphibians, moths, butterflies, bugs and animals who make the park their home. Yet these common elements of nature have inspired in me enormous adoration, devotion and appreciation. When human drama, social media gossip and life’s minutiae begin to feel overwhelming, Presqu’ile is my serene and restorative escape.

‘Til next time…

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Foraging and Nesting

Me? An architect?

Today is a perfect day for Presqu’ile…
The sun is shining, it is 15℃ and my man is off to his beloved golf course. All systems go!

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One of the women I most admire is Maria Shriver. I think she is awesome! Don’t, please, let her celebrity blind you – Maria works very, very hard.  She has dedicated her life to the eradication of the dreaded Alzheimer disease, she constantly helps others, and she is an unceasing source of empowerment and encouragement to women all over the world – me included. One of her dearest passions is her “Architects of Change” series; if you’ve not yet read any of those essays, I strongly encourage you to do so – they’re uplifting, inspiring, humorous and oh-so-touching. Until recently, however, it never occurred to me that I ought to become an Architect of Change myself.

When I first began visiting Presqu’ile and writing this blog, I was looking for a way to speed along my recovery and restore my happiness after a series of kidney-related health issues. Mission accomplished. Fast-forward two years, and I find myself in a similar position. I’m loathe to use the term recovery (lest I jinx myself) – it is far too early for that. Let’s just say I am wanting to improve my health, specifically my lung capacity. I want to feel fit rather than frail, to feel joy rather than fear, and to feel serenity rather than stress. A little extra stamina wouldn’t hurt either! So begins the architectural process for me…

Designing and building my plan for change began, of course, with my family doctor, known, by the rest of my consultants, as the “Captain Of My Ship”.  Dr. A. gave me permission to step up my level of exercise, all the while monitoring my saturation levels to ensure they do not drop too low, and even then I may continue – with oxygen – provided my sats pop back up. Problem is, put me in the park, put a camera in my hands and all thoughts of exercise completely evaporate.

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Change starts here!

Obviously, then, my plan is to get in some cardio before I even unzip the camera bag. This cardio needs to be enjoyable so that my commitment is unwaveringly strong. Cycling nicely fits the bill but only until the hot, humid weather arrives. So what then? After much deliberation and due diligence, we decided that I am to have a kayak – specifically the Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite. Squee!!! Also Thule’s Hullavator to make transporting my yak easy.

Tomorrow is the day:

I am very happy and super-excited to report that we are off to Peterborough on Tuesday to order my new yak and hullavator!

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Change starts here!

That’s it (for now, at least) for my architectural process. Now for some fun! I loaded (read: forced) my bike into the back of Nissie and set off for the park on this beautifully perfect spring day. Driving into the park I was greeted by the frog song and the squawking of the gulls – situation normal! I parked Nissie and dragged out my bike. Goal: 30 minutes brisk peddling. First attempt is to be a circuit of the park with, of course, a healthy dose of apprehension: Could I still ride – and stay on – (contrary to the well-known adage), would I be able to sustain a good pace, would my breathing hold up or would I get half-way ‘round and and have to quit and if so would I be able to get back to Nissie, etc., etc., etc. Mounting was smooth and graceful (you’re giggling now, admit it) and setting off caused no problems. In fact, I made the circuit apace – all the way out to the gatehouse and back – with only one stop due to a water bottle malfunction (a story for another day) not a breathing issue. I glided to a stop beside Nissie and this is where things went awry: My legs were like jello and my dismount was, um, untidy – to say the least! But I did it!!! I was euphoric.

Day one and my architecture is strong. Humble beginnings.

Next stop, lunch at the lagoon. Whilst I was eating, a pair of ducks made their graceful way around the perimeter in what looked very much like a beautifully choreographed dance, reminiscent of the somewhat more famous cygnus ballet. She was exploring, foraging for food and happily munching. He never once stopped to eat; he was adorably protective of her.

“Duck Pond”
The lesser-known Tchaikovsky ballet.

Along came three hawks who put on quite a show for me.  If only I’d had a Jobu to better capture their antics, but here is a glimpse into their world:

I wrapped up my park visit with a walk through Jobe’s woods for some quiet, contemplative time and some meditation. It was interesting to see how a dry week affected the ground water – it is mostly gone. Absorbed? Evaporated? These logs were submerged last week:

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And soon, the forest floor will be a Trillium carpet:

Back at Nissie I hop in and – yikesabee – my hair!!! Between the helmet and the sunhat, the Woody Woodpecker look would have been a huge improvement and, voilà – there he was in a tree high above my car:

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Leaving the park, the temperature has climbed to a very warm 18℃.  My last sighting was this fellow, Hissing Sid, warming himself on the pavement:

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“Once Hissing Sid, an evil snake
Kept the woodland folk awake
In fear and trembling every night
In case he gave someone a bite.”

[Keith Mitchell:  Captain Beaky’s Marching Band]

‘Til next time.

 

My Walk With Nature…

“In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.”
[John Muir]

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“Nature” Presqu’ile 9th April 2016

 

The sky was blue today and it was beautifully sunny on this, my first opportunity all week, to run off to Presqu’ile for some salutiferous time at the shores.  It was also cold – 0°C – as I arrived but my windows were down, all the better to hear the delightful frog song. In this I was to be disappointed as I was met with absolute silence.  And ice.  Atop the water in the pannes was a fine film of ice, which was clearly a deterrent to the sounding of the mating call of my frogs.  Instead, they’d all decided to stay under their warm, leafy blankets and have a lie-in today.

The silence was very strange; no birds, not even the gulls, ducks and geese were to be heard.  I had never before experienced such a lull entering Presqu’ile and it was to set the tone of my visit.

The goal for today’s visit was to document the burgeoning flora in Jobe’s Woods, making camera and wellies the order of the day.  There was not a soul around – I had the entire trail to myself and the hush was awesome.  Almost.  About five hundred feet into the trail, a Blue Jay began following me, high above in the treetops, scolding and chattering away nineteen-to-the-dozen.  I suppose he may have had a nest full of young‘uns but it seems a bit early.  I suspect he neither liked his safety threatened nor his tranquility disturbed.  Eventually he gave up and returned to his nest and we were – both, I expect – relieved.

The beauty of nature is its myriad and constant metamorphoses and its imperfect perfection.  Throughout the woods, even this early, buds had formed and some were already beginning to burst, shoots were popping up all over the forest floor – some even under a layer of ice and there are countless shades of fresh, beautiful green everywhere one looks.

I photographed and documented as many species as I could (40+) and had a wondrous and contemplative time alone.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
[H.D. Thoreau]

PAM_7080.jpgTruly, there are no better words to describe my time in Jobe’s Woods today.  Walking in solitude, basking in the silence and magnificence of these cathedralesque woods, I feel a part and apart of nature.  I know I am fortunate to have had this peaceful sojourn and am truly grateful.

Some of the fauna spotted today:

One last tidbit:  They’re back!

Deet anyone?

‘Til next time…

Pause 2.0 – Meditation

“By all means they try to hold me secure those who love me in this world.”
[Tagore]

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Presqu’ile has become my favourite place to pause and, in the many quiet spots in the park, to meditate. My introduction to meditation came from a particularly gifted and forward-thinking doctor some thirty years ago. He advised me to cultivate the art of meditation and to use it as a tool to help control pain. Sage and useful advice – then and now. Learning to meditate was, by no means, a natural process for me. As a young woman, stillness and silence were not my norm and in truth, they are still not. Initially I had to force myself to pause and had to focus most intently in order to achieve even a fraction of the feelings of peace and love that regular meditation practitioners experience. Now it happens effortlessly.

Many people learn to meditate using a mantra such as the well-known (and commonly mocked) “So Hum” – Hindi for “I am”.  An instructor may give you a mantra but a good Yogi will require you to create your own. Mantra, however, is not the method I learned. A fellow dialysis patient, a Buddhist, taught me to meditate using a dhyana technique known as ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’, the goal of which is alert and sensitive awareness. Being mindful of the breath one is taking and anticipating the next one is a sure way to eliminate life’s noises and distractions. This worked for me, almost immediately that I began the practice, and works for me still.

I have amazing friends – loyal, kind, devoted and I trust them unreservedly so when one of them lets me down, I feel gutted. Thus began my day. There was, however, a fair weather window this morning (the forecast did not call for snow until this afternoon) so, determined not to wallow in self-pity, I seized the moment and dashed off to Presqu’ile, seeking my bliss.

Frog song! Frog song!!! The second day of April, beautifully sunny but with a scattering of snowflakes in the air.  As I drove into the park the frogs welcomed me with their glorious spring chorus. I rolled down my windows to listen, and just like that, I was smiling and joyous. I spent quite a bit of time at the pannes listening and hoping for a glimpse of a frog or two but without success. What I did see were these two beauties, comfortable in the belief that they were well-hidden in the depths of the pannes:

On to the waterfront… It was an icy 3℃, the wind was howling, the waves were clamorous and yet there was a surfer in the water…

Everywhere I looked there was an abundance of ground water, prettily reflecting the blue sky and the trees within.

Lunch time! A waterfront picnic at the lagoon. It is somewhat sheltered so sitting at the picnic table was a delightful break. As I drove down the slope into the parking area I spied a cluster of waterfowl “living together in perfect harmony” and, as Sir Paul so beautifully wrote, I wondered “oh Lord, why don’t we?” And thus began my pause for today.

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I am trying hard to improve and advance my meditation practice. Coached and encouraged by my Buddhist friend, I am learning a new form of meditation called Metta which means loving kindness. I confess that I am not very good as yet but in view of todays sadness about my friend’s actions it seemed important to feel and send metta. In the simplest of terms, metta involves five stages of feeling love and kindness – first for oneself, then second for a good friend, then third for a mere acquaintance (a “neutral” person), then fourth for an enemy or a person who has done wrong, and the fifth for everyone. As I sat in the sunshine, quiet and still, I meditated on forgiveness and on becoming more loving and kinder myself. And then there was peace. My anger and hurt were gone and I felt grateful for the good and supportive friends in my life.

“By all means they try to hold me secure those who love me in this world.”

A few more moments from Presqu’ile today – my Summer At The Shores has begun: