Wednesday, 28 November 2007

fire in the sky








The sunset that followed the big blizzard (fire in the sky)



can be compared to the ice on the water.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Slow Eddy


There was a snow squall. In a moment, the lake disappeared behind a wall of snow. We felt as insulated as the plants, happy, I am sure, with a blanket of snow to protect them from the cold.
The squirrels were absent but for one brave soul who was carefully clearing out the squirrel feeder from under its snow cover.

Brian thought that this little guy had been elected to go out and shovel.

“Who wants to go out and dig out the feeder?”

“Let’s send out slow Eddy!”, he heard them say. “He’ll go out and shovel the feeder for us!” The poor squirrel had to shake the snow off his face as he used his nose to smell for hidden peanuts. We have to feed the squirrels to keep them from worrying the bird feeders. It is a compromise with nature we are content to make.

This squirrel kept sniffing and looking for fresh, unfrozen seeds, raising his head to shake it off doggy-style, several times more. He sits in the small, brass dish - an upside down shell-shape. It was really a bird bath; a gift from my daughter one Mother’s Day. It serves as a great feeder. We give them peanuts, too. The squirrel is buried as the wind picks up and blows several centimeters of snow off of branches above.

We wonder if the new line of cloud across the horizon forecasts another blizzard. The squall passed in an hour. The snow broke out and warmed the house. It streamed in the windows. The house was cozy. The indoor plants basked in the warmth, the cat stretched in yoga-like fashion in the sunbeams. Life is good.

Hey there!

He eyes the two raven-feathered birds on the feeder. They seem aloof, cold and metal in their demeanour. Unconcerned, he looks them up and down, back and forth he looks at one then the other, until he choses the one that refused eye contact. He likes a challenge.



Delivering his line, smooth-talking jay that we know is: "So, you come here often?

Tired of the irksome one-line pick ups, she ignores him. He takes a couple of sunflower seeds in his gullet and flies off, undaunted.



The squirrel snickers on the other feeder.
She has heard all the lines before in her wild youth. Her back to the trio, hidden behind her bushy tail, she peeks back at them over her shoulders that shake in mirth. She has settled into a great relationship, glad to find a partner who respects her as the nicely groomed tree rat she has turned out to be. She is glad she doesn't need to talk to creeps like this anymore.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

A blanket of snow


I woke today to a blanket of snow. The blue jays fight madly over the last peanuts in the feeder. Mourning doves hover nearby in the trees, much like dead leaves they sit on branches mourning summer. Hopeful of a feed on the deck, they cluster waiting until the cat goes back into the house. Chickadees continue to feed.

The sound of dripping snow water punctuates the sounds of traffic, much louder without the forest's leaves blanketing its sound.

The mergansers are down in the lake, still fishing in colder and colder water. I wonder when they will head south?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Hunting Season


The guns fire in Muskoka. Once, at dusk, I heard 4 shots in a row. It breaks my heart and causes me to fear. Hunting season began a month ago. This month they are firing in earnest. I fear for my fellow creatures. Brian’s experience on the farm included that with firearms. The farm animals have to be protected. I can see the hunters in their bright orange jackets travelling by boat across the lake. Hunting, Brian tells me, is good on the railway tracks that run on the other side and parallel to our lake. The hunters travel in a small motor boat. Too small to bring back a carcass, I think. I wonder what motivates them as I really do not understand how they might find sport in this exercise. They do not hunt out of a necessity for food, not if they own or rent a property by a Muskoka lake. The run at about $400,000. Rentals can be $1000 per week.

The sound of the rifle, my husband says, is a crack. A shotgun, which they use for moose, is more of a boom. In my own way I try to analyse the noise as it separates me from the knowledge that the three shots I heard this morning means that one of the men has missed something and shot again. A letter to the editor of our paper suggested that since her father hunted she knew their motivation but had two thoughts for them: that their first shot be true so that the animal feels no pain, and that they cover up the evidence of their prey, dumped in the back of their pick-up trucks. The bleeding carcass, with the heads lolling in the back, make her feel sick.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Wildlife in Muskoka

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Feeding Frenzy



After days of cloudy, rainy days the sun shines brightly. A breeze came up and the sunlight sparkles off the small waves; diamonds glinting in the sun. I fed the critters, the cat eyes me from inside. She is anxious to help! Yesterday she snuck up under the railing and sucker punched a blue jays. The startled bird, or the cat, knocked over the heavy metal bird feeder. I heard a big CLUNK. All the bird lost was its dignity and a few tail feathers.


The blue jays and squirrels fight for the peanuts. One bird will fly in, having waited semi-politely for the squirrel to take off, grab a peanut, then grab another, decide that that one is too small, large, old, young, the wrong colour or shape, and then finally taking its prize flies off to a nearby tree. If it is early in the feeding frenzy it eats the prize right away. You can hear them in the trees crunching the shell of the peanut. Later in the process they hide the peanut in a nook or cranny - to be recovered later.

The peculiar thing is that the squirrels, once the bird feeder is exhausted of peanuts, knows the Blue Jays trick and scurries all over the denuded canopy of trees looking for the food to recover it and bury it elsewhere. They chase each other around tree trunks not giving up a cm of territory. The squirrels bury the prize down below. Once someone wins the game, the squirrels, who can identify the smell of recently overturned soil, frantically dig up the treasure to eat or rebury it. Sometimes they discover my newly planted bulbs, but I digress.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Brrrrrr

When I rose this morning, at 7:00 a.m., I ran to check outdoors for the snowfall, anticipating the beauty. I was disappointed that all I could see were the frozen, shrivelled leaves. Perverse, I know, but I love the changing wheel of the seasons. The sunrise was beautiful.

There is frost. The weather forecasters blew it. The "Lake Effect" rains were predicted to change to snow. Orillia was to have 5 - 15 cm of snow, once the temperature shifted in the afternoon. The weather front was to bring 5 - 10 cm to Muskoka. All we had was rain as it stayed at 3 degrees above zero. I rather anticipated the change in weather.

A cloudy, cold day. The thermometer registers just below zero. Today I had to dig ice, as well as spent seed hulls, out of the bird and squirrel feeders. I could hear the blue jays in the trees. They were cheering me on - or trying to rush me. It is a peaceful beginning to the day. I had my morning work out and then popped on a coat to do the chore. Not a chore, but a ritual. The squirrels, lower on the pecking order, dig the seeds out of the frozen chunk of water. The woodpecker -I never remember the difference between the downy or hairy - got scared when I opened the door to take the photo.

It flew to a tree in the background, where it quickly took off. The squirrels were chasing one another around and around that tree, perhaps singing Ring Around the Rosy, determined to keep the other away from the squirrel feeder.

The blue jays bravely land on the feeder, eating a peanut, then squirreling it away (excuse the pun) more in the nooks and crannies of tree trunks. Then the fun begins. It is similar to one of those party games where the first person opens a gift, then the next person can either open the gift or take someone else's gift. The critters all run around trying to find the hidden treasure. It is better than cartoons.


Monday, 5 November 2007

November Rains

The winds howled today. They were nothing like the winds and rain in the Maritimes, but they are still blow and are colder now. There is a change in the wind direction. There is a chill in the air. The birds all feed a bit more frantically. The raccoon, stuffing its rotund body with delicate fingers that seem too small for its size, checks for leftovers. It doggy diggs in the hulls from the sunflower seeds. It haughtily sends to the small finch seed flying, knocking over the bird feeders in the process. While sitting on top of the squirrel feeder it must have become unbalanced and caused a huge commotion as it fell 20' over the side onto the ground below. We chose not to go outside and check for damage. It likely bounced.

The deck glistens with frost in the early morning. I feed the voracious squirrels to keep them off of the bird feeders. It seems to work, except the blue jays steal the peanuts before you can say hibernate.

This morning we heard two ducks fighting. Matrimonial Bliss that could use some counselling on issues. Brian could hear her telling him off,
"If you'd only let me get tickets on the early flight we'd be out of here by now. Oh No. You wanted to take the economy flight and here we are stuck in this sappy rain with only the low-lifes hanging around. Next year we leave early and go with the civilized folks, with the full meal service. I told you so. But you wouldn't listen. Now we're stuck with this lot, with nothing but dead pond weeds and no tourists left to feed us crap. I should have stayed with my mother."