Wednesday 30 April 2008

April snow showers

What a surprise the ducks and geese had today. The sun shone, then it clouded over, then the snow fell and the sun appeared again. A brisk wind blows cold.

The daffodils are drooping; shivering in the cold. Overnight there was frost on the cottage roof. We were teased with double-digit temperatures last week. Hopefully, these temperatures will return soon. The wildlife are hungry, and most are in the midst of breeding and raising hungry young.

With overnight lows below zero, I hope cottagers haven't turned their water on yet. There likely isn't much risk, as the temperatures are not going far below zero, but it depends upon the location of the cottages.

The cats are pretty much upset with the weather. They have been out trolling for vermin. One day they caught two moles, and two mice and left the remnants of another critter by the door (a tail and two feet!). Yesterday, Sady was quite proud of herself as she chased a raccoon off our property, across the road into the forest. She came back quite proud of herself, almost wiping her paws as she brushed the dirt off.

You see, the ducks and geese are allowed to go after our birdseed. I think that the raccoons are too much mammalian for her liking. She chased one her size, and treed another twice her size the other day. Today, the went out briefly, and now sit wailing by the door. Who turned off the furnace? I shared some of my lunchtime salmon with them, feeling sorry for them.

We cannot complain about the weather. With issues around taxes, job losses, and an industry that is jeopardized by our failure to plan for a changing economy, we are grateful to be retired and living our quiet lives. Travel is expensive, and we refrain from big trips. There are many people with far more money, but many more with far less, no savings and work very hard at their jobs.

Many rely on tourism, and others travel far for work. There are large distances between towns. Let us hope the politicians do the right thing to ensure we have a viable economy, with people finding meaningful work. Work that gives them a good quality of life, contributes to the economy and does not harm the environment.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Spring is here

Despite swollen rivers, the lakes are moving and the land is dry. I think all of the snow is gone, except in deeply shadowed, shady forest. The last bit of ice melted in our above 20 degree temperatures.

April 13th the water was open at the shore. By April 18th it was open on our small lake. The ducks returned, as did the Canada Geese.

There is an open fire ban due to the lack of moisture on the land. In other places some roads are impassable due to the meltwater.

The birds are building nests wherever they can find a spot. The fish have become active and I can spot the dragonfly larvae as they work at their growth. Their are a few tadpole and lots of frog's eggs ripening with the warmth.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Internet Safety

Dear SLC,

I think your guest, "Beatrice", doesn't know what she is talking about. I am quite shocked. She demeans the entire school system in Canada.
There are many, many school with Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs). Just google that and you will find them. (TDSB, Wessex, Ottawa, Durham, NNDSB) You're giving air time to a woman who has no statistics, other than American ones, and doesn't know what she is talking about. That doesn't "sound like Canada" to me!

Parents and students must sign forms, usually embedded in a planner or school agenda. It is a standard practice.

For the most part, teachers must be vigilant in supervising students. Students cannot be left alone in a computer lab.

Vancouver is a different state than other provinces. That said, kids exploring site like Facebook in school time - that is the best time to do it. Most schools have created safe conditions, i.e. all the computers face the middle of the room and the teacher walks around surveying use. Most teachers assign work to do and surfing is not an option.

I have given many talks/workshops for parents and teacher-colleagues, and it is the parents who need more information. It is some principals who are afraid to institute discipline, but, for the most part, the schools are doing a fine job on educating kids on Internet Safety.

There are many things parents can do. But it is the parents who must be vigilant. Suggestions are here:

Sunday 13 April 2008

Muskoka Weather

It always amazes me the power of the lake effect. Georgian Bay, to the west, both moderates and provides extreme weather, and dumps precipitation on us.

Our wee lake must have some effect as well. Our deck faces south. The sun warms the property, the trees keep in the warmth. There were days I could sit by the mostly frozen lake with only a t-shirt. More often than not, the weather station for Muskoka Township has quite varied temperatures from ours and forecasts tend to be inaccurate in our area.

This morning, the Weather Network told us to expect -2 degrees, with blowing snow. While we woke to very thin ice on the goldfish pond, frog pond, and the lakeshore that is open, the temperature was a solid zero degree, and the sun shines between clouds. The frost on the dock and deck has now melted.

The birds are busy eating and feeding. The bulbs are starting to appear. The buds are swelling on the trees in anticipation. The chickadees lick the sap that drips from open wounds in a maple.

The red squirrel gives EVERYONE a hard time. It thinks that the bird feeder has been created just for its benefit. Every other creature is a chump!

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Muskoka Nature Awakes

It is wonderful seeing the breakup of the lake.The shore is appearing as the run off meltwater dissolves the ice.

The birds are active. The raccoons awoke last week. I had to replace the large stone on top of the metal garbage can that has housed our bird seed all winter. In the evening I heard a clank as the 'coon ripped the lid off and it hit the ground. The cats were quite excited.

This morning I saw one cat sitting on the deck looking down. The other was perched strangely on a rock. As I watched, the coon that was pigging out on bird seed, took off into the forest and up a tree. The cats seemed quite proud as the coon treed itself. Twice their size, they were ready to sit at the bottom of the tree.

Our younger cat is quite excited with the breath of fresh air. He keeps flinging himself up the tree!

Friday 4 April 2008

Spring approacheth

We are continuing our afternoon walks. Everything is melting. The big fissures in the ice do not deter the tourists! I would not let MY kids out on the lake!

Lots of folks (3?) have their bubblers going. It seems like a colossal waste of electricity. The ice is thick and heaving and people don't like losing their docks.

There must be 8 mourning doves hanging around. They sound and look beautiful. There are great big icicles dripping off of the rocks. Giant stalactites. It took me 3 years to get good photos of them. I keep driving by thinking I should have put the camera in the front seat. Then I'm always on my way somewhere and don't have time to stop.