Gratitude journal #2: Meeting my touchstone

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About 15 minutes up a section of the Bruce Trail through the woods near my place there’s a small branch trail leading to a cliff-edge lookout over Hope Bay, and Georgian Bay off in the distance. But on the way there the trail winds through a rugged area with large, moss-covered boulders on either side. Especially on grey, overcast days the moss has a luminous, iridescent glow. I have stopped and taken a closer look at some of them, especially the little gardens that have managed to take root on top, where there must be a thin layer of soil collected over a great many years. It’s a wonder, how nature can endure and survive on so little, through winter’s bitter cold in these parts, under a protective blanket of snow, and come alive in the spring. Continue reading

Deer in the headlights, and the intelligence of mushrooms

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Just after night settled in here – about 6 p.m. in mid-November – I was driving slowly along Cathedral Drive when suddenly my headlights lit up two white-tailed deer a short distance ahead. I had plenty of time to slow down more in case they panicked the wrong way into my van; and time to get a good look at the beautiful creatures as they literally high-tailed it off the road and into the woods. Continue reading

My Buddy

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My big boy, my best friend, my Buddy

Startles me with his sudden barking.

Are there coyotes prowling outside in the black night

I ask, as he lifts his head and his bark almost becomes a howl,

A warning, followed each time by a low grumble of concern.

Maybe it’s just the deer in the garden again, browsing on what’s left of the kale.

Something is nearby, prowling through this black night, claiming it as its own.

The woods are full of eyes, solitary beings, or packs of them we can only imagine.

The night belongs to them now. My ownership means nothing.

My loyal shepherd wants out to defend us.

But I pat his handsome head as he looks at me with worried, loving eyes.

And I tell him, don’t worry, we’re safe in the light behind these walls

And in the morning you’ll have new scents to pick up and territory to mark

To your heart’s content, my big, beautiful boy, my loyal friend.

And he inclines his head in that curious way Shepherds have, listening carefully.

We’re okay, I tell him gently, I’m okay. And he lifts his paw for a touch of my hand.

He knows.

 

A hopeful Hope Ness morning

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It won’t be long now, I expect, being a Hope Ness resident long enough to know this is a precious jewel of a day for October 21, just south of the 45th Parallel in Ontario, Canada: winter snow and freezing temperatures are coming soon enough. So this is a joy indeed for an old sun-lover like me, even if I take advantage of the warm, sunny weather to do the work that still needs to be done to get ready for winter. Continue reading

Nature will find a way. Will we?

First, allow me to take a few moments to look on the bright, hopeful side.

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This row of squash got through an unusually cool, wet summer in southern Ontario, Canada to produce an abundant crop. Nature found a way.

It is now officially fall in the Northern Hemisphere. That makes sense, after all, we’ve just had a long stretch of mostly sunny, warm, summer weather. Things in nature, and in human life hopefully, do have a way of balancing out. At least that’s what I told myself and certain of my garden plants throughout this now-recent, unusually-cool, wet summer.

Hang in there, be patient, I told my corn, squash, and beans especially in so many words: the sun also rises, and will soon shine for more than a day or two in warm succession.

Continue reading

Ontario’s forest flower

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One of the most pleasant, accessible short hikes on Ontario’s famous Bruce Trail begins here, at the end of Cathedral Drive in Hope Ness, on the Bruce Peninsula. And right at the end of my driveway too, by the way.

Depending how leisurely you want to walk, Hope Bay is more or less a two-hour hike south. Or, conversely, a two-hour hike north from Hope Bay to this point.

If you start here, about 15 minutes in you’ll want to take a side trail to the cliff edge overlooking Hope Bay, reaching out in the distance to the broad, blue expanse of Georgian Bay.

I try to walk to the lookout, which I regard as a very special place, at least once a week. A few days ago on the way I saw the trilliums were starting to bloom. But I didn’t have my camera with me. Sometimes I would just as soon let the fleeting moments of natural beauty have their freedom, rather than capture them.

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But this morning, to keep a promise, (Hi, Julie) I took a short walk in with my camera to take a few photos of the Province of Ontario’s official flower to post here. Trilliums are mostly white. But I saw quite a few of the rarer, delicately mauve variety.

Not everyone gets to live beside the Hope Bay Forest, so I hope you enjoy these few photos: Continue reading

In praise of living naturally

 

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Cultivating the “new garden” for planting this spring of sweet corn, squash, and beans. Yes, hope springs eternal. That’s a good-old Massey Ferguson 65, built about 50 years ago and still going strong.

The most interesting thing about the new Statistics Canada numbers detailing an increase in the number of farms in Grey County is not so much that it flies in the face of the continuing trend in Ontario and the rest of Canada; it’s that the growth in the number of small-farm operations in that part of our local, Grey-Bruce area is clearly linked to the presence of a diverse, natural environment, or “natural forage,” as a Grey County official called it.

I call it meadows full of wild flowers and critters, a spring-marsh chorus of singing frogs, lots of songbirds, especially robins and red-wing blackbirds. I call it an abundance of various insect pollinators that will soon be buzzing around, doing their vital work of keeping the natural world, and my vegetable garden, growing and healthy. Continue reading

On the cost of Boomer lessons unlearned

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A Portrait of A Young Canadian Boomer

I don’t know how much of an impression our local MPP Bill Walker made at Queen’s Park in Toronto with his recent comments and questions about the two big, unresolved issues of long-term-care bed shortages and school closures. But he sure gave me a lot of food for thought.

I’ve lately found out a lot more than I ever thought I’d want to know about Canada’s looming health-care funding crisis, especially as it involves homecare and long-term care for the most elderly and frail among us.

But publicly-funded homecare has its limits, as I’ve said before with full disclosure of my family connection to the issue. Continue reading