Sunday, September 12, 2010
When I was in about grade six, our itinerant music teacher Miss Guymer started off the school year by teaching us a new song for September. Here are some of the words:
The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.
The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook.
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.
The miracle of Google means I now know it was written by Helen Hunt Jackson; here's the link if you'd like to read the whole poem:
I loved the song -- it was sung as a round -- and I never forgot it. But it bothered me that I'd never seen a gentian and wasn't quite sure what they looked like.
As it turned out, it was almost 30 years before I found a blue fringed flower one September in a conservation area when I was out walking with my kids: it was unfamiliar to me, and I remembered the gentian song. When I looked the flower up in my wildflower reference -- there is was: fringed gentian. And such a gorgeous deep mauvy blue
That September when my kids were small there were only a few plants growing in among the goldenrod and the asters at the edge of a pond. Today, more than a decade later, I went back to look again. We've had an exceptionally warm and rainy summer: there is now about a half acre of gentians. The sun was shining, they were all open, and still an amazing blue: I don't know anything else quite the same colour.
Here's another link if you'd like to see a picture for yourself: apparently they are quite quite rare, biennials (living only two years, blooming only in the second year) and quite beloved by better-known poets than Helen Hunt Jackson!
All those gentians plus blue jays and deep pink waterlilies in the pond and the first leaves turning red -- but I was also on a mission for woolly bear caterpillars. None of those today. The width of the russet brown stripe in the middle between the two black stripes is said to forecast the length of the winter, but really I enjoy them because they motor so fast across the country roads. It's as if they're wearing jogging shoes on all of their feet! It's still a bit early for woolly bears: there will be time to find a few, and I'll be looking. They actually hibernate until spring and then form their cocoons: occasionally I've found one in a sheltered spot even in the depths of winter.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
yup, have a lot of work that I've got to get done. The usual laundry/groceries stuff, some dog grooming, a little attention to the garden -- but mostly "work work".
And today I whomped my way through a big whack of that.
With another round scheduled for tomorrow. (Highly time-sensitive deadline lurking, situation that would have to matter to anyone who cares about people at all . .. ).
But: tomorrow I'm committed to knocking off by 4 p.m. or so whether I am finished or not -- and heading to the golf course.
It's supposed to be a beautiful day!
How was it that the "labour movement" somehow bypassed my area of endeavour? No union, no overtime, no benefits: all the joys of self-employment!! And meeting payroll every week!!
Truth is: once had a unionized teaching job, and although I loved to teach, I really did not enjoy the resulting workplace politics. I do prefer being my own boss, doing whatever I need to do to get things done in accordance with my own OCD personality -- and then taking time off freely when pressures lessen. By and large, it suits me most of the time; particularly when I have got it done. Just another example of after-acquired motivation, I guess.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
. . . all made, sitting in the fridge ready to go to work with me.
And it includes: spinach, avocado, green beans, shelled fresh peas, radishes, carrots, red pepper, sliced brussels sprouts, large shrimp. I'll add lemon poppy seed dressing.
For my chopped fruit, I've prepared: fresh pineapple, small peach, blue concordia grapes, sweet cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries.
My my: this nutrition tracking requires so much deprivation and self-sacrifice. Not!!
Friday, August 13, 2010
We took a little break last weekend to travel to the southernmost part of Canada, Point Pelee. This is a peninsula jutting into lake Erie which extends below the 42nd parallel -- more southerly than Rome or Barcelona.
As a bird and butterfly sanctuary it reminds me quite a bit of Sanibel Island off Fort Myers -- except with a north/south rather than east/west orientation -- and no shells, dolphins pelicans or manatees!
I particularly enjoyed the boardwalk through the marsh on the east side -- the soothing sighs of wind in the cattails, the explosions of brightly coloured warblers in the willows, the swamp milkweed full of Monarch butterflies, the herons stalking frogs.
The west side has some great sand beaches, and the tip of the peninsula is sculpted by currents and riptides which it's easy to see are very powerful: visitors are warned not even to wade into the waters.
Interior areas are forested with Carolinian species that don't grow elsewhere in Canada -- tulip trees, a semi-tropical oak, lots of jungly vines. And there are cacti too!
Specialty fish in the area include yellow perch and pickerel. At a nearby restaurant we enjoyed a fish fry under a loggia smothered in trumpet vine -- a creamy orange variant which I've never seen before.
Wish our camera had been working . . . I'd have liked some pictures. Although those warblers were way too fast for me! We'll have to try and get back for either the fall or spring migration, which is apparently quite spectacular, with Pelee functioning as a funnel: last resting place for departing species in autumn, first landing for arriving species in spring.
Point Pelee was all laid out for cottage development in the 1920s. Some 300 cottages had been built before the government purchased it as environmentally protected parkland. All the cottages were removed and strenuous efforts were made to restore the natural flora and fauna -- including flying squirrels. I'm so grateful this special place was preserved.
For now, the monarch caterpillar I'd found locally about 10 days ago has made its chrysalis -- an elegant pale green with shimmering gold spots -- and I'm just waiting for it to turn transparent and reveal the butterfly inside. A summer tradition for me since I was very small . . .
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