Two More Months?

January is a long month. Thirty-one days of cold, dreary weather. March is still two months away. I look out on my garden. It looks so neglected that I find it hard to believe I harvested carrots from it just yesterday. Yes, in January! They were small carrots, and oh, so sweet! But that’s it for now until the soil warms up.

I hope the snow stays up in the hills. Misty clouds obscure the glacier on the opposite side of the bay.

I thought I could tough it out and spring would be here soon, but I caved. I went shopping for some colour to brighten up these last days of winter. Every time I look at my new orchids, I feel better, knowing that spring will come soon.

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Two more months until it’s spring?

Two more months till robins sing?

How am I to wait that long?

Hope the weatherman is wrong,

Talking about rain and snow.

I just wish that it would go.

Time for sunny days to be.

Two more months? You orchid-ing me!

 

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Are We Hungry?

When I went outside in the bitter cold the other day to refill the birdfeeders and put out more suet, I was surprised that there were no birds around. I wondered if a hawk had passed by to bully them. I refilled the feeders anyway, and hung more suet in the wire cage along with the half finished suet block. As I worked I heard one bird tell another, “She’s bringing fresh food,” and another bird answering, “I know, I know. I see!”

It reminded me of standing in a Chinese smorgasbord line-up, looking at the dregs of a pan of … something … and then seeing the waitress bring over a new steaming hot pan of fresh chow mein.

As soon as I left the birdfeeder area, a flock of tiny birds (bushtits, I think) came to the suet and covered the whole block with their hungry little bodies. When I looked back I couldn’t even see the suet block, only a swarm of feathers. I think now, that maybe the suet had frozen and was hard to pick at. It was that cold. The fresh block was not frozen and everyone ate well that night. My photo shows only six of the birds, but I’m sure there were more than ten or twelve on the suet in those first moments after I left.
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Harshest winter, freezing cold,

Tests survival of the bold.

Icy winds pierce feathers fine

As the tiny creatures dine.

They know they’ll die if they can’t eat

So at the feeder they all meet.

New suet hangs there in the wire

Perhaps their fate is not so dire,

Internal furnaces will warm

The bodies of the little swarm.

They’ll live to see another day

And soon the spring will come to stay.

 

Winter Apples

As it snowed heavily all around today, the Captain brought in some of this fall’s apples we had stored in our workshop. How bright they look against the snow. I think the smaller red one on the left is a MacIntosh, and the other three are called Wilmuta, which is a cross between Jonagold and Gravenstein. The Wilmuta is a great winter apple. It matures in October and keeps well in a cool place. What a treat to see them today in a January snowfall. The rest of my garden is asleep under the snow, but the apples are still edible after a sleep in the workshop.

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What sleeps in winter garden beds?

Some kale and wilted lettuce heads,

Carrots tasty, shriveled chard,

In soil that’s frozen very hard.

The chives are shivering with cold,

But in the springtime they’ll be bold

And send up shoots that say to me

Your salad’s where I’d like to be.

One day the sun will warm the soil

And Anne-li will go out and toil

Turning over weedy dirt

While working in her short-sleeved shirt.

She’s anxiously awaiting spring

So she can go and do her thing.

 

 

 

Cold Sunshine

The Captain and I had to make a trip up island the other day. It would be a long day so we took a picnic lunch and stopped by the roadside on the way home. Where we parked, several picnic benches were available but there was a chance our rear ends could freeze to the bench, so we stayed in the car where it was cozy. We had a fantastic view, sunshine, and the warmth of the car while we had our sandwiches and V-8 juice.

This was the view looking north towards Campbell River, on Vancouver Island. You can see the south end of town on the left, and in the distance you can see the snow-covered Coast Range which is on the BC mainland.

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Looking straight ahead from the comfort of our car, this was the view we had while we ate our lunch. These mountains are also part of the Coast Range, on the BC mainland.

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The waters were calm and the sun was shining, but it was hard to find a warm spot. Who knew that sunshine could be so cold?

Ready for Action

In the previous post I told about the newly named “three lame ducks,” the old duck hunters who brought the duck blind they built out to the field. At the time I didn’t have a photo of the blind in its location with the final touches to have it blend in a little. Here it is, ready for action. Probably it will need a stormier day to work better, but for now it can sit out here and get used to its new surroundings.dscf2187a

The Duck Blind

Since time began, humans have hunted for their food, just as all living species did to stay alive. It wasn’t until animals were domestically raised in huge numbers to provide beef, pork, and poultry, that hunting began to fall out of favour. The masses of meat-consumers don’t want to know about the killing of the animals they  enjoy when they sit down to chicken, turkey, pork chops, or beef steak, and hunting came to be frowned upon even as chicken heads continued to roll.

I’m a realist and while I don’t want to see an animal get killed, I know it has to happen so I can enjoy that meat. I’ve had to accept that hunters are not murderers, but providers of my food.

It happens that the Captain has hunted ducks since he was a young man. He braved weather that only the obsessed would do, coming home after many a duck hunt, half drowned, and with  icy toes and fingers.

You’ve heard of the old German saying, “Vee get too soon oldt, unt too late schmardt”? Well, just in time, the Captain has decided to improve on his old duck blinds and go for comfort with a newer model. The duck blind will be set up at the edge of a field where ducks often come and go. It’s often a game of “wait a while,” being patient, and keeping quiet and still. It helps if you can be out of the worst of the weather while you wait.

This box built of plywood has a hinged wind flap that will help protect the hunter against some of the worst weather and also help to hide him from the “duck’s eye view.” On calmer days, the flap can be let down.

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A door on one end is wide enough to allow a man who is bundled up in old gray Stanfields and raingear to pass through.

The hunter’s mutt has a private entrance. This makes repeated opening of the big door for the dog unnecessary and helps keep the wind out. Also, it allows for less  movement that could scare off ducks. This is where Emma would come in with her new neoprene vest on.

There are times when the ducks are not flying, so the hunter can rest on the bench and maybe have a cup of coffee from his thermos, and eat the sandwich he brought from home.  dscn7760

These photos are of the unfinished duck blind. It is now painted a neutral colour and will most likely be spray-painted in camouflage  colours or be covered with tall grasses to disguise it.

Ducks are smarter than you think. For example, look at the town crier below.

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The hardest part was probably getting the heavy box out to the field. It had to be loaded into a utility trailer for the drive to the fields. Three duck hunters, friends for decades, muscled the blind into the trailer. You have to give the old men credit for their successful effort, as one has had his knees replaced, another has had a hip replaced, and the third has a broken leg. That’s dedication.

Starting Off with a Bang

It’s the first night of the new year and the old couple has been in bed since well before midnight. The TV shows bringing in the new year were duller than dull. 2017 would arrive whether anyone waited up for it or not.

In the wee hours of the morning a loud crash wakes up the old blister. She taps the Captain on the arm to wake him.

“Did you hear that?” she whispers.

“What?”

“That crash! … Obviously not,” she mumbles. “Just stay awake and listen for a minute.”

“The dogs would have barked.” He rolls over to go back to sleep.

“Maybe Ruby’s too scared with the wind.” She’s probably lying on her doggie bed, eyes bulging out of her catatonic body.

****

In the morning, the Captain calls out, “I know what made the crash. Look on the woodshed roof.”
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No, that’s not a man in the middle of the woodshed. It’s a float, a fishnet, and a bunch of firewood. But the long branch on the left side is what came down from the skies last night to wish us a happy new year.

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You might say we started the new year off with a bang. A word of advice: if you go walking on a windy day, maybe stay away from tall trees, or wear a hard hat.