Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Outside with nature on Canada day

Like many, I'm sure, I was sitting here in our quiet backyard, slightly inebriated... :)  It was Canada day. Supper was done, it was a long day, the wine was good. The kids were finally quiet inside playing a video game, with Marc. The sound of the game (The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker) made me feel nostalgic. My oldest daughter now 24, out of the nest and engaged, used to play that game with Marc. I feel blessed with all the life around me. Inside and outside.

The little voices inside the house were nice and familiar but there was such a rich mixture of sounds and calls outside that all I could do was to sit still as I tried to pinpoint each source. As the day came to an end, my ears settled on a few different bird calls. A baby robin that got lost from it's nest a week ago is doing great and learning to grow fast on its own. He usually chirps so loud and proud! He will do fine. I can usually spot him in my service berry tree. We used to be worried for him, now he makes us smile. There was an other robin singing further on a wire. His call was so pleasant, I fell in love with it's song. There were cedar waxwings too (less pleasant, very high pitched) and grackles (those guys sound just like the birds in Hitchcock's classic). A mourning dove sat quietly on a wire till it flew away, I later found out that the sharp whinnying noise is made from the wings flapping. Above were chirping birds that reminded me of swallows, they were swooping fast and were definitely on the hunt. Above that, seagulls, loudly announcing their passing overhead. I assume they were going back to the waterfront after feasting somewhere else. We're a good 15 minute walk from the marina and beach so I envy them for getting there much faster! ;) A few other birds were chanting but I'm no expert and couldn't identify them. Usually we have a couple of shy cardinals but they've been elsewhere for the last week. Same with sparrows and blue jays. So many calls were coming from hidden spots through out the leaves. I just sat and listen and felt hypnotized.

Then there are the squirrels (or Squirtels, if you ask my 4 year old). They like to rush through our thick vine, a Virginia Creeper that is growing on our fence and side of the house. They stop by my service berry tree, stuff their faces and then rush back to my garden looking for seeds (a bird feeder used to be there), or they bury something in for later. Then they move on to the big trees behind the shed. They used to nest in our shed's roof but some paper wasps took over. The hive is still small (the size of a pear) and we can see a bunch of larvae in their  honeycomb like nest. I can't destroy that! :( I felt sick to my stomach with the last massacre. Anyways, the squirrels who used to live there, are now living up the tree. That tree, a Box Elder, is like a hotel. I couldn't cut it down ever. It's so full of life and action! In the morning, the best is to sit on the back deck with some coffee and look up or listen. There is always something going on. 1 new chipmunk has been snooping around. Too shy though. My own cat will climb that tree but it's mainly a great perch for birds, bugs and rodents! :)

Speaking of rodents, something has been nibbling my parsley. Raccoons come visit at night (they love that tree too). Could they be parsley eaters? We used to have a groundhog but it's been ages since I saw it. Could be a rabbit but I figured more plants or vegetables would have disappeared... Slugs? Possible. I'll have to look into that. With a flashlight!

Cool black wasps with thin yellow lines have been flying around my old peony plants. It's far enough from the deck to not make me nervous. Yet... I wonder if it's the same guys that built the hive in the shed's roof. It looked like they were drinking water on the leaves but maybe they were hunting for bugs. Lots of that in my garden. I read that they can skin and chew them apart to bring back to their nest. Thanks for eating my pests, guys! I was curious and watched super close for 10 minutes as they flew around me or the plants, I wasn't really bothering them and they were too busy flying and searching. I heard they can be more dangerous in the fall so I have a decision to make. Then a beetle landed on my lap, looking like a jewel! Emerald green with iridescent colours. So stunningly beautiful I moved on to that. A lot of them seem to hide in our vine. Snails hang out there too. Same with the great black wasps which I assume mainly go there to hunt. They are so impressive looking with their cool, jet-black bodies. I always kept my distance, they look nasty but it turns out they are not. They just look for grub to feed the nest wherever that is.

I can usually sit there all evening. Mosquitos usually force me in. To be honest, even they don't threaten me as much as they used to. Nothing like working next to bugs in the dirt to take away the edge. In fact, I felt sorry for them as their habitat was being disturbed by me, this giant woman, destroying their world by creating landslides, floods and transplanting green buildings all around them. Gardening can be so relaxing if not loaded with guilt!

Lots of gardening was done today. I mainly weeded stuff out. Like my crazy mint that managed to grow outside of it's pot a few years back. It was taking over the beds in the front of the house. Sorry neighbours! Once I pulled it all out and knowing it was going to rain (a heavy tradition on Canada Day), I added a few new plants like daisies, chives, French tarragon and lavender. We'll see how it grows. Like I thought, right after I watered them, the rain poured down. It didn't last too long but it was a great way to clean everything up and quench those plants. All had a chance afterwards to shake their leaves dry in the warm breezy air and late afternoon sun. I felt satisfied and went straight to the kiddy pool to cool off.

Call it obsession, I couldn't resist to check it all out late in the evening after it all had time to settle. Satisfied, l looked up and spotted a satellite and gazed at that for a while. Then something else caught my eye. It was dark and I could barely spot the quick silhouette in the indigo sky but it was clearly looking like a dragonfly, zooming in and out of the tree to feast on bugs. It just happens that earlier that night, as I stared out the window, singing to my daughter while sitting on her bed, I noticed lots of bugs fluttering through the leaves of the tree close to her window. At the time, I was surprised at how many I could see if I just relaxed my eyes (eyes that need glasses too), so I was trying to imagine how many more were actually hidden away from view and how much food that must have meant for the birds who were nesting nearby. I never thought of dragonflies! You see them in the yard, above ponds and low to the ground but in trees? It was quite impressive and I just stood there, letting the mosquitos bite me just for a bit more of the show. One came close to the light and I could swear it was blue. My 7 year old daughter must have felt it because she came down the stairs in her birthday suit (it was so hot) and joined me outside. I held her in my arms, hid her in my kimono and we stared a bit longer, enough for her to spot it on her own. It was a nice 5 minutes. We spotted a little white moth that landed on a leaf at eye level and she wished really strongly for the moth to be spared. Fingers crossed. We walked back in, I sent her back up, heard the first fireworks in the distance which meant it was 10h00pm and on cue the rain just poured down! :)

A few random pics below from this weekend. They might help give visual to our little but lively space. Sorry no pics of birds, bugs or rodents. Just one of my small accomplices who is mostly seen in her birthday or bathing suit.

My welcoming oasis when stepping outside on the back deck.

Pool included if you don't mind sitting or lying down! ;)

A mister got added to the parasol. That thing made the Humidex of 40 a lot more pleasant!

Better view of the mister clipped on the parasol. Not very pretty right now but oh so handy!:)

This swing takes abuse from the kids each day but rocks me to many lazy sleeps.

My accomplice watering the garden. Plus, good view of the trees surrounding the shed.

Different angle shows a better view of garden and crazy vine (Virginia creeper). 

The deck right off the kitchen, looking inviting (with the help of a cropped picture).

One pic of birds! :) Seagulls, heading for the waters.

Not giving justice but a pretty sunset was happening behind those trees and wires.


  1. Teleport me to these descriptions! I want to be with nature today arggrr!
    We sat on a roof waiting for the fireworks to go off, and five to 10pm it started to drizzle turning into a cold pour and we all got upset rushed around. And then James (or someone else) starts screaming, their setting the fireworks! So we all rushed back outside in the pouring rain

    ps, suprised you didn't exploded a blog with Vincent ;)

    1. I laughed out loud at your description but also felt so bad!! That downpour was a cruel joke from nature. I knew that people would be set up or look for a good spot and patiently wait for the fireworks. I knew that it started just as the fireworks were starting too. I could hear it! Must have been terrible for the families with children to gather all their stuff in a rush and in the dark only to rush back once it stopped and the fireworks went again. They must have lost their spot and just stopped in their tracks to watch... :) The crazy chaos it must have triggered on what was a pretty hot day too! I felt guilty for quietly chilling on the deck in my wading pool! :) Hope you still had fun! It wouldn't be Canada day without a good deluge! xoxo

    2. Also, I have an entire post for Vincent but was so passionate about it that yeah, the net would have exploded! :D It was too long! I kept writing trying to explain how it happened and my history with the hedgehogs in Europe and my obsession and the million pics!!! :) I tried to edit and shorten it. Then I got so busy, I never managed to wrap it up. I will share soon! ;)

  2. Nice post! Makes me miss summer in Ontario/Quebec, with you guys.

    1. Dave we miss you guys too! I think about the two of you often, wanting to invite you over and then remembering that you are far away! We had a good bbq party here for Marc's birthday and you were missed. Maybe next year! :) We have 2 wading pools! ;)

  3. The pictures of Little E are just adorable, too bad we don't really get to seem them growing up :( Can't wait for us to have a nice little garden again, I sure miss our tomatoes. Wanna send some over? :)

    1. Christina, I would if I could! :) Patiently waiting for 2 big ones to be perfectly ripe.Been eating a few cherry tomatoes today and yesterday. SO good right from the sun. I'm going to have loads of peppers too! Hot ones! Not sure why I grew so many varieties but it's going to be fun to cook or dry them for fall. Cucumbers are starting to grow plenty! The little lebanese kind. It's going to be great for the girl and yes it would be cool for the family to see you guys too. Distance isn't always easy. Keep sending them postcards! They love it. I'm serious! :) XOXO