Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Pilgrimage

The beauty of one wild trillium is

multiplied by hundreds,

multiplied by thousands.

Add the sweet song of a White-throated Sparrow to the fresh green of the forest and 
you know why I anticipate this particular spring walk every year.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Red Admiral Migration

I took this picture of a Red Admiral butterfly in my garden in the spring of 2010. This species is widespread in temperate zones of North America, Europe and Asia. They can hibernate here in the winter, but most of the ones we see migrate northward in the spring from the southern states. These butterflies are not as well studied as the Monarch.

Today we had quite the wind storm in southern Ontario with wind gusts of up to 80 km/hr in our city. I came out of work and noticed what looked like leaves blowing on the hospital lawn. On closer inspection I discovered hundreds of Red Admiral butterflies on flowering dandelions and in the air.

I only had my little pocket camera with me and when I approached the butterflies, they would flutter away in the wind. They flew back when I stood still for a few minutes.  Large numbers of Red Admirals have been reported in the London, Ontario area this week as well. Some naturalists speculate that the mild winter allowed greater numbers of chrysalises to survive. Apparently it is unusual to see them in such large groups in the spring.

Anvilcloud commented on my previous post about the winds they have experienced in his part of Eastern Ontario this month. Not to be outdone here, the winds sucked any remaining moisture out of the soil today. In rural areas of the region, road visibility was poor as topsoil from farm fields filled the air. I went to the store on the way home but had to leave as the power went out and the checkouts had to close. It was a challenge to walk against the wind and flags blew stiffly to the east. Our trees lost no more than a few twigs but other parts of the city suffered more damage.

What a day to be a migrating bird or butterfly!

~Post script~ We were only slightly inconvenienced by the weather here. Watch this 1 minute video from CNN of a sand storm in Saudi Arabia on Friday the 13th of April this year.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Spring continues to unfold in an uncustomary manner this year. We are not a month into the season yet things are unusually green for our area.

And things are uncharacteristically dry! So far we have missed April's showers. There have been several grass fires around our city this month, some spread far, fanned by strong northerly winds.

Today we had the first half day of light rain this month but it was hardly enough to wet the surface of the soil. I was thinking about today's 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic when I took the pictures of these few droplets on newly sprouted lily leaves. Too much water...too little water...

Ephemerals hurry to reproduce, trying to beat the opening of leaves in the forest canopy. Dainty Hepatica flowers push up from dry leaves on the ground.

My garden got off to an early start, but the seeds I planted have been slow to germinate without moisture. It is too early to have the outside hose going as the temperatures are still below freezing many nights. The Saskatoon Berry bush is in bloom, rhubarb will be ready for a first cutting before long, and my onions are the only edible greens that have not been eaten off to the ground by rabbits.

This is a nice time of year to walk local trails as biting insects are not a problem yet. Raven has the luxury of a 10 foot leash here as we let her explore a little. This week an off-leash dog was attacked by a coyote in the same park where this picture was taken, just a 5 minute drive from home. (The first picture was taken in the same natural area) I have seen coyotes in the woods here and they generally mind their own business. But new pups are being raised now and territories must be defended. We keep to the trails and do not let our dog off leash.

Raven loves sticks and always looks for one to carry on a walk. I wonder what wild, instinctive behaviour she is mirroring. Perhaps she is pretending to bring some food back to her "den". When she is at home, she happily chews and breaks the sticks into little pieces.

Here is hoping the last half of the month will be soaking wet with gentle rains to replenish the soil and get farmers' crops off to a good start. Averages are often calculated from extremes and we have had a few cool, wet summers recently. Hot and dry seems to be where we are headed this year.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


The old lady had a severe reaction to drugs prescribed to treat a nasty infection. Delirious and weakened, she quickly developed permanent nerve damage and was transferred to another hospital. Three months later she was still unable to sit, stand or walk.

Her elderly husband walked the long corridors from the main entrance at noon, slowly, painfully with his cane. He sat by her side until she went to bed in the evening and then walked slowly, painfully with his cane back to the car.

Every day…waiting, watching, hoping that she could walk again and come home.

We worked with her in the mornings, flexing stiff limbs, encouraging normal movement, trying to get her upright again.

He waited one day for the doctor, wanting answers, wanting assurance that she would recover. Accusations, anger, angst spilled out in the words that echoed in her room.

The next week he waited again for the doctor.

“I was talking to you from my heart and you were talking to me from your head. That is why we clashed and I am sorry," he said.

The doctor replied compassionately, “It’s all right, I have been there too.”

The old man had no way of knowing the pain in the doctor’s words, spoken as a father who was unable to save his own child’s life.

Broken bodies can't always be fixed but broken hearts meld together.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Salvation's Song

Loved before the dawn of time,
Chosen by my Maker,
Hidden in my Saviour:
I am His and He is mine,
Cherished for eternity.

When I'm stained with guilt and sin,
He is there to lift me,
Heal me and forgive me;
Gives me strength to stand again,
Stronger than I was before.

So with every breath that I am given
I will sing salvation's song;
And I'll join the chorus of creation
Giving praise to Christ alone.

All the chains of Satan's curse
Lifted through His offering,
Satisfied through suffering;
All the blessings He deserves
Poured on my unworthy soul.

So with every breath that I am given
I will sing salvation's song;
And I'll join the chorus of creation
Giving praise to Christ alone.

Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
To the Lamb upon the throne.
Hallelujah, I will lift Him high.
Singing glory, honour, wisdom, power
To the Lamb upon the throne.

Hallelujah I will sing with every breath that I am given
I will sing salvation's song;
And I'll join the chorus of creation
Giving praise to Christ alone.

Stars will fade and mountains fall;
Christ will shine forever,
Love's unfading splendour.
Earth and heaven will bow in awe,
Joining in salvation's song. 

I enjoy Stuart Townends's songs so much as the words are rich and meanful. This particular one has been my favourite this season and I have pushed the repeat button over and over again. I join the chorus of creation this Easter Sunday in giving praise to Christ alone. 

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Spring Eggs, Birds, Flowers and More

It wouldn't be Easter weekend without colouring eggs even though there are no small children in the house to help me. I have wanted to try natural dyes for a long time and finally got around to doing it. The results were worth the effort. Here is the method for each colour.

Yellow- This was the fastest and easiest to do. Boil 2 tbsp of turmeric in 2 cups of water, let it cool and add 1 tbsp of white vinegar per cup of liquid. The eggs coloured up in less than 5 minutes. Be careful with this colour as turmeric stains everything it comes in contact with.

Blue- Boil one cup chopped purple cabbage in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain liquid, cool and add 1 tbsp of vinegar per cup of liquid. The eggs took at least 20 minutes to colour and apparently if you leave them overnight, they will turn a darker blue.

Orangey/brown- Boil one cup of yellow onion skins in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain, cool and add 1 tbsp of vinegar per cup of liquid. This worked quickly and coloured the eggs in 5-10 minutes. I liked this colour best. You can get a different colour with red onion skins.

Pink- Boil 1 large cut up beet in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes. Drain, cool and add 1 tbsp vinegar per cup of liquid. This took longer to work and the pink was quite pale.

I went for a walk in the woods today and came across an American Robin who was missing some colour. This leucistic bird was with a mate who had normal feathers.

I found many spring wildflowers blooming well ahead of their usual May appearances, particularily in protected areas with a southern exposure. The temperatures have been more seasonal lately but we have had no significant precipitation for weeks. 

Wild Ginger in bloom

The leaves on the forest floor are very dry and I noticed a lot of rustling as I walked along the trails. Numerous garter snakes were about doing their spring business which was the same business the birds and flowers were engaged in...reproduction.

I used to run when I saw a snake, but running is no longer something I do easily. So I have to stand my ground and take a deep breath to deal with my serpent-generated adrenaline rush. And they were kind of pretty in their own way too.