Sunday, May 29, 2016

jagular

"What's this?" I ask my tiny granddaughter.
"A zebra," she says, emphatically,
"And this? I ask.
"A jagular," she answers, modestly but confidently.
A jaguar going for the jugular.
Yep, that would be jagular I guess.

watching for them

You'll never guess what we saw at Aldergrove Lake Park this week. We couldn't have been more surprised.
It's a great wooded park filled to the brim with animal and reptile, bird and butterfly, mushroom and moss, berries and bark and all kinds of natural delights.
We've seen turtles soaking up the sun on gray logs floating in the pond. Snakes, fish, fireflies, ducks of every sort, birds that shrill and hum and zeep. Scruffy little country mice, huge owls on silent wings, coyotes eyeing bite sized pets, mushrooms in every shape and size and color, sun sweet berries, dew dappled Bleeding Heart and ferns as high up in the moss fringed branches as you can gaze.
We thought we had seen it all.
As we climbed out to the car I asked my husband what he thought we'd see. We headed off down the gravel path chatting happily about the similarity between snake heads and turtle heads. As we rounded a corner, I was jolted into the moment.
It was just a Park Ranger but talking about snakes tends to make me jittery about things that move in my peripheral vision.
And then, there it was.
In my peripheral vision.
A very large turtle.
How strangely out of place it seemed there, about a foot from the walking path.
It had clearly clambered out to the marshy edge of the pond, up a tangled bank and across a stretch of meadow.
It had crossed the foot path.
And there it was, blinking in the sunshine, its head adorned with yellow and red stripes.
It was my husband who noticed first.
Noticed that the turtle had dug a hole and was laying eggs.
Great white, glistening eggs.
Bigger than robin's eggs.
The turtle turned her head and held us with her steady gaze.
The ranger thought she was an endangered Western Painted Turtle and was pondering elaborate measures to protect the nest.
A glance at google and a conversation to headquarters confirmed Western Slider instead.
If you aren't endangered, you're on your own folks.
The ranger did plan to linger and pace a bit while the mother focused all her energies and then escort her safely back to the pond.
I'm not sure what would become of the nest, right there by a busy walking path.
The eggs can incubate for several weeks to several months.
I hope they do fine.
Stay safe and snug in the dark, dark ground.
Until some warm summer day the ground shakes and moves and crumbles away as little turtles haul themselves out into the tall grass one after the other and march towards the cool green water of the pond.
Towards gray logs in the sunshine.
I'll be watching for them.

slow escape

We had a pet turtle when I was a child. I don't remember his arrival nor really his departure. Easy come, easy go, like a cowboy in an old western. I can see him climbing out of the tepid water of his shallow bowl, to perch on a flat stone. And I can still see the blinking eyes and tiny yellow striped head and feet. And the patterned shell. And feel the scratchy feet. Tiny, tiny feet with teeny tiny toe nails. He fit so neatly on our hot little palms. And he didn't seem to mind being gripped by the shell and suspended over vast nothingness while he peddled and paddled the air.
He loved to explore. Well, we thought it was exploring when he launched off across the lino and disappeared under the great squat armchair but it may have been a slow escape. Head for the hills!! Keep heading, keep heading....
I don't remember his eventual, inevitable disappearance. Wanted Dead or Alive. It can't have been too traumatic. But i do clearly remember, when we were packing up for our big move to the city, and the World Book Encyclopedia were boxed up, and the shelf lifted and born off to the moving truck, the amazement at finding a turtle shell.
It seemed no one was home, no little occupant.
Just a shell.

'Oh bury me not, on the lone prair-ie.......'
 A lone tumble weed rolls by.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

very silent




Wooden chickadees, carved by my husband and painted by me. These ones are very silent and sober, not at all like chickadees in Campbell Valley Park.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

proof

"Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-ee-ii-oohhhhh," we warbled as my granddaughters and I skimmed along the highway towards home.
"And on his farm he had a..."
I waited expectantly.
"Alligator!" cried my tiny granddaughter.
Alligator?! Must be a farm in Florida.
"With a..."
The girls happily supplied the sound effects in unison. It was a wonderful hissing growl. Just the sort an alligator would make.
As I drove along listening to my two, dainty darling granddaughters hissing and growling in the back seat it occurred to me that if ever proof was needed of a big brother, I was listening to it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

kept on walking

There is a pond, quite a large pond, right in the heart of a wooded park we love. It's the perfect place to watch Buffleheads and Mallards and look for painted turtles and giant frogs.
And hummingbirds
and Redwinged Blackbirds
and trout
and dragonflies
and owls
and mice.
As I stepped up to the weathered rail fence yesterday, and leaned over to admire the view, a slight movement caught my eye.
"Snake alert," I intoned.
A rather grand sized Garter snake was lying in and out of the sun on the grassy bank, just at our feet on the other side of the fence.
Hearing my voice, it launched itself with a splash into the cold water of the pond.
The very cold water apparently.
Poor thing.
Snakes are cold blooded. They need warmth like an arthritic pensioner needs Arizona. That super chilled snake quickly raised head and shoulders up out of the water and into the warmth of the sun, using a water reed for support.
As it hovered there, a small trout swam in for a closer look.
A very close look.
An eye ball to eye ball look.
The snake flicked its tongue.
The fish swam off.
We kept on breathing, and kept on walking.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

little sunshine girl


A finished quilt really deserves a little more fanfare than this.
There should be pictures aplenty.
Pictures that show the quilting marching off in different directions.
There should be close-ups of the binding.
And, pictures of the quilt draped casually over the couch or folded block upon deliciously colored block.
And there should be a picture of the backing.
There should definitely be a picture of the backing.
Not just a quick snap. Just a hasty goodbye picture out on the lawn in the sunshine like one of those photos taken of visiting relatives. You know the kind. Where goodbyes in the driveway are extended by cameras being brandished.
Well, it's better than nothing I guess.

The quilting really did march off at lovely right angles though.
And the binding was yellow/green. I had thought purple would be the way to go but against the yellow.....well. let's just say, complimentary colors can be too complimentary.
The yellow/green is lovely. It is spotted and dotted just like the flannel backing. It seemed an inspired match. I love polka dots.
The blocks had been lined up on the floor and pondered. They had been rearranged and considered. But in the end, I was as surprised as any one else with their placement. I'm not sure how that happens but there is a certain amount of mystery enshrouding the quilting arts.
I love the yellows together. Makes me think of dandelions and springtime daffodils and bumble bees....and a little sunshine girl.