Smoke Again

again this smoky haze
the incense of
an unwanted cleansing

Forest Fire

A thick blue haze has settled on the fields again today. We’ve shut all the windows, as the smoky air is hard to breathe. I hope you’ll pardon me if I’m boring you with all my versifying about forest fire —I find it hard not to think about it whenever I step outside.

On a positive note, two bright but very timid orioles have been snitching from our hummingbird feeder today.

On Fire and On the Move

Our air quality seems somewhat better today. Earlier in the week smoke from northern forest fires lay like a fog on the fields. Today there’s a faint gray haze and the sky’s a solid pale blue, but the sun’s colour is normal. I noticed only a whiff of smoke in the air when I was out earlier.

We’d have had a lot hotter temps this month if it hadn’t been for the smoke screen we’ve been living under, so I guess there’s one small blessing. Yet when I think of vast tracts of forest burning…

I wonder if the birds suffer in smoky air? The hummingbirds are still zipping around, busy at the feeder, especially in the early morning. Since it’s the end of the season I was able to buy a second feeder on sale and they seem happy to slurp from it, too. In just over a week they’ll be gone, so I’m enjoying them while I can.

I was out for a walk a few minutes ago and ONE grasshopper took flight beside the driveway. Can this be Saskatchewan! As soon as it landed I stomped on it — I don’t at all mind some species becoming extinct. Birds can’t eat them anyway, so…

Actually that’s not quite true! One fall morning about six years ago we saw a juvenile great-horned owl, still with his white baby feathers, sitting beside our garage. Mostly silent and observant, he opened his beak now and then to let out a shrill peep. Later we watched him run up and down the driveway devouring grasshoppers. You haven’t lived — or seen “funny” — until you’ve see an owl run. They’re so awkward, hopping as much side-to-side as forward!

poplar shoots
spring up in my driveway
bent on take-over
Birnham Wood creeping
to Dunsinane*

At different times this summer, walking along our driveway, I’ve thought of that phrase from MacBeth. The original owners planted a row of poplar trees on the west side of the property. Theses have grown tall in the last ten years and are no longer content to stay in one neat row. Shoot by shoot they are creeping toward our castle. Bob has been keeping them at bay with the lawn mower, but they aren’t giving up.

Which inspired me with a tanka on the subject. A tanka is a five line poem which, in old Japan, went in a syllable sequence of 5-7-5-7-5. Here’s what haiku master Alan Summers writes about it.

If you are interested in learning more about haiku, senryu, tanka, and other forms of Japanese poetry, courses are being offered this fall. For details, check out Call of the Page.

*The woods near Birnam in Perthshire, Scotland. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth is told that he will only be defeated when Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane. Later, his enemy’s army comes through Birnam Wood and each soldier cuts a large branch to hide himself, so that when the army moves on it looks as if the wood is moving.
https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/birnam-wood

Free Food Always Draws A Crowd

Fandango’s word prompt : TREAT
Word of the Day prompt: BLOSSOM

What goes around comes around they say. If you treat something well, you’re generally treated to some interesting reactions. Around here we treat the hummingbirds well and they in turn treat us to amusing aerial displays.

I was treated to one at 6am this morning. I looked out our hall window to see if the three little hummers we’ve seen buzzing around were at the feeder. And I saw…wait a minute! There are four…no five!…buzzing around the feeder, getting in each other’s hair. Non-stop motion.

Have you ever tried counting hummingbirds while they’re darting up, down, and sideways trying to chase each other away from the food dish? I did manage to count six…and later I thought I saw a seventh hovering around. I did see four feeding at one time, but in a minute one would decide the place was too crowded and someone else had to leave. Right now. I can’t imagine how many calories they burned up just fussing at each other.

Their wings stirred up the air so much they ruffled the petals on the nearby hanging planter. A basket of petunias and some other smaller flowers hangs only about a metre away from the feeder and hummers harvest nectar from those blossoms, too. I try to choose flowers they’ll like but today’s hybrids don’t seem as juice-full as flowers used to be.

Unfortunately our feeder attracts wasps, too. They don’t get active until the sky is lighter but there seems to be one wasp that thinks this is HIS dinner plate and he’ll chase the hummingbirds away. He can’t be on both sides of the feeder at once, though, so the hummers will grab slurps from the other side while the wasp is nosing into the hole, trying to get his own swig.

I’m so thankful our air quality has improved overnight. For the last several days we’re had a smoky haze from fires in northern Alberta and BC; yesterday it was like a gray fog hanging over the land in spite of the high wind. The smell of smoke smell permeated everything; I even smelled it while sitting here in our office.

This morning another treat for me was turning on the computer and going through the collection of incoming e-mails from WordPress. I enjoyed reading new posts from other bloggers as well as comments on my posts. I wish I had more time to post the thoughts that pop into my head as I read, and to follow more faithfully, but there never seems to be time and I have priorities I must observe. Chronic problems for all of us! Plus, I sometimes get to following one track. Speaking of which…

I see Tree Top Haiku has another follower — and I am going to start posting there again. I have so many little verses scribbled on scraps here and there. I’ve considered just posting them all on this blog, but how many of my readers would like that? My husband once told me that haiku is in a class all its own and I definitely agreed, so I started Tree Top Haiku. Now I’d best end this chronic indecision and stick to that plan. 🙂

Once you start seeing and thinking in haiku, you see so many wherever you look. I even came up with one as I watched my hummingbirds. I’ve made it into a challenge: two lines are provided and you can suggest an ending if you like. If you’re interested, CLICK HERE.

On Wednesday we went to Saskatoon to do some shopping and I bought a second-hand Toshiba Tecra laptop. Bob is enthused about the speed (3 GHz) and has been checking out its capabilities (loaded with Windows 10.) I want to try doing some, too, but I was occupied with cooking some meals at the Villa (seniors’ residence) last week. No shifts this week, so I can try it out, too. It will be a treat to sit in the recliner and read my incoming e-mails. 🙂

Hope you’re all having a good weekend and enjoying this last month of summer.

E-zine Haiku Competition

Following a link today, I discovered a new online magazine, Vita Brevis . For those of you who are interested in Haiku, the editor is hosting a four-day haiku competition, ending Monday night, Aug 13th.

Anyone can leave one haiku verse in the comments. Read the complete details here: Comment-a-Haiku Poetry Competition

Nature is the theme so I dug into my archives and pulled up a few that could work. I considered this one, but it’s not very aesthetic so I won’t offer it for the contest. You can read it and give a Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down.

beside the highway
three ravens process
yesterday’s mad rush

Or how about:

the zoo animals
watch the humans play

amusing monkeys

🙂
It’s probably been done before.

Rainstorm Passes Through

I  think this will fit with Fandango’s writing prompt this morning, which is COMMOTION.

Dark clouds and lightening on western horizon when we went to bed last night; the storm system crept closer in the wee hours. By 4 am the thunder was booming over our heads, plus the sound of pouring rain. After weeks of almost nothing we received almost an inch on Tuesday night and I’m sure our rain gauge will show as much again this morning. (We may be almost all metric here in Canada, but folks hereabouts still measure rain in inches — though Environment Canada gives stats in millimetres.)

I couldn’t sleep through all the noise so I got up around 4:30 am and humored the cats with a snack. Then I then checked my incoming g-mail. Passed by the hallway window at 5:20 am; in the faint light of dawn I noticed a young hummingbird at the feeder. The early bird gets the juice and all that. Twenty minutes later I saw two of the three juveniles we often see zipping around, both trying to get a share of the banquet.

We have the feeder hung about three meters from the hallway window so we can observe them. Trouble is, they’re at the feeder so often these days we can hardly go down our hallway without scaring one or the other away. Also, I’m convinced as I watch them interacting that these young squirts burn most of their calories keeping each other away from the syrup.
Hummingbird
They’re curious little creatures, too. One morning I was standing out on the steps at the front door and a hummer whizzed up to about a metre away and just hovered there a couple of moments examining me. Bird watching, reverse version.

Memory of a Bird Rescue

I see that today’s RAGTAG Community prompt word is MEMORIES.
Opened my DropBox file and checked how many memories I’ve stored. Since I started my new system where every file is neatly categorized, I can take a quick check of the files starting with Mem–.

I counted 120 of them. So I can ace this prompt. 🙂

I suppose the idea is to write a fresh one, but I’ll cheat and pull one out of storage, a tale not posted for a long time. Hope you enjoy it.

Out of the Lion’s Mouth…

One balmy spring day I was visiting with my next-door neighbour, Marilyn. She has a lovely, flower-filled yard and we were walking on the lawn checking out the perennials around her house.

Several times we took note of a small bird hopping around on the ground not far from us. The tiny bird looked similar to a chickadee in coloring, yet we could see it was not a chickadee. Marilyn and I remarked about how tame it seemed to be, hopping around only a few yards from our feet.

Then we went across her back lawn to check out a new flowerbed she’d made in the middle of the lawn. Before long we saw the little bird again, not far away from our feet. Her three barn cats had also wandered over to hang around with the ladies, maybe hoping a bit of nibbles — or a least a bit of friendly petting — might come from some kindly hand.

Suddenly her buff-colored cat jumped up and dashed over to the little bird and grabbed it in his mouth. I hurried over to inspect the situation: the poor bird’s head was in the cat’s mouth and its wings were flapping frantically trying to escape.

If the cat had injured the bird—like damaged a wing so it couldn’t fly— I would have left well enough alone. But the bird’s wings were obviously fine. And the cat was in a dilemma, too: as soon as he opened his mouth to deal with the bird, it would make good its escape.

You will know what a soft heart I have. I said, “Enough of this! We can’t have slaughter going on right before our eyes.” So I bent over the cat, grabbed its head, and pried its jaws apart. The bird, now released, flew to a nearby shrub and then off into the trees. A wiser bird for his close call.

The cat looked bewildered. Like, What just happened here? Where’s my lunch? Marilyn laughed and said, “He’s never had anyone do that to him before. I think you’ve offended him.”

“Well, too bad. I couldn’t bear to watch the slaughter,” I told her.

Later after a few minutes’ thought. I asked her, “Do you think God has to do that for us sometimes, too? We get ourselves hopelessly ensnared in some vice and He actually has to pry open the devil’s claws in order to set us free?”

And she answered, “Maybe He does.” It does seem that some folks are amazingly rescued from the most dangerous situations or pulled out of violent lifestyles.

When I got home I looked up that little bird in our bird book, and learned that it had the simple, descriptive name: “black and white warbler.” It’s a migratory bird here; we see them only passing through to the North country. I sure wonder why that one was so brave (or foolish) as to hang around our feet? And I’m glad that her cat didn’t win that battle.

Mirth & Melancholy

In June a pair of barn swallows started a nest on one of the rafters in our garage. Since they’re a threatened species — if not endangered by now — and since they consume huge amounts of mosquitoes, we let them stay. They’re with us such a short time. So I spread an old plastic tablecloth under their nest, we shut the garage door, and left them to it.

Those babies are trying their wings now; I’ve enjoyed stepping into the garage this week to see their progress. First little eyes and open beaks poked over the edge of the nest, now the little guys are out and around. I think some have been outdoor already; you can see their mirth as they discover the joy of flying. They’ll come back to the nest for a few nights, but soon we’ll only see them as they swoop and soar over our yard, foraging.

We’ve enjoyed their visit, but will be glad to see them gone from the garage; the hot summer days are upon us and there were a few times I worried if they could take the heat in that shut up building, even though the sides are all open where the rafters overhang the actual garage. (We need to put on siding yet.)

It brings a bit of melancholy to my mind as I see how fast summer’s passing. I’ll try to enjoy the beauty of all our seasons, but I do find the short, colorless days of winter rather depressing. So I will delight in today while it’s here. Today is the gold in our lives, the hours we’re adding to our treasure of memories. Tomorrow’s coin we haven’t seen yet.

Now I must run along. I’m cooking at the Villa again today, and tomorrow we hope to be off on a nice vacation. We plan to visit friends in the Peace River Country; we haven’t had a trip like this for a long time. Seems there’s so much to do in preparation!

One of the things I’m going to do is shut off all notifications from WordPress so I don’t have dozens of blog post announcements and comments filling my e-mail box while I’m away. I appreciate you all, my fellow bloggers and enjoy reading your posts. My apologies if you get no LIKES or comments from me for a good while.

Have a great rest-of-July. Happy blogging. Or happy traveling, if that’s your plan for this month.

Fandango’s FOWC: MELANCHOLY
Ragtag Daily Prompt: GOLD
Word of the Day prompt: MIRTH
Your Daily Word prompt: APPRECIATION