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.

Cats Dwell Above

Cat

Another fun haiku

both cats dwell above
my comfort zone — both
recliners occupied

When I sat down at the computer this morning, I took the folding chair left there from last night —  when Pookie had been occupying my comfortable office chair and I didn’t push him off. This morning as I started typing Pookie came along and looked up at me, then jumped into the unoccupied office chair. Finders keepers and all that.

When I got up and got myself a coffee fifteen minutes later, Pookie wandered out to the kitchen. I got back to the office in time to see Angus jump up and settle comfortably into the chair Pookie had vacated. (Vacatted ?) Point for Angus; 0 for me. Many times Bob and I come into the office and find Angus in one chair and Pookie in the other.

Cats have that sense of entitlement built into their nature; they may claim you as their people, but they make it clear who comes above and who comes below in the grand scheme of things. Whose comfort is of greater importance, whose not so much.

Yes, a house cat will want to be nearby — if they feel like it, or if something interesting might be transpiring. So when I’m in the living room, now able to occupy the recliner our (now deceased) Panda once claimed, Angus snuggles down in the other recliner and Pookie gets the sofa. Or vice versa. But while Panda lived here she definitely staked her claim on the most comfortable recliner and would not be ousted.

Okay, I’ll admit it. We let our cats call the shots. They are, after all, quite affectionate when they have a mind to be. Just so long as we remember who gets first crack at the comfy chairs.

Written in response to Fandango’s prompt: BELOW
and for “International Day of the Cat”

Shredding Life Story

Good morning dear readers!
Today’s a RED LETTER day at our house, our 48th Wedding Anniversary.

I bought a card for my dear hubby. It’s here somewhere! I squirreled it away for safe-keeping…

Sad to say, current efforts to locate it have proved fruitless, which means today may well evolve into a house-cleaning spree. It’s about time I sifted through my several drawers full of writing paper, note pads, greeting cards, new envelopes I might someday use, etc. Isn’t it amazing how drawers fill up until you can’t find anything you’re looking for in them?

My husband has been doing some sifting through old papers, too, which has lead to a box of docs to feed into the shredder. Yesterday I worked at this awhile, which in turn gave me some haiku on the subject.

Shredding

statements, bills, receipts
bit by bit I feed ten years
into the shredder

old love letters
shredded and recycled
new valentines

The Comfort of A Garden

IN THE GARDEN

by Edgar Guest

I sometimes get weary of people
and weary of being polite;
I sometimes grow tired of the dull man,
and sometimes am bored by the bright.
And then when my nerves are a-tingle,
I walk in the yard that is ours,
And I thank the good Lord for the comfort
of songbirds and blue skies and flowers.

I never grow tired of the martens
which circle about overhead;
I never grow weary of robins —
there is nothing about them I dread.
I smile when I see them returning,
I sigh when at last they depart,
and perhaps it’s because they are never
vindictive or petty or smart.

And the trees don’t expect to be talked to.
I can lie there and dream in the shade
and not have to think up an answer
to some dreary question that’s made.
So I often slip into my garden
when I’m weary of hearing things said,
and thank the good Lord for my roses
and trees and the birds overhead.

.Walk-edged-daylilies
From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
© 1934 by the Reilly & Lee Company

My Response to Fandango’s FOWC prompt: COMFORTABLE

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.