Of Mice and Man

It’s a windy, winterish day here with a light dusting of fresh snow.
Time for another seasonal haiku:

diligent deer mice
along the train track
harvest the harvest

Nature note:
Jack Miner, Ontario’s famous naturalist during the early 1900s, writes of a find he once made in a northern forest. He and some fellow hunters made camp near a large, dead pine tree. They felled this tree so it wouldn’t fall on the tent if a high wind came up, and they chopped the top branches into firewood.

Eighty feet up the tree they found a little hole less than an inch in diameter with an inner cavity occupied by a family of deer mice. Jack estimated that there was no human habitation for three or four miles and for sure no grain fields within fifty or a hundred miles, yet they found between one and two quarts of clean wheat stored in the mouse family’s pantry.

He explained that these far-sighted deer mice, no bigger than your thumb, would creep down the tree at night and make trip after trip to the railroad tracks thee hundred feet away. All through the fall they’d fill their little cheeks with kernels of grain that had sifted out of the boxcars en route to the terminal, then dash back home and up the tree to squirrel away their winter food supply. They performed this task in spite of the danger from lurking predators and swooping owls.

Jack admired these ambitious, courageous little creatures. In Wild Goose Jack, his autobiography published in 1969, he writes:
“In walking along the railroad tracks with a lantern during October, before the snow has fallen, one will usually see deer mice by the dozens…gathering food for winter.”

Catching Up With Ourselves

Good morning, everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything about our activities so for those who are interested, here’s a brief review of the past week’s comings and goings.

Spring has come to our land for sure. The woods around us are getting greener by the day, more of our summer-nesting birds are showing up every day. Our neighbor told me about seeing orioles a few days ago; they’ve since been over to visit our trees too. Yesterday she saw a hummingbird at her feeder. I’d been planning to get out my feeders so when I heard that, I cleaned out our two feeders — for hummers and orioles — and hung them outside yesterday evening.

Our farmer neighbor seeded the fields around our acreage yesterday while Bob mowed the grass for the first time.

Last Friday morning we left for an overnight trip to Moose Jaw. We stopped for dinner en route and drove out to the Belle Plaine area, east of MJ, to visit an elderly friend who was Best man at our wedding. Joe’s 91-years-old now and somewhat crippled by arthritis, needs a cane, but his spirit is as vital as ever. He’s kept going all these years, refusing to let arthritis immobilize him. This week he was loading up and hauling about 20 head of cattle to the Swift Current market, about 150 kms away. He’s finally giving up feeding cattle.

We drove through Belle Plaine, the town where Bob and I met. He ran a grain elevator for UGG — a company that no longer exists— while my folks bought the local café when I was thirteen. Needless to say, things have changed a lot, especially in the past 20 years. We had trouble figuring out what was what anymore; the café ha disappeared completely. And how can fifty years go by so fast?!

We saw a small herd of antelope on the way to Joe’s home, and I spotted a group of cormorants at a dug-out right near Belle Plaine. This dug-out was made when we lived there, when dirt was needed to build the overpass over the train tracks. So it’s quite a large body of water and there were a number of waterfowl.

We had supper with Bob’s cousin Dennis and wife; in the evening we met my sister Rose for coffee at a Tim Horton’s. All of these live in Moose Jaw.

We stayed night at a motel across the street from Crescent Park and the Public Library + Art Gallery. All day Saturday we attended a writers’ conference at the Library. Met a few people we know and heard various speakers, including a retired Regina police officer. He spoke about how a homicide investigation is REALLY conducted. As you can imagine, he detests all the nonsense shown on TV cop shows. Two other speakers were romance writer Ellie Lynn and mystery writer Gail Bowen.

We came home Saturday evening and attended church as usual Sunday morning, then were invited to our son-in-law’s folks for an extended family Mother’s Day dinner: their three children who live here and in-laws like ourselves.

Tuesday morning our son-in-law and daughter very kindly drove us back down to Moose Jaw to attend the funeral of Bob’s cousin Julia. She’d celebrated her 94th birthday in early February; in the funeral service we heard how she’d enjoyed a long, love-filled, productive life. Her five children have all done well and their descendants seem to have, too.

After the funeral we met and visited with my sister Donna for half an hour or so. It’s been too long since we last connected! I last saw Donna — and only to exchange a quick hello — at our nephew’s funeral at the beginning of Sept 2010. She’s been living in Regina for years and only moved back to Moose Jaw last summer. Hopefully we can connect more often now.

When we got home Tuesday evening around 8pm, we all noticed how much the trees around our yard had greened up just while we were gone. And they’ve continued to leaf out in yesterday’s heat.

Today is cloudy and cooler — and we’re off to Saskatoon later to have coffee and a gabfest with several other writers who live in this area. We’re only about eight who like to touch base now and then — but try to find a date and time when everyone’s free!

Tomorrow we’ll stay home and catch up with some work that’s been neglected while we gallivanted. 🙂 Now I’ll end my “catch-up” post with this short poem by an unknown writer:

The slightest word of comfort
to help us on our way,
the slightest smile from someone
to brighten up our day;
the slightest act of kindness
to lessen care and such
all these cost so little,
but they mean so very much.

Swiss cheese

Just-for-fun haiku:

mice in the pantry
the cheese is all Swiss
sculptors at work

Great Book:

Book Blurb has just informed me that Going to Green is being offered for free right now.  Do check it out.

I read this book last winter and thought it was a good and inspiring story. Chicago news desk reporter Lois finds herself an heir in the will of a colleague who just died of leukemia. She inherits the small-town newspaper he’d just bought in the South. For his sake she ventures into an unknown place and discovers her calling — and a minefield.

I’ve just read the second book in the series, Goodness Gracious Green and found it equally enjoyable. (Spoiler alert: Loved the ending!) Judy Christie is a skillful writer and weaves a great tale.

Another Day Dawns

Good morning, Everyone!

I wonder what the weather is like where you are? We had a nice taste of spring last week, but it blew away in a frigid wind yesterday. Sunday the temp got up to 4 C; this morning at 6 am the temp in Saskatoon is -18 C/ 0 F and the predicted high is -5 C or 23 F. Tomorrow is yet worse; the high is supposed to be -13 C or 9 F. Whimper! Pookie, our cat, wanted out first thing this morning but was ready to come back in three minutes later.

My birthday is almost over for another year. Yesterday Bob brought home a dozen roses, then last night our family took us out to Montana’s, a Saskatoon steak house, and we had a feast. I heard a whisper that there’s a little coffee party planned with some ladies this morning at Silverwood Villa, the seniors’ home where I used to work part-time and now occasionally fill in as cook. I think that’ll be the last of the celebrations. So I’ve been well fêted for birthday #65.

And I’m done bombarding you with micro-poems. It looks like my verses pleased some of the people some of the time yesterday. 🙂 Another thing I did was purchase the upgrade for this blog. I hope you won’t be seeing ads anymore.

I’d like to restart my micro-poetry blog again soon — maybe on May 1st. Tree Top Haiku has been dormant since November but I have a lot of new items to post. Last month I was going through my scraps-of-paper scribblings, getting those verses typed into files, categorizing all my files. Next month I hope to schedule a number of posts on Tree Top Haiku so I don’t have to worry about keeping up on a day-to-day basis all through summer.

I woke up before 5am, so should get lots accomplished today, right? Now I’d better get on to my sewing project for today: a new dress for myself. Here’s wishing you all a great day in whatever part of the world you live.