Skirmishes

On these cool-ish mornings I watch from my doorway as the hummers come to the two feeders I’ve set up. There appear to be about four juvies, though who can count such fast-moving flight artists.

I don’t know why they make hummingbird feeders with more than three holes. Perhaps in the land where they were designed, hummers know how to peacefully co-exist, but in our yard they behave much like humans. One feeder, one bird. If any other shows up, he or she is immediately urged to leave. Sometimes a few siblings can drink at the same feeder for a time, but mainly it seems to be, “This is mine. You beat it!”

Last summer I decided to hang a second feeder about a metre over and a metre lower than the main one. Occasionally I will see a bird at each, but more often the bird at the upper feeder will drive away the one wanting to light on the lower feeder. Sigh…

one hummingbird two feeders eight options zero tolerance

A few times this morning an oriole has come to the feeder to get his breakfast, so the syrup has gone down fast. I’m serving up a richer brew these days: 1 part sugar; 3 parts water. I’ve read they need more calories during migration — and that time will be coming soon. Though they be feisty little things, I hate to see them go.

I have a number of tubs of flowers on the step underneath the feeders, and planted two of them with red nicotiana this spring, thinking they’d appeal to hummers. As I observe, the hummers pretty much ignore the nicotiana blooms and seem to love my salvia and reddish-orange lantana blossoms. Duly noted for next spring. 🙂

Empty Nesters Again

Good afternoon — or whatever time of day it is as you read this note. The storms and cold a few days ago have passed again and we’re enjoying a lovely summer afternoon. Crops and gardens are soaking up the sunshine; having soaked up last week’s rain they’re growing abundantly.

Last Thursday the last of our sheltered nestlings discovered the wonders of the wide world outside their cozy home. These are the barn swallow babies which have grown up in our garage. (It’s open along the top sides when the rafters join the sides walls, lacking the siding and finishing touches. (Next big project.)

I didn’t notice their nest until it was built, and since barn swallows are a threatened species and it’s against the law to tear down a nest finished and in use, I spread old vinyl tablecloths under it, parked outside, and left them be. They’re with us such a short time.

Four eggs hatched. Sadly, one baby fell to its death, but the other three are vigorous and are out exploring the yard as I write this. Now we can reclaim our garage while they devour the mosquitoes whose bites have given me red lumps and so much torment this summer. I’ve had some pretty severe reactions after being outdoors this summer, though I’m not sure if it was always mosquitoes or some other tiny creature.

For the past couple of months WordPress has been notifying me that my domain Christine Composes is about to expire and I should renew it. Like my original poetry blog, Swallow in the Wind, it was a neat name for the time, but I’ve decided to just let it go.

The only glitch might be that some of you may be subscribed to that domain name and been automatically switched to this site when I moved. If you stop getting my blog posts after August 13th, please resubscribe to christinegoodnough.com.

As I said, I brought several sites together here and am not sure how each reader will be affected, but I plan to post something every morning for the next couple of weeks so you can be sure that you’re still subscribed.

Wishing you all the best!

A Prayer

Ah, the lovely summer time! My flower pots are in full bloom. The young birds are leaving their nests and flitting around in the woods, which are incredibly lush and green. After several months of complaining we seriously lacked rain, now I have to report that it’s been raining almost every day for the past five weeks. We got another .7 of an inch Sunday evening in a wild storm, then another soaker yesterday left us with .6. Toadstools abound. 🙂

Life has returned to normal here, as my dear hubby came home last night after spending five days in Quebec. He’s on the French-literature proof-reading committee along with three other men from the Roxton Falls area and they find it’s good once a year to get together and devote several days to editing their latest project. I managed okay by myself, but am very happy to have him home again.

I found this poem in my files and hope it inspires you.

A Prayer

by Edgar Guest

Lord, let me do my little part
with courage and a willing heart.
Open my eyes that I may see,
however dark the day may be,
however rough the road I fare,
the purpose of the cross I bear.

Lord, let me wake when morning breaks
undaunted by my old mistakes.
Let me arise as comes the sun
glad for the task that must be done,
rejoicing I have strength to give
some beauty to the life I live.

Lord, let me hear the kindlier things,
the morning song the robin sings,
the laughter of the children near,
their merry whisperings in my ear,
my neighbor’s greeting at the gate,
let these shut out the speech of hate.

From his book The Light of Faith
© 1926 by The Reilly & Lee Co.

Canada Day Rain

Hello everyone, and Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians.

Fireworks are planned in many communities all across the country this evening, but alas for our area, as there’s a severe thunderstorm watch in effect. Not to mention the dark blue clouds that have been rolling along west of us or the lighter grey ones overhead.

I went for a walk Saturday morning and admired all the toadstools popping up everywhere in our lawn. How can it be that this land, dry-as-dust two weeks ago, is producing such a fine crop of fungi? We were praying for rain and we got it. Clouds and rain almost every day — and again today. Over four inches in June, most of it in the last two weeks.

Crops in the fields are a beautiful green now, and SPROING went the weed seeds lying dormant in my newly dug flowerbed. I was doing some pulling an hour ago. But no one is complaining.

And now the storm is upon us, a heavy rain from the north with a bit of pea-sized hail mixed in; sounds like it will pass over quickly, though.

It was my turn to cook for the seniors yesterday, so I invited company to the Villa, as we usually try to do for a Sunday dinner. It happened this time that I invited Bobs, Bens and Barrys, plus my daughter and three of her children; our son-in-law took the oldest son camping this weekend. Hopefully at this moment they’re somewhere where it’s not pouring rain.

And now I’d best send this off while we still have internet connection. The storm is coming back again. Hope you’re all starting out the month of July with joy and courage, whatever the weather is bringing you.

Wednesday Morning Hello

Good morning dear friends everywhere!

I have neglected my blog for several weeks now, being occupied with digging up roots both literal and figurative. Now it’s time to give this site a fresh look and get back to regular blogging, much as summer days will allow.

Two weeks ago I finished planting my large outdoor pots and they are all abloom now. I also finished digging the quack grass out of my flowerbed and planted most of it. In my digging I discovered a bunch of iris corms surviving in the quack grass; I’ve stuck a few of those back in among the bedding plants. Though I really don’t really want them there, I hate to throw them away. I’d love to have oodles of flowers and bright blossoms everywhere, if only I had the time to look after it all.

The day I finished the main planting we got a nice shower, breaking our long drought, and we’ve been blessed by a few showers and one good rain since. The countryside is a lush green now, so good to see! Tiny weeds are popping up in my newly dug flowerbed — as one might expect.

The birds are singing from the trees all around us and a few have moved into the bird houses we have put up around the place. I really love our location here, right beside the woods! The windbreak trees planted before our time and the ones we planted when we moved here in Oct 2007 have all grown and branched out, giving us a nicely shaded yard.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been digging into family tree roots, discovering a few new things and verifying facts I already knew. Through birth, marriage, and census records I’ve followed the families of several great uncles, brothers of great-grandfather Sam, from Ontario to wherever else they’ve settled. Discovered the roots of great-great grandfather John Falconer and Jemimah Lyons over in Scotland, found out how they both came to Pennsylvania and married there, then went out to “the territories” to farm.

I tell people it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I work each group and section by itself and finally they’ll all come together to make my Vance & Harmon family history.

Sometimes it wants to depress me, seeing all this “born…lived…died.” However, this is life on planet Earth — I’m just travelling through. So I’ve re-resolved to spend my time carefully, choose the activities I enjoy, enjoy the work I must do — and get rid of the clutter.

I was to the Cancer Clinic at the end of May and learned that my white counts are all staying in the normal range, nothing to be alarmed about, no sign of leukemia. Something to be really thankful for!

I hope you are all enjoying the seasons you have, dear readers. If you’re travelling on holidays, I wish you a safe journey. I know some of you are coping with various health issues and wish you courage to cope. And I’m wishing all of you a special touch of God’s grace 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