Monday, 28 April 2008

I know I go on and on about Spring – obsessing over the first crocus and the last snow pile. For those of you who live in more blessed climes, it must be more than slightly boring. But I can't help myself. Sorry about that. I guess I'm a Spring junkie. Today it is raining and that makes the tree trunks darker, providing a wonderful contrast with the tiny pale and rust red baby leaves, with the birch catkins, with the green and white lichen prominent on the wet branches. Every tiny leaf has its own bead of moisture; each little miracle of a grass blade is bent under its load of raindrops.

My violets are in bloom, making a deep purple and green leafed carpet along the edge of the lawn. My daffodils are dancing in the wet wind and the paper whites are almost ready to go pop. I can see the flower buds on the lilac. I can also see the white inner wood where the mice ate off the bark this winter. Let us not go there. The iris shoots are up and the day lily leaves have grown a foot this last week. Pretty soon the trillium stalks will be visible. And the star flowers and the trout lilies will bloom. I'm drunk on joys to come.

One joy that has already come is the neighbourhood bear who outsmarted me this year and caught me with my birdfeeder up. I'm told the bears came out of hibernation late, hungry and mean because of the deep snow and certainly the bear that wanted the sunflower seeds was not in a good mood to judge by the number of tiny pieces he or she made of the birdfeeder. The garbage and feed bins are all now locked into the metal walled storage shed and I am waiting a few days for Ms Bruin to move on before putting the (metal) contingency feeder out.

The year we realized we had to bear proof was shortly after we moved out here full time when we woke one morning to find a half grown bear walking our metal garbage pail along the way circus animals push cylinders. The YD was staying with us and when she yelled at the bear it stopped playing with the garbage pail and walked toward her. She was not amused. We also can't keep compost bins intact, leading me to compost in a pit behind the garage where nothing can get broken. The raccoons love this too. They also love the barbeque and I get little greasy paw prints on the back porch railing and kitchen window. Nature, saturated fat on tooth and claw.

I have to make a run to the city later this week to buy fabric suitable for princess costumes. Little Stuff will soon be turning five and wants a Princess themed birthday party; Grama opened her big mouth and volunteered to make princess skirts and tops (with Bows, Grama) for the partygoers. As for how many costumes, the rule is as many guests as years for the birthday child, but somehow the number seems to have grown. The ED, when we were discussing this, asked me to make sure not to agree to make costumes for her and Little Stuff's father. They do not want to dress up as princesses. I guess when Little Stuff and her mother were discussing the party, she told her mother that she and Grama had planned the costumes and it was all taken care of. End of subject.

The ED sounded somewhat bemused and a bit worried. It can't be harder than making sparkly tops for her whole highschool gym team, I told her. (That was crazy. I bought a little less fabric than I needed for those and ended up having to piece each and every one.) I'm actually looking forward to the princess job – I love to make dress up costumes as you can whack them together and not worry about perfect sewing. I love Velcro; it sure as dickens beats button holes or sewing on annoying little snap fasteners. And my machine has the fast hem setting.

The poor old machine is at least thirty five years old, though, and it is wearing out. I will soon have to shop for another one. This is a bit daunting, as the new machines all seem to have onboard computers and a huge number of settings I figure I will never use. Oh well, it will be fun to go and look. And maybe I can learn machine embroidery. Once I learn how to load the MP3 player I got for my birthday. Mutter, grumble. I am being dragged, whining, into the 21st century, competent or not. I am also going to need a new computer soon. Which will require learning a new operating system. And hooking all my printers, scanners etc. up to it requires finding all the patches for Vista. Plus reinstalling all the software, and getting upgrades for that.

Even thinking about it makes it necessary for me to go and have either a cookie or a nap. Or maybe both.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Like the first dandilion -- I'm back!

The week from hell for this year is over although this year it was actually two weeks – meetings in locations two hours distant from here, a Board Celebration which required lots of graphics to be done and at which I had to make a speech (gulp), a job with more graphics, the monthly Board to run, the Cancer Society Dessert Party, and on and on. Then I had a house guest. That kind of schedule leaves me falling-on-my-face tired and good for nothing but sitting on something soft and reading a book I have read a lot of times before. It was so hectic this time that as soon as my rump hit the chair and I picked up the book, I went to sleep. I still haven't finished my latest library book, which is a fascinating discussion of memory and which, I think, will make an interesting post. Later.

What is going up to-day is great news – it's Spring! The snow pile in front of my kitchen window that mostly blocked my view three weeks ago has dwindled to this.

The flower bed I put in last fall appeared from under the snow, green shoots poked through and burst into flower.

The daffodils under the lilac came out this afternoon.

Those of you who have had nice weather for months now, and whose kids have been running under the sprinkler, have no idea how nice the first warm days are up here in the cold, cold northland. It's been sunny and 20ยบ C+ here for the last five or six days. In that time almost a metre of snow has melted; the streams and rivers are over their banks. The YD is back in her canoe, running rapids. The red winged blackbirds are back, and the eastern phoebes and the robins. (Our first robin arrived a few days before the melt started and sat around in the snow looking disgruntled.) Two tundra swans set down for a day in a local stream; the geese are streaming north. I can sit on the porch. Heaven has got to be a lot like this.

It's transitory, unfortunately. We figure we have maybe ten more days before the black flies arrive and in that time we want to get the lawn raked and overseeded. No chance. I did a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and have been feeling my shoulder muscles ever since. We have a lot of lawn and the husband likes it to be Nice. Since we have skunks digging up grubs, squirrels and chipmunks making holes, deer dancing about and the neighbours' dogs leaving the odd calling card, this is not easy. Not to mention the fact that there is still snow on it in places and water running across it in other places. JG got the lawn mower out yesterday and ran it up and down the laneway just to make sure it was working, a fanatic gleam in his eye.

I've just been out sitting on the porch in the dusk, listening to the last robin songs and the peepers, croakers and other small things making music in the pond. Tomorrow is Earth Day, and I will mark it by planting iris corms, but I celebrate it as often as I can. Some of the things I celebrate are summer things. We are far enough from the city that there is no light pollution. On a summer night you can lie on your back in the grass and look up at the Milky Way, a glorious weave of strands and points of light. You can watch the fireflies blinking their 'come hither' messages. Some are autumn things – the crisp leaves, the 'farewell summer' asters blooming in the most incredible places. Some are winter – the full moon shining on snow, the way the wind sculpts the snow into strange shapes, those magic mornings when every twig and wire is coated in luminous hoarfrost. But the best celebration of all is in spring when life comes back to the land.

Have a happy Earth day! Enjoy the sun or the rain, whichever you have.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Spring, maybe.

If this were yesterday, I would say that March is going out like a lion. The wind is roaring and growling around the house, buffeting the walls and banging on the windows. It's a warm wind; it's still one degree above freezing at 11:00 pm. The snow has been melting all day, first in rain and now in the wind.

This morning, when I looked across the field, there were wreaths and spires and swirls of mist coming off the snow, eddying in a slow dance under the warm rain. Then, late this afternoon, the air cleared and the wind came up. We'll be back well below freezing by morning. But a lot of snow got away. Little Stuff's Sunday snowman is leaning far to one side; he may not last the night. And you can see running water everywhere the snow has been cleared.

In other, more favoured climes, the first snowdrop or crocus is the herald of spring. My croci are still fast asleep under their white blanket, alas. Here the herald is the warm wind, the melting wind. And the trickle and drip of water.