Monday, 18 May 2015

Just after the Ides of May

I drove in to my shopping town a few days ago on a beautiful sunny day. The woods and bushes along the county roads showed every shade of green imaginable, every bush that could manage was in bloom, every roadside was lined with spring flowers. It was a day to be glad to be alive, even with a list of errands and the prospect of lugging bags and bundles of groceries and supplies into the car and out of it again.

Here ‘in the bush’ there are the usual spring insects to dampen one’s enthusiasm for filling in the burned spots on the lawn with newly purchased patching seed. Blackflies in the sun, mosquitoes in the shade, more than the darting dragonflies can handle, worse luck. The hummingbirds are back and swarming the feeder. We have bird song, both spring courting song and exasperated clucking. We have three colours of squirrel and lots of rotten, nasty, hole digging chipmunks. We have had a bear through, necessitating two daily trips for me to take in the bird feeders at night and rehang them in the morning. And JG has just done his second cut of the lawn and field. In the process of this cut, he blew a lot of grass clippings into my laundry basket as I prepared to hang out the laundry. But I have forgiven him; had to if I wanted him to barbeque the steaks.

Spring in Lanark, much as usual except for low rainfall, although we have rain forecast for today. Having typed that, I looked out the office window and saw rain falling. And I meant to get the seed patches in before it started. Ah, well. 

It is Victoria Day here in Canada. We celebrate the Queen’s birthday on the first Monday before the 24th of May, even though that date is not the birthday of either Victoria or our present Queen. It is the long weekend dedicated to opening up the cottage, getting the annuals into the flowerbeds (our frost-free date here is the 24th of May), and getting the salt stains out of the car and a coat of wax onto it. It may also be the first big barbeque of the summer (who cares about a little rain), and it is a fine time for fireworks, weather notwithstanding. Lots of bangs and whistles last night, luckily a good way away.

JG has been out hunting porcupines, with a view to keeping the YD’s dog out of the hands of the vet.
She (the dog) had her second mouthful of quills earlier this spring. Three porkies are the score so far. And JG dug a deep hole and buried them. A bear has been by once and so we are not feeding the deer at all and are, as mentioned, being very cautious with the bird feeders.W e hope to have seen the last of him as we are going to be doing a lot of dog sitting over the next two months and while a mouthful of quills is annoying and expensive, a run-in with a bear could be a lot worse. Just ask one of my neighbours who found one in her kitchen a few years ago. Mostly the black bears are shy and seeing one is a rarity. But there is the occasional ‘garbage bear’ that has learned about human trash pails and food, and that requires sterner measures.

I love taking the paper (or iPad) and my coffee out to the screened porch these days. It is on the second floor of our home and surrounded by trees – it is like being in a tree-house, only furnished with comfortable chairs and tables. On the porch I am in the middle of the bird song with a  view all across the lawn and back field but only steps from a coffee refill. There is a wind chime and usually a breeze to swing it. It does collect every grain of pollen that blows by, but it is fairly easy to clear that away. If I remember. I had a guest in a long knit navy skirt last June, right in the middle of the worst of the evergreen pollen dump, and she was not as easy to clean. 

We have more guests in prospect and so I am finally going to have to bite the bullet and finish the hems on the guest bedroom curtains. And it is raining, a perfect day to stay inside and sew. 

Maybe after a few minutes on the porch.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Obligation Day

As I wait for my next load of wash to finish and be ready to hang on the line, I cannot help remembering my mother’s intense interest in the weather prospects for washing. She studied the forecasts (even then they were much less precise back then) with a view to planning her housework around her prospects for drying the clothes on the line. She categorized weather, her highest praise for a fine day being to label it as a ‘blanket day’; that is, a sunny and low humidity day with a good stiff breeze, perfect for bringing in soft and fluffy blankets from the line. Today is not a real blanket day: it is hot, but humid and with only a faint breeze. My sheets are out on the line, however, and a load of whites is almost ready to go.

When I do laundry I remember my mother. When I pick up one of her treasured books from my office bookshelves, plant annuals in the flower beds, find a grammar error ( my own as well as others), spread tomato relish on something, put cold water on  my wrists on a hot day, go to a play, all these actions are something my mother taught me or bequeathed me. I do not remember her illness and final decline but rather cherish the vital woman who raised me, but also did so much more with her life. And I do not need Mother’s Day to do this.

As a matter of fact, the celebration somewhat grates on me. We have sent flowers and a card to JG’s 98 year old mother who is not enjoying the twilight years of her life very much. She does still enjoy flowers. And we get them to her fairly often. Mother’s Day is just another chance to do that. And send a card. I find myself thinking that the card makers, florists and restaurants must have created this event. And many retailers jump on the bandwagon. (Give your mother perfume; here are lots of photos of the bottles so that you can choose. Right!) I guess the day is a reminder. But it can also be a burden to daughters, two of whom, my frantically busy ‘girls’, are heading off on the hour+ drive to here, bringing dinner. Because it is The Day.

Not that I don’t appreciate having dinner catered, or catching up with the flying daughters. I really do. But it might be nice for them to be able to fit this sort of thing into their schedules instead of feeling they have to do it right now in the middle of the end of the academic year and a pretty hectic time at the YD’s government department.

In my case, on the next beautiful sunny and breezy day, I will hang the blankets out on the line and feel thankful. In both cases, I will feel loved. What more can you ask.