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Posts Tagged ‘swan lake’


Thursday, March 29, 2012

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Wednesday .. was .. at times … sunny .. then cloudy .. some rain .. followed by sun.  A potpourri kind of day, weatherwise.

Spent some time outside, relocating some of the taller plants in the back of the yard.   I’m making a kind of little secret garden, of sorts.   Starting with tall perennials along the fence, with a little pathway in front of that.   Then I’ve moved the garden bed back a foot, and began the process of moving the taller bamboo plants closer to the edge of that.

Then I’m moving a line of raspberries in front of them.   There will then be a staggered height of plants, tall to medium and then shorter (garlic, herbs).   The tall plants will give protection to the lower plants.

My garden is in constant change and it’s easy to move them.  Except I had to tug away at the Buddleia, thought.  The roots are mainly fibrous, with one long tap root that extended farther than I wanted to dig, so I just cut the end of the root . . still have a two foot length left and these plants are tough as nails, anyway.

Why am I doing this?  Well, in a burst of creative thought a few days ago, I thought that if I could rearrange the veggie garden (part of it, anyway) then I could install my propagating area here.  In a nice and tidy fashion, that is.  And I find that these projects sort of take on a life of its own … I simply start the process and my inner artist takes over.   The results are always creative and I’m always surprised and impressed with the results.

And I’ve decided to install rustic fencing along parts of the garden, to visually break up some of the areas.  I’ll be re-using the branches and bamboo canes that I’d used to make a  holding area for my mountain of mulch leaves from last fall.  I have my eye on several very tall bamboo canes currently growing in one area of the yard, so luckily, I’m not lacking in fencing materials.

I like the look of the rustic fencing that was installed at the front of Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, and when I’d last visited there on Tuesday, I looked at this fencing again and thought, perfect for the back yard!  So, thanks for the inspiration, Swan Lake!!

I was quite involved in digging away yesterday when the rains came .. I simply covered up my camera, binoculars, iPod and simply went on digging.   After all, what’s a little rain?  Then the sun came out and it felt like a warm summer day.

After what I’ve been learning in my gardening course, I’m not really happy about digging up and disturbing the soil .. saw the thin white strands of the mycorrhizal fungi in place, doing their part to help the roots of the plants.  And promised that I’d add some of the powdered M. fungi that I’d purchased from the Gardener’s Pantry.  I’ll soon have this soil healthy and vibrant  again.  Plus, liberal doses of EM!!

Took a break and read through some books on composting .. one mentions Bokashi, pallet & worm composting.  However, the “helpful” information listed is nowhere near as detailed as the information that I learned in the Organic Master Gardening Course (Gaia College, at Royal Roads University).  My gardening world has forever changed and I cannot go back to the way of thinking that I had before.

Funny, found a bag of plant fertilizer that I’d bought a few years back.   The cardboard box holding the plastic bag had long since disintegrated and all that is left is the bag and the contents of several cups of white and pale green “fertilizer”granules.  I shudder to think that I had used some of this on some plants.  Now I’ll have to dispose of this in “hazardous” materials.  Never, no more.

From now on, it’s EM, Compost Tea (Dr. Elaine R Ingham ), worm bins, mulch, grass cuttings, manure (organic preferably).    What a difference that course has made in my life.  And, luckily, I have access to the online videos and course material for a year.  It will take at least that for me to go through all of these invaluable resources.

Anyway .. on with this most wonderful day.  I think the rains have stopped .. can hear the birds singing away .. so out to my garden I go!   And if it is still raining, well, there’s no shortage of things to do inside.  Or maybe go for a walk.  Choices .. it’s a good thing!

🙂

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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So Tuesday was slightly overcast and I went for a little walk to Swan Lake .. only for 1 ½ hours !!  I just had to go and see the new structure by the Nature House, with the green roof.   It is just beautiful and planted with native grasses, plants and flowers.  I look forward to seeing the changes over the coming seasons, as the garden grows and grows.

Listened to the cries of the male Red Winged Blackbirds as they called out, marking their territory or calling to their mates?  Heard the songs of the Marsh Wrens.  The territorial honking of the Canada Geese.   Didn’t see many Mallards though .. perhaps they were all in the side marshes.

Saw one of the local eagles soaring .. nearby was a seagull, both seemed to be sailing along on the same air currents.  The eagle wasn’t hungry, so the gull was safe.  Later on .. I noticed some crows playing around with the eagle .. and the eagle just ignored them and flew farther afield.

Not many people out walking when I was there .. just a few joggers, birders out on the trails.

Talked to one of the Sanctuary employees about the markings on the Mallards .. turns out that each one does have a different look about them.  The older ducks have longer back feathers.  There are slight differences in eye markings and colouration.  The green billed Drake is a bit unusual and might be the result of some breeding with another type of duck.  So now I will start to pay attention to the differences.  I do note that some of the females have darker feather markings.

Lovely relaxing walk!

Then, back home, outside, busy reshaping the veggie garden .. an easy thing to do, since I use rocks and bricks as borders.   Room for change .. which is a great thing for the garden.

Still feel so terrible about the Scotts Miracle Gro birdseed .. and awaiting a response to the e-mail that I sent yesterday.  I’ll go to the supermarket to fetch more fat for the feeders.

Sat down for a while to leaf through my birding books, seeking recipes for our birds.  I have most of the supplies in the cupboard so will make some for the fall.  Right now there are plenty of insects for the birds to munch on .. and I still have sunflower seeds for them.

Felt wonderful to be outside.   I’m trying to decide where to place my many propagated plants.  Think that I might change the shape of the veggie garden and then re-arrange the plants in a nice tidy fashion.

The branches are starting to green up with new leafy growth and soon the yard will be nicely framed with greenery.  The Silver Lace Vine (aka “mile a  minute”) is living up to its name and there is new growth on the old woody stems and now is the time to train them to grow along the top of the fence.  They have a tendency to grow up the plum trees . .so I’ve caught them in time.

I’m trying to pot up the comfrey so that it won’t grow wild in the yard.  There is a type of comfrey that doesn’t spread, Bocking 14, a Russian cultivar .. so I’ll be looking out for this one.  The comfrey that is in our yard (all over the yard!!) originated from just a few plants that I obtained many, many years ago.   The bees love the flowers (which unfurl a few at a time) and the leaves are good for the compost, so it really is a good plant.  I just don’t want it growing all over, as they get to be quite large.

Replanted the two large currant plants .. there is a lot of new growth on these.  And still digging out raspberry canes to form a raspberry bed.   These canes originated from just a few canes given to me by a co-worker, many years ago.   And I’ve given away the volunteers for years and they keep on growing.  Good thing, as they produce massive amounts of berries!

This year I’m also training blackberries along the fence, nice and neat.  What tastes more delicious than ripe berries, warmed by the summer sun?  I’ve dug up tons of these berries from the yard and finally decided to keep some of them.  Why fight them, they will be a nice addition on the fence, no harm.

Well, the day is marching on and I’m eager to get outside.

🙂

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

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Wednesday started off in a cloudy fashion.  I felt cloudy also.  As in, not energized.    You know the kind of feeling .. life is rolling along, full of positivity and energy.    Open to new possibilities and learning.   Then there is a blip.  So I was in a blip.  Hmmm. .. that could very well be a new adjective, couldn’t it?   As in “it was a blip situation” …:)

So I went outside to experience some positive energy from our yard .. to take a few moments to watch the birds.  Check out the ground, look for spring flowers .. that sort of thing.  Pondered walking over to Swan Lake, to see the ducks and watch for the local eagles .. I’d really like to see them.

Decided it really was time to stay home, study, spend some time in reading through the materials on organic gardening.  Not many classes left.

Brr .. chilly in the early morning.  Rain starting to fall.  I was determined to finally install the Lee Valley hanging saucer beneath one of the bird feeders.  A green circle of about 1 1/2 feet in circumference, which would be attached to the bottom of the feeder.   There was a cover for this saucer, which was full of holes for the bird seed to tumble into (instead of tumbling onto the ground!).

By the time I’d assembled (found!!!) my pliers, saucer, bird seed and was outside, a light rain was falling.  My hands were numb with cold, but I was determined that I was finally going to assemble this saucer thing which I’d bought before Christmas!

Deciphered the instructions, arranged the chain and attached to one of the bird feeders – I’d lost all track of time so really don’t know how long it took me to do that.  Anyway, as all gardeners know, time doesn’t exist in a garden   🙂

Finally, the bird feeder with the new saucer was placed carefully, hanging from a branch of the apple tree, freshly filled and awaiting the discovery of the birds.  A sense of accomplishment was strongly felt.  yeah.

Next, time to fill up the hummingbird feeder and the rest of the bird seed feeders.

And …. ta da .. there is a new addition to the village of bird feeders!  I finally broke down and bought the Mark Cullen covered suet holder, it’s cute, made of cedar, with a sloped roof, underneath is the suet holder.  It’s made specifically for the tiny members of  birds .. the darling little Bush-tits, the Red-Breasted Nuthatches and the Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.   Bigger birds (Junco’s, sparrows, European Starlings) kind of take over the other suet block.  So this is special for them.

Wandered around the back, inspecting the branches of the dwarf apple tree that we’d planted a long time ago.

Looked up to the sky and wow .. there is one of the eagles flying around.  I found it really amazing to be looking through the tight web of branches and actually see this magnificent eagle flying and .. I actually had my camera with me!  So I quickly drew the camera from the case, clicked it on and took a few pictures.  This camera doesn’t have an eyepiece, it has one of those little screens which doesn’t show clearly what you are looking at .. so it was really sheer luck that I was able to zero in and take some photos.

As the eagle flew in ever larger circles, I ran to the center of the yard and found it again .. and clicked away.  So very grateful that I was outside at that moment in time, and looked upwards.   An inspirational bit of time which filled me with joy at the sheer magnificent beauty of nature.

The eagle then changed direction, soaring effortlessly in another direction, lost to my sight.

Well, then.  I was able to see the eagle and saved myself a few hours from walking to Swan Lake.

Time to go inside and get some studying done.

And you know what?  Once I started going through my notes and the online lessons, I was transported away to the world of composting and the many lifeforms therein.

Quite the learning day for me . .one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

🙂

 

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Friday, February 24, 2012

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Thursday was a mixed bag of weather .. .sunshine .. clouds.

After morning chores completed, decided to go for a brief walk … which lasted about two hours!  Started out towards Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary .. .it’s been awhile since my feet walked along those trails.

Pure bliss to be there …. seeing the new spring growth of leaves on trees and bushes as all plant life prepares for a new season.  Listening to the breeze rustling the dry marsh grasses .. music to my ears.  Stopped to look at the slim thread of water trickling through the mix of dried and emerging stems of grasses.

Not many birds out when I was there.  Thought back to my lucky encounters a few weeks ago .. when I saw my first Cedar Waxwings and then the Northern Shovellers … such beautiful winged beings.

Saw .. and heard .. some Marsh wrens calling out.  And some Red Winged Blackbirds singing away.  At the smaller observatory I chanced upon some Mallards .. they were very cautious though .. and I understood why later on.

I pulled out a bag of flatted oats and scattered them onto the surface of the lake … one little Mallard swam over.   Followed by a female .. then more and more and finally there were about 10.   Scattered more oats on the surface boards and them some on the side marsh ..

Continued on my walk.  Noticed new signage showing the latest improvements to the Sanctuary .. growing specific plants/trees to attract a wider variety of birds and animals.

Looked way up and sure enough .. at the top of the flat-topped tree . .there was one of the resident eagles.  They’ve been favouring this tree since for years now .. I used to spend so much time watching them over the years . .even lucky enough to see part of their mating ritual.  I was in the backyard and just happened to look up to see them, talons intertwined as they tumbled through the sky .. remember to look up .. .there is so much going on.

Well, this year they have attained the mark of maturity, with their white heads and tail feathers .. wonder if they will nest in that tree?

Anyway, their presence explains the absence of bird activity.

Time to visit Orr’s Butchers for more of Farmer Ben’s eggs … and then some grocery shopping.   And then .. the long walk homewards with a heavy Thrifty’s shopping bag.  I decided to ignore the hefty weight .. I’d soon be home!

Returned via the Sanctuary .. one more opportunity to walk in nature … all birds, ducks are well hidden away.

As I made my way home .. enjoying the beauty of the day .. kept looking up to the sky .. but no aerial activity.  And .. soon I was home .. groceries put away.  Kitties fed.  Ole Toshiba turned on … spent a few hours lost in the worlds of gardening and re-trying the online quizzes of Gaia.

Then I allowed myself to enjoy the wonderful world of gardening outside .. sheer bliss.  And a bit sad, also.  My gardening world has turned all topsy-turvy with the new learning.  As I stood and looked at my leaf mulch pile .. I thought of how my focus has changed.

Where once I truly believed that oak leaves were the be-all and end-all of gardening .. now I realize that, although they do serve well as mulch to retain water for landscaping purposes .. they are not the cure-all that I thought they were.  That because the centre of a pile gets to be “smoking hot” .. that feature isn’t conducive to supporting healthy microbes in the soil.

I quickly fill containers with the mulch and sidedress the trees and plants along the fence .. this does dress up the areas.  Just a few months ago I was saddened at the thought of not having enough .. now I just want to disperse it all around the yard.

It’s not that it’s a bad thing .. just not quite the thing for my veggie garden.

Worked away, not conscious of time .. till DH arrives home .. and surprises me with a mug of Yorkshire Tea!  Yea, time for a Sudoku break and a quick look through some stone landscaping books (treasures from the “Friends of the Library” book sale.

Enjoy the brief break and then .. ta da .. back to the garden.  More shovelling, moving, planning, dreaming.

Another lovely day ….

🙂

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Friday, February 10, 2012

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  Thursday morning was a little overcast .. I decided to walk over to Borden Mercantile to pick up some rock dust for our class on composting, to take place on Saturday.

That way, I could multi-task by: 

– getting a few good hours of walking exercise

– look for the Northern Shoveller

– look for the eagles

– look for any other birds

– fetch the rock dust (for Saturday’s compost class)

– just enjoy being outside in the lovely outdoors

Thus I found myself walking along the trails at the Sanctuary.  Along the way I saw some Spotted Towhees … such striking birds!  Not too many Robins were seen when I was there.

Still looking for the Cedar Waxwings that I saw last week. What a gift that was .. to see these gentle birds.

Walking along the short observatory .. .not a duck was to be seen.  Only a little wren, who was intent on digging away at some treasured seeds that were tucked away in the spaces between the boards that comprised the walkway.   I stopped in my steps while this little bird sought the treasures.  

When the bird was finished feasting and had flown away .. I continued my walk along the observatory.  Strangely quiet .. yet I couldn’t see any predators.  But they could have been well hidden.  Birds know when the predators are about.

 Happy to hear the trill of the Red Winged Blackbird … as he sat high atop a nearby tree .. trying to communicate with others of his species.

As I reached the pathway that connected to the asphalt section of the Galloping Goose .. I looked up to the flat-topped tree on Saanich Road.  That’s where I first saw the young pair of immature eagles years ago.    Now that they are more mature, sporting the distinctive white feathered head and tail feathers …they still favour this same tree.

So on Thursday morning on my walk, I noticed that one of them was sitting on a nearby oak tree.  And there I saw one of them.   Feathers slick with rain.  Fierce eyes scanning the meadows and fields of Swan Lake  below … looking for any activity that would entice them to soar down.

Such noble and magnificent beings. 

I continued on my walk along the Galloping Goose, quite quiet at this early morning time .. before the coffee breaks and lunchtime joggers had started to populate the scene.  Relishing the quiet.   Appreciating the many years it had taken me to reach this point.

Finally reached Borden Mercantile and purchased some volcanic rock dust and some kelp particles for our upcoming Saturday session, to build a composter.  Plus myself an a few others will be building some work composters.   I’ll take pictures.

Retracing my steps, I again appreciated the peacefulness of the Galloping Goose trail at this time of the morning.   Not very busy.

Couldn’t help but notice the nests from last year … clearly seen in the absence of vegetation.   And can’t help but appreciate the positivity of nest-building birds.   They just get on with it.

Once I’d approached the wooden section of the Goose, I was nearer the oak tree and saw the eagle’s mate approach ..and land .. on the oak tree.  So there the couple sat .. regally perched …silent communication … surveying the meadows below.

Humbled by the sight of this example of pure nature, I resumed my walk…. happily taking the muddy pathway of the Sanctuary .. in lieu of the asphalt walkway “up above”.

And continued home .. where I combined housework with studying.   Nerve wracking work on my assignment. sigh.  more later.

Thursday was, to say the least, “quite the day”.

🙂

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

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Friday was going to be fully devoted to studying .. so first I decided to not go for a quick (ha ha ) walk to Swan Lake.    That would have been at least a 2 hour block of time, plus time spent outside.  So I spent time going through my study materials.  And .. slowly .. the new vocabulary of understanding is making its way through to my mind.

I figure that once I have a much better understanding of the activity of the critters in the soil and how they interact with each other – then I’ll be happy.   Once I can easily explain what I know, then the knowledge will be more fully settled in my brain.

Wouldn’t it be fun if I could just hold the books to my forehead and do a Star Trek mind-meld!  Unfortunately, learning has to be done the old-fashioned way.

We did a soil texture test in class on Thursday and today I’ll be writing up my analysis on one of the two samples (or perhaps I’ll prepare an analysis for each of them).   It’s fascinating to see the 3 layers settle.  Sand at the bottom, silt in the middle and clay at the top.

Here’s a good link to understanding soil:  http://urbanext.illinois.edu/soil/SoilBiology/fw&soilhealth.htm

It is listed in our classroom information and has very important, easy to understand information on soil.

Anyway .. yesterday I worked away again .. and I’m beginning to think about soil all the time .. this course is very challenging to me.  And I find that I am quite enjoying the challenge of learning the new concepts that this in-depth study of the ecosystems of gardening quite exciting!

Also yesterday, DH & I went flying .. it’s been a long time.  Beautiful sunny day .. as we flew around .. I started looking at the fields and farms below me in a new way.  Wondering which farms were using organic methods and which were using pesticides.

Enjoyed the magnificent beauty of the snow-covered mountains below … we wiggled our wings at some snowmobilers who were blazing trails high on a hilltop.   Glad to see other happy people out and enjoying the day.

Magical being up in the sky … not much traffic in the early afternoon.    Lovely .. lovely .. lovely ..

Then …. back to terra firma … while DH fueled up the plane, I tended to my co-pilot duties … assisting in pushing the plane back to it’s “parking spot”, tying up the ropes to the wings & tail, putting the reflector back against the interior windshield, buckling up seat belts nice and tidy.

Once everything was done .. we sat outside in the sunshine.  As DH filled out the logbook, I took the opportunity to read my course book .. noticing as I did so .. that more and more of the terminology is becoming a little more familiar.  Gadzooks!!

Back home .. we decided to use one of our Groupons to visit the Flying Otter restaurant.  And to combine this with exercise, we decided to leave the car at home and walk there .. it’s really a short 45 minute walk to downtown .. and it was such a lovely day.

Walking along the Galloping Goose .. we heard someone call out those words “to your left” and expected to see another bicyclist zoom by .. instead, we saw this cool recumbent bike, complete with a cover, resembled a low slung racecar.  I managed to take a quick pic before it sped away.

It’s been months since we’ve been downtown and there are so many changes going on.  The famous Blue Bridge will soon disappear .. there will be a more “modern” one built as a replacement.

We made our way to the Flying Otter .. a floating restaurant.  Full of tables facing the water.  We managed to get a nice high table nice and close to the bar.  I was noticing the bartender filling glasses with a variety of beers from the taps and was quite interested in one that was sort of rose colour.  He poured me a little taste and I was hooked.  I love bitter beers and this filled the bill with the additional delicate taste of black currants.

The food was delicious and the service was upbeat.  We plan to return.

It was so much fun walking along, arm in arm – downtown.  Years ago, before the city grew so much, the streets were quite quiet and we used to visit the downtown area often.   So it was a treat to do this again.  Although, this is the quiet season, quite a change in the summer time.   I much prefer this time of the year to visit here.

We made our way over to the bus stop … and find that we just missed the one that would take us home … debated over just standing there waiting .. or just simply walk home.  And we did just that!   In no time at all, it seemed, we were at our front door!

Home sweet home!   In just 3 hours we had walked to town, dined on a lovely meal and walked home again.  No parking concerns.  No traffic concerns!

Saturday was a great day.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

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  well .. the sun has been out in full force for several days now.  It’s times like this that I just want to play outside all day.  But, I need to study and get those botany, soil and organic gardening worlds of information in my head.

Nevertheless, I did go on my trek to Swan Lake Sanctuary yesterday morning.  It was only meant to be a quick one hour walk   … sigh … turned into more than 2 hours.  Such a beautiful sunny day.   How could I not go?

Besides, I was looking forward to another glimpse of the Northern Shoveler and the Cedar Waxwing .. but .. no joy.   So I walked all around the Sanctuary … enjoying the magnificent sunshine.  Saw the local eagles way up in their resting tree.

There are some areas by Tuesday Pond that are being worked on .. and the results are already noticeable.    A lovely wooden criss-cross type of fence keeps walkers from entering this new jewel.   Soon robins will be packing mud for their nests from here.    And many other places also.

Funny, last year I saw very few robins and this year there are so many … such robust cheerful little beings.

I’ve never really fully appreciated the beauty of the flowers and berries of the Hawthorne tree.  Yet lately I’ve begun to notice the squirrels and the birds (especially the Robins) feasting on the red berries of this tree.  And listening to the CBC podcast yesterday, with Botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger describe the healing properties of the scented Hawthorne flowers .. I am appreciating the magic of this tree.  One of which has been growing in our yard for many years.

Finally  …. back home … strolled around the yard, enjoying the warmth of the sun.   Loving seeing the signs of spring evidenced by the buds on the fruit trees, the green spikes of bulbs eager to show their flowers.

Spend a few hours studying my gardening information.  Happy when information starts to make sense.   Lots of work to be done …aiming to write the exam for certification in a month or so.

The kitchen table is my workplace …  thus I can easily look out at the backyard .. to watch the birds!  Books, writing papers piled high, stacks of pens, little workhorse Toshiba laptop all set up .. slow, but works.  This will be my station till the course is over.  And then, I’ll still be studying anyway … since I’ll have access to the online Gaia resources to read.  Sheer heaven!

Looking out the side kitchen window I happened to see some little Bushtits cavorting on the branches of the plum-tree.  Completely unselfconscious … they spend moments hopping about, grooming, chit-chat.  Chirping away.  Such darling little birds.

To soon .. time to set out for my evening class.  Such beautiful skies .. blue .. and clouds that took on the shape of smooth circular designs .. no camera, no pics!

Parked my car .. and made my way to the class .. where I spent the next 3 hours listening .. trying to absorb all the details … well, they do eventually sink in.

Last night we participants .. or “learners” did a soil sample test .. quite interesting as a matter of fact.   I prepared two samples using soil from several areas in the back yard, placed the soil in jars & added water .. shook the jars for 15 minutes .. and now the jars are sitting on a table .. awaiting for the sand, silt and clay to settle into their layers.  At which time I’ll write a report to be sent in for marks (gulp).

Anyway … Thursday was a good day.  I’ve been searching for guides on how to study properly and have found quite a few.  And I’ve found what works for me is to start again at the beginning lessons .. read … make copious notes .. then succinct notations .. and then .. bingo … words like “mycorrhizal fungi” become friends and stay in my vocabulary.  Next .. I can visualize them …and imagine where they exist in the yard.

Little baby steps.

 

🙂

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Tuesday, January 31, 2011

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  Ah, Monday .. Monday .. where did you go?  I was up early enough .. wanted to go for a quick walk and then buckle down with my garden studies.

But … did I follow through with that?

Heck no!

I dillied and dallied and played with our new computer.   Took care of the feeding, playing and cleaning up of the feline part of our family.

Went outside, filling up bird feeders & suet holders.

Finally .. outside and started my walk.   Or at least, that is what I intended to do.  Then I met a neighbour and so we began a conversation about the neighbourhood . .and the ugly big box building that is going on in the neighbourhood.   And things along that vein.    Another neighbour joined our group.   And the discussion continued.

Finally, shivering .. it was chilly!  I bade goodby and began my trek to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.

Promised myself that I would only walk to the short observatory and then return home .. lots of studying to be done.

Well .. once I got there .. I just relaxed and continued walking on the pathways –  looking out for birds.  Then I met up with one of the guardians of this wonderful treasure of nature and we had a chat about the goings-on.    Sad to hear that the eagles had captured a Heron.   At first I was shocked, and then, later on, during my walk,  I remembered hearing that Beacon Hill Park had experienced the same problem .. years ago.  That was a time when I wasn’t tuned in to the majestic beauty of these birds.  Now, this saddens me.  I know .. it’s nature.

So I enjoyed seeing the cheerful appearance of the Robins .. the wrens .. the Mallards.   Didn’t see any eagles during my time there.  Not much happening at the short observatory.   Looked at the marsh grasses .. wondering when these grasses would grow tall enough for the Marsh Wren to build her nest.

The lake was empty of birds ..only a few Coots swimming around.  No Herons.  No Geese.  They must be dining elsewhere.  Funny, last year I used to walk around the Sanctuary nearly every day and I always saw so much activity.  This year I’ve settled into a different pattern of more activity, less walking .. and I don’t see very many birds. (except for today and I’ll write about that tomorrow!!   whoo .. eee .. this was a great day!)

Finally, time to go back home and start my “learnin”!

In the kitchen, I turned on the laptop .. this thing is a workhorse.  It’s a second-hand Toshiba that I purchased last year for $85.  It’s not the fastest laptop in the world, but .. it’s paid for.  And it plods ahead.

I opted to using this instead of our brand spanking new computer because:

a) the new computer is in the side room or “study”

b) the laptop is portable .. and I set it up on the kitchen table.  This way, I can look out the kitchen window and see the birds.

We’ve set up one of those translucent bird feeders that attach to the window with suction cups.  The birds love it.  And the aluminum blinds, well, I’ve angled them so that the birds can’t see us .. and so they can relax and feed at will.  So sweet to see them standing on the top of the sundeck fencing area and on a board beneath the window .. nibbling away at birdseed.

They are so very sweet .. tiny little sparkling eyes, fluffy plumage.  And yesterday morning, after I’d opened up the blinds and flung aside the kitchen curtains .. there was a little Red-Breasted Nuthatch.   I love his little nasal chirps.  No mistaking him.

There is so very much information to learn … I just worked away, reading from the course textbook, typing notes .. willing all this information to stick to my consciousness.

Then, later, supper prepared for DH and then it was time for me to go out for a monthly Coronation Street supper … a few hours of talking about the show .. and other things.  Quite a fun evening.  Listening to some friends discussing their travels… and catching up on what’s been going on.  Lots of fun.  There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as a good meal and lively conversation and that’s what we enjoyed last night!

Then, we dissect the life out of the show’s scripts .. sometimes they are so good and other times .. not worth the air time.  There is always a variety of writers so the scripts are sometimes much better than others.

Oh oh .. a reminder that DH & I will see William Roach in just over a month!  yippeee.  I still need to make up a list of questions. A once in a lifetime opportunity to do so.  So the questions need to be good .. and unusual!

Well .. the day is done and so time to end this lengthy rambling.

Tomorrow … I’ll focus on more studying.  I sure love this Organic Master Gardening Course .. a program like no other!!

And .. I just have to visit Swan Lake again .. I’m hooked!

🙂

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Monday, January 22, 2011

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 It was up at at ’em early this morning .. before the sun had risen.  I find it’s such a productive day when I’m up and about early in the day.  Lots of time to relax, pot of Yorkshire Tea .. tend to the kittie-kats and then spent some time entering the details of my latest batch of gardening books into my data base.

A few hours later, called Mother Computers to see about the state of the computer .. turns out that all I need to do is to plug in the external hard drive and the hub into the back of the tower, these items will then power from the actual motherboard .. instead of at the front.  The result is that my computer now runs well, very well, actually.  And I don’t have to deal with purchasing a new computer.   This store is where I will purchase (eventually, when the $$ has been saved) my future computer.  The service is always excellent at this store.  The guys know their computers and treat all of us non computer-savvy people with patience and, shall I say, respect?  Very comfortable atmosphere.

Then, I decided to take some time to visit Swan Lake Sanctuary.   I needed a connection to some re-energizing  intensive nature therapy and of all the lovely natural places that  feed my soul .. this is the closest one.

I was feeling a little, um, un-energized.  Just before I’d left to pick up the computer tower, I’d gone for a look around the back yard .. to check on the status of the bird feeders.   Most of which were empty as a result of the whirling winds of yesterday.   And I was saddened to see that a number of fence boards had become detached at one area of the fence.   They were lying on the ground and there were gaping spaces into another yard.

Most of the fence is standing strong, it’s just in some areas where the boards have become loose .. the majority of the fence is in good shape.

And I felt such a loss of privacy, it really struck hard.  My garden is my haven.  So I went about the activity of propping up the boards as best as I could, to try and restore the sense of intimate solitude that normally exists in this space.  We’ll be replacing a number of the panels this spring .. and for now, simple repairs will need to be done.    I’ll get going on these interim repairs as soon as the weather stays sunny for a few hours.

So a sense of energizing positivity was in order.   Soon, I was walking along a pathway at Swan Lake.   As I went along, I became aware of the six foot high stand of marsh grasses that bordered the section of path.   It felt like a fence and so I started thinking about the significance’s of fences.

Over the years I’ve read about, and spoken with people about .. the importance of fences on their property.   That, and screening are topics of great interest to many people.

As I walked along the path, aware of the physical presence of this fence-like growth of grassy barrier, I felt a quiet energy emanating from it .. it seemed to add a layer of privacy to the creatures that live in the Sanctuary .. a buffer between them and the thousands of people who visit their natural living spaces.   Allowing them to live their daily lives away from the prying eyes of the public.  Space for them to build their homes, raise their young, defend their territory.  A space of dignity and privacy.

And to me, this embodies the physical presence of a fenced in yard.    Most of us do not have the luxury of large properties.  In the cities, we only have a yard.   And in this yard, we live our outdoor lives.   To garden, to create and enjoy a limited square footage of freedom from strangers eyes.   A haven for relaxation and a space to be alone with our bit of freedom.   Our own little renditions of  Swan Lake.

I breathed deeply … walking slowly … enjoying the solitude.  It wasn’t quite lunchtime yet and the noon joggers weren’t yet outside.   Cheerful chirps filled the air.  The silky whisper of the dry grasses mingled with the sounds of the little streams that rippled down the sloping fields were all like music to my ears.

Until, that is, I caught a glimpse of the white tail feathers of one of the local eagles.  Flared out and flying low.  So I sped up my pace and quickly reached a higher elevation with a better view.  Except, the bird had flown on.  Darn.  Reached the little observatory and gently tread on the wooden boards … a pair of  Mallards swam out from the edges of the shore and approached the walkway.  I brought out the bag of flatted oats and tossed them out onto the surface of the water.   Luckily there were no other ducks nearby, so they were able to feast quietly.

Stood at the end of the observatory … noticed some beer cans and bottles left by some highly (not) sophisticated nocturnal visitors.   I’d noticed that someone had plucked some debris already, from the lake and there was a tidy little pile waiting at the beginning of the boards.

Out in the middle of the lake, a group of Geese and mallards were attending to their daily ablutions.   Much flapping of wings against the water, raising up on tiptoe …. they were contentedly social.  And all of them were very vocal, chattering back and forth.

Looked at the side grasses .. thinking that the Marsh Wrens will be nesting in a few months.

Not much happening here .. so I retraced my steps and went for a little walkway down the trail .. and then .. back again .. time to go home and get going.   Stopped at a little side pond.   Looking at a little Mallard who was quietly feeding in the waters.

Hey up!  Caught some aerial movement, looked through the binoculars and saw the eagle, flying low and slow over the water … was able to get a quick pic as it flew away.   Happy that I had stopped to catch sight of this magnificent creature.  By this time of the day, there were a fair number of people jogging and walking .. couldn’t see any one stop and look up to the sky, though.    What they missed.

Feeling much better for having seen, heard .. and experienced such a bevy of positivity.   Reached the end of the path .. decided to stop and have a final look at the Sanctuary before I left.   Glad that I did.

Noticed an Anna, hovering beside the top of a tall tree, then quickly, it flew swiftly skyward … higher and higher to a certain point, and then dive bombing the air space down below .. resulting in that high pitched whistle .. the supersonic sound of its flight!  I’ve often heard this in the backyard, but could never pinpoint where it was happening.  How lucky that I felt to be witness to this, today.  He repeated the procedure a number of times and then flew away.  Leaving me marvelling again at the wondrous beauty of nature and humbly grateful at my good fortune to witness this without intruding.

I returned home in a very positive state of mind.  Ready to tackle mountains.  But really, I just finished putting away my books.

Anyway, I actually did a lot more than that .. but that’s enough for today.  A lovely day.

 

 

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Wednesday, December 17, 2011

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  So much for bragging about living in the best little place in Canada .. Victoria, B.C.!  And posting sweet little pics of frost-tinged plants … oh how sweet!

Winter blasted us starting yesterday and continued full force today.  Yesterday would have been night #1 for my Organic Master Gardening Course at Royal Roads.  And also, Youbou’s interim acupuncture treatment was booked in the early afternoon.

Snow came pouring down yesterday .. stopped for a while .. sun shone brilliantly ..and then was tucked away .. replaced with driving snow.

So I had to cancel the acupuncture … and .. the Gardening Class was cancelled .. due to the weather.  What are the odds that, after waiting for years to finally enroll for a stellar gardening course .. on the first night of the series, snow caused the class to not happen.  Murphy.

And tomorrow’s class is cancelled also due to the snow.  Argh to the 100th power, I say.

I kept busy though, laundry and housework wait for no (wo)man it seems.  Yesterday I was met with 3 shocked feline faces as I swept through the house, dusting, vacuuming, and – yes, ladies and gentlemen .. the washing of the floors.

Three sets of eyes followed my initial activity as I became one with the zen of my cleaning energy.  Even dear little Youbou stared at me unabashedly while I moved through the rooms.  I guess they were trying to figure out what brought this on.  It’s usually DH who ministers to the cleanliness of the house. 

For the floor – buckets of hot sudsy water enriched with that most useful of cleaning products “Pink” .. which is no longer even pink, that’s how environmentally proper it has become.

Hours passed un-noticed as I focused on scrubbing, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, washing …. I was really in that flow of housework.  I try not to connect with that part of my being too often.   Saving that energy for the garden .. much more satisfying.

Anyway .. on with the snow story.   This morning I shovelled my way into the back yard.   A vast expanse of snow transformed every surface and I slipped off of the sidewalk area several times.  In my quest to fill the bird feeders …did that several times during the day.

Spent long periods of time outside, watching the many birds flutter back and forth .. at times a few of them nearly collided with me, so intent were they in the quest of food.   After awhile, they just ignored my presence as they hopped around the surface of the snow, doing their little scratching dance movements .. seeing the sunflower seeds.

The hummingbird feeders kept freezing and I kept taking them inside the house to defrost.  I plan to pick up a few more and then, if a freeze happens again, I’ll just move them inside/outside.

Interesting developments with the front feeder.  Aft first, I’d defrosted it and hung it in the usual place .. on a branch in the cedar tree at the side of the house.  A few hours later, I checked on it and .. fully frozen!  So, inside, defrost .. and this time .. I hung it by the front door.    Happy to see the little Anna find it and feed away.  Then, the little darling flew up and down, to check out the location of the feeder, flew around in a sort of loop, and then hovered right outside the window … looking in at me!  For a long few minutes, he did this .. and I could see clearly his sparkly red coverings close up.   I think he was thanking me!  Then he settled down at the feeder an supped for awhile.

Awhile later, I was looking out the front window and could see the Anna sitting on an ivy leaf by the feeder.  He looked up at the feeder and then over at me, repeated this look .. look …look .. so finally I went outside and, sure enough, the nectar (3:1) had frozen .. so I went through the defrost again.

Later, still .. I was looking out the front window .. and notice that he had alighted on one of the little perches.  Stuck his beak into the flower and then had trouble .. he was trying to remove it, but it was stuck . .and he began to move about as if he was in trouble.  This happened a few times .. he was trying to get the nectar and somehow, his little tongue had become stuck onto the frozen solution.

So, inside, defrost and outside again.

With the back feeder, the solution was the same .. so .. inside, defrost .. and then I hung it from a eave near the kitchen door.   Tomorrow I’ll keep checking and I think that I might just trudge down to Canadian Tire and buy two more feeders, as backups.

Sigh .. quite a day .. more tomorrow.

And so I’ve posted pictures from my lovely walks at Swan Lake and Christmas Hill.  Walks taken in the days before the snow.

🙂

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