This year the fall colours have been particularly spectacular. I tried reading up on why, but got lost in words like chlorophyll and carotenoids. I don’t care about the science. I’m just grateful for the beauty of the area we live in.
Here is a photo essay from my Thanksgiving weekend. Enjoy the colours while they last, and Happy Thanksgiving!
We pass through sleepy towns with quirky names like Tichborne and Wemyss
Signs never seen before
The Battle River Bison Company
10 acre hobby farm for sale
Even the wildlife sleep, save for a lone bat startled by the car headlights
The blanket of mist slowly lifts
Revealing silhouettes of Jack pines
Standing guard, protecting the quiet, still dark lakes
A few drowsy cows graze outside my car window
A light flickers in a farmhouse
Round hay bales sit forlornly in the fields
Saluted by the stands of corn
The fog persists
But another day has dawned
Ed.note: I wrote this poem in my head early Sunday morning driving to Ottawa for Clare’s provincial kayaking championships. I’m not a morning person, so you won’t see many “enjoy an early morning happy acts!”, but there is something special about watching the world awaken. Try it (if only once!) The trip was definitely worth it. Clare got a gold, silver and bronze medal.
It seems the wet spring has provided lots of food for these fascinating insects, and the woods and riverbanks along the Ottawa River are alight with lightning bugs.
I’ve always found fireflies magical. I remember one time in Vermont when we rented a 100-year old cabin in the woods. It sat on 25 acres, and there was a huge field that sloped down from the large wraparound porch into the woods. The kids were quite little and I had to get up in the middle of the night with one of them. I looked out the upstairs window, and the entire field was filled with glowing tiny lights sparkling in the night. It was magic.
Fireflies aren’t flies, they’re actually beetles. They go through four stages: egg, larvae, pupae, to beetle. Their glow comes from a chemical reaction that produces light without heat.
One night, Clare and I were walking and we found a whole bunch of tiny bugs which we found out after were firefly larvae (some people call them glowworms). They looked like tiny worms with scales, but you could see they glowed. If you ever see a firefly up close, it’s really cool too. They are bright green—you often can see them on window screens. We’ve even rescued some in the house.
They say the best time to view fireflies are in May and June around dusk, but we still have some on the property, so it’s not too late to get out and watch nature’s light show.
This week’s #HappyAct is to enjoy the fireflies at night. Happy summer!
Eastern Ontario is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise thanks to the miles of abandoned rail beds that have been converted into trails.
A couple of weeks ago, Clare and I hiked a new portion of the trail. We started in Harrowsmith, which is the junction of the K&P Trail and Cataraqui Trail. It was a windy spring day, and the fur of our great Pyrenees Bella shimmered and rippled in the breeze like the rushes in the neighbouring wetlands. It was a great day to get out, enjoy the spring sunshine, clear our heads and get some exercise.
The Kingston and Pembroke trail was an old railway that ran from Kingston Renfrew. It was abandoned by Canadian Pacific Railway between 1962 and 1986 before being taken over by the City of Kingston and Township of South Frontenac. Most of the trail is now complete up to Sharbot Lake, except for a small stretch near Tichborne.
The Cataraqui Trail is 104 kms long and was the rail line operated by Canadian National. The 78.2 km section from Smiths Falls to Harrowsmith is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Harrowsmith is an excellent starting point since the two trails connect there with four different routes to hike.
We watched ducks and geese in the marshes, saw baby cows in the farmer’s fields and ate lunch overlooking a beautiful vista.
I’m always surprised how many people in Kingston don’t venture north of the city. This week’s #HappyAct is to get out and discover the beautiful trails north of the city. And best of all, it’s free!
August. Warm days, bugless nights and gentle breezes create a beautiful languor, as you submit to summer’s halcyon days.
The signature sound of August has to be the cicada. It starts as a slow whir and rises in pitch and intensity to a high-pitched buzz that engulfs the air. To me, it’s the signature sound of summer.
Cicadas are fascinating insects. Cicada comes from a latin word meaning tree cricket. The sound you hear is their mating call. Their shrill call can be as loud as 120 decibels, which one website claims is as loud as a rock concert or chainsaw.
Cicadas will actually gravitate to high pitched sounds, like lawnmowers. Apparently female cicadas mistake them for singing males, and male cicadas will follow in order to continue wooing the females.
They are also quite beautiful when you look at them closely. Clare found one in the house the other day and we had a good look at him before we released him gently outside.
This week’s #HappyAct is to enjoy the sound of the cicadas and summer’s final days. Here’s a video clip of the cicadas at my lake.
For the past three years, we’ve heard the pitter patter of little feet in our yard—chickens.
Whenever I tell people we raise chickens, it’s usually followed by a barrage of questions about how many eggs we get a day, how much it costs for feed and how to build a sturdy coop.
The answers, in case you’re wondering or thinking about getting chickens, is one egg per chicken per day (it’s actually slightly lower, so in 7 days, you would get about six eggs per chicken), $20 a month on feed for about 6 chickens, and…google it, but I can give you some design tips.
The thing I’ve been surprised about most is how much we enjoy our chickens. While I wouldn’t go so far as calling them pets, we do call them “our girls” and they have become an extension of our family.
I’ve learned the chicken community is a little crazy. I have one friend with a t-shirt that says “Crazy Chicken Lady” that she wears proudly.
I was at a 4H meeting earlier this year where another Mom plunked her chicken purse down on the table.
Harrowsmith magazine recently ran a story about raising chickens. The author said every evening around 5 p.m., she’d have cocktail hour with her chickens and took a picture of her with her glass of wine with a chicken on her lap.
I hope I’m not on the far end of the crazy chicken lady scale, but I do like my girls and we’ve certainly enjoyed additional benefits of raising chickens other than the beautiful fresh eggs every day.
You may have seen on Facebook a story about how raising chickens have given the residents of a senior’s home joy and purpose. There is something about caring for animals that provide sustenance. I also think they have helped cut down on the tick population in our yard.
This week’s #HappyAct is to go back to the farm—buy local farm fresh produce, produce your own, or if you really want to become a crazy chicken lady, look into raising chickens of your own.
Ed. note: This spring I blogged about the ultimate tacky souvenir. My girlfriend Danette on our recent trip to Vancouver Island, used my money to buy an egg holder for me with “Farm Fresh Butt Nuggets” written on the side. Okay, so maybe I am a crazy chicken lady now.
One of the many things that makes this country great is the natural beauty of our landscapes, rich resources and biodiversity.
This summer, why not explore all Canada has to offer by visiting a Nature Conservancy of Canada property?
The NCC was founded in 1960 by naturalists who decided to take action to protect natural spaces and promote conservation. Today they have thousands of acres of natural properties across Canada and offer volunteer opportunities for Canadians to help in conservation efforts. They recently launched a new website naturedestinations.ca and are inviting Canadians to explore their properties.
Today’s #HappyAct in honour of Canada Day is to explore all this great land has to offer this year. Happy Canada Day!
Ed. note: If you are in Eastern Ontario, another great property to check out is the Depot Creek Conservation Area at 6329 First Lake Road. This 71-acre property was purchased from artist Kim Ondaatje who still lives next door in Blue Roof Farm.