Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Heron

"As though one's childhood were a small midwestern town
Some forty years ago, before the elm trees died.
September was a modem classroom and the latest cars,
That made a sort of futuristic dream, circa 1955.
The earth was still uncircled. You could set your course
On the day after tomorrow. And children fell asleep
To the lullaby of people murmuring softly in the kitchen,
While a breeze rustled the pages of Life magazine,
And the wicker chairs stood empty on the screened-in porch."

from From the Porch
by John Koethe

The Friday before last, we had family over in the evening. We were sitting on the screened-in porch when a young blue heron, the first we have seen on the slough this summer appeared. It fished directly below us and in the course of 1 or 2 hours in an  area few metres square it caught at least four possibly more Tiger Salamanders. We are lucky to see one a year, often crossing a grid road, so we were amazed at the profusion, much less the size of the animals it found in such a small area. Needless to say the heron has returned on a number of evenings, but I am unsure if it's luck is holding.

"And even as it deepens something turns away,

As though the day were the reflection of a purer day
In which the summer's measures never ended.
The eye that seeks it fills the universe with shapes,
A fabulist, an inquisitor of space
Removed from life by dreams of something other than this life,
Distracted by the bare idea of heaven,"

from Gil's Cafe
by John Koethe

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see

"We do know this much:
that it billowed white at the mountainous top
and its flat underside was the grey of headstones;
that it slid onto the land and felt its way
over the contours of several western states, 
always moving eastward, from left to right
the way eyes move over print
as if it were reading the earth with its blind shadow. 

Otherwise, it did nothing
but allow itself to be blown through the high cold 
though it was always changing shapes
and assumed in its lifetime the form
of Australia, the head of an enormous dog,
a sheep on the run, a hippo with its mouth agape, 
and even the camel that passed through the eye of Hamlet. "

from Biography of a Cloud
by Billy Collins

"Today was the first time in a couple of weeks that the smoke pulled back enough to allow us blue sky. We planted some volunteer spruce that we got from the farm and raided Rigmor's garden for cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and corn. And the harvested hay field suddenly sprouted a neighbours cows takings a walkabout under the blue skies. 

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war. No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted out of a love poem that you used to know by heart."

from Forgetfulness 
by Billy Collins

Monday, August 20, 2018

Moose Family

The moose family continues to appear almost daily at one of the nearby sloughs. It makes me wonder if the resident bear has moved on.

"When he tried his eyes on the lake, ospreys 

would fall like valkyries 
choosing the cut-throat 
He took then to waiting 
till the night smoke rose from the boil of the sunset 

But the moon carved unknown totems 
out of the lakeshore 
owls in the beardusky woods derided him 
moosehorned cedars circled his swamps and tossed 
their antlers up to the stars 
Then he knew though the mountain slept, the winds 
were shaping its peak to an arrowhead 

But by now he could only 
bar himself in and wait 
for the great flint to come singing into his heart"

from Bushed
by Earle Birney

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin, 'the queen of soul', dies aged 76

Sometimes, sometimes I get a little worried, yes, I do
Sometimes . . . I get a little fearful about different things, yes, I do
But oh! Just as sure as the sun rises in the morning,
I know that everything . . .
If you don’t never do nothing about it, everything’s gonna be alright . . .
Some people, some people worry about whether they gonna wake up in the morning
Well, why don’t you close your eyes and see? Uh-huh.
Some people worry about if we’re gonna get over this bridge or that one
And haven’t even got to the bridge yet to see if we can walk across, oh, yeah . . .
Some people will worry, talking about, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do if something happens to my child.”
Well, ain’t nothing happened to your child yet. Wait and see.
Will you be able? Wait and see. Will you be able?
Don’t put worry on you before worry gets to you
I said that! Yes, I did.
. . . Oh, you gotta keep your arms around us. You gotta do that for us, Lord. Yeah, you gotta keep your arms of mercy all around us . . .
Don’t get worried before worry gets there. And everything—oh, you’d be surprised what big bridges you can meet when you get there.
Ain’t it so? Yes, it is . . .

from NewYorker Link

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Moose and Smoke

Special Air Quality Statement

Issued at 10:47 Wednesday 15 August 2018
Smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility. Smoke is expected or occurring.

A westerly flow in the upper levels of the atmosphere is once again spreading smoke from forest fires over western Canada across Saskatchewan. Poor air quality and diminished visibility will be widespread across the advisory area while the smoke remains in place.
from The Weather Network
I have been working on a post concerning some lovely first edition Canadian poetry books I purchased on a trip to Saskatoon. But today has been such an odd day I thought it should take precedence. Last night we entertained company, on the way across the hay field to the cabin, they saw a large bull moose near the back slough. Then as they were leaving we noticed the beavers had brought down one of the few remaining Balsam Poplars along the lane. In theory they do not eat them, preferring instead the Trembling Aspen. So despite the fact that it was fairly smoky this morning I went out and put wire around the four largest trees on the lane. At one point I returned to the cabin for a saw and Helen pointed out the female moose and her calves in the slough. They stayed quite some time and I was able to get some photos, although the rusty colour of the smoke in the air, precluded a lot of detail. This was before 12:00.

Conditions have worsened until now at 2:30 in the afternoon we are submerged in aa eerie breathless orange void. The smell is not to bad but we need lights insider the cabin. These photos were taken then.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Franklin's Ground Squirrels

While taking photos of the Moose cow and calves I noticed the long grass in front of the porch rustling. My wife then pointed to these two little critters playing on the lane. Last year we saw our first Franklin's  ground squirrel. Apparently there was more than one. It is an interesting ground squirrel because it can climb trees, although we have not seen that. Also up to a third of their diet can be protein, and they will eat mice, chipmunks, birds and eggs, etc. We still have Least Chipmunks but the slough in front of the cabin normally houses Barrow's goldeneye and Bufflehead ducks but we have not seen many ducks in the slough this year. The Red Necked grebes are here but they build floating nests. The Franklin's become habituated quite easily, I was standing behind the cabin when one of the adults came out of the grass some 3-4ft from my feet, stood up on it's back legs to look me over then continued on it's way. 

“Surely,” he said, “the great mountains of the world are a present remedy if men did but know it against our modern discontent and ambitions. In the hills is wisdom’s fount. They are deep in time. They know the ways of the sun and the wind, the lightning’s fiery feet, the frost that shattereth, the rain that shroudeth, the snow that putteth about their nakedness a softer coverlet than fine lawn.” 

from The Worm Ouroboros
by E.R. Edison

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Moose and Calves

"A moose has come out of 
 the impenetrable wood 
and stands there, looms, rather, 
in the middle of the road. 
It approaches; it sniffs at 
the bus’s hot hood. 

Towering, antlerless, 
high as a church, 
homely as a house 
(or, safe as houses). 
A man’s voice assures us 
“Perfectly harmless. . . .” 

 Some of the passengers 
exclaim in whispers, 
childishly, softly, 
“Sure are big creatures.” 
“It’s awful plain.” 
“Look! It’s a she!”"

from The Moose
by Elizabeth Bishop

I have not been updating the site much. Maybe a month ago my wife pointed out a cow moose and two calves swimming across the near slough and I was able to get some photos from the porch.