And they don’t act like tourists! – July 11, 2014

Checking whether the baby wrens were doing any chattering yet . . . or more like it . . . yelling for more food, I climbed the knoll and listened beneath Swiss Chalet.  All was quiet.  I know what baby chickadees sound like in a nest, but have never heard baby wrens, have you? 

It’s plain to see how much Lord and Lady Wren love their babies.  They’ve added more fortifications to the barricade at their front door!

July 11-14-more-1024-barricading

This plaque hangs on the fence between two wall pots of white-throated purple petunias near our picnic table. 

July 11-14-vs-1024

The big trend these days is for outdoor living.  Folks are expanding their decks, buying bigger and fancier BBQ’s, getting outdoor sofas, firepits, screened in rooms, you name it.  Provided they can leave their electronic tablets and Smart phones indoors, they will discover something awesome!  That birds sing the most heavenly songs, that bees drone while they work, and that breezes whisper.

Maybe they’ll take time to inhale the exquisite perfume of the lilies that have been working underground all year to now put in their appearance, brightening the garden.

July 11-14-yellow lily-1024

I can tell you one thing.  Lord Wren will look you straight in the eye and tell you you’re doing the right thing by spending more time in God’s good outdoors . . . time to observe butterflies zig-zagging, gold finches and chickadees dip-diving . . . wrens zip-zipping!  Time to attune your ears to cheerful melodies from songsters who have come from distant southern climes to sing-g-g-g just for you!  And they don’t act like tourists.  Why, some will pitch right in and help with the gardening, eating destructive insects . . . chomping ones, sucking ones, disgusting ones!

July 11-14-Lord Wren-1024-on perch 


We’re using drones! – July 10, 2014

You might have thought we were quite old fashioned folks, but you may have underestimated us.  Early this morning, our very own drone did a secret photo shoot of the pond and the entire subdivision at Cedar Hollow.  There was no sound emanating from the drone whatsoever, so our neighbours would have been none the wiser. 

Today’s Record showed a photo of a drone made in Waterloo by Aeryon Labs Inc., a young company begun by three University of Waterloo graduates.  They sell drones to the military in many countries of the Middle East, and to markets on every continent except Antarctica.  They’re doing a booming business!

The drone we employed was considerably smaller than those produced by Aeryon:

July 10-14-Water Beetle-1024

  (Water beetle)

 Noon hour was spent at a lecture in the Homer Watson Art Gallery in our neighbourhood where I once took watercolour lessons.  We sat in the gallery shown on the right with its skylight windows all around it, letting the natural light in.

July 10-14-Homer Watson house & gallery

July 10-14-Doon-1024-presentation

Jean Haalboom lives in Old Doon, and enlightened us on the flax and grain mills, twine, cordage and fabric companies, cooperage and brick makers that once flourished here. 

July 10-14-Jean -1024-Haalboom

When Jean began her efforts in the 1980s to preserve special old sites in Doon, our next-door neighbour, Milena, was the seamstress who created  this period outfit for her to wear during presentations to local councils, setting the mood.

July 10-14-period dress-1024- made by Milena Buryanek



July 10-14-H.Watson-1024-ptg

Above is one of Homer Watson’s paintings. 

A large road is named after the artist, Homer Watson, which we refer to every time we give directions to our home.  He is buried in a cemetery within walking distance.  His landscape paintings are in galleries all across Canada.

Back at cedar Hollow, the changeable weather provided sunshine during the supper hour, and we were able to eat outside.  Our son had cut and trimmed the lawns, and enjoyed hearing and seeing the wrens of Swiss Chalet and Bounce the hummingbird.  At one point, it sounded to me as though Lord Wren was singing a lullaby to his babes, keeping the volume of his song quite low.

“GOOD MORNING” said the Evening Primroses – July 9-2014

And a very Good Morning to you!  These two are first cousins to the ones who greeted me a few mornings ago.

July 9-14-1024-Primroses

 Do you see the powerful 4-pronged thingamajig in their centres?  Its fancy name is stigma, and it stirs the pot, so to speak, determinedly pushing the petals OPEN as you watch!  It thrives on the gasps and “I can’t believe this” that it hears coming from observers and admirers.  And who can’t use a little bit of admiration now and then?

Ever played Third Base on a ball team?  Third Base probably consisted of a bald patch in the grass or a sand bag marking its location.  Well, this post serves as third base for Lord and Lady Wren.  They often land here briefly (emphasis on briefly) before flying to “home base” in the Swiss Chalet. 

July 10-14-post

Lady Wren looks a bit ruffled, don’t you think?  But who wouldn’t after squeezing through the barricades at the front door of Swiss Chalet.

July 9-14-Ruffled Wren-1024

We saw Bounce the Hummingbird several times today.  To watch him, you would think he had ants in his pants!  He just CAN’T sit still.  As I tried to describe his antics before, it’s . . .


          Fly up in the air six inches

               Back to the feeder for another sip

                    Up in the air again . . .

But Bounce doesn’t have ants in his pants.  Mr. McD made sure of that.  He applied thick grease to the bottom section of the pole that holds the feeder, and nary an ant can climb up to pester the hummingbirds!  No way!

July 9-14-Bounce-1024

Let me know if you have any pills to slow bouncy hummingbirds down.  Maybe the scarlet bee balm that is just beginning to bloom will calm him.

July 9-14-Bee balm-1024


Menu for Baby Wrens  –  July 8, 2014

Gone!  Cleared out!  No tree frog in the shed this morning.  Do hope he hasn’t packed his bags and left Cedar Hollow for good. I’ve been looking forward to hearing his unusual musical calls once he’s out of the awkward teenage stage. With all of the rain today, perhaps Jumpy will be cold.  Maybe he will do another B&E, sneak back into the shed tonight, and climb up into his familiar little bed between the doors. 

Mr. McD and I headed over to the K-W Woodworking and Craft Centre in Waterloo with our treasured flat slab of driftwood.  I lugged it home from Bonaire some 30 years ago.  How long had it been cast ashore before I claimed it?  Ocean currents from as far away as Africa toss up all kinds of wood onto the tiny island’s east coast.  Who knows what vessel or lodging it might once have been part of? 

 What a well lit and well equipped shop we stepped into with senior men working on projects, some transforming rough burls into handsome bowls.  The gentleman who will turn the slab into a sign for the garden, routing the words “Cedar Hollow” into its surface, sported a full, old-fashioned beard, and loves working with wood.   I wonder if he will be able to tell what kind of a tree the wood came from?  Perhaps he has never seen this type of wood before.

 In between pop-up showers today, we took our breaks on the lawn swing. 

Let me ask you:  When you had little ones (or your parents) how long was it between feeding times?  Three hours? four?  Remember how bleary-eyed we became?  But baby comes first, and fed he must be.

It seemed that Lord and Lady Wren entered the nursery at Swiss Chalet roughly every ten minutes.  Now, that’s some schedule!

July 8-14-fat wren on-1024-perch

The varied menu for baby wrens consists of fresh, organic delicasies from the garden and woods:

  • Insects
  • Spiders
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillars  (Who’s smacking their lips?)
  • Earwigs
  • Daddy longlegs
  • Flies
  • Leafhoppers and springtails 

July 8-14-beetles-1024

And last, but not least, snail shells for the calcium they contain, which provide grit for digestion.  They don’t have teeth, you know.  That’s why you’ve never heard of birds going to the dentist! 

Noteworthy ancestors – July 7, 2014

Opening the shed doors carefully the second day after the tree frog had committed a Break and Enter, I was aghast!  He had donned a brand new jacket!  Well, you’ll have to forgive me for thinking that he was wearing pyjamas the first time I met him.  After all, this is where Jumpy the Tree Frog sleeps at Cedar Hollow . . . between the shed doors.  But no longer was he just a plain, pale  green tree frog.  He was now attired in a fashionable dinner jacket featuring the latest charcoal-coloured pattern.  Fetching the camera, I guess I got too close for comfort, and he JUMPED!!  Where was he???  Ah, at the bottom of the garbage can, sprawled out on a soft plastic bag!   Checking on him a few times, I worried needlessly, as his suction-pad toes had enabled him to get up and out.  Where he went to, I have no idea.

This morning, gingerly but slowly opening the doors to the shed again, I spied him.  He evidently has had enough of the black camera coming his way, and immediately jumped out of sight!  Carefully I scanned the ceiling and doors, having that eerie feeling that I would freak out if he plopped down  on my head!

If you back up a few blogs, you will see the handsome jacket his ancestor wore.  It’s tradition!

Occasionally, mourning doves come to the front yard, hoping to find some discarded sunflower seeds. 

July 7-14-dove-1024

You will remember . . . . on its second mission from the ark . . . that it was a dove – some four millenniums ago – that returned to Noah in the evening with an olive leaf in its beak. 

The mourning dove wasn’t a carrier pigeon, but she delivered a green email . . . telling Noah that the waters which covered the whole earth had now receded.  That wasn’t junk email, no, indeed.  It was EXCITING good news!!!  Very soon afterward,  Noah and his family and ALL OF THE ANIMALS whose lives were preserved in the ark were able to walk outside in the cleansed earth!

Some people find the mourning dove’s song sad.  I don’t.  Growing up on the farm, I often wakened to the soft cooing of mourning doves high up in the spruce trees that lined the laneway.

Two days after Lloyd cleaned out Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane, Lord Wren indignantly stuffed twigs into its front door again.  No, Sir, other birds were not welcome in his territory, and he jolly well let them know!

July 7-14-at it again-twigs-OK size

 By the pond,  Mr. McD spied something on top of the boy’s fishing pole. From the droop of his  gauze wings, it looks like he just needed a rest on this muggy afternoon, don’t you think?

July 7-14-blue dragon-1024-fly

With more frequent visits from Lord and Lady Wren, I’d say the activity is definitely picking up around Swiss Chalet.  I’m straining my eyes, trying to see if they are carrying anything in their beaks.  The appetites of young wrens definitely make their parents a gardener’s best friend!  More on their menu next time.

July 7-14-Wren-1024


Ear Funnels – July 5-2014

Going out to fill the hummingbird feeder, two evening primroses said Good Morning!  They had opened at dusk the previous evening, unfolding from a bud to a full flower within a minute or so.  Because I was up with the birds, their frocks were still as lovely as when they unfurled in the moonlight.  In a few short hours, however, they will shrivel into unsightly blobs.  The speed of their deterioration is as surprising as the speed at which they open! 

July 5-14-evening primroses-1024

The tree frog was lurking between the shed doors again this morning, but I opened them very carefully . . . stealthily would be more like it . . .  so as not to disturb him. 

Shortly afterward, a stately butterfly came by to see what was so special about this shed and its doors.  I doubt very much if she would ever consider spending the night between its doors!  I forgot to ask her which  newspaper she was doing an editorial for, but she looked like a very precise journalist, if you ask me, and believed in first-hand observations, the hands-on type, you know.

July 5-14-butterfly-1024-on shed

What a day for hanging out the sheets!  No humidity.  Blue sky.  Zephyr breezes.  Even the worst old grump in Waterloo County wouldn’t be able to come up with a complaint about the weather if you paid him a fortune!  The miracle of it all is that in spite of all the pollution in our modern age, sheets on the line smell so sweet when you bring them inside.  Our Maker has some amazing secrets!  

June 21-14-wash-1024-cr-best

A couple near Princeton graciously let us come out this afternoon so Mr. McD could take photos of their American Black and Tan Coonhound. Mr. McD is working on a sculpture of a barefoot back-woods hunter who is slumped against a tree stump, sleeping, rifle on a rock nearby, and his faithful hunting dog at his side. 

What a patient model Molly was (I think that was her name).  Pictures from all angles were taken.  These hounds have amazing noses, and during competitions, they must follow very precise rules.  A bunch of coonhounds are released at the same time, and must run without yapping.  As soon as one of them picks up the scent of a coon, he gives one bark.  When he gets to the tree where the racoon is located, then another set of commands takes over, and he howls incessantly, standing on his hind legs with his front paws on the tree trunk as high as possible. 

There is no shooting in this sport – just keen competition to see which dog has superior scent- identifying ability.  The coonhound can move his long silky ears in such a way that they funnel scent toward his nose.  The owner showed us the pedigrees, and many award certificates in varying categories won in Canada and the States by his coonhounds.

Best of all, these short-haired, just-the-right size dogs, though not so well known, make wonderful house pets!  When Molly looked at me, her golden eyes beamed love and acceptance.  Know how good that feels?

July 5-14-coon hound-1024

Lady Wren assured us that everything was OK at Cedar Hollow while we were away this afternoon.  She reported that a black spotted dragonfly spent a bit of time sunning himself on the gate, and that a blue darning needle zipped by, checking out the pond.  The Grand River is beyond the woods a good piece.  Is it possible that the darning needle has a good nose, too, and that’s how it found our pond?  There’s one thing sure . . . it doesn’t have long ears that help pick up scent!

July 5-14-L.Wren at S-1024


Spooked! July 4-2014

Preparing batches of Ontario strawberries for freezer jam, I stemmed them while sitting on the lawn swing.  One can’t stay indoors when there’s so much going on around Cedar Hollow.  I might miss something!

After Lady Wren popped into the Swiss Chalet, she treated herself to a brief stroll on the Walnut Boardwalk, stretching her legs.  You’ve heard the adage, Whistle while you work.  Well, Lady Wren’s is Sing while you walk!  She did a splendid rendition of “Oh What A Beautiful Morning!” 

July 4-14-L.Wren on lg-1024

 Going to the lower garden shed for something, I got spooked out of my wits!  Unlatching the doors, something wet brushed against my fingers and landed kerplop on the patio!  Yikes!  The tree frog!  This little tyke, for some unknown reason, likes to hide in between the two doors!  He’s a flat frog, all right, but is he that flat?  He played this trick on us last year, and the year before that . . . . and now I get the willies whenever I have to put  something in the  shed!

July 4-14-flat frog-808

Below is a picture taken maybe eight years ago of his great, great, great, great, great grandfather, hanging onto a stalk of aloe vera near the pond.  Tree frogs make the most beautiful calls, much different than the ordinary frog.  When this little one gets old enough to “sing,” I’ll try to record him for you.

July 4-14-on aloe vera 5 yr. ago

After supper, Lloyd cleaned out the chickadees’ nursery in Cedar Shake.  What a shock!  All we saw were twigs.  No soft blanket anywhere!  I guess bits of fine grass are good enough for baby chickadees, but I didn’t see much of that either.  Now, don’t you go knitting up blankees for chickadees, ‘cause they won’t use them!  You’ll be just wasting your time.  Sorry about that.

July 4-14-cleaned out-1024-chickadee nursery


Peek-a-boo – July 3, 2014

Just before a gentle shower began in late morning, Lady Wren emerged from Swiss Chalet, following a brief stop-in.  Don’t you wish she could tell us how many eggs she is tending now? 

July 3-14-emerging-1024-fr Swiss Chalet

Later in the day, I saw Lady Wren gathering sticks.  She certainly is determined to fortify the door of her nursery.  We’ve all heard of a baby snatcher this year who walked right into a maternity ward disguised as a nurse, so you can’t really blame Lady Wren for taking precautions.

Throughout the day, we heard Lord Wren coming and going.  His jacket may be a little darker than Lady Wren’s, but the easiest way to identify him is by the bass notes he warbles at the end of his song. 

We may be seeing more domestic scenes like this one during the next little spell.                                                     Peek-a-boo!  I see you!

July 3-14-Peek-a-1024-boo

Bounce the Hummer slaked his thirst at Cedar Hollow several times.  I hate to say it, but he wears me out!  He takes a sip, bounces six inches into the air, down for another sip . . . up and down like a ping pong ball!  Maybe he is hyperactive, poor chap.  Goodness knows I don’t put any red food colouring in his nectar. 

Shoulder power- 1024-Aug.4-13


Supersonic Mach-3’s – July 2, 2014

The black walnut tree has been expanding its lush canopy.  Mr. McD hauled out the loppers and removed the ends of a few branches that were beginning to obstruct our view of the Swiss Chalet and the activities of Lord and Lady Wren.  Now get this straight.  We’re not into any espionage business.  We just like to follow them on Twitter!  ♫♪♪

July 2-14-pruning-1024-walnut boughs

The line of vision from our lookout on the lawn swing is now clear.  Isn’t it fascinating how the wrens put a protective barrier at their front door?  Wonder what security company they’re signed up with?

July 2-14-unobstructed-1024-view now

The subdivision at Cedar Hollow received refreshing showers in the late afternoon.  It seems the hens and chickens succulents are pretty serious about guarding the edge of the pond.  I don’t know who gave them their marching orders, but during the last few days, they have gone all out erecting sturdy guard towers.   Can you spot them poking up in the centre front?

July 2-14-Subdivision-1024-2-Cedar Hollow after rain

Here is a close-up:

July 2-14-Guard-1024-owers

Below is a picture of a hummingbird that just flew out of sight! 

July 2-14-pix of hummer-1024-just passed out of sight

Well, it’s not my fault.  I have no idea why the hummingbird didn’t exercise a modicum of courtesy and let me know which direction he was heading in.  I didn’t have a ghost of a chance to click him as he sipped for a split second at the newly opened hosta flower in the back flowerbed . . . and it wasn’t even red! 

I didn’t come up with this clever “out of sight” saying.  As kids at school, we had a good laugh when we saw someone put such a caption at the bottom of a page in a friend’s autograph book:   Above is a picture of a plane that just flew out of sight!

 I doubt if the hummingbird was impressed by the acrobatics performed at last weekend’s air show, smoke plumes and all.  Those man-made contraptions can’t touch his abilities.  After imbibing at the feeder, he often executes a supersonic Mach-3 straight up!  He’s at the top of the walnut tree before you can blink an eye—and there’s no sonic boom either!

Hi!  I'm coming in for a sip!-1024- Aug


Before or after picture? June 20, 2014

Two things happened when I stepped out the door to refill the hummingbird feeder this morning:

     I heard Lady Wren’s Good Morning song


    I saw the beginnings of a hornet’s nursery lying on the sidewalk.  Where did it come from?    Usually you can spot where it had originally been attached.  We have seen black-coloured hornets taking a sip around the pond now and then, and they haven’t bothered us at all.  They cunningly construct the delicate tissue-paper walls from saliva and wood pulp, but  I don’t think our wood deck will disappear any time soon. 

June 30-14-hornet's-1024-nest

Like yesterday, I could hear Lady Wren singing from every corner of the neighbourhood.  As her song drew nearer to Cedar Hollow, I got the camera on the ready.

Sure enough, after her arrival in the black walnut tree, she popped inside Swiss Chalet.  The obstruction of twigs she has placed by her front door didn’t slow down her entry in the least.  Nothing slows her down! 

Apparently she builds the bowl of her nest toward the back of the box.  It’s thought that wrens use spider egg sacs to help control mites in the nest.  The spiders hatch and eat the mites!

 Now, is this a picture of Lady Wren just after she laid her daily egg . . .  or had she laid the egg at the crack of dawn and then proclaimed it from the neighbourhood treetops?  Don’t you wish you knew?

June 30-14-Wren emerges-1024- onto doorstep

 I’m so glad Lady Wren chose the Swiss Chalet with its cool, leafy canopy overhead to protect her and the egg-babes from the current heat wave.


The Poppies Blow – June 28, 2014

From the north, then the south, now the east, next the west . . . from every corner of the neighbourhood you could hear Lady Wren bubbling out her songs.  Was she reminding everyone that this was the beginning of the long-anticipated July 1st weekend, Canada Day, or . . . was she announcing that she had just laid an egg in Swiss Chalet?

Lady Wren noted that Mr. and Mrs. McD took their breakfast coffee out to the swing.  She heard them reading out loud to each other by turns about what happened 100 years ago this very day: 

 June 28, 1914

Archduke of Austria was shot


 And to think, mused Lady Wren, the soldier-doctor from Guelph mentioned my second cousins in his famous poem, In Flanders Fields, right in the first verse: 

 In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

The larks certainly were brave, said Lady Wren.  They knew that if a wounded soldier heard their song . . . even just a note or two . . . it might give him enough courage to do whatever he had to do next . . . the next duty for his country.

June 13-Poppies, orange,1024-Riverside Park

Now, let me see.  I’d better check the nursery again.  It’s dreadful when you can’t read your own writing.  Did I put down 5 layettes or 8?

June 28-14-dbl-1024

Speaking of hearing, the water lily confided that the frequent remark people make when they meet or greet her is always about how peaceful and serene she makes them feel. 

Well, that means I do more than provide green docks for frogs and landing pads for dragonflies.  As I float, I can emanate peace in the language of whoever looks at me.  That makes me multi-lingual, doesn’t it? 

June 28-14-waterlily-1024


And the winner is . . . .

Now wouldn’t you think folks would ask me which house Lady Wren has chosen?  After all, it’s happening right under my very nose.

June 27-14-Red-1014

 When ladies start measuring the size of the nursery, and figuring out just how many blankets and layettes they need to prepare, I’d say the guessing game is over. 

June 27-14-How many-1024-blankets-2

Yes, Sir, the winner is the Swiss Chalet!!   And doesn’t Lady Wren look contented?

June 27-14-wren at S-1024 If one of the babies is colicky, she won’t even have to rock it.  The breezes will take care of that so gently.  Ah, yes, I’d say Lady Wren picked the best house in the subdivision!

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the many write-ups about wrens on Google, I came across something quite remarkable.   In 1921, in the Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music,  F. Schuyler Mathews wrote out the score for the song of the wren.  I think it was the male’s score , . . because Lady Wren does not end her songs on the low notes as shown in this music.  Oh my no.  Lady Wren  projects joy!  And like all expectant mothers, she seems to have that  glow about her!  You know what I mean, don’t you?

Eenie Meenie Miney Moe

The early morning sun filtered through the pine woods and into the quiet subdivision at Cedar Hollow.

June 26-14-a.m. light-1024

Lloyd and I took our breakfast coffee out to the lawn swing to see what was going on.  Presently, Lady Wren inspected the Swiss Chalet.

June 26-14-Swiss Chalet-smaller than 1024

In no time at all, she flitted over to Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane.  H-m-m-m.  We could almost hear her going, Eenie Meenie Miney Moe . .as she tried to make up her mind which home to choose.  What all was going through her little noggin?

June 26-14-Wren on roof CS-1024

So the selection has boiled down to two houses, has it? 

The tiny brown bird paid no attention at all to the stylish Château de la Gourde gleaming in the sun.  After all, she thought of herself as a plain little bird, even though she was betrothed to one of the finest tenors in  the whole wide world.  To tell you the truth, Lady Wren did not want to be classed with those uppity-up folks who act as though they are a notch above others just because they live in a fancy house.  No way!

My husband had an eye appointment mid-morning, so I can’t vouch for what went on at Cedar Hollow a bit later.

On the way home, we purchased a black shepherd’s crook at the local hardware store, and pushed its pronged feet into the middle of the sidewalk garden.  A phone call or two turned up the possibility of assistance from one of the wood carvers who gather at a seniors’ club.  Our request next week will be: 

Route the words “Cedar Hollow”
into the surface of a flat piece of driftwood
hauled home from Bonaire 30 years ago. 

It’s about time this place had proper signage like every other respectable subdivision, don’t you agree?



So that’s what he was up to! June 25-14

Good old Google shed some light on this strange business of playing musical houses.  Apparently, as part of the courtship ritual, the male wren begins building several nests in a nearby area, laying just their foundations.  Then he spends his time high up in the trees, singing to attract a mate.  And does he ever sing!  600 songs per hour! 

Situated in a quiet subdivision in Cedar Hollow are the three housing choices Lord Wren offered his ladylove, which you have seen before.  Left to right:

    Swiss Chalet

    Château de la Gourde

    Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane

June 25-14-subdivision-1024

Now which nest do you think Lady Wren will finally choose?  Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane would be the safest.  Nothing can climb up that fat old PVC pipe, can it?  Swiss Chalet would be the coolest, that’s for sure, shaded by the walnut boughs.  But  Château de la Gourde has got class.   

 Well, it’s up to Lady Wren, and that’s that.  Once she has made her choice, she will finish building the nest.  Now, don’t be surprised.   I have it on good authority that she got her carpentry papers from Conestoga College with right good marks!  When the house is finished, Lady Wren will settle down and knit the softest blankets you can imagine from feathers, hair, spider cocoons, wool, strips of bark, rootlets, moss . . . and even trash.

 “Is there anything down there that I could use?” 

June 25-14-on fence-1024-looking down

 A few moments later, Lady Wren flew by with something long and white in her beak. 

 Now, whatever is that white gob on the outside of Cedar Shake? I wondered.  Going closer to it, lo and behold, it was a soft spider cocoon!  Lady Wren  just epoxied it onto the outside of her house for a few moments until she was ready to stitch it into her blanket

June 25-14-spider bedding-1024

I kind of think that means that Cedar Shake is Lady Wren’s choice, don’t you?  I’ve been fooled before, as you know, so stay tuned for further developments!

Playing Musical Houses – June 24, 2014

It was too humid to be out in the garden much yesterday, but when I went to fill the hummingbird feeder, I heard no conversations whatever coming from Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane.  I saw no fast-food deliveries by Mr. or Mrs. Chickadee.  Yes, the chickadee youngsters have flown the coup, and we missed the fun of watching their maiden flights.      

This morning on our break, who should we see on Cedar Shake’s rooftop but Lady Wren!

June 24-14-wren-1024-roof

“I always did like the look of this place!  In fact, I had my eye on it before Mr. and Mrs. Chickadee did.  Well, they gave the landlord their notice Sunday night, so now it’s mine, mine at last.   I know it doesn’t have a front porch like the Swiss Chalet, but you can’t have everything, no, you can’t.  Well, there’s no time to waste.  I’ve got to whir up my wings and get some furniture hauled in before someone else makes a down payment on it.  Possession is nine-tenths of the law, they say.”

We watched Lady Wren in disbelief.  Lloyd had seen her when she first looked the place over a few weeks ago.  Then, the first thing we knew,  she had begun carrying building materials into Château de la Gourde.  But the very day after John hung the Swiss Chalet in the black walnut tree, she gave it a brief inspection, and claimed the Chalet for her residence!  Lady Wren spent several days hauling in the makings of a bassinette and rocking chair.  She especially seemed to enjoy its front porch, even though its dimensions were quite narrow.  Before retiring for the night, she often sang a goodnight hymn there.  

Well, there’s just no telling what ladies fancy when it comes to housing! There’s not a lazy bone in Lady Wren, and she seems determined now to set up housekeeping  in the house of her dreams.

Had we any idea that Lady Wren would move over to Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane, Lloyd would have given the house a thorough cleaning.  Ah well, there’s no stopping her now.

We watched as she manoeuvred long twigs through the front door, dropped some, picked them up again, and poked them inside.

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I heard her chirp something that didn’t surprise me in the least.  I could tell by the perky angle of her tail that this was her philosophy:

 Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” 

Had she overheard me telling John that my mother used to say that?  One day my mother told me that her mother and her grandmother both held it as their motto.  Great advice!  When you see a little wren going at it hammer and tong building a nest, remember that these words of wisdom were no doubt passed down to her, too.

Lady Wren paused briefly at her front door. 

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“Ah, yes, I do like this place! There’s such a view from here! I can see what’s going in the yards on either side, I can see right out to the street, the McD’s side door, and if that mangy old cat so much as sets a paw around here, I’ll be the first to know!  I believe there’s something to that realtor’s spiel after all:  Location, location, location! 

Warm showers of rain fell now and then during the afternoon.  Robin Jr. spent some time in the front yard spa cooling off. 

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“My, but that felt good!” he declared.

What was under that hat?

Some of you have seen the winter hat on the left before, pompom and all:

Rose blanket Jan. 25-2014

Let’s pull it off . . . and see what it was protecting:

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Amazingly, there was no die-back on the end of the rose canes, most of which were about 18” tall.  The canes were completely green, thanks to the snow’s insulation.  Here are some of the David Austin roses that were sleeping under that woolly hat.  Take a sniff of the spicy perfume offered from their  delicate chalices!

June 20-14-2 David-1024-2-Austin roses-pink

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Climbing Rose by our side door was put to sleep last fall with the same type of ‘comforter’ as the tea roses – a foot thick of dry maple leaves dragged home by the bagful from some of the neighbours’ curbs.  Not being surrounded with a sheltering hedge, the climber didn’t receive a wool hat.  This winter’s lower than usual temperatures killed all of its 4’ canes!  They were deader than a mackerel!  Never mind.  Sir Wilfrid Laurier got busy and pushed up new shoots from the ground.  Three cheers for its progress so far!

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Its blooms look more like tea roses than climbers, don’t you think?

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Below is one of its full-blown flowers.  It thinks it will make a rose hip for future propagation, and doesn’t know that pruning shears will relieve it of the effort.  After all, appearance is everything when it comes to roses, don’t you agree? 

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Ring the bells!

Cedar Hollow had been all too quiet for two whole days, two long, rather sad days. 

And then the joyous melody of the wren rang out from the leafy treetops.  Lady Wren popped inside the Swiss Chalet.  When she emerged and sat on her perch, the coral bells by the pond rang and clanged out a most hearty “Welcome home!!”

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           I don’t have any idea what all this fuss is about, Lady Wren seemed to say.  After I laid my eggs, I left for a rest at Granny’s on the other side of town.  This is my first family, you know, and I had so many questions to ask her.  She smiled when I told her how beautiful the creamy-white eggs looked, all speckled with tiny reddish-brown squiggles.

          “Be sure and turn them over every day, my dear,” Granny said, as she gathered me under her soft wing and hugged me good bye.

June 21-14-wren-1024-on perch

Mrs. Chickadee flew down by the lighthouse.  It was plain to see that she had something to say to us as we sipped iced-tea on the lawn swing.

          Just keep the camera handy, folks.  My babies will be flying the nest any time now, and I don’t want you to miss it!

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Presently, in the doorway of Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane, Chick No. 1 appeared, and then disappeared.  He was as big as his mother, and looked just like her.  Or did he take after his father?  I can’t be sure.  Soon he was back.

          Oh my, he cheeped.  So this is the big wide world Mom and Dad have been telling us about. And that’s the wood fence they said is the closest landing pad.  But it’s SO-O-O far down.  No, I’m not ready for a test flight, not yet.  I’ll let Junior No. 2 or 3 or 4 try it first.  And besides, I couldn’t concentrate on which wing to flap first with all these noisy grackles about the place.

June 22-14-baby-1024-chicakadee looks out

 With that, he disappeared once more, and a black curtain was drawn across the doorway.

Chick No. 1 was right.  Cedar Hollow was literally invaded this afternoon!  A family of haughty grackles barged in!June 22-14-grackle-1024-at bSeveral of them strutted about the lawn with their mouths gaping wide open.  What a sight for sore eyes!  They made me hot just to look at them!  Two or three at a time crowded into the small bird bath for a drink and then a splash-about!    

One brave grackle did his ablutions in the pond, standing on a rock close to the surface.  Why, they practically took over the place!

June 22-14-grackle-1024-in pond

 Well, I’d better brush out the bird bath and fill it up again with clean water!   Anyway, Lady Wren is back, and all is right with the world! 

Don’t under estimate the power of the bean! June 19, 2014

Walking past the row of beans in the sidewalk garden when I left to pick up some painting canvases the other day, I noted one pale green loop raising its head.  By the time I got back, the loop displayed an open bean and  two robust  young leaves.  Now that’s moving, folks!

June 19-14-bean-1024-sprouted

It’s too quiet.  Has Lady Wren got laryngitis?  Or is she sitting on some eggs and enjoying a well deserved rest?  Lloyd thought he heard her singing at 4:30 this morning. Oh my.  What’s going on around here?

I think Father Robin overheard my concerns about our quiet garden, and decided to do something about it.  He flew up to the topmost tip of a tall but skinny spruce tree two doors down (the kind of spruce you see further north), and filled the air with score after score of thrilling music.

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Enjoy Scott Green’s recording of an American Robin.  Never mind the rude old dog that chips in now and then.  

Often at dusk, Father Robin sings evening vespers, blessing the entire neighbourhood with his repertoire, ending with . . . And to you, a good night.

It was the flowerbed on the right side of the small steps going up from the pond that got some attention this morning.  The first day lily of the season bloomed forth in solid gold tones!

During some heavy downpours of rain late yesterday afternoon, the roses gathered their gowns about them, and they seemed no worse for wear this morning.

I wish you could inhale the exquisite perfume in the heart of the white roses.

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The red rose has no scent to thrill you, and I know that sometimes she struggles with an inferiority complex because of that.  But I overheard her whisper to her sibling buds:

          Never mind. No one has written a poem about a white rose,
but everyone knows what Scotland’s poet Robbie Burns

My love’s  like a red, red rose! 

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To be seen or not seen – June 18, 2014

“I’m next,” a little voice cheeped from somewhere within Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane.  Frazzled Father Chickadee caught his breath on the fence for a moment before delivering his treat.  He looked as worn out as his wife!

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“Go get your breakfast at the sunflower feeder, Papa,” I said coaxingly.  “The youngsters will just have to wait a moment, that’s all.” 

He paid no heed.  No sooner had he delivered his pizza, when he flew straight over to the Maple’s Staples just beyond the north corner of the yard to round up more grub.   

 I was out early this morning, cultivating the left upward-sloping flowerbed by the pond.  For some odd reason, each year the corkscrew hazel has contrary upstarts popping up on her left side.  They do not want to grow kinky like their mother, but get hold of that straightening stuff, and stick straight up! What a rebellious lot!  I gave them a talking to before I snipped them off.

June 18-14-corkscrew-1024- hazel

Beside Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane, the mock orange bush has begun to bloom.  Its blossoms have the same delightful scent as the flowers of its namesake – the orange tree – which eventually provided the marmalade we enjoyed at breakfast! 

June 18-14-mock-1024- orange

The climbing hydrangea has put on its best frock yet!  Maybe more sunlight came its way after the neighbours on the south side of our property cut down a huge hawthorn tree.

June 18-114-gate-1024-hydrangea

On a house tour at Puslinch Lake a few summers ago, Lloyd and I saw a gigantic hydrangea blooming, which completely covered a cottage.  It was unforgettably beautiful! 

The hydrangea’s flower saucers have a sense of humour, and must be teaching a few of their tiny members to overcome stage fright:

           Just step right out!

          Put your little foot out, right out,

                    and let them see you!

June 18-14-hydrangea-1024- bloom

How to make rodents paranoid – June 16, 2014

A clump of foxgloves takes the spotlight in a round bed of pinky-mauvy astilbe, encircled by carrots and swiss chard.  Veggies always taste better when planted in circles.  You knew that, didn’t you?

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Now, who is snooping around here?  Why, it’s Zip the Chip! 

           Whatever is this?  Am I hearing things or what? 

No, he isn’t.  He is checking out a Go’pher It II which we dug into the flowerbed.  It is simply a long metal tube containing four “C” batteries which emit a beep every few seconds.  The theory is that it makes ground rodents paranoid!  They roll up their tents and leave.  The beep can’t be heard above ground, but it makes rodents think another critter may be burrowing in the ground toward them, and they’re not about to wait around to find out who!

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