Eating in the rain! – July 28, 2014

The rain came down by the bucketful last night.  In fact, Kitchener received 71 cm of rainfall overnight. 

It’s amazing how flowers can be pummelled, and yet withstand the assault quite well.  The lily on the hosta was probably in bud form during the downpour, so suffered no damage to her star-dusted gown.  Do bend over and enjoy the hosta’s perfume whenever you are near one.  Would you believe that it is similar to lily of the valley?

July 28-14-Hosta lily-size OK

The rain continued until shortly before noon.  A goldfinch braved it over to her favourite take-out counter, and didn’t bother to bring an umbrella along!  If you look closely, you may be able to see the slant of the rain on the left.    

July 28-14-goldfinch eats in rain-1024

I put on a hooded jacket in order to fill up the hummingbird feeder, and chatted a moment with my neighbour who was also out and about in rubber boots.  She reported that baby robin was doing well.  He sleeps in his crib in her bedroom.  Hopefully the weather will be warmer tomorrow, and she will let me take a picture of him.  His name is Czechoslovakian:  Pipinka.  

While I was picking the green beans before supper, a pair of goldfinches spent some time around the pond while Mr. McD was taking a break.  He reported that Mrs. Goldfinch perched on the end of a rock,  leaned over so far that Mr. McD was sure she would fall in, and took a couple of drinks next to a lily pad. 

I hope she hasn’t been influenced by all the advertising hype about the big-sized drinks these days.  She could easily have drank from one of the two bird baths, but, no, she had to go to the BIG POND to drink . . . and it wasn’t even hot outside!   Mr. Goldfinch watched her from the top of the shepherd’s crook that holds the hummingbird feeder.   Before they left, Mrs. Goldfinch checked out the yellow daisies towering over the bird house called Cedar Shake on Black Pole Lane.  

Butterball, the Grey Squirrel, cut through Cedar Hollow on his way into the woods.

July 28-14-grey squirrel on gate-1024

The sun was out once more by mid afternoon.  A white butterfly that has been flitting around all summer, refusing to alight on anything long enough to click a picture, now tried out about every chair or soft lounge she could find in Cedar Hollow!  Whatever got into her?   Here she is putting her feet up on the blue ageratum:

July 28-14-w. butterfly on ageratum

Next, she tried out the lazyboy in the purple petunia patch.  M-m-m-m.  It felt like velvet!

And then her afternoon visitation really got daring.  She stopped in to say hello to one of the waterlilies!  Why, I doubt if she even had an invitation, but that didn’t stop her.  

July 28-14-w.butterfly on w-1024

Maybe she is thinking of going water skiing one of these days, and wanted to size up the pond for herself.  It’s hard to measure things when you’re zigzagging past everything and you don’t seem to have a straight gear.

“You know,”  she whispered,“I feel ever so much better now.  Tell the folks that it really does pay to slow down and smell the hostas . . . or the waterlilies.”

 

Fighter jet zooms into action at Cedar Hollow! – July 27, 2014

Have you ever felt like you were under attack?  I’m sure these golden lilies do.  Look carefully at a leaf between the middle lily and the one on the right.  I think you will see the tiny villain . . . the colour often associated with you know who . . . but you can’t see his pitchfork.  Nonetheless, the lilies are not going down without first bequeathing to the world what they have been preparing all winter:  a perfume of rarest loveliness.

July 27-14-yellow lilies-1024The Treefrog was up to his old tricks of scaring the wits out of me.  Opening the shed door, there he was inside its edge.  He needn’t think I wouldn’t recognize him just because he had changed into his jacket of light grey!  We were on our way to church.  Maybe I should have invited him to come along, seeing as he was all dressed up.

Cedar Hollow had many visitors this afternoon, including a white-throated sparrow! I do hope he sticks around.  He is such a beautiful singer!

July 27-14-white throated sparrow-1024

Most of the visitors were quite civil.  Most . . . but not all, and I’ll get to that in a minute.

 A pair of cardinals careened in and out of the yard, and a large butterfly wearing a plain orange gown paused to rest on a step near the pond.

Please excuse Father Robin’s back.  His manners are generally impeccable, but this afternoon he is intent on training his youngsters, and simply has no time for the camera.  

July 27-14-robin on fence-size OK

His offspring is almost as big as he is, but not half as handsome.  In fact, don’t you think he’s kind of gangly looking?

July 27-14-young robin-2

His messy, speckled vest looks like something he picked up at a flea market!  The poor chap is hungry, and is trying to follow his father’s instructions about how to find tube steaks!

Lord and Lady Wren are practically wearing out the hinges on the front door of the Swiss Chalet these days.  Their youngsters’ appetites are very demanding. 

And then, without warning, it happened!!  Fasten your seatbelts, folks!

A white-breasted nuthatch landed on the branch from which the Swiss Chalet is suspended. 

July 27-14-nuthatch-1024

He had the audacity to poke his face right into the front door of the Swiss Chalet!  Mr. McD and I gasped!! 

Lord Wren revved up the engine of his fighter-jet!

July 27-14-wren looks down-1024

Down ‘round the forsythia, through an opening in the gate’s lattice, out into the big forest Lord Wren chased him!  Who knows how far the feisty Wren tailed the nuthatch who never flew so fast in all his life.  The thin beak of Lord Wren is a fearsome sword.  I dare say the nuthatch is still having nightmares over that blunder.  

Supplementing Baby Robin’s Diet – July 26, 2014

You wanted to know where our neighbour found that little bird, didn’t you?  At her hairdresser’s!  Where else would such a tousled looking individual go?  He didn’t exactly “go,” but found himself plopped on her front lawn, nest and all!  Perhaps the wind dislodged his mud-walled abode from the tree.  Perhaps a mean old coon did, or one of those always-in-a-hurry squirrels.

Anyway, when the hairdresser asked if he wanted a haircut, he simply cheeped, “No thanks.  I need a momma to look after me.”  He gave a little shiver.

 And that’s when my good neighbour, who was at the hairdresser’s, volunteered to take him home.

Chatting with her out of the window this morning, she said she caught a mosquito when she was preparing some scrambled eggs for him, and added it to the mix!  She kept his adobe-style nest in the nursery box so that he has familiar surroundings.   

Meanwhile, Lord and Lady Wren are pulling long-g-g shifts, caring for their youngsters.  Mind you, they’re not complaining.  Whoever heard a wren complain?

July 26-14-wren-1024

The bee balm patches continue to be a fountain of refreshing sweetness for the hummers.

July 26-14-Hummer, left-1024-approach

Mr. McD got some odd jobs done today, both of which required him to climb on a stepladder, new knee and all.  A garden topper purchased a few years ago at the Stratford Garden Festival was installed on the clothesline pole.
July 26-14-topper on clothesline-1024- pole

The upper shed had its hatpin put back on, which was taken off last summer when Mr. McD tarred the roof.

July 26-14-crown-1024-on shed

I have no news to report on Mr. and Mrs. Treefrog.  They must have taken off on a day trip or something.   

Later this afternoon, my neighbour said that she thought the baby robin’s excrement was a bit loose, so she went to the pet store and got something for that, and also bought a jar of worms.  She must have his meal right ready before she pulls back the covers because the moment she does that, his mouth flies wide open!   By the time she also gives a tiny taste to her gentle Rottweiler . . . baby robin has dropped off to sleep.  This growing up business is mighty hard work!

By the way, when awake, he is already walking around! Worms must be super nutritious, but I don’t think I’ll give them a try.  I’ll just make that observation, OK, because I’m just way too busy.  However, if you add a worm or two to your scrambled eggs some morning, do email me and let me know if you experience a BURST OF ENERGY!   You’ll never know if you don’t try, will you? 

Snuggled in a blanket; snuggled in paper towel – July 25, 2014

One of the routine tasks around Cedar Hollow is making bread – an eight-loaf recipe made with one-third whole wheat flour, plus a heaping cup of ground flax seed.  A dear Polish lady who had fled two invasions in Europe before immigrating to Canada told me a secret about rising the dough:  After it is kneaded, place in into a large, greased bowl, cover it with a damp towel, put into a rocking chair with padded cushions (no other chair will do), and snuggle it round about with a blanket.  It never fails to rise in a short time.  Thank you, dear Linda!

By the way, she is also the lady who gave me some Evening Primrose plants – the ones with yellow flowers that pop open at dusk –  and also a Christmas Rose.   What delight these plants have brought to us and to friends who have received some of their offspring. 

Linda also gave me something else . . . a reminder . . . of how blessed we are to have been born in Canada.  Many times her eyes filled with tears and her voice broke as she would say, “I thank God every day that I am in Canada.”

I wonder how many of us have said those words or something similar?

While Mr. McD and I sat on the lawn swing for our morning break, Bounce the Hummer decided he would take a nectar break, and sat on a leaf in the bee balm patch!

July 25-14-Hummer sitting-1024-on bee balm leaf

John came over after work to help trim some of the hedging in Cedar Hollow that is more difficult to reach, requiring someone steady on a ladder on uneven ground. (Mr. McD’s knee replacement was only four months ago.)  Who should John spy on top of a shepherd’s crook but Mrs. Tree Frog!  Her jacket isn’t as lumpy-bumpy as the one that Mr. Tree Frog wears, and she isn’t quite as large.  I do believe she was trying to get a tan on her pale legs.

July 25-14-another tree frog-1024

As we were eying the side of the cedar hedge up and down to make sure it was vertically straight, our neighbour came out with a cardboard box in her hands.  Inside, snuggled on soft paper towelling, was her newest charge.  “What do you think it is?” she asked. 

July 25-14-baby robin-1024

“A robin,” was my reply.  My neighbour said that after she rescued the cold wee bird, so weak it had only one eye open, a call to the Humane Society assured her that, yes, she should go ahead and try to save the little songbird.  Having successfully nurtured an orphaned chickadee when her son was a little boy, she cooked up some scrambled eggs for it. 

“Come now.  Open up,” she coaxed, touching its large beak.  We watched.  The beak opened WIDE . . . and she put in a bit of scrambled egg. 

“Oh, he needs a diaper,” she  apologized, as whitish excrement popped out.  “In and out”, she laughed.  And so it was.

My neighbour told me that her Rottweiler was interested in the household’s tiniest member.  She carefully let him sniff it.  He gave his approval immediately. Don’t you wonder how the friendship will develop between the pin-feathered mite and the powerful mutt?  Stay tuned.

 

The parsley worked its magic! – July 24 – 2014

Pokers of hosta flowers seemed transformed into silk by the morning light filtering through the forest’s leafy canopy.

July 24-14-hosta blooms-1024

When the hummingbird imbibes from one of the fragrant hosta lilies, he has to enter so far into the flower that he looks like he is wearing an elfin hat!  My photo of this was too blurry to share, but here he is homing in on the bee balm, which he will be sipping from in a nanosecond!

July 24-14-hummer-1024

The wrens’ repertoire has shrunk considerably since they started the demanding feeding schedule.  Come to think of it, Mr. McD and I didn’t have time for symphonies either when we were raising our three youngsters!

Today I picked the first-fruits of the green beans – a whole bowlful, in fact!   They are thriving in the sidewalk garden just in front of the Cedar Hollow sign.

July 24-14-first green beans-1024

A new visitor arrived today, and not a bit too soon.  The black swallowtail butterfly confided that the bee balm nectar was absolutely delectable!  She couldn’t get enough of it!

July 24-14-Black Swallowtail sip-1024-ping

Mrs. Swallowtail bravely copes with a disability, having lost her lower right wing.

July 24-14-lower r-size OK

After flitting about the bee balm patch and sipping to her heart’s content, she headed for the parsley that I had moved to the upper knoll in anticipation of just such a visit.  Now, how do you think she located the parsley in Cedar Hollow?  It’s not like we have a yard full of it.  You can see her laying eggs, one at a time.  They are pale yellow in colour.

July 24-14-Swallowtail lays eggs on parsley

Caterpillars will emerge in 3-5 days.  If the wrens don’t spot them, they will gorge on the parsley, and then hang from a silken girdle inside a rather ugly looking chrysalis in some secluded spot.  After overwintering in the paperlike tomb, it will miraculously emerge in spring as an elegant butterfly, a black swallowtail!

Swallowtails are the state butterfly of Oklahoma, U.S.A.   Besides parsley, they like dill, caraway, celery, and sweet fennel, and wild Queen Anne’s Lace.  Unlike the Monarch butterfly, whose favourite food, the milkweed plant, is being eradicated by harmful pesticides, there seems to be an abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace everywhere you look.  The future looks bright, indeed, for these midnight beauties.

Navigational system par excellence! – July 23, 2014

Bright and early this morning, the wrens were shopping for babyfood, baby wren food, that is – on the roof of the shed, among the hostas, the lilac bushes, and the trees of the forest.  Fresh, mind you, following the guidelines of buying locally produced food within a one hundred-yard radius of Cedar Hollow.  None of that imported stuff for their family!

July 23-14-wren A big improvement was underway at Cedar Hollow today.  Our next-door neighbour had a new fence installed all the way around her yard so that her companion dog will have a place to play.  He is a hefty Rottweiler, but under her loving care and guidance, is friendly and well mannered.  The new fence between us is a handsome one, indeed.  Its five foot height will hopefully discourage deer from getting in and chomping down the cedars.   (They’ve been known to do that before!)  I’m already dreaming of planting sweet peas along one section of the fence next spring! 

July 23-14-men installing fence

You’re not tired of seeing bee balm, are you?  Bounce the hummer isn’t!  Just look at him responding to the “Come along, do” invitation its flowerlettes extend.  They hold the lid of their punch bottles up high, clear out of the way of thirsty hummers. 

July 23-14-hummer in bee balm

With the overnight temperature dipping low again, you almost wish you could knit little shawls for the tiny hummers.  After all, Kitchener broke a 90-year record last week with a low overnight temperature of 6.5.  No doubt the hummers wished they had never left the tropical warmth of Costa Rica!    

During such mind-boggling flights, I don’t think their GPS ever intones, “Recalculating.”   Uh uh.  Our great Creator has equipped these flying jewels, as someone aptly described them, with an unfailing navigational system the size of a pinhead . . . or half a pinhead . . . or the point of a needle . . . or . . . . . . . .

And to all a good night – July 22, 2014

Up with the birds!  

When I looked into the back yard at 6:00 this morning, there was Lady Wren entering the Swiss Chalet with a breakfast tray.   She moved so fast that I wasn’t able to figure out what was on the menu for Tuesday.   

Later as Mr. McD opened the bench by some cedar hedging to fetch out cushions for the lawn swing, who should he see but Jumpy the Tree Frog!  How on earth did he get in there with the lid closed?  But there he was, and he didn’t so much as apologize for being in the way either. 

July 22-14-tree frog in bench

Keeping the bird baths filled and clean is a must on a day as hot as this – 29 degrees!

However, I spent part of the day dabbling in snow!  And I’m not pulling your leg!  Using a thin wash of oil paint, I brushed in the shapes on canvas of a winter painting that will be titled “Blair Stone Arch.”   Covered with mounds of fluffy snow, it is located about five minutes from our home.   Well, the snow isn’t . . . but it was when I photographed it.  The quaint arch spans the Bowman/Blair Creek.  Its very shape reveals the history of the area when Scottish settlers arrived in the year 1830.

As the sun sets, it bathes the trunks of the forest’s trees in an orange glow.  Lady Wren is on her way into Swiss Chalet for the night. 

July 22-14-wren head first-1024

I have a hunch that she is about to sing this lullaby:

Day is done
Gone the sun
From the lake
From the hills
From the sky
All is well
God is nigh
Sweetly rest

As dusk settles down over Cedar Hollow, an evening primrose near the purple petunias pops open without a sound, ready to catch moonbeams in her golden cup.  The lighthouse on the rocky cliff sends forth shafts of light over the water. 

July 22-14-lighths-1024

  Good night all.

Welcome to Cedar Hollow! – July 21, 2014

What will you be aware of when you come down the walk by the sidewalk gardens?  Yes, that you have entered Cedar Hollow!  Welcome!  Welcome, indeed!

July 21-14-Cedar Hollow-1024-signInterestingly, a lady at the K-W Woodworking Shop which routed the letters for us thought that the slab of driftwood was cedar!   How long it floated in the sea before I picked it out of a pile of driftwood on Bonaire’s eastern shore, I have no idea, but I can tell you it’s been 30 years since it arrived in Canada . . . treasured . . . but waiting until now to give you this joyful announcement:  Cedar Hollow 

Across from the sign, beans are climbing up a trellis in a determined fashion.  Who would think that such pretty blossoms will soon stre-t-ch out into edibles?  We won’t have to stand on our head to pick them either!

July 21-14-Climbing Beans-1024-in flower

Some time ago, I showed you a photo of the springtime leaves of the fall crocus – long, healthy green leaves similar in shape to that of the tulip.  All of the energy from the robust leaves has now been transferred to the bulbs sleeping below.  You won’t believe how beautiful the lilac-coloured double flowers will be on their snow-white stems come October (but I’ll show you ).  And if you should ask them where their leaves are, they’ll just say, Been there.  Done that.

July 21-14-Fall Croses died-1024-back

A few times today we saw both of the wrens busy around the Swiss Chalet at the same time.  One might have gone into their house, while the other sang from somewhere.  Why, here she is on the fence, of all places!

July 21-14-Wren wire fence-1024

Bounce, the hummingbird, divided his time between the bee balm flowers  . . .

July 21-14-hummingbird sip-1024

. . . and the feeder. 

July 21-14-satisfied-1024-customer-hummer

“Aw,”  he hums, as he leans back in his chair, looking totally satisfied, “The beverage of the day is always served fresh at the McDs’.”

A delightful spa – July 18, 2014

Living at Cedar Hollow makes certain demands.  The cedar hedges have responded to generous summer rains with new growth.  Lloyd and I trimmed most of the front hedging, but there is lots more aromatic cedar scheduled for a haircut next week.

July 18-14-trim-hedge-1024-The K-W Woodworking Shop phoned to say that they had routed the lettering into the slab of driftwood.  It was ready for pickup!

                                                       Cedar Hollow

What a beautiful job Steve did!  Hopefully, we will have the finish applied by next week, and you will see where its pulpit is located.

While taking a break on the lawn swing, I was delighted to see Lady Wren alight on the trellis near Swiss Chalet.  Her choir gown was bathed in morning sunshine as she sang several songs before tending to her young brood.

July 18-14-wren by trellis-cr-size OK

Did you know that Cedar Hollow is one of the robins’ favourite spas?  First Mr. Redbreast tried out the upper bird bath.

July 18-14-robin on bird-1024-bath

Well, he thought it was rather confining.

He had bigger things in mind.  He hopped through the flowerbed . . . and you could just see his wheels turning . . .

July 18-14-robin in flowerbed-1024

. . . and then he was on the foundation of the lighthouse.  He seemed to say, “It’s hot out here, Mrs. McD.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’m rather fond of the big spa at Cedar Hollow.”

July 18-14-robin on foundation -1024-of lt

Before he doffed his stately dinner jacket, he posed by the edge of the pond for me.

July 18-14-Robin on pond -1024-rocks

Then, before I knew it, he was standing on a big lily pad.  He bent over, and had a drink.  I was surprised that it held his weight.  The next moment, he was splashing about at the edge of the pond, having a high old time in his favourite spa, flicking water in every direction!  He flew up into the walnut tree.  Perched on the big branch from which the Swiss Chalet hung, he began to dry off, stretching out his wings and preening his soggy feathers.  That ritual had to be tended to before he could  put his dinner jacket back on.  He certainly wasn’t going to pose without it, and besides, his feathers were a sight for sore eyes!  No respectable robin would appear in any blog looking like that!  No way!

 

Whistling Gardens – July 15, 2014

To celebrate our wedding anniversary, Lloyd and I struck out from Kitchener for Whistling Gardens located mid-way between Brantford and Simcoe.  Set to explore some 20 acres of botanical gardens, we armed ourselves with walking canes, sun hats, comfortable shoes, and, of course, a camera.  

July 15-14-sign to Whistling-1024-Gardens

A graceful Weeping Norway Spruce welcomed us, signalling that we wouldn’t be disappointed in what we were about to see.  We were given a map, showing the location of various gardens and special features.

July 15-14-Weeping Norway-1024-Spruce

July 15-14-cottonwood-1024- poplar

Now, ‘fess up.  Doesn’t the arm of this old Cottonwood Popular  near the entrance of the gardens make you want to climb up and sit there a spell?  

Lilies I hadn’t seen before and phlox bloom next to a hedge of dwarf Weeping Norway Spruce which the owner grafted himself.  What a handsome sight!

July 15-14-Hedge of Dwarf Weeping -1024-Norway Spruce

How’s this for a splash of colour?

July 15-14-red begonia -1024-bed

Benches abound!  Walkways are wheelchair accessible, with no hills to struggle with.  Washroom facilities are available, and beverages and light snacks may be purchased as well.  

Swans are part of the tranquil atmosphere.   A tiny island set in the middle of the lake adds to the intrigue.  The good news is . . .  a large lake is about to be dug on adjacent land, sure to enhance the pleasure of a day at Whistling Gardens.

July 15-14-swan-1024

Complimentary colours are juxtaposed everywhere with exciting effect!

July 15-14-Yellow daisies-1024-& cone flowers

Unusual specimen plants will set you back on your heels!  Which corner of the globe might this beauty be native to?

July 15-14-unusual-black-1024

Want to pass the time by playing some chess?

July 15-14-giant chess-1024-& stone pavement

Graceful fountains are guarded by bracket beds on four corners. Lovely life-size statuary adorn some of the gardens.

July 15-14-fountain-1024

You will take home lots of inspiration.  I simply fell in love with Queen of the Prairies, and have been scheming ever since just where such luscious flowers would be happy residents in my garden.  They need a moist location.  Below is a photo of the tall beauties, followed by a close-up of their fairy-like heads of teensy flowers:

July 15-14-Queen of the -1024-Prairies & rails

July 15-14-Queen-Prairies-1024- close-up

This sign says it all:

July 15-14-Conifer sign-1024

Isn’t this one a honey?  I think it’s some kind of pine, and the next one looks like it might belong to the hemlock family.

July 15-14-Unusual conifers-1 of-1024-a kind in Canada

July 15-14-unusual hemlock-1024-maybe

Whistling Gardens also offer plants for sale.  I didn’t have time to even think of buying.  I was too busy looking! 

Our day was topped off with a choreographed 8-minute water display which is run twice daily Monday thru Friday, and three times on weekends.

July 15-14-water show-1024

Rates are $13 Adults, $11 Seniors 60+, $6 Students 5-22, Four and under free. Group rates and guided tours available.  Weddings hosted.

Email:  info@whistlinggardens.ca

www.whistlinggardens.ca

Phone:  519-443-5773

July 15-14-two swans in flowerbed-1024

The owner offered to draw us a map, enabling us to return to Kitchener in about 40 minutes.  He’s a speedy and accurate cartographer – just another one of his numerous talents. What he and his family have created here at Whistling Gardens is something you must experience.  Put it on your bucket list!!

 

And the frog came back! – July 14, 2014

It was time to pull the rhubarb again and put it into the freezer.  When the snow swirls about the eaves this winter, it will be mighty nice to put some rhubarb into a custard pie, or stew it . . so yummy with a slice of buttered, homemade bread! 

July 14-14-rhubarb-1024-harvested

Opening the shed to put the pile of rhubarb leaves into the green bin, who should I see but Jumpy the Frog ‘glued’ to the inside edge of the door.  Yikes!  I managed not to scream, but left the doors ajar and skidaddled into the house for the camera.  Jumpy obliged, waiting patiently for his photo op.  By the time I checked on the computer to see if the shots turned out, he had taken off for dear knows where.  But it was good to have the little scamp back at Cedar Hollow!  I guess he has forgiven me for the times I opened the shed doors too quickly and he landed kerplop on the hard patio!  Not exactly his favourite way of saying Good morning! 

July 14-14-tree frog back-1024-home

See folks?  There’s nothing to it, declared Lady Wren, as she stepped gingerly onto the gangplank leading into the Swiss Chalet.  She is certainly taking good care of her babies, let me assure you.

July 14-14-Stepping-2-on barricade

If I thought Bounce the Hummer was slighting my patches of bee balm, I had misjudged him.  First off this morning, though, he had a quick draft of hosta lily nectar.  Just look at all of the jugs preparing sweet things for him in the coming days.

July 14-14-hosta lily-1024

Then Bounce was off to one of the bee balm patches.  He seemed as happy as a kid in a candy store!  Each petal is part of the juice fountain, and holds its lid up high, offering self-serve, fresh strawberry punch from exquisite goblets!  Talk about afternoon tea in the garden, folks . . . it doesn’t get any better than this!

July 14-14-Hummer sips,wings back

 

Summer breezes are busy! July 13-2014

Morning sunlight has climbed over the forest’s tree tops! 

July 12-14-Morning light-1024

Summer weather of all sorts and all in one day!  How lovely to have cottony clouds scuttling across the freshly washed blue sky, and to be rid of the  humidity! 

After the vigorous downpour this afternoon, the walnut tree’s branches waved to and fro, gently rocking Swiss Chalet’s inhabitants.  Busy breezes revealed some of the walnut tree’s secrets previously hidden among her boughs, all in leathery wraps.  Did you know that English Black Walnuts such as these are much more delicious than California walnuts?   

July 12-14-walnuts-size OK

The songs of the wrens are as varied as the weather lately, and I’m sure Lord and Lady Wren understand exactly what they are saying to each other.  Frequently, it is now bits of song, and often subdued in tone.  After all, you musn’t disturb the babies once Lady Wren has gotten their tummies full and they are off to sleep. 

    Now, it’s time for me to forage for myself, Lady Wren sighed as she stepped onto her front porch, seemingly listening a moment to make sure all was quiet.  She certainly doesn’t seem to be losing weight, though, with all of this activity, does she?

July 12-14-fat wren-1024-on perch

Whatever happened to Bounce the Hummer?  Why, he can actually sit a spell and sip at the feeder!  Maybe he’s out of the crazy teenage stage, and is now an adult hummer.

July 12-14-Hummer-1024-sipping

Strange how Bounce is not paying much attention to the scarlet bee balm, touted in gardening books as one of his favourite soda bars.  It must be that he can draw a king-sized sip from the feeder, and can’t be bothered hovering from petal to petal.  Doesn’t he know that I planted the bee balm just for him?  And in fact, I planted two patches; one up the knoll, and one just a few yards from the feeder.  Give me a break!

I wonder where he goes to when he zips around the corner?  Maybe he fancies the speckled lilies.  I know they’d be delighted to have him pay a visit.

July 14-14-speckled lilies-1024

 

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 . . .

     Sip

          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!  

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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