Sunday, July 29, 2012



I had been noticing a number of 
House Wrens (?) singing from one of 
the old granaries. Then one evening while
taking a walk I heard a real commotion
in a grove of trees and found a whole family
of Wrens. They are a lovely, elegant bird
and noisy little bird.

"All summer long that little wren
Would chatter like a saucy thing;
And in the bush attack the thrush
That on the hawthorn perched to sing.
Like many noisy little men,
Lived, bragged, and fought that little wren"

                                       The Wren
                                             Charles Sangster










 





"To feast on summer sounds; the jolted wains,
The thrasher humming from the farm near by,
The prattling cricket's intermittent cry,
The locust's rattle from the sultry lanes;
Or in the shadow of some oaken spray,
To watch, as through a mist of light and dreams,
The far-off hay-fields, where the dusty teams
Drive round and round the lessening squares of hay,
And hear upon the wind, now loud, now low,
With drowsy cadence half a summer's day,
The clatter of the reapers come and go."

                             The Comfort of the Fields
                                      Archibald Lampman

Wednesday, July 25, 2012



The approach to our cabin begins when you turn off a 
gravel road and travel along a gravel lane running through
a field farmed by my brother in law, the field is ringed 
with poplar and the lane has a line of waist high weeds in 
the ditches on either side. Vesper Sparrows run in front of
the vehicle luring you from the locations of their nests and
Goldfinches sway from the top of the thistles. You pass a 
small slough on the right ringed with brush and at the edge
of the field you enter a stand of poplar and begin to climb 
up a steep slope to the ridge where the cabin sits. It is in 
these poplars where we stationed the trail camera that supplied
the pictures of moose, deer and coyotes I posted earlier. The 
poplars also house large numbers of birds including Waxwings,
Red Eyed Vireos, Purple Finches and the Yellow Bellied Sapsucker 
whose young we could hear even over the engine noise for the first
week we were there. You then come to the top of the ridge
where the cabin sits on the edge of the meadow where it
overlooks the slough. It is all these niches with their varied
 plants and animals that I am really looking forward to exploring
when I can spend more time at the cabin. I would really like to
document the distribution of sparrows which is one of the reasons 
I purchased my larger camera lens. While I did not get shots of the 
Vesper Sparrows a stated goal, I did get some shots of the
Sapsucker. 



"I walk, all day, across the heaven-verging field."

                                                 from Upstream 
                                                    Mary Oliver





"And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money,

I don't even want to come in out of the rain."

from Black Oaks
Mary Oliver



Sunday, July 22, 2012

I had planned to stick to posts about the
trip to the cabin for now. However there has been a
lot going on and I could not resist an entry.
 roses are as seen from our bedroom window
the day we got back. When we left only a few
hardy roses like Teresa Brunet had bloomed.

"Delight in the small
those that inhabit
only a corner of the mind,
the ones shaped by wind
and a season: a slip of
grass, the nameless flower
that offers its scent
to a small wind."

Delight in the Small, The Silent
From Lorne Crozier's The Garden 
Going on Without Us


The juvenile robins as seen from the living room
windows were also interesting. I have been
trying to figure out if the difference in marking
is age or sex based.

"In the square
there is a wall where the old men sit and watch 
the young go by; he is seated in a row with them.
Desires are already memories."  

                   Invisible Cities
                             Italo Calvino






All week a flock of young House Sparrows emptied the
feeders. The today a pair of Grackles with four or more
young showed up and things got loud.

Only one chick appeared to be begging and the
adult ignored the others and carried the cleaned 
seeds to the called chick. One can only imagine 
what it was like to feed all of them






In these shots we can see that the chick's feather colours
vary among the brood I assume that is because they hatch
at different times.






"Whosoever he is that shall hope to cure this malady 
in himself or any other, must first rectify these 
passions and perturbations of the mind:
 the chiefest cure consists in them. A quiet mind 
is that pleasure."

                          Anatomy of Melancholy
                           Robert Burton



Friday, July 20, 2012

Even though we are back in Calgary this week
my thoughts often return to our cabin especially 
as I have hundreds of photos to go through. 
We started the cabin last summer but it was only
at the end of this trip that we ( my wife and I ) spent 
one night there instead of returning to the farm. 

We have made
some vague plans about what we would do with
the 80 acres but we have concentrated largely on
the cabin. The night we stayed there we sat in the 
screened porch constructed by my brother in law 
Brian ( thanks Brian without you and Ralph this would 
not have been possible). As it was not yet screened
we had a mosquito coil however we shared it with
a family of Barn Swallows so that was just as well.
One conclusion I came to was since the area directly
to the side of the porch had housed large number
of Garter Snakes the first year,  all sitting on the rocks
pushed up by the construction I would build a large
rock garden there. The area in front and to the right
of the cabin actually has a large meadow which is
one reason we picked this spot. It was covered with
wildflowers, Bee balm, Roses, Thistles, Vetch and 
Daises among others and with the flowers came birds
often in pairs either perched around the edges on the
poplars or perched on the flowers themselves. It was 
then we agreed that with the exception of a path/firebreak
right by the cabin the meadow and hopefully the 
flowers and birds would remain with no interference
from us. Okay I might add feeders. The following 
pictures we taken that evening or early the next morning.

If I misidentify someone please let me know.

" In all the world no place was mine
because I was driven like the other things.

But then I found the tumbleweed secret,
bounding along saying, "Where is my home?"

And the voices began to come at night,
warning. "We're lost-don't be like us."

                          Arrival
                                                 William Stafford



Eastern Phoebe


Savannah Sparrow



While I did not see any brown streaking I think
these are Yellow Warblers







Cedar Waxwing



American Goldfinch


Add caption





Purple Finch



" I waited for my life to start
for years, standing at bus stops
looking into the curved distance
thinking each bus was the wrong bus;"

                                Waiting for My Life
                                           Linda Pastan


Monday, July 16, 2012


The farm is an interesting place
you can see many animals living on the
edges of the fields and woodlots, sharing
the space with a plethora of machinery
some active and some kept for parts.
The animals are not wholly wild or wholly
tame, some like the birds, foxes and skunks
occupy the old buildings. It is the life we
have left them, a life on the margins. and an
evening stroll might lead to an encounter
with a piece of New Holland farm equipment
( shades of Swiss Family Robinson )
or a young buck.

The remnants of the old farm machinery
also fascinate me as I mentioned before.
I loved Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged
when younger and even thought I am well
past any romantic view of the wonders
of industrialization I still read the old
trade names on the fading metal and
remember the images of industrialization and  
mechanization and it's attendant machines
running down as the world slides towards
John Galt's new Utopia.

" Cocked in that land tactile as leaves
wild things wait crouched in those valleys
west of your city outside your lives
in the ultimate wind, the whole land's wave.
Come west and see: touch these leaves."

                             Midwest
                                                 William Stafford











"Paddled in the bright grass, the old farm
Warm as a sack about me, feel the cold
Winds of the world blowing. The patched gate
You left open will never be shut again."

                                       Invasion on the Farm
                                                       R.S. Thomas


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We are working on the cabin but 
the other evening we took the canoe out on
the slough in front of the cabin. Thanks Ralph








"But the mother and child reunion 

Is only a motion away 



             Paul Simon



The female Bufflehead seems to have acquired
two broods as there is a size difference. There were
at least 17 chicks.




The always melodious Song Sparrow. 



A Spotted Sandpiper I last saw one a few
weeks ago in downtown Calgary quite a
change of pace.


The yellow flower was a Small Bladderwort
waiting to pounce on insects, go figure.


 "I allow myself eddies of meaning:   
yield to a direction of significance
running
like a stream through the geography of my work:   
   you can find
in my sayings
                         swerves of action
                         like the inlet’s cutting edge:
               there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance   
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:
but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:"

                                        Corsons Inlet
                                                      R.A. Ammons

Oh 
Little darling of mine. "