It’s been wintering here since early morning, even though winter doesn’t officially begin until Sunday (Dec. 22/19). We’ve had brisk north-westerly winds bringing in snow squalls and Lord Thunderin’ Jesus, but it’s been bitter. With the wind chill factored in the temp was -19°c when Jack and I were out for our walk this morning, and at times the wind was driving snow into our faces and visibility dropped to just a few metres. Brrr!
I shouldn’t complain, though, Harsh weather is harder on Jack than me. Today, I put on 2 pairs of socks, and then my boots, but poor Bubba has only a layer of vaseline for boots, and I don’t think it gives much protection from the cold. Jack also doesn’t have a long, cozy down-filled parka, nor a tuque, nor gloves, yet he never complains about the cold. He’s very stoic, our Jack. Me? I like to complain about the cold. It’s part of my culture and the opening line to most conversations. It’s something that we Canadians do. We comment on the weather, both good and bad, and storm days like today allow us a bit of drama with the talk as we stamp our feet to shake off the snow and rub our hands together or blow on them or stick them into our armpits for warmth.
If only we could share the cold, I’d send a good bit of ours down to Australia, where they’re dealing with sweltering heat. Since I can’t do that, I’ll share a frosty photo of Jack and send our good wishes that our Australian readers stay cool.
Frog Pond trail is used by a lot of people walking dogs, but it’s actually owned by our local school board. In addition to the pond and mixed forest pathways, there’s a small building on the property that can be used by visiting classes. In the spring and the fall, Jack and I often run into groups of grade-schoolers out for a nature walk. The kids are always boisterous, loud and full of energy and Jack delights in them. He wiggles and waggles and makes little happy, huffing noises that entertain the kids in return. It’s an active, well-used trail, and there are no signs anywhere to identify it as belonging to our school system
Then, today, Jack and I stumble across this laminated woodpecker held in place by a push pin next to a series of holes that were obviously made by a woodpecker. We found 3 or 4 more of the laminated woodpeckers with holes along the trail, causing me to spend much of our walk imagining the class that placed them there. In my minds-eye, I see a group of youngsters aged 7 -8 with their teacher and a few volunteer parents traipsing down the trail. There is a general happy chatter then an excited voice calls out,
” I found one, Mrs. Smith. I found one!”
And so, Mrs. Smith comes to the child, taking a laminated woodpecker out of her school bag and reaching into her pocket for a push-pin, and she takes the child to the holey stump, and together they pin the cheerful redhead into place. Or not.
We’ll never know just how those woodpeckers go to be there, and so any and all stories are possible. Maybe it was Bigfoot or Aliens or magic gnomes and hobbits.
Well, I did say possible, not probable.
Today’s tree is a stubborn little Douglas Fir, who found an unusual and somewhat lonely place to grow.
Seventy miles from the port city of Victoria, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, a plucky arboreal wonder can be found on the quiet waters of Fairy Lake.
Living up to its name, Fairy Lake is in a remote and unspoiled landscape near the town of Port Renfrew. Sticking up out of the lake’s stillness is a submerged log. Clinging to that log for dear life is a tiny Douglas fir-tree. The log itself is a Douglas fir. As the stunted tree’s only source of support and nutrients, it feels like the dead tree made a sort of noble sacrifice to the tiny tree growing on it. Tourists, boaters and hikers come seeking it as a unique window into nature and rebirth.
The tree is referred to as the “Bonsai” tree and has been attracting lots of photographers, some even producing award-winning photos.
Atlas Obscura says it’s easy to get to the tree and gives directions to the site at the link below. There are also a few more photos at the link. If you go, please share with us any photos you take.
Despite the silly photo, Jack and I would like to talk about something serious today, and that is why it’s a bad idea to give an animal as a gift at Christmas. It seems like such a fun thing to give a puppy or kitten at Christmas, but it’s a terrible time of year to bring a new animal into your home, so Jack and I would like to share this list from Paws for Hope with some excellent reasons to not get a puppy or a kitten at Christmastime.
1. ALL THE CHRISTMAS CHEER!
The holidays are a busy time of year. We are often coming and going, more often than usual, from our homes to festive celebrations, shopping etc. When bringing a new pet into your home it is important for them to have your attention so that you and your new family member can create a trustworthy bond. This can be a very stressful time for pets, and an extra busy household that is full of excitement can make the transition process very difficult. If you are adopting a young animal the training required can be very time consuming and some animals require lots of exercise. Training should start immediately, not after the holidays are over. Most of us don’t have a spare moment during the holiday season, making if very difficult to find the time to train. The best way to alleviate the stress and fear a pet may have coming into your home is be home as often as you can, keep a consistent schedule and maintain a calm environment.
2. SANTA PAWS DOES NOT EXIST.
Gifting someone a pet for a present is just a bad idea. Choosing the right pet is a very personal decision and not one to be made by someone other than the new adoptive parent/family. Picking the right pet personality to suit you/your families is something for you and only you to do. Pets are not products, they are living creatures, like us, and they should NEVER be sold in a retail setting and purchased as presents. Even if adopting from a local shelter or rescue, gifting a pet gives the wrong impression, especially to children, that this new pet is a toy. You want your children to understand the responsibilities of caring for an animal and for your new pet to not end up being ignored after the novelty wears off.
Hold off bringing a pet home from a shelter and head on down to your best friend’s chocolatier and by them a box instead! Or give them a gift certificate for a pet adoption after the holidays are over.
3. FILL MY STOCKING WITH A DUPLEX AND CHEQUES……..
Deciding to expand your family to include a pet is also committing to taking on the financial responsibility that comes along with them, much of which is unforeseen. This may not be fully thought through if you decide on a whim to adopt during the holidays as you are swept up in the magical time of year and decide to help a pet in need and bring home an animal from your local shelter. Purchasing or adopting an animal is a costly decision, from food, litter, regular and emergency veterinary care (like when your Pitbull Lucy gets pneumonia from eating goose poop!). And let’s not forget the pets who will require walkers, daycare and will need somewhere like a boarding kennel or pet sitter when you take your annual vacation or frequent business trips. Please fully consider all of the responsibilities that go along with having a pet any time of the year.
I’d like to add winter weather to the list, which makes it a difficult time to house train a puppy or a rescue dog.
Sorry guys, but my noggin is a bit sludged up at the moment, and messages across my brain synapses are travelling by dog-paddled canoe instead of by a flaming arrow. I’m fine, just tired and still coming down from the play on Wednesday. I’m having a spot of trouble putting sentences together. so I’m going to stop trying. Before I go, though, I thought I’d leave you with one of my favourite quotes by the inimitable John Steinbeck. Travels with Charley is the story of Steinbeck’s crossing of America in a custom-made camper set on the bed of a pick-up truck. His traveling companion Charley is his dog, a standard poodle.
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America