Adorable Balls of Fluff

These sweet floofy faces were photographed by Emily Davis, who is the daughter of Anne, Cranky Cat Lady.

Emily has been watching the swans at Holyrood Park during her daily bird walks. They’re nesting, and today she has pictures of fuzzy cygnets. 

©Emily Davis, all rights reserved

©Emily Davis, all rights reserved

©Emily Davis, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

A swampy mud bath ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s been a perfect day – warm, but not hot with a deep blue sky full golden sunshine. The growing things have sprung to life in a million shades of green, and there are bright, colourful flowers in almost every garden. It’s been wonderful. Marvellous. Splendiferous. All the good adjectives and none of the bad. It’s the sort of day when you want to be outside, and our neighbourhood came alive this afternoon with activity. The gardeners were out gardening, the old men were out gossiping over fences, and the joyful noise of children playing filtered in from yards in all directions. I’m sure their mothers were grateful. Jack and I were definitely grateful to get outside. For the first time in weeks, it wasn’t a chore, it was a pleasure. I don’t want to jinx it, but the weather is supposed to stay nice for the next few days. If it does, this gal and her dog have some gardening of our own planned. It’s finally time to change from mittens to garden gloves. Hooray!

Jack’s Walk

First trilliums of the year, ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s been a beautiful, sunny day and spring has decided to kick into high gear. Today we found may-apple, trout lilies and a small grouping of trilliums that are probably red because the red ones always come up first.  I carefully noted the spot and will try to get photos of them in bloom. I say ‘try’ because red trilliums are quite short-lived, often lasting only a day or two after they bloom. They’re also more fragile than the white ones. They’re thinner and more transparent, and their stems droop, so you need to photograph them from underneath. As you might imagine, at my age, getting underneath a short flower isn’t something you attempt willy-nilly. You need to make sure that a) you have room to maneuver, b) there is something to hold on to (sturdy saplings are preferred), and c) you have someone with you in case of emergency. The expression “Help. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” isn’t as funny as it used to be.

Stay sane out there.

Jack’s Walk

That willow tree is getting fuzzy. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, we didn’t go for our pancake breakfast at the sugar shack over the weekend because it’s been cancelled for this year. Most things have been cancelled around here. Schools are on indefinite March Break, including colleges and universities, and almost all gathering places have shut down. Tai Chi classes have been cancelled, and so has pool therapy. The Senior’s centre, the library and the Cineplex theatre have closed their doors, and the live theatres in Stratford and Toronto have cancelled perform into May.

There have been no Covid 19 cases in our city so far, but there have been confirmed cases in 2 places only 30 minutes away. Mr. V is over 65 and has a wonky heart, so he’s at risk, and I’ll be 60 this year, and my chronic shingles and fibromyalgia increase my risk, so we are self-isolating as much as possible. I did make a trip to get a few supplies early Saturday morning, and that was a bit of a shock. I started at Wal-Mart early Saturday morning and found they were completely out of bread, meat, onions, potatoes, beer, yogurt, pasta sauce, canned and frozen vegetables, dried beans, rice, coffee, juice, butter, ice cream and toilet paper. Entire rows of shelves were laid bare, and people with lists were wandering around with empty carts, looking lost. There was a weird atmosphere about the place and I felt as if I’d stepped into a Stephen King novel. I walked out with supplies for Jack (which were also getting low) and nothing else. Next, I went to No Frills and had a bit better luck. I found a package of ground beef, some sausages and a pork roast, but supplies were limited, and there was no chicken at all. They did have most other items on my list, with the proviso that you could only take 1 or 2 of most things. Thankfully, toilet paper was not on my list (we stock up when it’s on sale) because they also had none left.

I have a friend who says that the reason toilet paper is going so quickly is that every time someone coughs or sneezes, a dozen people shit their pants!

Jack is blissfully unconcerned about Covid 19 and asked to go to the park this morning. I was ready for a bit of fresh air, too, so we piled into the car and went to see the ducks, who mostly look to be paired up for nesting season. The pond was completely free of ice, thanks to a few days of above zero weather. We walked down to see the geese, which were plentiful and aggressive. They charged Jack and me a few times, but Jack planted himself into a stationary lunge and growled a deep, soft, low growl that quickly turned them around. He seemed disappointed that they didn’t come closer.

After the pond, we walked around the gazebo, and it was quite exciting to see that the tulips are up a few cms. Every year the city changes the colours of their bulbs, and I’m always anxious to see what the plan is for the year. The city buys thousands of bulbs directly from Holland every year, and at the end of the season, they sell them off cheaply to homeowners. It’s part of the city’s overall beautification plan, and it does spruce up neighbourhoods, We also found a few “fuzzy” willows, some big buds on the trees by the stream and a colourful Choral Bell with a feather flag. There were a few people out and about, and we all smiled and gave a wave, but everyone kept their distance. Thank Cthulhu, that it’s still safe to go outdoors, otherwise Jack and I would go stir crazy.

It’s tulip time. ©voyager, all rights reserved

The mini daffodils have arrived. ©voyager, all rights reserved

It might be love. ©voyager, all rights reserved

Look at the size of those buds. Leaf day is coming early this year. ©voyager, all rights reserved

A Feather Flag. ©voyager, all rights reserved

 

 

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

I love the blue collection pails that our favourite local maple syrup producer uses. They’re cheerful, and add a nice bit of colour to the muddy grey landscape of early spring. They also mean that it’s time for the 4H pancake breakfasts that they host each weekend in March. It’s a good time for a good cause. Each of the local 4H clubs is assigned a Saturday or Sunday to host and serve breakfast and all of the funds that are raised that day go to their club. They serve bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes and all the maple syrup you want. It’s held in a small space attached to their storefront, and it’s always busy and somewhat chaotic, and half the fun is watching the young boys and girls (aged 10 – 18) in stiff white aprons acting as wait staff. They have a difficult job. The tables are crowded together, and there isn’t much room to move around. Seating is at a premium, and there’s generally a line of people waiting, making the configuration of people at tables quite fluid. It’s a lot to keep track of and the kids work hard to make it all work. Sometimes your order takes a while, or it isn’t correct, but people seldom complain. Most everyone leaves happy, well sated and sticky. We’ll be going this weekend, but dogs aren’t allowed so Jack will have to stay home. He isn’t pleased and tells me that I’d better bring him back a sausage. You betcha, Bubba.

Wild Daffodils

Spring bulbs are blooming in Portugal and Nightjar is sharing.

I have a few daffodils blooming in my garden right now, but it turns out that hunting wildflowers is more fun. It is the season for wild daffodils and, in my case, it’s also the right place to look for them. The Mediterranean region is the natural range of the genus Narcissus and the Iberian Peninsula is considered to be its center of diversity, meaning this is where the genus first developed its distinctive characteristics. The petticoat daffodil, Narcissus bulbocodium, is the species I’m most familiar with as I know exactly where to find it every year. The flowers are very delicate and tiny (wikipedia says its floral diameter is 12 mm, which makes it the smallest among Narcissus) but the way it glows in the sun is magnificent. Photos are from late February. I hope you enjoy them!

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Spring has arrived ahead of schedule. ©voyager, all rights reserved

“Shit!” I heard my husband cry out this morning, waking both Jack and me rather suddenly.
“Voyager, get up.” I immediately knew what the problem was. Mr. V. had an out-of-town appointment for a test today, and we’d overslept. I quickly glanced at the clock to see that it was already after ten, and our test time was for 10:15, and it was a 45-minute drive to get to there. Shit indeed.
I jumped up (ok, it was more of a grunting wobble-up than a jump) and grabbed my phone to call the Dr’s office. Then I had to search for my glasses so that I could actually see well enough to use my phone, and I called the clinic to let them know we had a problem (I tried to be as vague as possible) and that we’d be seriously late.
The receptionist was very understanding and said to try to get there as soon as possible, and she would fit us in. I told the Mr. to lie back down so I could apply his leg compression neoprene stockings because he needs them on before he can get dressed. We managed that quickly, raced through our ablutions, then I grabbed from my closet rather than do my usual ‘what about this or maybe that’ and we were dressed and ready to go in about 10 minutes.
Poor Jack was still sleepy and in bed, but he came when I called him for breakfast. I swear he ate as slowly as possible, but he finally lifted his head out of the bowl and gave me a happy smile and a cheery good morning. Since there wasn’t enough time to go for a walk, we decided to take Jack with us, and I called him to the front door. Bubba doesn’t ‘do’ rushed, and he meandered toward me at a snail’s pace until I finally met him halfway and snapped on his leash, hoping it would speed him up a bit.
It didn’t, but a slow crawl and two pees later, we finally made it to the car and got underway. Luckily, traffic was light, and we arrived at the clinic in a bit under 40 minutes.
Jack was a bit grumbly on the way, but he soon cheered up when I took him for a walk while the Mr. went in for his test. Jack and I live in a small city of about 40,000 people, but the clinic is in a large city of about 400,000 people, and it’s full of exciting smells. It took us 15 minutes just to walk the length of one block because Bubba kept stopping to sniff. Some places required a long, thorough sniff, some spots required a small touching by the tongue for taste and some needed a bit of extra pee, which Jack happily added, By the time we made it back to the car, the boy was empty and tired. I lifted Jack into the backseat (he gets the front half in, and I heft up the Mr. Heavybum half), and my sweet Bubba adorably curled up on his bed and went to sleep.
Soon, Mr. V was back, and we set off home with Jack snoring the entire way. Jack’s sleepiness is a sign of his advancing age, and so is my own oversleeping, but we’re still together, and today we enjoyed the simple pleasures of sunshine, blue skies, trees in bud, and a symphony of strange smells in a new neighbourhood.

Jack says to thank you all for the birthday greetings, and I thank you for all of your kind words.

Jack’s Walk

The shy flower of mayapple ©voyager, all rights reserved

Things change so quickly in the forest at this time of year. Today we found very few trilliums and those that remain have turned the pretty pink of fading glory. Also disappearing are the Jack-in-the-pulpits and I’ll miss them the most. Taking their place are the shy flowers of mayapples and small patches of buttercups and forget-me-nots. The false Solomon’s seal is also in bloom and hundreds of baby trees have sprouted up across the forest floor. The biggest change we saw today was in the quality and quantity of light. The canopy is nearly full and the bare, bright light of winter and early spring has vanished into dappled pools and deep shade. The quality of sound has also changed under the fullness of leaves and the forest is entirely more intimate and inviting.

Mayapple, why must you bloom facedown? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

My grandmother loved flowers and my grandfather adored my grandmother and so he kept a large mixed flower garden where something was blooming from earliest spring until latest fall. Every few days he would tour the garden and cut the finest blooms for my Oma who kept them in an  indigo blue vase beside her reading chair. First would come tulips and hyacinths, then branches of apple, cherry and plum blossoms. Soon lilac would follow in fragrant shades of deep purple and white and then finally, finally, the peonies would bloom. They were my Oma’s favourite flower and their yearly appearance was an anticipated event.

I’ve always wanted to grow peonies, but it’s one of those things I never quite got around to. We have a small yard and a large patio and we just didn’t have space. Then, one of our trees died. It was a white lilac tree (not a lilac bush) that had never done well and suddenly I had an open space big enough for peonies. A friend who helps me with my garden found 2 peony shrubs and last year we planted them in early June. They struggled and straggled along over the summer and fall and I wasn’t sure I’d get blooms this year, but about 2 weeks ago buds appeared, three on the pink bush and one on the purple bush. I’ve been filled with anticipation waiting for them to open and yesterday when the sun finally appeared all three pink flowers opened at once and they’re glorious.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

Much like leaves in autumn, white trilliums put on a bit of a show before they disappear, turning delicate shades of pink as they begin to wither. Their passing marks the end of the showy spring flowers in the forest. The mayapples are still to bloom, but their flowers hide under big umbrella leaves and are barely seen. The buttercups and forget-me-nots that linger are small and fragile and just don’t command the same attention as a trillium or bloodroot or Jack-in-the-pulpits. The forest is losing its frills.

©voyager, all rights reserved