Sunday, July 5, 2020

A Ride Downtown!

I got out for my first ride downtown this morning, since early March when we stopped our coffee group and stopped going to church.  It's a big adjustment starting this after the lockdown!  I went in the morning when it was still relatively cool. 

I was delighted to see the first Chicory blooms as I rode down the big hill on Nelson Street.  Chicory only looks like this with bright blue wide-open blooms for a few hours in the morning, but I'm usually out in the afternoon.

There are six old churches downtown.  This one has the easily recognizable architecture of churches in the late 19th century.  It was built as a Presbyterian church, but purchased in 1938 and became a Pentacostal Tabernacle.

Across the street is the former Knox Presbyterian Church, now recreated into apartments.  This is the church we attend but in a new totally accessible building at the edge of town.

Since restaurants here can only open outdoor patios, I had heard that part of the parking in this block had been blocked off to enable that.  This patio looks very nice, fenced off from the traffic beside you and with a wheelchair accessible ramp! 

My favourite coffee shop has a nice looking patio, but it's not accessible!  You can see the concrete barriers behind the railing.

Across the street is Meaford Hall, also shown in the photo above.  Usually the popular site of local concerts, it's been quiet now for 3 months.

But the big red chair is still there.  I was glad to finally get downtown again, the first time I've ridden downtown myself since last October.  It was like a new adventure!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The Seasons Roll On

I've never been comfortable with just four seasons even though I know the astronomical reasons for them.  I always thought the best part of fall didn't arrive on Sept 21st, and winter didn't arrive in time for Christmas.  In fact I included a chapter in one of my books describing 8 seasons as I saw them.

The point is that the seasons unfold continuously, or at least in fits and starts over the year.  It's been summer for just over two weeks now, but things keep changing, fast!  I think this is particularly obvious if you have a garden you keep a close eye on.

Have you noticed that the birds which were so obvious in May while they established territories and found their mates have now been quiet for a few weeks?  They're nesting of course, and it means they're much less visible and they're quieter.  The Cardinal is almost the only one I can still hear calling from the top of trees, up against ths sky.

There is a continuous stream of new 'flowers of the fields' blooming, here Knapweed and White Clover.  Several species are now gone, including those beautiful yellow Dandelions, early spring food for so many bees.

Another round of garden flowers is just starting to bloom, this the first Day Lily I've seen.  We'll have a dozen in full flower in a week or two.

Crocosmia, one of the most striking of summer flowers, is just coming into bloom.  We've got about a dozen across the front of the house.

And of course the veggie garden is constantly changing as thing grow to harvestable size and later veggies start producing.  We've been having cold-weather crops - onions and lettuce - for a month now,  Radishes and beans are very close and tomatoes are blooming profusely.

So forget your idea of four seasons and start watching for all those continuous little changes in the world around us.  You might be surprised.

PS Thanks to Mrs. F.G. who figured out how to get the computer working again!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Computer Gremlin

Having trouble with the blog - computer won't turn on!  Hopefully I'll be back sooner than later.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Happy Canada Day!

I've always been proud to live in Canada and today is no different.  I think our five trips camping in our tent trailer while travelling coast to coast (twice each) with our children and seeing 20 National Parks did more for me than anything else.  There is beauty in every part of the country.

Today marks 153 years since Confederation.  With the provinces of Canada still British colonies, it was the British North America Act that was proclaimed in the British Parliament on July 1st 1867 that started Canada on its way to becoming the nation it is now.

Just four provinces started it, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec (then Canada East) and Ontario (then Canada West) joined in the original Confederation.  Manitoba, PEI, B.C. and the Yukon joined a few years later, Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905 and Newfoundland finally in 1949.  This is the Canada we celebrate now.

But the vast northern territories that were formerly Rupert's Land which was purchased in 1870 made the biggest difference to the indigenous people.  Though treaties were signed in the following decades (except in B.C.), the promises of those treaties were never kept.

Not only that, but the co-operative attitudes that had prevailed during 250 years of the fur trade years were replaced by the prevailing paternalistic attitude that led to the Indian Act and the residential schools catastrophe.   It will take more decades for reconciliation to heal the scars of that horrible history.

So I greet this Canada Day with a hope that we can learn to live together in the future.  It's about time!  And that hope could apply so much more widely given today's prevailing news.  I wish it for you all.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


When I head out onto the deck with my morning coffee I am greeted by the bright smiles of the Marigolds (and some Petunias) in our planter boxes.  These have been wildly successful, and are still giving us a regular haul of fresh veggies too.  Today we'll have Zucchini fritters made with our own Zucchini!  But the Marigolds take first prize!

I guess it's largely my own love of bright colours that appeals here, but the varied combinations of the Marigolds, from red through orange to yellow certainly help.

Red and mixed red with yellow.

Mostly in-between or orange.

Completely yellow.

Orange petals with a yellow centre.

No matter what combination, the Marigolds are a bright splash of colour on our deck, and they'll go on like this for months to come.

 They've even become the flower of choice for the four little vases on our kitchen island.  Yes, that's the breadmaker behind them; we haven't eaten store-bought bread for some months now.

Last night the power went off for 3 hours mysteriously.  We later heard it was a fire.  Now that we're so addicted to our ipads and Netflix, it really throws you when you're left bereft.  We went out on the deck and just enjoyed the quiet evening, the sun shining across the golf course throwing every hollow into shade.  

Luckily we're now all set up with the generator, so Mrs. F.G., with the help of a neighbour, was able to get it going, and with power restored I was able to get into bed.  Both the ceiling lift and the mattress depend on hydro.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Wild Chervil and Garlic Mustard

Just around the block where a small stream flows through an urban valley I've been disturbed to find vibrant populations of both Garlic Mustard and Wild Chervil, two of the worst invasive species here in Grey County. 

Wild Chervil has infested hayfields and fencerows around crop fields thanks to its millions of seeds that distribute easily.  This is a bit of the large patch around the block.  As you can see it squeezes out any other plants.

Wild Chervil is a fast growing biennial that forms dense mats of fern-like leaves in the first year and flowers in the second year.  It is hard to control because of its deep tap root and herbicide resistance.

The flower is similar to Queen Anne's Lace, but the small groups of florets are separated out rather than continuous.  If you remember that it's fairly easy to identify.

Compare it to Queen Anne's Lace with its much more continuous pattern of white florets.  By the way, do you know which Queen Anne this is named after?

And if you find a yellow version run the other way quick!  This is Wild Parsnip and the sap of this plant can burn your skin.  That's described as 'phytophotodermititis' if you want a big fancy name for it - phyto for plant, photo for exposure to the sun, and dermititis for your skin, and it can produce a nasty itchy rash.

Garlic Mustard is a nondescript weed with small white flowers that also generates millions of seeds.  The main problem with this species is that it grows in the shade of deciduous forests where many of our most beloved spring wildflowers are found.

The leaves are easy to identify, heart-shaped with prominent teeth around the edge.  It's a biennial too, that generates millions of seeds that can live for 30 years in the soil.  Our local Bruce Trail Club has been running workshops to pull the flowers before they set seeds and has had some success controlling it.

It has spread in a large patch along both sides of the stream in this little valley, squeezing out any other plants.  Who knows what it's going to look like next year!

P.S. I controlled myself to only eating only two of those strawberries I showed yesterday - and didn't pick out the biggest two either.  But we had a delicious bowl of them last night!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sandhill Cranes and Strawberry Jam

After first spotting the two Sandhill Cranes we turned into the next farm lane and drove back to see them.  As I said yesterday, we both enjoy watching for them and it's a highlight of the summer if we do spot them.

This was our view of them when we stopped, not very close.  But I zoomed in as far as my iphone would allow and got two good pictures.

One of the largest birds in North America (with a greater wingspan than a Golden Eagle), at this time of year you see them steadily grazing across fields picking up what they can find off the ground.

As the two birds kept moving they disappeared over the crest of the hill, but we chased them down by driving in the farm lane.  They were easily visible over the short soybeans.  We've always seen them in pairs (except for the giant 2000 strong migrating flocks we saw east of Stayner last November).

They nest in isolated wetlands usually, usually only raising one chick.  One year we saw a pair with a tiny chick.  They are known for their fantastic dancing displays during courtship, and for their strange 'bugling' call.  Once you've heard it you'll always recognize it.

As if seeing the cranes was not enough we also drove to Goldsmith's Farm Market in Thornbury and picked up a flat of strawberries.  On Friday my job was to prepare the berries.

And on Saturday Mrs. F.G. made the jam!!