Monday, July 31, 2017

Day Lilies and Sweet Peas

It's that mid-summer time of year when the 'flowers of the field' (what some know as 'ditch lilies'), the original orange Day Lilies, and the brilliantly pink Sweet Peas flash from the roadside.  It makes driving those country roads extra nice.

On the way to Thornbury one day, I passed this enormous patch of the Lilies and Sweet Peas mixed together - orange and pink, a surprisingly vibrant combination!

I've seen these orange Day Lilies in many places, including around old homesteads where the Lilies have apparently survived for over 100 years, sometimes with decades of simply being abandoned to fend for themselves.

The Sweet Peas are not quite as common, but beautiful in their own right.  It's easy to gather the seeds after the pea pods form, and scatter them to grow your own.

At any rate, I really enjoyed this bright flower combination.

I follow blogs by a number of full-time RVers, among them a couple who spend their summers not far away, Patsy and Bill Richards (on the right).  I also follow George and Suzie, at Our Awesome Travels (on the left here).  George is a chef and features lots of recipes on his blog.  Both Bill and Patsy write blogs, On Our Way and Chillin with Patsy.

George and Suzie are up here in the highlands of southern Ontario visiting Bill and Patsy, and they invited us over to meet them all.  So the Furry Gnome and Mrs. F.G. enjoyed a three hour chat with these other bloggers, and, as others have found, even though we've never met them before, you find you're immediately friends as soon as you arrive.  Finally putting a face to these online people!  We really enjoyed it, so thanks folks.  Check their blogs if you want to see the pix they took of us.

And yes, there was a nice sunset at Patsy and Bill's summer parking place, which they call 'The Ridge'.  Safe travels to all of you.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Church Garden and Cake!

There's been a small church garden this summer, and we've been helping out a bit.  It's on a farm just around the corner from us, so we helped with the planting, and 2 or 3 times have been over to help weed and pick the crops, which are sold at the church on Sundays.

The garden is actually growing very well.  We've certainly had enough rain!  So there are beans, a few beets and carrots, and lettuce all picked and ready for sale tomorrow.

And lo and behold there was cake and ice cream afterwards (a good incentive to go over and help I thought)!  Only 10 people were there, so there was lots for everyone.  And the excuse for the cake was our own anniversary - 45 years we've survived!  Biggest anniversary party we've ever had.  And a beautiful summer evening to boot.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Ring-billed Gulls

After our paddle to the claybanks, we paddled back past the small Christie Beach access point among some rocky islets and boulders, all decorated by Ring-billed Gulls.  Lots of evidence of higher water levels this year too.

You can clearly see why they're called Ring-billed Gulls.

But they were the most peaceful flock of gulls I recall seeing.  Usually you see them soaring overhead and screaming.  My most recent encounter was in Wiarton last month, when I was attacked while trying to eat my lunch at the waterfront!  These gulls were looking downright dozy!

You can see how much the water levels have risen, with these small two trees now drowned.  And they had about 20 dry years to grow, as the Great Lakes water levels fluctuate on a very long cycle.  The water levels have risen 80 cm., nearly 3 feet, from their historic low two years ago.

We were paddling pretty close, and the gulls did eventually move.  They flew a few yards and landed again!

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Claybanks

It was long past time to wash the dust off my canoe, and I have been wanting to see the claybanks from the water where you actually get a good view of them.  So we put in at Christie Beach, and paddled west on Georgian Bay, picking a sunny day with little wind so the bay would be calm.

The long delay in getting my canoe on the water this year reflects how busy we've been.  This won't be happening next year after we move!  More time for this sort of stuff!

You can see the high steep claybanks along the shoreline from the beach where we started.  Most of the beach is private, but there's a small public park where the road meets the shore.  I've only seen them from standing at the top, when we walked in the trail to see them.  But you get a VERY different view from the shore or the water!

We paddled for quite a distance, probably over 2 km, with the claybanks on our left, ...

... and Georgian Bay on the right.  You can see the Bayview Escarpment above the tank range in the distance and a tiny bit of white on the water at the left which is the sailboats and tiny lighthouse in Meaford harbour.

The claybanks are more varied than I expected, with shallow gullies, trees growing on some parts of the steep slopes (often leaning downhill) and erosion creating an uneven appearance.

The gully on the left in the upper photo seemed to have a small waterfall or seepage eroding into the shale.  You can see the bluish-grey colour of the shale where it's eroded here.  The claybanks are a huge thick layer of shale, below the bottom of the Niagara Escarpment known as the Georgian Bay Formation.

Then you come to the broad open slopes of the highest, steepest part of the claybanks.  This is the only part I had seen, and only from the top.  If you want to read about that visit, check it out here.

I actually spotted two people standing at the top, presumably where the trail comes out to the edge.

Can you see them in this photo?  They're about 2/3rds of the way across the top from the left, in a clear spot to the left of two white birch trees.  You can use their height to estimate the height of the cliff.

This formation is almost pure shale, with only a few very thin layers of limestone.  I'm not sure it would be physically possible to climb this slope unless you were outfitted with spikes and an ice axe for mountain climbing!

After nearly an hour we pulled into a tiny narrow beach beyond those open slopes and enjoyed our lunch, before paddling back to the east.  A good adventure - a beautiful day and a new place I've been wanting to see.  And the dust is now washed off the canoe.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Webwood Falls and the Roadside 'Monster'

Dropped by to check things out at Webwood Falls today, a Bruce Trail property that attracts a lot of visitors because of the waterfalls.  We've invested quite a bit of effort in providing a viewing platform and fencing off some of the dangerous slope.

There was lots of water, given how much rain we've had and are still having.  It wasn't the usual trickle for this time of year and it made a great picture.  All of these were just handheld, leaning against the railing of the viewing platform to keep the camera steady, a 1/4 second exposure.

It looks to me that there's been some further erosion here.  You can see the reddish and blue layers of the soft Queenston Shale at the bottom of the falls, behind the curtain of water.

Sadly though, I wasn't there to check out the falls.  We had had a report that the roadside had been trimmed heavily, leaving a mess.  I went to check it out, since I'm the volunteer Land Steward Director.
The local municipality, Grey Highlands, has obviously bought one of those infernal trimming monsters that can drive along the roadside and shred all the saplings and lower limbs of trees.  They had trimmed this wall of cedars for 200 yards.

They trimmed both sides of the road beside the falls, leaving a major mess in my opinion.  I think I have a personal dislike of these mechanical monsters.  A little tree trimming would be fine, but not like this.

The new entry to the Bruce Trail continuing north from here shows how the machine shreds branches rather than cutting them off cleanly.  We've taken a popular tourist attraction and downgraded it to a mess!  Though the falls is still nice.  Maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon who's against progress.  If that's the case, I'm happy to be a grumpy old curmudgeon!

Further to yesterday's post, we don't actually move until mid-October, so we have a good lead time to be ready!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Progress Report

As you'll know if you read this blog regularly, we're moving this fall.  That has transformed this into a very busy summer, with a constant list of things to do to be ready.  You may have noticed that I'm writing a lot of blog posts about what I see nearby, not many Furry Gnome adventures this year!  But we're trading our big country property and gardens and some winter isolation for a tiny urban lot, easier access to services, and more time for adventures in the future - travel, exploring and photography, and writing.

Our new house is coming faster than we expected, as our builder has decided to use it as a model home for a couple of months before we move in.  There are multiple trades there working every single day, and there's never a gap in progress.  They're already installing the cupboards in the kitchen.  So far we're very impressed with the quality of the work.

It's a tiny lot, but we do look out on the local golf course, so hopefully we won't feel too hemmed in.  I hope I can find hours to walk around it when it isn't busy.  This will become our new garden - we're planning very little grass, at least in the back yard.

The saga of our shed has been challenging.  We ordered a small shed for the back yard, but when it was delivered, the wire at the end of the street was hanging a little low.  It caught the peak of the shed and pulled it right off the truck.  So back it went to be repaired.  Now it's sitting on the vacant lot next door waiting to be moved into place.

Meanwhile, back at home, we've been working like mad.  Don't have pictures of our garage sale, or our trips to the dump and other places, but we've been working like mad at downsizing.  One disadvantage of my big garage is there's too much space for junk!  Now that I have to get rid of it I notice what a packrat I am!

This is the little waterfall I created - after 4 years of hard work, delays, lazy summers, and more hard work.  The waterfall part is done, though you can hardly see the water, but the planting remains to be done.  So I will treat this as the 'before' picture and sometime you'll see the 'after' pic.

But down in the corner was the most challenging project for me.  I wired up an outdoor plug for the waterfall pump, with a switch inside the house, so I can just turn the waterfall on and off from inside.  I put this off for quite awhile, simply because I was hesitant to stand there and drill a hole through the wall of our house!  And of course you need to know what you're doing and be careful when you're doing wiring!  But it's done and it works!

So now we've started digging up a few key plants to take with us, mostly Hostas and Day Lilies.  This is the garden works yard for the summer.

The garlic harvest has been lifted, and is spread out in the garage to dry.  Mrs. F.G. hasn't decided yet how much garlic she's going to continue growing, or where.

And on top of that, we have a new house going in on the long-vacant lot next door.  Having built my own cabin, and two big additions, I'm interested in the process.  Our lot was an open field when we started, 19 years ago, but this lot is tree covered.  So we've listened and watched while they cleared part of the lot (chainsaws and a wood chipper), put in the driveway (which is going to have to be moved according to the owner), dug the foundation, poured the footings and then poured the foundation, and now they are spraying gravel everywhere with a big stone-thrower.  I've talked to the owner a couple of times, in part just to welcome them, and learned that this house is a pre-fab house built in a factory.  It will arrive on two trucks and be lifted into place.  I'm looking forward to seeing that!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Flowers of the Roadsides and Meadows

The season rolls on, and a new set of flowers is out along roadsides, and in our meadow.  Queen Anne's Lace is such a big part of mid-summer, along with lines of blue Chickory at the edge of the road, and in a few spots the bright pink of Sweet Peas.

I think Queen Anne's Lace is one of my favourites because my mother loved it.

It's a very intricate flower if you look at it from below.

I'm seeing long lines of blue at the roadside in some places, and when you take a close look it's the beautiful blue of the Chicory.

Here's a patch of those Sweet Peas among the grass growing in a ditch.

Both White and Yellow Sweet Clover grow by the road where I walk every day.  It was a challenge getting these pictures while they were waving in the wind!

And today I spotted some of the Virgin's Bower vine or Wild Clematis smothering a lower branch of a Sugar Maple.  I've seen it before but not here in the neighbourhood.

It's one of those plants you find around here with three leaves very much like Poison Ivy.  I often pointed this one out to students as I prompted them to learn to stop and look before you touch any plant with three leaves!

Here at home this Common Mullein came up right outside the garage on our driveway.  I'll let it stay until it finishes blooming.

In one patch I threw a prairie seed mixture 10 years ago, and now we have bright patches of False Sunflower there, as well as in the garden.

Finally, the Mallow, in both white and pink varieties, common all over our meadow, along with some of the earlier plants like the purple Vetch and yellow Trefoil that are still widely in bloom.  A miserable drizzly day here, which we spent largely in Home Depot, picking out all the light fixtures for our new home.  Not an easy exercise!  We're exhausted, but we're getting there!

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