Thursday, November 28, 2019

The November Landscape

The November landscape fascinates me.  A constant melody of browns, greys and greens punctuated by stark black tree trunks.  With the leaves gone, you can see through the trees and spot hidden buildings.   The landscape opens up and tells you it's story.  Try and visualize it as I take you along.

The fields are most noticeable, ranging from the light pale brown cornstubble to the dark brown earth of a few fields that have been ploughed, from the rough green of harvested hayfields to the bright new green of winter wheat sprouting.   Trees and forest occupy almost as much of the landscape around here. Dark green spruce planted around farmsteads, a surprising amount of planted pine forest, and the distant deciduous woodlots.  As well there are a number of swamps which might be the grey of dead trees through light brown of the cattail patches to dark green of the cedars.

Now that I am just a passenger in the car I can enjoy watching the sights pass as we drive. Yesterday it was down to Pebbles restaurant in Varney, where we met good friends for lunch.   We passed all those fields, forests, swamps, and farmsteads - ranging from bright new buildings to the old and dilapidated. The barn is usually the first to get modernized, the house comes later,  and some farms  never do, falling into ruin.  I marvel anew to myself at the work pioneers went to to clear this landscape and build their homes.

We drive by a small farm home and barn on a tiny patch of cleared land by the road, but I spot a farm lane disappearing back into the swamp. Later checking the air photos on Google Maps I see two  large fields hidden from the road beyond that swamp that enabled the farmer to make a living.

Just out of Meaford we cross the Bighead River, and driving through Priceville we've moved into the Saugeen watershed.  (You would not believe what the voice recognition did to that sentence!)   But along the way there are numerous small streams and patches of wetlands. There's Minniehill Creek south of town, Wodehouse Creek just before it drains into the karst system, the Boyne River as we go through Flesherton and a few others I don't know as we get closer to Varney.   The whole landscape is drained by a dense network of streams and creeks.

Here at home I look out on the same grey/green landscape.   The light green of the backyard and the golf course stretch into the distance marked by a small patch of bright green, the green for hole number seven on the golf course. Two dark spruce trees mark the boundaries of my view. and a line of planted Scots Pines extends into the distance on the right hand side. Two isolated Scots Pines stand like sentinels partway down the golf course. Sugar Maple and White Ash stand in the fencerow at the back of our property, in the middle of the golf course and in the distance beyond.  Scattered fallen leaves mark the beginning of the golf course and a tiny white skiff of snow lies across the deck and a few of those fallen leaves.   Three little creeks cross the landscape all down in their small valleys and out of sight to me.

 I know many think November is the worst month of the year, but I find it fascinating.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Christmas Lights

Two years ago this day we stopped at my sister's place in Goderich, breaking up a medical appointment in London into a shorter drive.  Their house backs on to a local park where Christmas lights go up every year.  Locals drive the loop road through the park and enjoy the lights.  We were able to just look out the window or step out through the back gate.

It's a beautiful late fall day here, warm enough that I headed off by myself around a few blocks to the hospital for blood work.  I was bundled up mind you, but it was a wonderful ride in the fresh air, possibly the last I'll get this year.  Then they couldn't find any paperwork, so now I'm in another round of calls to one of my several doctors to see what's to be done.  This business of having a constant round of medical tests and consultations is frustrating, but the ride this morning was a pleasure.

For those of you with a long memory, yes this is where the Goderich tornado struck in 2011.  The park was devastated, so the trees you are looking at are all the young trees planted after the big old maples were removed leaving some very interesting chainsaw carvings.  My sister lost part of the roof, all their back windows, and a huge old chestnut tree.

And playing with lightpainting.
The lights have gone up in Owen Sound, so we'll have to go there sometime soon to check them out.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Three years ago today, I posted a picture of the 'supermoon' that month.  I've had lots of difficulty getting a good shot of the moon that provides a fairly close view and is actually in focus.  This is about the best I've ever done.  It helped that we lived out in the country with no other lights in sight.

It's a partly sunny day here and a balmy 6°C.  It's supposed to stay this warm for the next three days, though we're supposed to get some rain too.

A huge amount of volunteer charitable work going on in town these days.  Today was a day for donations to the local Foodbank, an entirely volunteer organization.  They also provide Christmas hampers to 200 families, as well as toys and gifts for 200 youngsters.  Mrs. F.G. has been shopping and sewing this week to provide our offering.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

November 2016

Since I can't access my current photos, I'm taking you back almost exactly three years to our old home in the valley.  Here's a selection of pictures in our garden from my post of Nov. 21st, 2016.  In the meantime it's actually sunny here and there's no snow in sight, though it's still cold.  Great day for late November exploring, but not in a wheelchair!

Living out in the country at that time, real winter was usually marked by the first time the snow plow went by - though he's not throwing up much snow in this pass.  Just a gentle snowfall.

A busy day today here.  Physio in Owen Sound yesterday, and here at home this morning, so I'm just a little sore.  I think it'll be a Christmas card afternoon.  Yes, I'm one of the dinosaurs who still sends cards to family at Christmas, though we receive fewer and fewer.  It's wonderful to have internet access back on this computer, even if I can't upload my current pictures. 

I had fun this morning looking back through old posts and deciding to post photos from the past.  In fact I've looked back over a lot of my photos from the last 5 years recently, looking for pictures to accompany an article on geology that I'm writing.  I have a lot of great photos, and I've had a lot of great local adventures, so I'm inclined to repeat some of those rather than miss posting.  My days have felt strangely incomplete and empty the past 3 weeks!  I think my photography was much better back then too, so I think I'll just continue this and hope you enjoy it. 

Do you realize that there's only 4 weeks left as the days get shorter and shorter?  Yes, 4 weeks today the days will start getting longer again!  Hurrah!

Friday, November 22, 2019

My computer works again!

Hello again out there.  Yes, my computer works again.  My local repair guy (the third store I tried, but at this one I got a real live voice) showed up this morning, just 48 hours after I called.  Windows flashed across the screen as his fingers danced across the screen and I had not the foggiest idea what he was doing.  But after 20 minutes it was back to normal and it seems to be working fine now.

Apparently my computer thought it had two screens attached, and it was sending some programs (the ones I thought I had lost) to the second screen, which actually didn't exist.  He also advised me on upgrading my security software and will order a replacement hard drive for me, this time a solid state one which should be much faster.  They will take the computer away one day next week to get that set up, and at the same time set it up with a microphone and voice recognition software so I can dictate rather than type.  Maybe I can get some serious writing done then!

HOWEVER, Lightroom will no longer import photos from my iphone, so I can't access any of my recent photos to post them!@#%$XX!  I don't know whether this is an iphone problem or another new computer problem.  Now I have to try some other tricks to see if I can overcome this problem.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Apple Pie, Muffins, Crumble, and Desert - All in One Day!

 I mentioned the other day that I have a good friend who has taken up baking. A totally new interest  that comes out of the blue for me. Peter actually worked for me at the University for many years, but I've never heard him mention learning how to bake before.  We did have wonderful years bringing students up to the BeaverValley on field courses and got to know many spots in the valley really well. In fact those years of experience are really where 'Seasonsinthevalley'  got started.

 Peter has a small orchard up here so he has lots of apples, although they don't get sprayed so they tend to be scabby. Scabs don't matter if you're peeling the apples though so he had a surplus of apples to deal with. On Sunday afternoon he showed up with an apple pie, some apple crumble, several apple muffins, and a delicious apple dessert!  Yes, believe it or not, all in one day!

Both Mrs. F.G. and I are  really impressed with his baking (it tastes great!),  and we enjoyed a really nice two hours of conversation. It was great to have a friend take the time and make the effort to come up here and see me, since it's a lot harder for me to go and see them. And now we've got dessert for at least a week or two!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Winter Accessibility Downtown

Thursday afternoon is my coffee group time.  We meet at The Kitchen in downtown Meaford.  Unfortunately snow removal is not one of Meaford's strong points.  Although a three foot strip down the sidewalk had been plowed and sanded, the snow was just pushed to one side, partly on to the street.  The only access points were two or three spots where merchants, including The Kitchen, had shovelled a gap in the snowbank.

Mrs. F.G. usually lets me out at the end of the block in weather like this, but that was blocked by a snowbank too.  We fought our way into a snow-covered parking spot, and I had to exit through six inches of snow.  Then I had a chat with the coffee shop owner about winter access to downtown.  The alternative during the winter is the local MacDonald's.  At least they serve good coffee.  And the disabled space is right outside the door, and it's always clear.

But not many of our group wants to patronize an international company instead of a locally owned and operated business.  Our decision remains in abeyance.  We'll see what the weather is like next week.

The other problem I realized later, is the sand and grit.  After I got home I had to sit on a mat for an hour waiting for the wheels to dry.  Only after Mrs. F.G. had attacked me with a broom and got all the grit out could I move.  Between the snow and the sanding of the sidewalks there are serious limitations to going downtown in the winter!

We added another member to our group today.  We're up to nine now, all former very active volunteers with the local Bruce Trail Club.  Wherever we meet, I enjoy the conversation.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Nice Wintry Day

It's white outside my window now, a good 6 inches everywhere. We're beyond the stage where the grass shows through the snow. Last week it snowed and then a lot more yellowy maple leaves blew off the trees so the snow looked like it had measles, scattered leaves all over the white.   Now it just looks white.  This morning it was actually sunny for a while, but this afternoon it has been dull and grey.  Really no leaves left as I look out except for the one Norway maple beside us which still has a lot of greenish looking leaves.

A few new birds for the season today. In the morning we had a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches visit along with a single solitary Goldfinch. Later the White-breasted Nuthatch dropped by.  The Chickadees and the Bluejays continue to visit most days. It's fun to be able to sit here at the window reading or exercising and watch these little creatures come and go.

I have a good friend who has been promising to do some baking and bring it up so I can sample his talents. I haven't expected it to actually happen, but he just called and said he's successfully baked an apple pie and apple muffins!  I'm looking forward to tasting them. But in the meantime we have a delicious dinner coming up tonight judging by the smells emanating from the kitchen.

I'm successfully dictating these blog posts and most of my emails these days, thanks to the voice recognition software of my iPad and iPhone. I usually just have to go back over and fix a few typos.  But sometimes it does get confused. In the first paragraph above for the words "dull and grey",  it first typed out Doll and Greg.  Still with my one-fingered typing this is a lot less work than having to type the whole thing.

An hour later.....

Dinner was delicious!  Melt-in-your-mouth smoked porkchops with roasted veggies - potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and onions!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Enjoying Winter

We are certainly getting some winter weather here. There's about 4 or 5 inches of snow on the ground and it stuck to one side of all the branches and evergreens making for a very pretty view. The temperature is below freezing and it's time for a winter coats hats and gloves.   The weather certainly restricts me in where I can go in my wheelchair.

I've been collecting pictures nevertheless, but now I can't even download them onto my old laptop, so no pictures for a while yet. I have lots of pictures of snow on the trees ready to share, today we found big icicles on the trees down by the bay.

Our birdfeeders are full and we have Blue Jays, a Downy Woodpecker and a Red-bellied Woodpecker all coming to feed, as well as a small flock of Chickadees.  I've never seen the Red-bellied Woodpecker up close before.  I'm hoping we'll get lots more birds over the winter.

I've been reading a lot about the occupance of this area by native peoples before white settlement.  Although there's a native village in Owen Sound, there is no evidence of prehistoric villages in the Bighead or Beaver Valleys that I have been able to find.  This area appears to have been mainly use for hunting, fishing and gathering.  The one native occupation I've found reference to is a temporary fishing camp at the mouth of the river here in Meaford.  I'd like to come to an understanding how our First Nations live in such appalling conditions even today.   I figure understanding the history will help.

I'm also reading about the geology of this area. I'd like to develop some earthcaches based on that. The area around Meaford is certainly an interesting landscape when you understand the underlying geology. I expect to write some posts in the future about all this.

I miss writing a blog post every day, but in fact I've been feeling a fair bit of pain the last two weeks from trying to stretch my muscles  during all the physio I'm taking.  Still it would be nice  to get that damn computer fixed and go back to normal.

 Take care, and enjoy winter!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Sandhill Cranes

Well, it's taking me ages on this old laptop.  It doesn't want to talk to my iphone properly, but I've managed to transfer a few pictures of the Sandhill Cranes we saw on Sunday.  It was a nice drive through Collingwood east to Stayner, past the little Edenvale airport, and off on a sideroad to Strongville.  The cranes were right in the field where my sister told us to look.

Hundreds of Sandhill Cranes, the further we looked across the field, the more we saw.

 As we watched more and more flocks flew in, adding to the numbers on the ground.

We drove around the entire large concession block and saw several more flocks.  We estimated about 1000 or more in total.  I can't tell you how exciting this was.  We plan to return next year with the biggest telephoto lens I have.

Tried to uplaod a video here, but Blogger couldn't handle it.

We're left with a whole bunch of questions.  Where do they come from?  Why congregate in this particular field?  How do they find each other?  Where will they go next?  Time for some research I think.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Busy Expeditions!

We've been busy with lots of things since my computer crashed.  I've been accumulating pictures fast, so I'll have to back up to share them once I get it fixed. Using the laptop, for which I have no working mouse, is just a pain.

We were out yesterday to visit Creekbank, a sewing machine shop out on a farm near Conn.  (It's on the bank of a creek).  Mrs. F.G. is starting to feel creative again and she's pondering a new sewing machine!!!  I think that would be great!

Today we headed east to where my sister saw some Sandhill Cranes yesterday, a large flock of them.  We've never seen more than 2 or 3 ourselves.  Our expedition was a success!  We found a large field with probably over a thousand cranes!  If they stop there annually, this may get to be an annual photographic stop (with a bigger telephoto lens).

On the other hand, I think I did myself in last week with four physio appointments in five days.  Just a little sore the past few days.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

First Snow

I knew you'd all be wanting to see these pictures, so |I dug out my old laptop I  haven't used in about 4 years, and eventually got some recent pictures loaded up.  So here they are.  It's the biggest sudden change in the seasonal year here, as the pleasant days of fall vanish in a cold autumnal storm, and we are into late fall, with the threat of snowfall always near.  Thursday night after the trick or treaters went home, it struck.  It came along with high winds on Georgian Bay, doing considerable damage along the shoreline.  Here's what we woke up to Friday morning.

It was a wet snow that blew in off the bay and stuck to the north side of the trees.

One of the two big golf course Sugar Maples that I watch lost all its remaining leaves in the wind, but the other is stubbornly hanging on.

The bird feeders are up, and lots more has been happening. 
 And I'm gearing up to survive six months of living indoors!