Surprise Sanctuary

Little did we know, when I took a shovel to my garden and dug a three foot deep hole, of the effect this pond that I had in my head would have on our micro-ecosystem. I wanted a pond that suited my lazy character – no maintenance. I dug it deep enough for the fish to winter, and pumped my water up through a gravel bed in which I planted swamp plants, mostly native to Ontario, but with the odd tropical for variety. Over the years, it developed it’s own ecosystem. The fish feed the plants and bacteria, who in turn clean the water for the fish. It’s totally amazing to watch nature at work.

The effect on the bigger community has also been amazing. First, the birds come. Robins and sparrows, finches and doves; all come to drink, and bath, and cool off on a hot summer’s day. Pictures will (hopefully) be in another post. From somewhere a frog came; then another.  The next year there were three, but they’ve scarpered this summer. Chippies and squirrels come to drink, too and wasps come for water.

And then the flowers. We bought a lily; a lotus. It becomes more prolific each year. The large buds come up from the bottom,closed tight against the water, straining toward the light like slow motion arrows. Then, one day, you come out and you see the most perfect blossom,delicate, beautiful, floating serenely on the surface.

This year we have a veritable wildness happening; more variety blooming together than ever before. Little yellow starflowers push their way up between the lily leaves. Water hyacinths beyond all expectation.

When we first saw a water hyacinth blossom, it was at the pond store – we had no idea they flowered. We bought a couple, and while they covered the pond, (they’re quite invasive, banned in warm climates like Florida) there was not a blossom to be seen. I think we had one flower the next year, but they are like the rabbit – hare today, gone tomorrow. This year, there are four together, with one more promising for the morning. I don’t know why they flower: you don’t know which one will produce that delicate blossom until it’s there. It seems to shoot the stem and flowers up in a single day, then they bloom in the sun, and they’re gone. So beautiful, and so brief.

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Hiking the local wilderness

 

A couple of weeks ago, S and I took a picnic lunch to Balls Falls, in the Niagara Peninsula. There has been little rain lately so the Falls were dry, but it was an interesting time anyway. There is a little “village” on the site, with the Ball family homestead, and other buildings: unfortunately you can’t get into the homestead, but the outbuildings are accessible. The site is on the Bruce Trail, so long hikes are possible.

 

This weekend we went to the Rock Chapel Sanctuary, off Highway 5 on top of the escarpment.

From the parking lot, you have a choice of trails, all part of the Bruce Trail system. We walked west, looking for Borer’s falls, and found the trickle of water going over the edge, down to Borer’s creek. Apparently there was a mill here too, in the past.

 

We walked on, to  the Bruce trail, down some steep, uneven steps that take you over the edge of the cliff. It is rugged terrain, with  steep inclines and large rocks that were part of the talus slope of the limestone escarpment. Great exercise, and keeps your heart rate up.

S had a favorite rock. She says it looks like a lion, lying down and gazing across the valley. She went up behind the “lion” (and behind a tree) to see if he really had a view, and sure enough, he does.

Ah, Paris… seems like yesterday

It’s been just over a year since S and I went to England and France. She was so happy to be there; couldn’t believe she was actually in front of the Eiffel Tower, or at Versailles, or even in some unknown street in Paris. Then we came home and got back to life, and the pictures and memories stayed on the hard drive.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to post pictures as we went on in our trip. It turned out to be too time-consuming for me. However, I still have the pics, and the blog, so…better late than never. It’s kind of  like going again.:)Europe vacation may 20and21 Cafe de Flore2

I thought this was the quintessential Paris scene: The flowers, the style, the crazy traffic…even an obliging gendarme watching the scene.

Versailles… Awesomely huge, ostentatious and, for me slightly disappointing. Very commercialized, huge crowds: I’m glad we went, and perhaps the other parts of Versailles are better.  And the less said, the better, too..:)

More to come as the days go by. It’s raining so I  can’t go out and get more pictures.

 

Starting Again

No, it’s not like that…nothing dramatic, just been a while since I posted. so I’m starting my blog again…
My wife and I are out walking, with our Fitbits on, and I’ve been taking my camera. Once again, just a few shots of my world; the places we go and the things we see…

 

Across the Grand

Cambridge is a medium sized community, with all the hustle and bustle that goes with that. Yet, walk 100 steps from the arena parking lot and it’s vanished!  Walking on the floodplain, one can see the limestone cliffs on the other side. Geese and ducks are raising their babies, undisturbed by the busy city surrounding them.
Teasels

My wife liked the teasels, like tridents sticking up out of the grass. As we walked up out of the floodplain onto the grassy common, this tree caught my eye. Such a different image shooting into the sun, or away from it.

Now we walked on, well above the river, and the sun slowly set, As I was trying to what little colour there was in the sky, my wife saw two deer come out of the tall grass across the river. One went back in, and one slowly made its way across the shallow channel to another island, hidden residents in our city’s downtown.

Sunset on the Grand

Deer in river_crop0

Industrial Park

StopAnother small town in Ohio. I am waiting for my logbook start time, and it is cold and grey, recently raining but not now.  I am struck by the barrenness of the industrial “park” . Humans step in, destroy what was there, and build the things that make our world go around; factories, communications networks,  train tracks, power lines, and a token bush or two, a monument to that which we destroyed.

I am a part of this: I like my house, my internet service, my refrigerator full of food. I am grateful for the smooth roads I drive on.  Sometimes, though, I wonder what this place was like before us.  The lonely tree stands amid our detritus, a reminder of what was.

The Tree

 

Gallery

New Camera, New Pictures

I had some time on beautiful spring evening, in Toulon IL., so I grabbed the camera, and went to see small-town America.  One main street, one café, (closed for the day), two bars, and a gas station/convenience store. Several really friendly people. In fact, that is what sticks in my mind the most: nice folks who weren’t afraid to say “Hi” to a stranger