Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for February 2012

A SIGN OF SPRING

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Caught this ROBIN in our Ash Tree just before a day-long snow-fall. Poor thing has since disappeared.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 28, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Posted in Commentary, Photography

THE VIEW FROM MY SITTING ROOM

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The crows are quite vocal this afternoon. They circle the tree tops in a tight crowd and in their own time light on the topmost branches, black smudges on White Birches, bare White Ash and dark-barked Black Walnut trees. All the while causing a commotion that shatters the quietude of the day. The clamor persists as more join their gathering. Then, for no obvious reason, they take flight heading down the line of trees to yet another perch to begin the process all over again. The bush behind my house is a favourite gathering place for crows.

I live on the shoulder of the Saugeen River. It is but minutes from my back door. But between the water and me is a thick forest of red tipped Sumacs, high weeds, gnarled apple trees and wild lilacs choked with wild grape vines that descends into a steep bank thick with cedars. These cedars have grown so dense that little light gets through. You must look up past their dead and dying branches to the green canopy to catch a glimpse of sky.

Somewhere along the brow of this line is a hard to detect path leading to the river. It slides down into darkness. The dead branches arch over it making the descent a sinister passage like Orpheus into the Underworld.

We seldom take that walk. We say it is because the path back up is an uncomfortable pitch for our old legs. But perhaps the claustrophobic forest recalls some deeply buried childhood fear. Why else would it attract crows?

This line of bush is different in winter, though.

Below it, the canyon that holds the Saugeen becomes a snow channel. Winds off the water charge through the harbor mouth and follow the path of the river blowing the lake effect squalls up and over our river-hill subduing the bush and trees and obliterating them under a weight of white. When the weather changes so does the view.

This is the forest outside my sitting room window.

Its tree line catches the light of the rising sun, then turns black at sunset. Green, grey, beige or white, whatever the season’s colour, there is never a time when it is boring or taken for granted. It is constant in its consistent changes.

 

 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 26, 2012 at 5:00 PM

SNOWY

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They came to occupy our back roads and farm fields. Stoically perched on hydro poles and fence posts, they survey their bleak surroundings, heads rotating in seemingly full circle, ever vigilant for any movement in the mud and snow. Oblivious to any kind of weather, they wait. Patience is their stock in trade. They sit almost motionless for hours; the only sign of movement is the wind ruffling their feathers. When they take flight they glide low over the ground. Then with a few short strokes of their wings they gain height and settle again on another high vantage point – to wait.

It all started with emails from Bruce County Birders. The Snowy Owls had arrived in more than normal numbers. This was something that doesn’t happen every year. Sightings were posted. Locations changed from day to day. The excitement was palpable. The news sent all serious birders on a quest. The search was part of the excitement. Those that found them were happy to send their photographs.

Our first sighting was early in the morning driving down Bruce Road 3 at 80km an hour…one solitary bird, high above the road on a hydro pole in the breaking dawn light. It was an accidental view, a fleeting glance but a glance nonetheless. We crisscrossed the county a number of times after that. Finally, one sunny day, on our way out of Paisley towards Underwood we saw four of them. They sat quietly for their portraits waiting for us to be done.

Looking at them I got the impression that they were unimpressed with the whole procedure. If I were a Snowy Owl looking down at all these people with their binoculars and cameras with protruding lenses I would probably be wondering what all the fuss was about.

But I’m not a Birder or a Snowy Owl. 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 5, 2012 at 5:21 PM