Monday 30 June 2014

Good Morning

There is a small lake about half an hour's walk from where I live, with an equally small, but very pleasant, park at one end.  The park contains a play area, some picnic tables, some tall cottonwood trees, and a boat ramp; not much to catch the eye at first, but there are almost always visitors.

You might be excused at first for wondering what draws people there.  Certainly the view is pretty, and the water is usually calm enough to welcome canoes and small boats, but there are many places in the valley as beautiful and we are on an island, surrounded by water.  We don't lack for opportunities to paddle.

What is it then?

Great carpets of water lilies lie near the shore of the lake.  Right now they're at their peak, broad flat leaves rising from the water on sturdy stems and orange-yellow flowers blooming brightly at the water line.  

Behind them, coming right up to the shore, are thickets of tall sturdy reeds interspersed with young cottonwood saplings, dipping their toes in the water.

Dragonflies flit just above the surface of the water, their transparent wings turned silver by the sunlight, and in the shade of the lily pads small frogs lie quiet during the day but sing surprisingly loud serenades at sunrise and sunset.

Small silver fish seek shelter in the shadows of the lily carpet while further out larger fish rise to catch the insects on the surface, occasionally jumping to catch the sunlight in a brilliant liquid silver arch before disappearing again beneath the blue surface of the water.

Osprey plummet from the skies - feathered missiles - into the still waters.  Rising again to the skies with silvered bounty clutched in beak or talons, they make their way to rocky perches where they can consume their catch while keeping watch around them.

Great flotillas of ducks and geese sail by, traveling parallel to the shore.  The ducks turn bottoms-up to dine on fish with a side salad of underwater grasses before righting themselves on the surface like corks. The geese are more dignified, dipping only their heads beneath the water, and emerging with bright droplets jeweling their feathers. Tame creatures, ducks and geese alike will come right up onto the sidewalk if they think a visiting human might provide a snack.

In the lily metropolis the smaller creatures - bugs and dragonflies, bright butterflies, frogs, and fish - draw busy brown birds who hop from leaf to leaf, feeding and socializing as they go.  Among them, exotic with their vivid feathers, red winged black birds swoop and wheel.  They perch a moment and are off again, moving so quickly that the eye catches little of their passing but a bright flash of red and yellow from their shoulder patches.

The cottonwoods are busy too, with different occupants at different heights within the tree: a sort of avian high rise.  Near the bottoms of the trees, flickers and woodpeckers mine hungrily for insects on the bark.  In the branches above, swallows rest before darting out over the water to hunt.  Conventions of crows come and go from the top branches, shouting to one another in rusty, abrasive voices before moving on.

It's easy to imagine myself a traveler; a tourist visiting this lakeside community of creatures, experiencing it with that same sense of curiosity and adventure one has when taking a vacation.  The more I watch, the more I'm drawn into the scene, entranced by each small detail, eager to know more about each inhabitant. So absorbed am I that time slips by without my notice.  

Eventually, though, like any traveler, I must be on my way.  The chores of the day are waiting and routine is once again calling my name.  I can return home refreshed, though, with the happy thought that this lakeside lily-world is nearby.  I can come back to it again to gaze and daydream and, in the meantime I am refreshed, my calm restored, and my spirits lifted at the beginning of the day.

Have a joyful Monday.

Friday 27 June 2014

News of the Day

Here are some of the links I've shared today on my Aunt B's Kitchen page on Facebook.  I share lots more on TwitterG+, and Pinterest.  Do join me there!  :)

On my blogs:

Magnesium Body Butter Recipe from WellnessMama


45 Money-Saving Landscape Tips from Better Homes and Gardens

Frugal Living:

How to Yard Sale Like a Boss, from Twelve O Eight

Good Morning

It is raining here today: Deep soaking showers followed by still, quiet breaks.  As so often happens with wet weather at this time of year, the water hurries to return to its source, swathing the tops of the hills with soft grey scarves as it rises towards the clouds from which it so recently descended.

The waters of the bay and estuary are mirror smooth.  It's low tide and they've drawn back from the edges of field and marsh, stands of salt grass stranded like tussocky islands in the midst of a sea of rich mud and sand.  

The channels of the estuary are so shallow now that the herons who usually fish the edges are standing right in the center of the stream, intent as always on their prey, and perfectly reflected in the silvery surface.

Bright crystal cabochons decorate the petals of the last of the wild roses, and stand in bright contrast to the strappy green of the iris leaves in the marsh.  

The chicory flowers have closed against the rain, their petals forming loosely gathered blue-mauve bunches along their wiry stems, the beads of yet-unopened flower buds a soft contrasting pink.  

The first Queen Anne's lace has opened this week and stands tall among the grasses, looking impossibly fragile in the falling rain.

The rain has washed clean leaf, and blade, and branch, and flower and intensified the perfumes of the plants a hundred fold.  The air is fragrant with green, with rose, and with lavender.

Puddles in our parking lot have become the Roman baths of Birdland, crowded with small busy brown birds, splashing away from their feathers the accumulated dust of days as they socialize, chittering to one another while they wash.

I am grateful for this soft day, for the quiet it has brought to my thoughts this morning, and for the thousand sweet memories its scents have recalled.  It makes a gentle ending to this busy week.

I hope that, whatever the weather is where you are today, you find peace in your thoughts and sunshine in your heart.  Have a joyful Friday.

Thursday 26 June 2014

News of the Day

Here are some of the links I've shared today on my Aunt B's Kitchen page on Facebook.  I share lots more on TwitterG+, and Pinterest.  Do join me there!  :)

On my blogs:


15 Vegetables That Grow Well in a Container or Pot from These Self Sufficient Living


Fine Merino Camisole from Ravelry

Beautiful Vancouver Island:

Mount Douglas View from Victoria Buzz on Facebook

Wednesday 25 June 2014

News of the Day

Here are some of the links I've shared today on my Aunt B's Kitchen page on Facebook.  I share lots more on TwitterG+, and Pinterest.  Do join me there!  :)

On my blogs:


Fried Green Tomato "Burgers" With Herbed Chevre and Balsamic from Jenni Field's Pastry Chef On Line

Blackened Salmon from Kitchen Dreaming

Thyme Roasted Radishes from Montana Homesteader

Root Beer Float Cookies from Chocolate, Chocolate and More


Paper Flowers from Little Legacy



Good Morning

Wanting some exercise and some quiet before settling in to work this morning, I went for an early walk around my neighbourhood.  There are few people about on the side streets at that time of day, so I was a little surprised to round a corner and find this young man sitting on the curb.

From his posture, I thought at first that he was hunched over a phone or gaming device, as people so often are these days, but as I drew closer, I realized that wasn't the case.  Whatever he had in his hands was much smaller than a phone, but whatever it was, it was certainly holding his attention.

Knowing that children sometimes view strangers - even short, round, older ladies like me - as a potential threat, I usually approach them with a smile and make eye contact, but I rarely speak to them unless they're accompanied by an adult.  I needn't have concerned myself this time though.  As soon as he noticed me, the boy greeted me with "Look at this!  Isn't it cool?" and held out his hand to show me what he'd been examining so carefully.

It was a small, bright green sphere covered with scary looking spikes that were actually quite soft to the touch.  I had to smile because they'd fascinated me as a child, too.

We have a number of magnificent horse chestnut trees along our streets and they bloomed spectacularly this year.  The bees were busy there and apparently did their job very well, pollinating the blossoms so effectively that the trees are now over-laden with chestnuts.  Because nature is much better at recognizing the need for balance that we are, the trees are now shedding excess fruit from their branches, retaining only an amount that they are likely to sustain.

Chestnuts' green casings grow tough and thick as they mature and, when they fall from the tree, they dry and harden.  The spikes on the dried casings become quite sharp 

but when they're shed from the tree early, like the one my young friend was examining, the spikes are often quite soft and flexible.

As a child I found those immature drupes a tactile delight.  I was also amazed that they could change so much over the course of the summer.  They intrigued this boy that way too.

We chatted a while, and then my new friend's grandma joined him with her bicycle and they headed off together to enjoy the trails by the river.  I continued on my way too, cheered by the thought that no matter how much new technology surrounds us, children will still find time to be intrigued by nature.  

It was a happy thought with which to start to my day and now, as I sit here in front of my computer, it reminds me to tear my eyes from the screen once in a while, to pause and drink in the beauty of my surroundings, and to consciously give thanks for the glories of the day.

I hope that your Wednesday is off to a joyful beginning and that, however busy you may be, you find a moment or two today to experience the wonders of your world.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

News of the Day

Here are some of the links I've shared today on my Aunt B's Kitchen page on Facebook.  I share lots more on TwitterG+, and Pinterest.  Do join me there!  :)

On my blogs:

Nature Walk Ideas For Kids of Various Ages from Premeditated Leftovers


Cardboard Cryptex Safe from Instructables

Good Morning

I didn't take this picture today.  I took it on a late June day two years ago, but the weather and light today are remarkably similar.

We had a good rain last night.  We needed it.  In this green corner of the world there's a lot of growing stuff, and all that stuff needs frequent drinks of water to do what it does.  This year we haven't had enough of it, so we're very grateful to see the rain when it comes.

June is a time of rampant growth here. The wild grass in the Somenos marsh is taller than most people, and the woodlands are a riot of green.  Foliage in every imaginable shape and size is reaching the peak of its growth, and vivid mats of moss cushion every shady corner. 

On farms in the valley the year's second cut of hay is being harvested, great swaths of lavender corduroy rolling meadows with fragrant purple, on acres of vineyard tiny green grapes promise autumnal greatness, and cows and calves and sheep and llamas graze contentedly, growing fat on the rich green grasses of the season.

On days like today, all this abundance looks fresh and new, scrubbed free of dust by the rain, and proudly displayed in its Sunday best.

The wild creatures seem happy to see the rain too.  The air is absolutely alive with birdsong right now.  Squirrels are busy checking the crop in the walnut tree outside my window.  A deer is standing on its hind legs, stretching up to graze the bottom leaves from the crab apple tree in the yard on the corner.  

By the river, kingfishers perch on low hanging branches and herons stand in still pools.  Both watch the water intently, somehow distinguishing between the dimples of raindrops on the surface and the movement of fish below.

I'm going to enjoy this cool, wet day.  My umbrella is waiting in the stand by the door and chores can be left for a little while. This morning is for the sound of raindrops pattering on my umbrella, and the sight of ducks paddling on the lake.

Whatever your Tuesday holds for you, whatever the weather where you are, I hope your day's a happy one. However busy you may be, I hope you can find a moment or two to pause and enjoy the beauty all around you.  Have a joyful day.

Monday 23 June 2014

News of the Day

Here are some of the links I've shared today on my Aunt B's Kitchen page on Facebook.  I share lots more on TwitterG+, and Pinterest.  Do join me there!  :)

On my blogs:

Red Ted Art


8 Moves for Better Balance from HuffPost Healthy Living

Mindful Living: