Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bizarre Spring

This is definitely the most bizarre weather I recall in the last 8 years.  Normally my spring working in garden centres and gardens has a predictability to it.  You start out with long johns and extra layers (sometimes waterproof) in early April.  Then gradually take off a layer every few days or week until you hit shorts and t-shirt weather.  There is usually the odd rain day but this year is crazy.  Yesterday it was short weather (28 degrees) - today back to extra layers and full rain gear at 7 degrees.  That is just one example - the whole spring has been like this.  It is very hard to plan my weeks activities.  And the weatherman is getting less accurate.  I go to bed expecting rain and wake up to a changed forecast of sun.  It is very frustrating but I will look on the bright side.  I get today off or you wouldn't be hearing from me!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Minesing Swamp

Today we went for a paddle at the Minesing Swamp.  It is an area about half an hour from us that has what used to be the largest Great Blue Heron rookery in North America until some of the trees blew over recently.  I have always wanted to go but it is easy to get lost so we went on a guided trip.  Most of the day we paddled through trees as shown below.  If you look very, very close you may be able to see a heron on a nest far, far away.   

One website referred to the Minesing as the northern Everglades and I could certainly see some similarities. "It is the largest and best example of fen bog in southern Ontario, one of the most diverse undisturbed wetland tracts in Canada and is a provincially-significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest. The swamp’s hydrology provides for an interconnected network of swamps, fens, bogs and marshes".  Which means it was tough going.  Submerged logs everywhere.  There was one spot about an hour in that we had to pull the canoes through a shallow spot so our feet were wet until we got back to the truck 4 or 5 hours later.  It was only 4 or 5 degrees out today.  After lunch the wind really picked up and that made it even more difficult.

"It provides habitat to over 400 plant species, of which 11 are provincially rare. Minesing Swamp is an important staging area for thousands of migratory waterfowl and is the largest wintering ground for white-tailed deer. It supports numerous plant species which are at the extremities of their natural range, including those indigenous to the arctic tundra in the north and the Carolinian forests to the south and is home to the largest pure stand of silver maple in the province".   We saw 2 sandhill cranes, a swan waddling a fair distance away, a porcupine and a raccoon sleeping in trees and a dead crayfish, frog and muskrat.  Later in the year there would be more wildlife but it is harder to paddle and the Friends of the Minesing Swamp only do the guided trips early in the spring.

If I had to sum up the day in one word - that word would be brutal.  I am exhausted.  The muscles between my shoulder blades are sore and my tennis elbow is bugging me.  I thought I was in fairly good shape (because of my rebounding and gardening and dog walking I keep active) but I am embarrassed that we were almost always the stragglers on the tour so it looked like we couldn't keep up to the seniors.  Our group of nine (Kevin and I and 3 of our kids and Kevin's brother and his 3 kids) had 3 canoes and 2 kayaks.  We had to do some juggling to work out paddling partners.  Hopefully though they will all remember this as a great family experience in the years to come.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What is it?

When we were on our hike down to the Whirlpool in Niagara Falls last week, we did considerable cleaning up of things that had washed up over the winter.  Connor brought back 14 assorted foam, tennis and hockey balls and a large fishing bobber.  Victoria brought back some empty bottles for her collection.  Kevin got a kiddie's inflatable ball (he uses them for something do do with canoeing).  Caitlin got a sunburn.  None of us were willing to carry up the10 pin bowling ball.  I brought this back.

 There appears to be a a space for a band of some sort around the middle.  Someone told us they thought it was a marker for a golf course but since we don't golf we don't know.  There is a golf course up the 300 steps and across the road so it is highly likely.  Anybody know for sure?

While raking the lawn today I found the poor creature below.  Yup - he is dead.  I was going to include him as a what is it but I know for sure what it is now.  I couldn't decide if he was a bearded dragon or an iguana but another neighbour knew who he belonged to and went to get the owner.   Buddy the bearded dragon escaped last summer.  They apparently searched for him for hours.

I should have known where he belonged.  Everything they lose ends up at our house.  Over the years we have rescued their sun shelter (which the husband denied was his for days), 3 of their dogs that somehow got out and now this.  How he "escaped" is beyond me.  But I know where to go for sure next time something strange shows up at my house.