Friday, November 23, 2018

Ducks of winter

The ducks came back! They just couldn't stay away!

We've had snow and high winds and bitter bitter cold. A local Facebook friend posted a memory from last November: she was mowing her lawn exactly a year ago! Yesterday I dug out my warmest parka and folded out the furry hood to make a protective tunnel for my face and it was still bitter cold.

But the ducks came back. I'd post a photo but it was so cold my cell phone camera refused to function. The big pond is completely frozen and the little pond is half frozen so the ducks, masses of them, are huddled in the small area of open water. They try to stay as close to the shore as possible, but when Hapi and I walk by they head out away from us, quacking complaints about having to move.

The three blue jays keeping all the little birds away from my bird feeder had to give it up because the snow covered all the nearby branches where they were perching. So the little guys, the goldfinches and chickadees, one lone sparrow, a nuthatch and three cardinals, have been mobbing the feeder. The cardinals are very shy, they try to stay well out of view but in a bright red coat that's hard to do.

The female cardinal is easy to pick out, she's more brown than red. I was surprised to be able to distinguish the two males, one is bright red and the other more of a pinky-coral colour. I'm told their plumage gets darker as they mature so the coral cardinal must be a youngster.

I went snowshoeing on Wednesday with my walking-cycling group. We walked around a golf course in the fresh powdery snow. The first day of snow was heavy and wet but then it got cold and the second day of snow was powdery. Two people didn't have snowshoes so we walked single file to create a trail they could walk on easily. Hapi set out joyfully across the snow to explore the wide expanse of the golf course 'greens', but she soon tired of slogging through deep snow and joined our single file expedition with the snowshoeless couple. She's not a puppy anymore.

We saw deer tracks which Hapi investigated very thoroughly, and strange tracks on a frozen pond. We tried to guess what made them. We think it might have been a pair of creatures, perhaps otters, sliding on the soft ice. Hapi had the good sense not to investigate.

Today is Black Friday, I bought bird seed on sale. Feeding the economy, the birds and my soul.

Monday, November 19, 2018

November winter

Looks like winter is coming a little early this year. Snow in the air, ice on the ground, and temperatures low enough to prevent thawing.

Last week the wind blew so hard that my woodpile fell over. Had to restack it in the cold wind because the snow was coming and I wanted it back in place before that. But stacking in the wind meant it got thoroughly tested for stability, I am pretty sure it isn't going to fall over again.

November ducks of a previous year
I was at the reservoir early this morning and saw the last of the ducks leaving. Normally they wouldn't leave until well into December, but already one pond has frozen over and ice is forming in the other pond. Yesterday there were hundreds of ducks there, this morning there were maybe a couple dozen and by the time I left there were none. They were leaving in groups of 5 or more, heading down to the river I think. If we have a huge warm spell they might come back, but I doubt it. It was so nice to listen to them quacking in the morning, but now they're gone and I will miss them.

I did get my bird feeder up though so I can enjoy the chickadees and blue jays and finches and such. Today three jays staked out the feeder and chased off every bird that tried to approach. The chickadees waited them out and eventually the jays grew tired of the game and left. Then there was a flurry of finches at the feeder and juncoes and a mourning dove on the ground below.

I will miss the ducks though.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Across the divide of time

I thought I had a dentist appointment this afternoon but I got the day wrong, it's tomorrow. Which gave me a whole extra two hours this afternoon, better than a time change!

Yesterday was my grandson's birthday, and the family tradition is for me to Skype or Facetime in for the singing of Happy Birthday and the cutting of the cake. T, my grandson, had requested a cheesecake for the occasion. He is now 17 years old. What was remarkable from my perspective was that he initiated the Facetime call with me. While everyone else in his family was getting ready for the 'main event', T made conversation with me.

He asked, "So what are you working on today?"

This was so unexpected I didn't know how to answer. I sat there trying to remember what I had done that day, and since it was actually a busy day there was lots to remember. I finally came up with: "I made salsa."

He was impressed that I made salsa, he said he didn't know that you could make it yourself. I asked him what he worked on today and he said he was rehearsing Twelfth Night, for which he had scored a main role. Then he picked up a small child and showed him to me on camera. He told me that it was cousin with a name I can't remember or even pronounce if I could remember it. Told his cousin to say 'Hi' to me, which he did. Then swung the camera around to show me another cousin, a slightly older child, and finally his younger brother P.

What impressed me about the conversation is that he asked me what I was doing that day. Never in all the conversations I have had via phone, Skype, Facetime or even in person have any of my kids expressed any interest in knowing what I was doing. Occasionally I will mention something but it falls into the conversation like a rock into a black hole, never to reappear or be acknowledged.

Earlier that day at the dogpark I was chatting with a fellow old lady dog walker and mentioned a conversation with another older woman who had been quite ill this summer and whose husband is paralyzed and keeps her very busy looking after him. Her illness made the summer extremely stressful and she complained that none of her kids stepped up to help. When I repeated this story to my dog walking friend she chipped in with her own stories of offspring neglect. How the youngsters don't seem to appreciate the difficulties of older age (my friend is 85, the other woman I spoke of, 80) and blithely expect one to carry on unaided. So far my own experience is similar although not quite as extreme.

At the dogpark
I complained that my kids want me to listen to them talk about their lives but seem totally uniniterested in what might be going on in my life. My friend countered that she remembered having that same attitude towards her own parents. That they must be endlessly fascinated by the lives of their children and couldn't possibly have anything to say for themselves that might be of interest. I said I knew what she meant and that 'what goes around comes around'.

So when my grandson actually asked what I did today, I was struck speechless.

Towards the end of the call he suggested that I download a particular game that we could play over the internet, he thought it would be fun to have a 'gaming granny' that he could play with. After the call I looked up the game he suggested and it was a popular shoot-em-up last-man-standing-wins kind of game. Much as I would like to have the interaction with the grandson, I don't know if I can bring myself to play that particular game.

The difficulties of navigating intergenerational communication…