Today’s Birds: April 12, 2017

My favourite image captured today was a simple one of three geese.  They seemed to be suspended or floating on perfectly calm pond water.  Obviously just as curious about me, we spent about five minutes exchanging gazes, alternating with times looking at the environment that surrounded us.

I spent a great deal of time enjoying the antics of the Goldeneyes, also, but, at their preferred distance from me, very little again, in the way of successful capture.

©Kathleen Moors

Likely 50 male Goldeneyes at Frank’s Flats today and a continued effort at capturing their ridiculous courting rituals.

I think this little girl is a female Wigeon.  I had seen a male at the pond on April 11.Today, I also spotted a single male Bufflehead.  He was unobtrusively wandering through the Goldeneye chaos.

A very fuzzy image to document his presence…

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury: Chapter 21

OH!  To have had an audio tape!  I used to make my own tapes.  I read aloud late at night, staying slightly ahead of the students.  Dandelion Wine is my favourite book.  Take a listen, if you have 9 hours to spend, just sitting still, or while you’re working in your studio, just listen.  You will learn to take pause, if you let this book’s lessons sink through the tough shell that has become your busy life and settle on your heart.

This post is about Chapter 21 and Douglas’s loss of his dear friend, John Huff.  I guess if you are the daughter of a military man, this might even mean more.

Taking your time and noticing is what this post is all about.  As one pours on the years, one realizes that in order to slow things down, one needs to start noticing.

I was hot and sweaty and cleaning out the paint buckets that I had used with grade ones, painting that day, when I heard my cell phone ding.

IMG_7742Painting Kites

My friend, Michael, had sent a text that he’d like to drop by.  I thought immediately that we might go to the pond, with Max, and enjoy what was left of the beautiful day.  I rushed, swirling the pink water out of brushes and buckets, returned my tools to the storage closet and was out and on my way.

Mike was sitting on the steps when I arrived and Max’s nose was lifted, sniffing against the window.

A quick change into play clothes and we were off to the pond!  Michael patiently observed the life and light of the water, the clouds and the life surrounding this special place.  It was so nice to have a witness to Frank’s Flats and the place that I know so well.

IMG_7776IMG_7766IMG_7749

Michael is always taking amazing photographs, but rarely appears in any of them.  I like that he looks out at the world!  No selfies for this guy!  So, on this outing, I would be witness to his life!

We enjoyed the explorations of baby coots. I took my photo of the bush. And then we were on our way for the next adventure.  Some time ago, I had seen one remarkable photograph on Michael’s social media archive.  He told me that it was taken at McKinnon’s Flats.  I asked if ever he went back, would I be able to join him?  This was the day.  Here’s the photograph that inspired the request!

Michael Collette Mackinnon's flats

Photo Credit: Michael Colette

I didn’t stay left on 22X and so we ended up going north on Stoney Trail.  That was okay!  Meant to be!  We began our slow enjoyable zig zag across the rural landscape, making our way, with ease, back south to McKinnon’s Flats.  I saw a bird I had never seen!  And the light and wonder of it all was very enjoyable.

The sandpiper…

IMG_7793

IMG_7806IMG_7801

Michael’s photograph….from this location…truly captured the magic!

Michael Collette 2

Photo Credit: Michael Collette

The panorama view that opened up as we began our descent into the valley, at river’s edge, was spectacular.  Next time, I will document that.  It took my breath away.

Once at the river’s edge, Michael pulled out our picnic food.  A refreshing potato salad filled with the flavours of fresh veg and lovely dressing…and an icy cold hibiscus drink, so refreshing!  Max observed, but was hungry to be free of his leash and to explore the water’s edge.  It wasn’t long until I did just that.

IMG_7839IMG_7838IMG_7836IMG_7834IMG_7819IMG_7815IMG_7810

The stretch of walk we took, saw zillions of little moths lighting up the already-electric air.  We chatted about photography and light and the sky the entire way.  Out of nowhere about 75 striking white pelicans, hung on the air just above our heads.  I grabbed my camera and snapped this wee instant as a documentation of the memory, that in no way, captures the intensity of the moment.  We decided, standing still above the river, that this moment was meant just for the two of us…two good friends enjoying evening light.

IMG_7827

In order to really gather up my life, I need to do this.  Slow down.  Watch light.  Treasure friendship, my children, my family.  Listen to music.  Make art. Write.

I am grateful for the inspired invitation to go for a Sunday drive on Friday.  Everything that I had planned for the evening, went out the window.  And it was exactly as it should be.  My life is a blessed life.

Slow down

 

And Then There Was One!

The female eaglet, #1, has left the nest.  She’s done a couple of flybys at the Duke Farm’s eagle nest and parents have been diligent about continuing to bring food to the nest, but our little guy, #2, is looking lonely.  I first discovered #1 was going into the realm of fledging on Thursday at lunch.  I had a preparation period and saw this all on my own.  I actually had a tear because of the wonderful memories the grade threes and I have shared, watching the adults birth, hatch and raise their two young ones.

February 2015 Two Eggs

February 2015 Two Eggs

Here they are on April 19th.

Here they are on April 19th.

#2 eaglet Duke Farms June 13

This was the nest yesterday on June 13, 2015.

The student observations have been so beautiful, I’ve taken a selection of photos of some of their illustrations and recorded observations.  These warm my heart…absolutely precious.

Hmmm…as I’ve been downloading the student observations, little lady has been back to the nest to feast on a fish that her mama just brought.  Presently, she and her sibling are cuddling on a branch and clicking their beaks together.  The biologists have indicated that she’s been doing a lot of flying today and might just hang out at the nest for the time being.June 13 dukes reunion June 13 Visit with sister June 13 2015 siblings eaglesNow, for the student observations…read their entries…they are beautiful.

DSC_4159

DSC_4158

DSC_4157

DSC_4156

DSC_4155

DSC_4154

DSC_4153

DSC_4152

DSC_4151

DSC_4150

DSC_4149

DSC_4148

DSC_4147

DSC_4146

DSC_4145

DSC_4144

DSC_4143

DSC_4142

DSC_4141

DSC_4140

DSC_4139

DSC_4138

DSC_4137

DSC_4161 DSC_4162 DSC_4163 DSC_4164 DSC_4165 DSC_4166 DSC_4167 DSC_4168 DSC_4169 DSC_4170 DSC_4171 DSC_4172At the Decorah Nest, their #1 of three fledged today!  WHOOT!

A Great Day For Wild Flowers

We’ve made it a part of our late spring rituals to share in a wild flower walk out at Many Springs Trail in the Bow Valley Parkway.  My dear Ya Yas and I shared a delicious pot-luck picnic after enjoying the beautiful blooms along the trail.  The water wasn’t as high along the boardwalk as I had expected and it was a day of extraordinary beauty.  Summer is here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

P1170637P1170643P1170650 P1170652P1170654P1170658P1170671P1170676P1170682P1170693P1170686P1170687P1170703P1170710P1170714 P1170716 P1170718 P1170719 P1170723 P1170727 P1170728 P1170731 P1170736 P1170738 P1170744 P1170746 P1170747 P1170748 P1170749 P1170778 P1170779 P1170780 P1170781 P1170782

 

 

Grade Ones Meet Pablo Picasso

You haven’t heard from me lately.  I wish that you had more insight into what I’ve been up to.  It’s as though I’ve dropped off of the map.

I’m teaching grade one…but, you knew that.  What you maybe don’t know is how a grade one world surrounds you and gobbles you up.  And when you arrive at your front door at the end of each day, it seems there is a buzz in your ears and everything outside of the classroom where you’ve submersed (and yes, I meant to type submersed and not immersed) yourself all day, seems to be going slow motion…and you are still going way too fast; in the grocery store, in your kitchen, in a coffee shop.

Today we talked about Pablo Picasso.

picasso-flowers

Alright…it really isn’t that simple.

The agenda message first thing this morning was something about practicing reading at home and finding groups of things at home…counting by twos…counting by fives.  And don’t forget to return the yellow form to the school by Wednesday!  While the children were hard at this, I played Pete Seeger’s later-in-life version of “Where Have All the Flower’s Gone?”  The children, by second verse, were singing along.  (Apparently, and I just learned this, the grade ones had done a version for the Remembrance Day observance this past year.)  I told them that I had flowers on my mind.

The day continued with library book deliveries, observations of lima beans tucked carefully in wet paper towel and sealed in Zip Lock bags on the window sills. (Thank goodness for Zip Lock bags!)

“There are roots!  Look at my roots!  Awe…I didn’t get roots!  Mine are cracked!  Come over here and look at these.  I have three roots!”

Note your observations… a drawing…don’t forget the date.  I see_______________.  What?  Now, let’s wrap them in another paper towel and we’ll see them on Day 8.  You are the scientists!  Make sure that you’ve sealed your Zip Lock bags!

We had better check the eaglets…”OH, LOOK!  Another turtle shell!  They’re growing big!  They are walking so tall now and they are getting black like their Mom and Dad!”

Spring in grade one is overflowing with butterflies, eaglets, seeds and talk of weather.  Having already completed a reflection on Picasso and his elegant drawing of a bouquet of flowers, these students created a depiction.  (I will include photographs of these on a later date.)  We did the drawings early last week and talked about hands that go over things and hands that go under things.  I explained, after the obvious suggestion, that no, we wouldn’t be tracing our hands.  I thought that it was possible to draw the hands, without tracing. (Secretly, I wondered if this was possible.)

So today, out came the chalk, the permanent markers and left over paints from previous painting projects of weeks ago, today, seeming months ago.

Ideas like… lines that are smooth-like-butter…lines that are choppy…shapes around stems and placing a paper towel under a painted edge and moving it along…stems that squeeze in to a middle point where hands will be circling…and then the stems releasing out again.  It went on and on, really.  Art always does…go on and on.  We will be colouring our bouquets tomorrow…more photos will follow.

Teaching grade one is like that place where magic and crazy converge.  When a light goes on for a grade one child, it is like the most amazing thing because you know that  what has just been made sense of is a very basic concept that will be at the base of absolutely everything for the rest of that child’s life.  As I think about this tonight, I’m in awe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

P1160283 P1160284 P1160285 P1160286 P1160287 P1160288 P1160278 P1160279 P1160280 P1160281 P1160258 P1160260 P1160261 P1160263 P1160269 P1160272 P1160273 P1160274 P1160275 P1160276 P1160277

What I Learned in the Garden

When I spend time in gardens (reflecting and pulling weeds), I learn something.  Last night, as I revisited, in my heart, the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, I also expected to learn something new.  I’m consistently blessed that way on Holy Thursday and so grateful for the time of meditation and adoration with our Lord.

First of all, as happens each year, a former student slipped into the seat next to me.  He is a man in his fourth year of University now, but at the time that he was my student, he was in grade seven.  Every Holy Thursday since that year, we’ve taken pause together, with gratitude for the Son of Man.  Last year we missed one another because I had slipped out to go home and return in my track pants and comfie clothes…but, apart from that, we’ve connected each year to pray that ‘one hour’ in the garden with our Lord.

All of that wonder aside, what did I learn in the garden?  I was really focused on how I felt, sitting and kneeling and sitting again.  I mean, I was exploring how my head was hurting and my eyes were weary.  I knew that when I knelt, my knees were sore and when I slumped, my back was sore.  I just couldn’t get comfortable…but I remained, struggling to be with our Lord.  I contemplated his passion.  I had tears at times.  I wrote a little, in order not to lose focus.  My mind wandered about my children…the loss of my mother…the sounds of people entering into and leaving the space.

And then I entered into my lesson.  I moved away from thinking about the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus, but really focused on his time in the garden.  I know that he likely experienced the same sort of physical discomfort in his body as I did.  As well as experiencing huge fear and anxiety around the events that were to come, I know that he must have felt so weary!  I know that before the first kiss of betrayal…the humiliation…the abandonment by his friends, he would have ALREADY felt exhausted.  So much more ahead for him…all the way to the cross, but without rest, refreshment or shelter of any kind.  I guess I learned about the humanity of Jesus even more last night.  I felt sad for him and truly wondered how he endured so much for the sake of people like me…for all of us.

I know. I know.  Most of my readers may not be on the same page as me on any of this…but, this afternoon, as I head over for the observance of Good Friday, I claim the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour.  I spill over with humble gratitude for all of his discomfort for the sake of our salvation.  I claim his love.

Jerusalem_Gethsemane_tango7174

 

 

Our Three Eaglets

Given our daily morning visits to Duke Farm’s LIVE EAGLE CAM, the grade ones have been keeping a daily journal of the events at the nest. I’m starting to get nervous.  As soft white-grey down gradually is replaced by dark grey feathers, and soon black feathers, I get concerned that something might happen to one of the juveniles.  In fact, I suppose we’ve been fortunate so far that nothing bad has happened due to a predator’s attack or such as that.  The little guys are starting to beetle around their nest and I have no idea how the adults keep catastrophe from happening in the form of a nose dive to a sad ending.

The students and I have shared a bit about this sort of thing.  I think I said, “Boys and girls, what will happen if something bad happens at the nest?”  One boy responded, “Miss Moors, I’ve seen a couple of rabbits squashed by cars.  I’ll be OK.”

“So what do you think could happen that would be sad on our live cam?”

“Maybe a predator will attack.”

“Maybe a baby will fall out.”

“Maybe something will happen to the Mom or the Dad.”

Smart kids!

Regardless of their promised resilience…I am soon going to end our project and morning viewing.  So far, we’ve seen live fish dropped into the nest…two breakfasts of turtles (the turtle shells still lying vacant in the soft grass of the nest…and today my students noticed a frog’s leg sticking out of one of the eaglet’s beak.  The children have learned that eagles have lots of whitewash in their poop and it very regularly shoots out…the scientists keeping records for the Live Cam call it ‘shot’, not poop.  Good thing to learn!

I considered making a slide show of the following images taken from their journals, but really, they are so very sweet, you may want to pause and read.  Through the eyes and hearts of wee ones!

A recent log from the Duke’s Farm Live Eagle Cam…

Update 4/15/2014
For viewers, please note that as the chicks mature and become more independent in the nest the adult will not be inside the nest bowl as much as they where a week ago (most activity from the adults will either be feeding or sheltering chicks from rain). The adults still stay close to the nest in neighboring trees to keep an eye of the chicks and potential threats.

P1160159 P1160160 P1160161 P1160162 P1160163 P1160164 P1160165 P1160166 P1160167 P1160168 P1160169 P1160172 P1160173 P1160175 P1160176 P1160177 P1160178 P1160179 P1160180 P1160181 P1160182 P1160183 P1160184 P1160185 P1160186 P1160187 P1160188 P1160189 P1160190 P1160191 P1160193 P1160194 P1160195 P1160196 P1160197 P1160198 P1160199 P1160200 P1160201 P1160202 P1160203 P1160205 P1160206 P1160207 P1160208

 

 

What Do They Mean When They Talk About the Little Things?

I do NOT like first lines or titles that make use of the word, THEY, simply because THEY is intended to refer back to your subject in writing or speaking and in a title, it is obvious that the subject has not yet been introduced.  An English language arts teacher, along the way, suggested that the class write about ONE…as in, ONE never knows…or, ONE who reads, learns to write. I hope that my readers will forgive that I used THEY twice in my title…because sometimes it’s just the goal of a writer to find something ‘catchy’ in their titles.

I fell again…that’s twice now.  The first time a few weeks ago, was a slip on ice as I made my way to the entrance of a school where I was teaching.  I wiped out hard on my right side.  I had the sense that I was finally improving and unfortunately  took a flight of stairs the wrong way, just the day before yesterday.  I’m sitting here on a sofa pillow.  I won’t show you images of the contusions that are sitting on that pillow…but, here is the ‘shiner’ on my arm, that is incidentally also sitting on a sofa pillow to the left of the keyboard.

Bruised Arm New Years 2014As a result of these painful injuries paired with the horrible state of our winter weather and road conditions, I’ve been living the past couple of days differently.  I mean, not that I am not a huge proponent of noticing the little things; the magic, if-you-will; but I have been completely engaged in seeing and thinking about things I might not have otherwise.  I’ll give you a few examples.  It began last night.

P1140585 P1140586I almost felt as though I couldn’t breath…so anxious about the white world outside of my little nest…and the lack of human contact after the early morning departure of my beautiful daughter and her friend.  I had watched eight action adventure movies on Netflix in a matter of a day and a half.  I left the room only for sustenance and to let the dog out into the blowing snow in the back yard.  Some time around eleven o’clock last night, I had had enough…bundled up in winter clothing over my pajamas (I just realized I’ve been spelling pajamas, pyjamas, my entire life and due to spell check, I’ve been put on the right track), put on Max’s collar…and out we forged into the back alley where the morning trash collection had assured us of wide trails for the walking.  I walked so SLOW…so cautiously…the entire way.  And I’ll just bet my readers know what I discovered along the way… YES!

The alley was lit up with magic!  Crystalline snow stretched out and sparkled…it was so fresh and so untouched.  It was silent apart from my own footsteps.  Max could be described as a dancing dog…he was so happy…charging and galloping…do dogs dance?  I found myself laughing out loud at his release…and mine.  It was the first step to noticing the little things.

After a fall, the pain seems to amplify over the coming days…true.  This morning, I chose this cup for my coffee.  I spent the time selecting it.  Vincent Van Gogh’s Vase and Irises, a splash of colour.  Briefly, I thought of my daughter, Cayley.  She would remember why.  The coffee, once it finished its gurgling, tasted so fantastic.

P1140590I spent some time thinking about animals today…feral cats…coyotes.  I thought about mice. I routinely fear the possibility that they might seek warmth in my studio.  Mid morning, two chickadees fed at the front yard feeder.  It is presently tucked slightly behind Al Gerritsen’s nativity scene, but every single day a few sad sparrows or these chickadees, visit. Their markings look more than exquisite…their movements quick and erratic.  Again and again, they nipped in for a quick bit of something and then off, to return shortly afterwards.  Max’s warm head…the hard bump of it…sat under my dangling hand, asking for connection.  He watched silently at the window.  I began counting the number of magpies perching in the tree branches across the inpassable road.  I thought about a children’s book that I’ve wanted to write for years now…a magpie that transforms throughout the telling of the story.  I counted nine magpies…their deep black tails hanging vertically and providing a huge contrast to all things white.

Two sets of mice tracks…across the great mound…to the base of my elm.

P1140599I wondered about the cat that had found its way up my snow-buried sidewalk…the tracks that stopped at a point and then, pure untouched snow to the base of my steps.  I wondered about the their abrupt ending and the fact that there were no exit tracks.  What had happened?  I began to imagine stories of a teletransported cat and then I imagined a violent end of some kind…What had happened here?

P1140594Earlier this evening, and likely the reason for writing this post, I thought about a program that I had watched with interest years ago.  I was remembering an episode with Oprah, as I washed my grapes in cold water at the sink.  I wondered why she said specifically, “If you want to lose weight, don’t eat anything past seven o’clock at night…NOT EVEN A GRAPE!”  It was 9:30 p.m at the time…and I decided not to break off a few grapes, but to eat as many as were left in the bag.

P1140605In summary…when one’s day is not consumed with all of the busy-ness…when one is free of over-scheduling and over-indulging, everything slows to a crawl and beauty surrounds. Little things…these are what ‘they’ mean when ‘they’ talk about the little things.

“A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world.” Susan Sontag (Thanks, Lorraine)

[Speech upon being awarded the Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Peace Prize of the German Book Trade), Frankfurt Book Fair, October 12, 2003]”

Going to Seed

It is an amazing thing how quickly the textures found on a particular pathway change as the season progresses…same place, just completely transformed!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It is early yet…it is hot…but the changes occurring in the hills, speak of a bigger change that will come inevitably.

The Harvest Moon

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

Ted Hughes
Pods, hanging in circles on the stem….if you know what this is, please help me identify it.

Observations and Lessons While Staining a Fence

Tools of the Trade

Observe closely the 500 and the 501 at the bottom of my cans of Behr Premium Deck, Fence & Siding Weatherproofing Wood Finish…notice the words Transparent on the can to the left and Wood-Toned on the can to the right!  Sigh.  A recommendation…before beginning a paint or stain project, check your can labels.  No harm done!  Because I hadn’t tinted my stains, the store will take the ‘opened’ can back.  I didn’t so much as dip my brush into the can before I noticed the warm red tint to the wood-toned stain compared to the relatively yellowish tint to the transparent product.  (Just thought I’d mention this for any and all stainers out there!)  The fence, deck and bench have been successfully completed and it all looks wonderful!

A few observations…the sparrows that pooped on the deck yesterday, will also poop on it today…and likely tomorrow, as well.  Try to get your backyard staining done in the shortest number of days possible!  In my case, I worked for five mornings straight…this allowed for the bird population to do its ‘dirty’ again and again, making my morning clean-up an integral part of my staining event.  Something to think about.

Spider webs and balls of WHAT?  Ok, I remember loving the story, Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White.  Did any of my readers enjoy that book as much as I did?  In fact, one of the reasons I loved teaching Grade five at one point was so that I could read that novel again to a class of students…just so that I could cry again, at the ending.

As I stained the fence, I kept wiping away the balls of fuzz (egg cases) that were tucked into the hidden corners of the fence boards.  As I wiped, I thought about Charlotte and her babies.

Another observation…I saw the drips of former staining events.  My recommendation is that while staining, keep going back and lightly blending in the drips that just a short while before had been transparent (if you chose transparent stain) because given a little bit of drying time, these will look like this!

Drips

 Something else I thought about while staining, was whether or not I wanted to do each individual board from top to bottom and bob up and down continually or tackle the job like this?  In the end, I settled on this approach because for the lower half, I moved my work stool along and avoided the wear and tear on my knees. 

It’s interesting how doing repetitive work of any kind becomes a total meditation and how much the mind really DOES wander.  I kept trying to bring my mind back to prayer and then after a time, these senseless worries and thoughts would creep in. 

Next, I hope to write about the time I shared with my daughter yesterday afternoon.  We canned a nice batch of salsa together.  Chopping thirty cups of tomatoes is similar to staining fence boards.  I’ll explain in another post.  For now, I’m off to oil my feast table with tung oil.

Top Half Only...