Documentation of an Hour

The weather was brutal, as I headed to the pond with Max-man, something between pouring rain and snow, but not of the ‘flake’ variety.  I thought that I sited 12 Goldeneyes, from a distance.  Having left my camera in the car due to the weather conditions, I quickly began to have my regrets because the mating dances and the chases around the pond were so theatrical and even funny.  Somewhere during the circle of the pond, I realized that the count was actually six male Common Mergansers, one female Merganser and three Goldeneye couples.  So much brilliant white on the grey landscape!  Absolutely stunning!

Once I got Max settled back in the vehicle, I had to grab the camera and attempt some documentation.  Unfortunately, the Mergansers were shy and were slightly out of my range for focus and the Goldeneyes, not much better.  However, I’m posting a few here, as a matter of context.  I had the most enjoyable time, literally laughing out loud.  I feel overcome on behalf of the females for the intense circus they must negotiate at this time and the wild frenzied flights as they attempt to ward off aggressive males as much as they can.

Things will only be more crazy over the coming weeks.  There are so many pristine, clear photographs of these species on line that I’m almost embarrassed to post these, but heh, today I was caught up in the wonder of having experienced these birds and I’m grateful.

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Crash Landing on Ice ©Kathleen Moors

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Walking the Ice: Mirror ©Kathleen Moors

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Restful Poses in Inclement Weather ©Kathleen Moors

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Atmosphere at Frank’s Flats ©Kathleen Moors

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Six Male Common Mergansers Vying for Attentions of One Female ©Kathleen Moors

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Does She Look Interested?  Did she even do her hair?  ©Kathleen Moors

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Female and Male Common Mergansers ©Kathleen Moors

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Imagine Multiple Male Goldeneyes Performing Like This!  ©Kathleen Moors

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Over and Over Again! ©Kathleen Moors

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Time to tidy up! ©Kathleen Moors

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Courting

It’s spring and the water at Frank’s Flats is only, today, beginning to open up.  So, it was no surprise that three couples were there to greet me and Max-man…all three on the same section of open pond; Common Goldeneye male and female, Mallard male and female and Canadian Goose, male and female.  I managed to get a few good photographs and had opportunity to watch Mr. and Mrs. goose participate in their courting dance.  Quite spectacular, but in some ways, frightening.

First…the Goldeneye twosome.

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And next, the geese and their special dance.

The two arrived and did a mirroring activity, scooping the neck down and up, beak into the water and then out, over and over again.

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Then, in unison…notice how their beaks are turned toward one another.

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Then, as if from no where, this happened!

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Mrs. is fully submerged here.

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He begins to move on…

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And he makes quite a scene about being happy and proud and ‘all that’…

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I guess she feels pretty grateful, also.

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Rituals at the pond never cease to amaze me.  By observation, I learn so much.  Last year, one of the nesting geese at Frank’s Flats became widowed and it was so heart breaking to watch.  The widow did not stop looking for its mate for over a month and mournfully journeyed the circle of the pond every single evening, returning again and again to their chosen nest site.

If one looks closely, even the water bugs, although their life cycle is very short, are multiplying on warm days and in sunshine.  I took these photos on March 31.  Every rounded rock exposed along the pond’s edge was a wellspring of activity.  Today, April 1, the stones were absolutely clear, with no signs of yesterday’s chaos.

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Painting Spring Lilies With Grade Threes

Goofy how-to videos are out there in abundance.  I actually think the best way to learn how to draw ANYTHING, is to observe it…look at it…analyse it.  But, this morning, I didn’t have a bucket of Easter lilies and after a 40 day journey of Lent, I’d love to leave the children with the anticipation of spring, new life, renewal and Easter.  In this video, I like the idea of drawing the star shape first.  I can’t guarantee that after you do a step-by-step activity of any sort, that you will be an overnight artist!

To begin with, in their visual journals, the students wrote a ‘waiting for spring’ short poem, after brain storming vocabulary words.  On the next page, they drew their lilies.

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 001 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 002 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 003 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 004 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 005 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 006 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 007 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 008 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 009 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 011 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 012 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 013 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 014 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 015 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 016 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 017 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 018

 

We will use this video as a reference, as well as my own photographs of lilies in my garden, for studies in visual journals.  These will be tucked away once we move into compositions.  Initially, I had thought to paint tulips with the students, but, the limited palette of white and a number of greens will make the preparation quick and easy.

Kath's Canon Back Yard Garden 017Lilies 020Lilies August 2Lilies 007P1060370

I provided a limited palette, having mixed up a variety of tints of green plus yellow and white.  The grade threes began by drawing their images in chalk and then outlining their lilies in a single colour.  Each bucket of paint includes two brushes so two friends share the same colour.  I mixed fifteen colours, knowing that I had twenty five students.  The focus of my side coaching and support was to remind them how unique flowers are and that they are like us, in that there is no single flower that looks like another.

Here are their paintings.

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 041 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 040 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 039 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 038 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 037 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 036 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 035 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 034 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 033 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 032 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 031 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 030 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 029 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 028 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 027 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 026 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 025 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 024 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 023 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 022 Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 021

After music class and their agenda writing, wee Isaiah came up to me and gave me this little gift…proof of the extended learning and  that made me super happy!

Kath's Canon March 10, 2016 Lilies Grade 3 Isabella 043

Display…ready for proper caption.  Thanks for your class, Jenn!

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Spring!

Spring means…

organizing photographs
dropping items to the Women in Need shop
Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow nesting in the vent across from my kitchen window
sprouts in the garden beds
return of water birds and the songs of red winged blackbirds, crows, geese, frogs, robins
crisp morning air
picking litter at Frank’s Flats
painting with children
keeping a close eye on live cams…eagles…wolves
walking lots

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Insert George Bowering poem here…living, breathing, birthing, protecting, growing, dying.

??????????Spring…a time of tremendous courage as new life needs so much protecting.

Such a true blessing to watch children paint spring.  I marvel at it.  Concepts…overlapping…large-forward, small-back.

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How does your garden grow?

I haven’t planted this year yet…but, these are the beauties that have shown up after a very harsh winter.  The Columbine didn’t do so well…although it looks like I’ve quite a bit of re-seeding that’s occurred, so there is Columbine where I didn’t expect it.  I also lost a couple of Oriental Poppies.  Lupines have come up in several new areas and I’m going to let them go.  They are so showy and last so long.

On their first visit to this particular home in the late 1990s, Mom and Dad fashioned my front yard flower bed.  They traveled all the way from Ontario with iris plants from Mom’s garden.  They are still blooming all of these years later.

P1160992Forget-Me-Nots, while sparse, did appear yet again.  I remember painting a diptych while sitting in Mom and Dad’s Frankford garden…an acrylic piece titled “Forget-Me-Not”.

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Forget Me Nots, with Coral Bells coming up behind…surrounded with Iris

The rhubarb is ready to be yanked out… strawberries yet to be photographed, but they are in bloom.  I see rhubarb and strawberries on my toast very very soon!

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Pansies 2014

Pansies 2014

I’m going with a complementary colour scheme in the garden…yellow and purple…have been moving things about and thinking about this for years.  It’s such a joy to be creative in the garden.

P1160988These succulents really really like the northwest tip of my flower bed…it’s the dry sandy soil that happens there.  I’ve begun to add other succulents for variety.  Good to learn where things thrive.

P1170013These are so easy…and so successful!  Get some!

Lupines begin...I've got the coral and the purple.

Lupines begin…I’ve got the coral and the purple.

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Poppies…oriental and other perennial mix.

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Very showy shrub thingy…but, I forget what it’s called. Early bloomer.

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Filling in under my Catoni Aster with Lily of the Valley…these came from Pat’s garden years ago.

 

 

Grade Ones Never Fail to Impress

These little gaffers made a real impression!  The white stuff was falling outdoors, but nothing could keep us from thinking about colour, light and flowers in grade one last week.  I spoke to the children for a bit about sitting in Monet’s gardens, perched on one bridge and looking across the water to another.  We talked about flowers.  Aren’t Smart boards wonderful?  Isn’t it a tremendous thing to be able to pull up images of waterlilies to look at on a wintry spring day?  Or to visit Paris in a moment? Or to be able to walk the halls of the Louvre?  Technology is wonderful.

I also enjoy the fact that children as young as this will take on depiction…looking at references and transferring what they see onto a surface.  It’s a brilliant thing watching the mind, eye, arm, hand co-ordinate to do such an amazing thing!

In the end, they decided that the Impressionists liked making ‘smudges’.  So, they proceeded to ‘smudge’, like little worker-ants.  It was a morning of beauty and light.

Thank you to Jon, who cleaned up all the white paint trays.  I am so grateful!

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Grade 1 2014 Monet 8 Grade 1 2014 Monet 7 Grade 1 2014 Monet 6 Grade 1 2014 Monet 5

Mr. & Mrs. : Sparrows of 2014

Mr. was singing out from the same location today and I captured his first photo of the season.  Mrs. was more elusive, although I had made a siting before finding my camera.  She is looking tiny, after a rather rough winter season.

2014

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2014 Male Sparrow

2014 Male Sparrow

I wrote about helplessness last year as one of the nestlings had to be scooped up by me and placed gently back into the nest after the vent that had provided a barricade had broken off in weather.  I used duct tape to create a weaker barrier, but held out hope that the nestling would be nurtured to good health by attentive parents.  In the end, I knew that it had died because Mr. & Mrs. abandoned the nest for the remainder of the season.

Some of these nests are so precarious as they are built and perch under roofing material and in the most odd ball places.  I was happy to see Mr. belting out his mating tune.  He’s ready to go, again!  Such resolve, given the falls that his babes have made these last couple of years.

2012 Mr. & Mrs.

2013 Mr. & Mrs.

Birds!  It’s a Big World!

Life and Death

Livin’ ‘er Up at the Ritz!

First Crocus of the Year

It is such a celebration when, finally, the crocuses are blooming on the ridge.  I once painted a Mother series around the crocus because each spring they reminded me of my own mother, their softness, fragility and beauty.  The crocus is so ephemeral and yet such a powerful symbol of new life.  Although it’s really not an environmentally sound ritual, I also picked and pressed a single bloom as a rite of spring each year, for many years. Here are three of those spring times captured in a frame.

P1100915This year, I’ve broken with that rite of spring and have left my bloom to be admired and then to lose it’s petals, go to seed and bloom again next spring.  I will remember and cherish that I was graced by its beauty.  Life experiences have taught me that to admire and engage a life, however fleeting, is enough.

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Beauty

The word BEAUTY seems almost an understatement for how I feel about nature and the changing sights as a new season unfolds.  I just could not think of an adequate title for this post.  I would also guess, knowing my attachment to nature, that I have likely used this title before in order to write about the very same thing.  Being redundant about beauty or nature, however, does not seem to be a fault, but rather a wonderful celebration and so I’ll carry on.

The sparrows have returned to the feeder.  As they ready their nests, they seem to be building up their stores.  So, where seed has fallen, the other critters gather and this beautiful rabbit nibbled fearlessly for quite some time on Sunday afternoon.

I was captivated by the beauty and miracle of the changing of its colour…from the pure white of winter through this next transition of soft brown.  I never cease to be amazed by these daily observations.

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The Beauty of Things

By Robinson Jeffers

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things—earth, stone and water,
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars—
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality—
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant—to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

Green

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A child said, What is the grass?

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.

Walt Whitman