Category Archives: winter

Mystery sighting

Chickadees out in full force this calm, snowy morning, two nights and one day into this heavy snowfall.

A mystery bird came to the oak trunk and clung upside down there, closely followed by a female Downy Woodpecker with its smart black and white back.

The mystery bird is about twice the size of the chickadees, a little smaller than the woodpecker. Bigger than the nuthatches that frequent this area. Creamy buff breast and darker, greyish back. Shaped like a nuthatch or woodpecker with their short stubby tails.

The Downy meandered up the ant-sheltering oak trunk for a while, hunting, while the mystery bird just hung out, upside down, sheltering on the leeward side of the trunk.

A passing chickadee stopped at the tree and watched the woodpecker hopefully for a while.

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Urban wildlife

My dog and I met a large coyote trotting down a back alley this morning, half a block from the river valley drive. My dog was eager to meet it, so I was relieved when it shyly detoured up into a driveway to avoid us. I’m surprised I don’t see them more often, this close to the valley.

In honour of our first lasting snow…

Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold. I had half a mind to spend it by my study fire, instead of wading through heath and mud to Wuthering Heights. … I took my hat, and, after four miles’ walk, arrived at Heathcliff’s garden gate just in time to escape the first feathery flakes of a snow shower.

On that bleak hill top earth was hard with a black frost, and the air made me shiver through every limb. … The snow began to drive thickly. I seized the handle to essay another trial; when a young man, without coat, and shouldering a pitchfork, appeared in the yard behind. He hailed me to follow him, and, after marching through a washhouse, and a paved area containing a coal-shed, pump, and pigeon cote, we at length arrived in the large, warm, cheerful apartment, where I was formerly received.

It glowed delightfully in the radiance of an immense fire, compounded by coal, peat, and wood: and near the table, laid for a pleasant evening meal, I was pleased to observe the “missis,” an individual whose existence I had never previously suspected.

~Chapter II, Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

The Rattle

The water running in the river
Is the sound of the rattle

The wind blowing through the trees
Is the sound of the rattle

The dry leaves fallen to the ground
Is the sound of the rattle

And even in the winter, when the leaves are gone and the water frozen,
The wind blows across the hard crust of snow, scattering loose icy crystals across the surface,
and that, too, Is the sound of the rattle

When you are feeling disconnected: lonely, despairing…

Take the rattle and some sweetgrass,
Go out, sit with it, and listen
And you will be reconnected with creation.*


 

These sounds in nature have a profoundly moving and soothing effect on me, every time I experience them. This teaching is a gift – giving a new way to relate and connect with these powerful aspects of this earth when I experience them. It is a gift to have a meaning (especially a nature-related one!) associated with the rattle when I encounter it in life now.  Connection with nature here is a means of personal healing and integral wellness, which makes good sense to me.

*A half-remembered paraphrase of the rattle-maker’s lesson,
Given through the film, Gently Whispering the Circle Back, by filmmaker Beth Wishart MacKenzie
Set at Blue Quills First Nations College in St Paul, Alberta

Spring Showers

Woke up this week to a winter wonderland – snowed all night and all day.
The world made new. Again.

A mouse lives near the entrance to the neighbourhood park. In the fresh snow on the remaining snowbanks she is busy tunnelling; across the bank, popping up and burrowing down again, leaving tiny holes in the snow. The fresh snow so soft and shallow her tunnel falling in behind her, leaving a path of churned up snow. Terminating at the heart of a leafless bush, stems offering protection from avidly curious snouts of canine folk passers-by.

A Blue Jay calls in the morning from the oak tree in a low buzzing rattle, ending in a middle-pitched *click* – a mating call?