A little robin told me to breathe

I speak robin now. I’ve heard them singing outside my window my whole life. They wake me up and they lull me to sleep. It’s only this spring that I have finally been able to understand what they are saying. 

The dawn chorus is easy. They are calling out to find a mate, to show they own a patch of forest or meadow. I am here, where are you? I’m the best, bet you are, too!

Right now the robins who nested in the red pine tree in our yard are busy all day finding food for their newborn floppy-necked babies. They still find the energy to sing morning and night. This is who you are, you are a robin. Every ounce of me honours every ounce of you.

In this time when we are thinking and talking about breathing and not breathing – don’t get sick, don’t make others sick, I can’t breathe – I stop breathing, and then I hear my life-long friend the robin:

Look up, this is all there is. Now, this is all there is. See, it’s gone, but you can catch the next now. Now.

Breathe.

The river and sky and trees I share with the robins.

Twisting Fingers

Our hens spend a lot of time roaming around our yard in the summer, and the little plants that pop up in the  vegetable garden are very tempting treats. Stern warnings and pleading has not deterred those little eating machines, so some sort of physical barrier was in order.

I found some rolls of page wire in our woods a few years ago and dug them out last month. There were four sections, all basically sunk into to the the ground and firmly attached with tree roots. My best guess is that the original fence was built some time in the 1930s and could have been taken down after the 1960 West Prince Forest Fire when what had been farm fields was allowed to grow up into the forest that surrounds us now. The wire is old and rusty, kind of brittle, but good enough for what I need. It was easy to find enough small spruce trees that had blown over in the woods to make the fence posts and so I’m now putting my rickety fence together.

Page wire

The person who rolled up each length of fence made sure that it was well secured, the ends wound around to hold the roll together. I wonder who took the fence down and what they thought would happen to the page wire? I wonder what they would make of using page wire to keep hens out of a vegetable garden (I know the answer: it’s a dumb idea because chickens can go through page wire, which is really meant for cows and horses…I have a plan, though!).

The hooks all broke as I straightened them, but the fence is good enough, and I’m happy the wire is being used after decades of sitting and waiting for me to find a use for it.

Kindness Economy

David Cain’s latest post, How to Get Rich in the Kindness Economy, is a great reminder during a time when many fears and anxieties are pressing on me to soften and spread kindness. During my tai chi practice I try to balance strength with softness, intent with relaxation, grounding myself with letting myself fly. Some days it is easier to do than others, but I keep trying, and that’s the journey.

Snowshoe hare

We have always had “rabbits” in our woods, though they are really Lepus americanus, the snowshoe hare. Their lovely brown fur turns white in winter. They love to nibble clover on our lawn and tender plants in our vegetable garden à la Peter Rabbit. In the winter, they eat bark from young trees and tender spruce tips. Heavy snow is their ally as they can reach higher up on trees.

An increase in predators like bald eagles and coyotes in our area, combined with a natural cycle of population peaks, has meant that we haven’t seen hares for a few years, though I have found their tracks and droppings in snow. This little friend was sitting on my mother’s walk last night checking out the neighbourhood and wondering what to eat next (probably my lettuce!). Welcome back.

A little help from my hens

Last week I found out just how much chickens LOVE hostas. For some reason they ignored them for the past four years, but this year have been nibbling the new shoots to the ground. I now have various pieces of chicken wire propped around what remains of the poor plants and will hope for the best.

Today while I was weeding and edging a flowerbed, older hens Anni-Frid and Agnetha stood by as ususal to eat any worms or insects I uncovered, but they also plucked the annoying black flies that encircled my head. I guess a few flat hostas in exchange for pest control is sort of worth it. Sort of.

Canadianing

Over the past month I found a stubby beer bottle and evidence of our neighbourhood beaver hard at work in our woods. Now there are black flies. The most Canadian of times.

Can you see it? It’s been there a while.
I now have now found about three dozen of these. Not bad for a bunch of teetotal Presbyterians.

Hair Done

My mother and I drove to our hairdresser’s house this morning at 8:30. The five minute drive takes us past almost all the places my mother has ever lived: her father’s house; the house she and my father built between her father’s house and their general store; her grandparents’ house at the corner of the Barlow and Murray roads. It was a gorgeous spring morning and our little EV slid along by farm fields and water.

We were our hairdresser’s first customers since mid-March. Mom and I donned our jaunty new cotton masks and waited in the car for Joy to wave us into her house. We sanitized our hands, ticked some boxes on a form saying we were not ill and hadn’t travelled outside the province, and descended the stairs into the salon. It’s always clean and tidy, but today it was absolutely sparkling! We had already washed our hair at home, as requested, so she just spritzed us with water and started cutting.

I’m not really that wrapped up in how I look – I am all about comfort, and my hair felt horrible and messy – but even I will admit it was great to look like myself again (Steven said my hair looked a bit like Jim Jarmusch’s earlier this week, so that needed to be fixed!). After we left, our hairdresser would have to clean all the surfaces we touched and get ready for the next customer, over and over all day. She is happy to be back to work, and we are grateful she has stayed in business.