Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Canada Day, 2010

Canada Day, 2010 was quite a lovely day. Here are some of the nice things that happened on Canada Day this year:

Two of our old good friends, both Canadians, came out to our place for Canada Day brunch.

One, who was born in Canada and is a citizen, brought beautiful red local strawberries, which we slathered with white yoghurt in the spirit of the day.

The other, who used to be an immigrant like me but is now a citizen, kindly asked about my citizenship quest (no significant progress yet, I told him, though my two letters to Jason Kenney have elicited replies from someone called Yves who seems to work on Ministerial Enquiries; check here if you want to know more).

A couple of Canadians who phoned wished me a Happy Canada Day, a generously inclusive gesture, I thought.

I worked in the garden for a while, a very Canadian activity.

A. and E., both Canadians, got appropriate tattoos for Canada’s 143rd birthday.

Two other old good friends, one an immigrant who is now a citizen and the other who is a Canadian citizen by birth, invited us to barbecue burgers over on McNab’s, another very Canadian activity.

We couldn’t go to McNab’s, because we had already agreed to go to the wedding of two Canadians, one of whom is my brother.
There were many Canadian guests there, and it was a great solemnization and celebration, both serious and informal, punctuated with Canadian energy, humour, and enthusiasm.

We heard a most wonderful young Canadian violinist, the daughter of the groom, who played Saint-Saens exquisitely for her dad (and the rest of us who were privileged to witness the event).

We sang Feelin’ Groovy, a Canadian song, and a wonderful medley of Beatles songs, not Canadian in origin but rendered with Canadian sentiment and gusto.

We didn’t sing O Canada, but I think we were all proud to be Canadians (or almost Canadians) on Canada Day this year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A cardinal

I came upstairs shortly after 9 to check things on the laptop, but first I had to close the window a little because the breeze was still blowing and it is a little cool. I noticed a movement and heard a flutter on the deck outside the window. I had the camera close by but don’t have an image because the light was already too low and I didn’t want to panic our visitor any more than she was already panicked.

I have worried that something happened to the male cardinal that was so present the winter and spring of 2009 because after last summer there was no more lyrical singing from the pine trees and no more flash of red as the cardinal we considered ours headed for the relatively secluded feeder that is under the canopy of the magnolia in front of the house. Of course he wasn’t ours, he was the neighbourhood’s cardinal, and I wondered what had happened. I talked to my older brother who is a much better birder than I am, and he reassured me that our cardinal might not in fact have been caught by a cat or other predator and might have just moved on. I was relieved to hear that, but it didn’t stop me from missing his bright presence over the past year.

JE in St. Catharine’s has had both a male and female cardinal come to his feeder, and he did point out that the female is even more wary than her wary mate. I had looked at images of the female and had watched the trees in our yard closely, especially when the male made his careful way to the feeder. However, I had never seen one, and once our male was gone for at least a year, I figured there was little chance of seeing a female around here.

Thus, I was both surprised and delighted to see a female cardinal on our top deck this evening. The only problem was that she was trapped there. I watched her fly over and over against the glass panels, fluttering her wings with her bill touching the glass and then landing again on the bottom rail. I wanted to go out and find some way to either help her or frighten her enough that she would fly up and out, but I resisted. I was worried I might make her hurt herself, like breaking a wing, so I stayed very still at the window and watched. Each time she would walk along towards the gap between the panels, a gap that was plenty big for her to get through, I would silently encourage her, but then each time I thought she would make it she would look at the sky and fly up against the glass again. And again.

So I saw my first female cardinal again and again, captive on our deck, and wondered what I could do to help her escape, until she finally found her way to the gap and flew off as I had hoped she would.

So if she is in the neighbourhood, maybe he is too. I filled the feeders today and will keep my eyes peeled and my ears tuned for any sign of her happy red partner.

Footnote: I do realize from checking about cardinals that this one might have been an immature, so it's possible I may still not have seen a female -- should have had the presence of mind to note what colour its bill was!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Paper and Markers

There’s a spot in the front corner of our living room near the windows and next to the big brown armchair. It’s an old wooden box with paper on it and a set of coloured markers, just the right height for the girls to kneel or sit and make pictures.

Today E. has been three for a week, and she made two pictures for me as I sat on the big cushions next to the windows. She showed me the first one, which was a shape in black lines with a concentration of black inside it. Like the Elementary teacher I used to be I said, What can you tell me about the picture? She didn’t tell me anything, just took it back, coloured in some blue and yellow, handed it back, and said, It’s a butterfly. I was impressed and told her I thought it was a great picture. She took it back, flipped it over, took a pink marker, and made a new picture. It’s a picture of you, Rogie, she told me. I was both honoured and impressed, even though the butterfly's body smudges through a little and the likeness is not yet as strong as I know it will be (e.g., no body yet, but she may have given me a hair on my big head). But she’s three this week, and her growth and development are really showing!

She and A. spend quite a bit of time making pictures on the old wooden box. On Father’s Day, A. made a great flower.
And then she made a picture with a story. This one has a cat in a tree, a fire truck, a girl in her firefighter’s red uniform, the upset owner of the cat, and a wonderful firedog. A. asked me if I saw the dog and seemed pretty proud of both its shape and its spots. I thought it was a great dog, and I also loved the black curl of hose and yellow ladder on the side of the truck, the spoked wheels, steering wheel in the cab and red light on its roof, and the detail of fingernails on the two expressive little figures (you can click on the picture to see it better, then use the back button to return). A. is five now, and she’s certainly ready for “the big school” in September!

I consider myself blessed to be able to follow the growth and development of these two bright little buttons so closely, looking at the pictures they make and playing with them the games they make up. Earlier this evening we were checking out the bed we made in the tent set up on the deck for tonight’s campout. E. said, I’m a cocoon, and snuggled down out of sight inside her sleeping bag. Then she popped out, stood up, flapped her arms, and said, I’m a butterfly.

You don’t need better treats than that!