Thursday, 25 July 2013

Wild Flowers of Eastern Canada is on the bookshelf after all

I am loathe to throw things away. Once you do that, it seems a use for the forsaken article eventually or, what's worse, immediately crops up.

And I am even worse with books. Periodically I cull the shelves and send two or three to a garage sale, then usually end up returning home with them.  Why wouldn't anyone want a 2004 Tourism Guide to Saskatchewan? It's a mystery.

As I related in my last post, I am making a path in our meadow and have had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of anonymous wildflowers. Well, unnamed they are no longer.

Friend John suggested I should look up the names of the plants and lo and behold, almost hidden on the book shelf between Pierre Berton's Cats I Have Loved and Known and Loved and Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers ( both fine cottage reading) was what I was looking for: Wild Flowers of Eastern Canada.

Yes, I did pack a field guide after all - and not just any field guide, but one made even more beautiful by the watercolours (executed by Katherine Mackenzie), which adorn its pages.
And only $2.95! 
Apparently it was published by Tundra Books in 1973 and purchased by my mother for us in 1977. As I recall, we were living on the military base at Downsview at the time, and there was a large field behind the house.
The standing orders seem to have allowed for a fair growth of "weeds," as a photo of our daughter as a toddler, sitting surrounded by dandelions, attests. And at that time, Gran and Granty gave us this little book "to enjoy the many wonderful things in the great outdoors."

It seems to have become son Tony's acquisition given his initial in masking tape on the front cover and his name in his four-year-old handwriting:

Today I leafed through it and found a whole page devoted to just what I saw yesterday: buttercups, red clover, clustered bellflower  and cow vetch (aka bugle weed?), which apparently tastes like honey (and bovines love it).

It is a small volume, I can easily tuck into my pocket long with my camera. But it is more than a handy reference for wild flowers. It recalls to mind a time 40 years ago when the children were still small and at home in what must have seemed like an enormous world bounded by trees, a field, and the houses of little friends now long forgotten.  What happened to the other Robbie, to Tony's friend Cass, to little Alison, the same age as Joanna.
And their grandparents, so much a part of our lives at that time:  my dad deceased for almost 25 year and my mum now almost 95 and settling in to life in a nursing home.
They're all called to mind while I am leafing through this book and its watercolour reproductions of 100 wild flowers in "90 full color plates."


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I decide to make a path in our field

Having lived without a lawn for quite a while, during which various projects have been underway, we've become
accustomed to  the grasses and wild flowers in what we now call our meadow.
However, a path through the field could be like stretched-out labyrinth:
Here are Greg and John, intrepid trail blazers. John advised me that making a path would require only 15 minutes a day of conscientious trampling.

 So far so good. Some grasses flatten more easily than others:

Because the meadow used to be a ploughed hayfield, there are still the remains of furrows. It was good to slow down and walk deliberately. I enjoyed pausing to look at wildflowers:
 These grasses were incredibly soft to the touch:

At the bottom of the filed under the trees are ferns; this is a species  am not familiar with:
At the bottom is a woodsy part. We had some of the trees planted there years ago, but thought they had all died during a drought later that summer.  Several years further on, we discovered to our surprise that some had survived. The remnant of the original rows are visible. They are at the Christmas tree stage. 

Obviously this is the old crone of the woods!

The fir trees and sky reminded me of an Emily Carr painting:

It's a fair hike back up the hill:

But back to pathmaking ... The trail is leading to the barely visible bunkie. The house on the right belongs to our neighbours.

Closer to the top, I decided it would be fun to have two ways to get home, so I trampled  divergent paths and remembered Robert Frost's poem:

Back at last to the bush-hogged part of the yard:

Like the good Brownie I used to be,  I tied the grass in knots to mark the way in for the next time:

Just a few steps to the deck and cold lemonade or a G&T!

The grasses play in the wind and I play in them. One should never be too old for the sheer joy of doing somewhat silly things.  then I forget how old I am. It's nice.









Friday, 19 July 2013

Tiny railways on a tiny island amuse us on a summer afternoon

Our friend John has left Ty'n y maes and a great silence has descended upon the little house in the fields. This is what happens when an extrovert departs leaving two Internet-surfing introverts behind. 
Yesterday, we toured our part of the Island and dropped in to the PEI Miniature Railway in Elmira, PEI.
Riding on it was a throwback to our childhood when we rode a similar one in Springbank Park, London, Ont. No, we are not in this picture:

Off we go into the woods:

During our ride we saw murals depicting scenes from the local village. Here is one of them:
We also toured the PEI Railway museum. The exterior must have been very like the station platform on which Anne Shirley waited all by herself for Matthew Cuthbert:

A huge railway layout and collection - one of the largest in Canada was housed in another building. Built by a professional engineer, a Mr. Beecham if my memory serves, it is in the shape of PEI, hence the rather jagged layout:

Lovely wild roses enhance the grounds:

Because we had brought chocolate  cookies and grapes with us for a snack, we declined the offer of ice cream advertised on that billboard and left to go on further sight seeing.

Stay tuned for more reports.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Wallowing in a world of waste


Coming to Prince Edward island as summer residents, not tourists, has involved a learning curve as moving to any new place always does.  Understanding the waste management system here on the island has been and still is a special challenge. Islanders have had years to accustom themselves to the rules and bins and are proud that they recycle so much waste.

Of course we want to fit in and do the right thing. We phoned Island Waste Management Corporation and for $95 they delivered all we needed to start our own domestic waste program.

Our kit included  the waste calendar:

We also received the Waste Watch Sorting Guide:

We have two huge bins on wheels. The green one is for recycling compostables, and the black one is for true waste:

The third container is small and is for collecting compost. It sits under our sink in the kitchen:

The contents of the small green pail are removed periodically by Greg (he is the designated household waste manager) and thrown into the large green compost container outdoors. Beside the green compost pail is the kitchen garbage container - rarely used!
Meanwhile, other recycling finds its way, thanks to Greg,  into one of two blue bags. This one is for paper and coffee carriers and egg cartons:


The other blue bag (#2)  is for glass, plastics and metals. It looks much the same, so I don't have a picture of it. Plastic bags go in that recycling bag, as you must not wrap waste in anything; waste goes into the black bin naked as it were. Bag #2 also contains milk cartons, cans, glass jars and surprisingly broken Christmas tree lights and things like toasters - and our coffeemaker, which itself is toast.
Waste includes potato chip and other snack bags, broken mirrors, frozen juice cans, old clothes, and other odds and ends that are neither recyclable nor ... Household Hazardous Waste. HHW is taken by the homeowners to special depots dotting the Island.
Meanwhile, into the compost container go what you might expect: vegetable material and coffee grounds, the odd lobster shell or fish remnant but also cereal boxes, tissues and twigs.
You are advised to rinse out the green bin with water and vinegar occasionally, the wisdom for which becomes obvious very quickly in hot weather.
Cardboard must be broken down and wrapped with string into manageable bundles. This pile awaits Greg's ministrations:
It is an on-going challenge to determine what goes where. Various kinds of extraneous products challenge my sorting abilities:


Here we see a glass jar, a metal lid, the handle of a broken plastic beach shovel, broken apart clothespins, a cardboard box and the inside of  a rice cracker box:

Some items are obvious - other less so. In fact I was so mystified by the clothespins, that I put them back together again and re-used them.

Finally garbage day arrived.

Actually, as you can see by the style of truck, it was recycling day at least for the two kinds of blue plastic bags and the cardboard. The compost goes out another day and the waste some other time. I  must go and check the calendar on the refrigerator or ask Greg for the umpteenth time, something I am reluctant to do, as I really need to learn this for myself.