Shelter from the storm

Since mid-March, my partner and I have been sheltering at her farm 90 minutes north of Toronto. We make brief trips back into the city, but this is where we’ve spent most of our time. A stay of such duration allowed us to see spring arrive in all its splendour. For example, we could admire a wide variety of wildflowers that came and went during our daily walks in the woods, including trout lily, Dutchman’s breeches, and a carpet of trilliums.

Returning bird life included olive-sided flycatcher, Baltimore oriole, brown thrasher, red-eyed vireo, Eastern bluebird, and a pair of hooded mergansers that visited the pond. Alas, there was but one warbler. They were late this year so when you could hear them there were too many leaves on the trees to be able to see them. However, the one I did see was the common yellowthroat, my favourite, the one that says “wichety, wichety.”

We have also been treated to three types of mating rituals. The least enthusiastic were two Northern flickers that sat a metre apart on a fence taking turns looking at each other and hunching their shoulders, like Presbyterians trying to dance. The male ruby-throated hummingbird was the most spectacular. Imagine a skateboarder on a halfpipe going up one side, back down, and then up to the top of the other side, repeating numerous times. At the highest point the hummer was fifteen feet off the deck, trying to impress the female at the feeder with his prowess. Most recently, we sat quietly for some minutes watching out the window as fireflies in the darkness flashed their green lights. We were even able to stand among the bioluminescence without disturbing the process.

Of larger animals there have been plenty of comings and goings: the tracks in the snow of a moose and its calf as well as sightings of opossum, porcupine, raccoon, white-tailed deer and groundhog. In the early darkness, coyotes howl. But, most of all, there has been peace and quiet. Good health and happiness to all.

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