there oughta be a sign

The path in the park forks into a circle around a small copse.
It doesn’t matter if you go left or right, you’ll eventually come back to the same place. If you go left you get to the bluebells and trilliums sooner. I go right.
I like to save the good stuff.

There’s a tree, a shrub really, in pale pink blossom. A wild thing I’ve never noticed it before. I’ll pay attention this year and see what it becomes.

This reminds me of the apple tree I passed on the way in, how all that windfall fruit last year made good crumble. And a few meals for the squirrels until the ice storm happened. Most of the trees in the area were badly broken but, magically, the apple tree was spared. I make a note to check for blossoms on my way back.

I see that the fiddlehead ferns—ostrich ferns—are past their fiddlehead stage.
It always happens so quickly and I haven’t even had any yet this year.
Another note: find some and eat.

And how does a single daffodil appear on a forest floor unless planted by someone? Well done, someone!  Because if you had to be a daffodil, this would be the life to choose. So much better than the claustrophobic hysteria of mass plantings.

I see my first forsythia. Out here anyway. The actual first was in Toronto. But it always is. All that concrete has an encouraging effect on blooms.

And here’s something peculiar: I’ve never noticed the dogwood that lines the creek. How is that possible? I’ve walked here for years.

And this is new also: what looks to be a cucumber among the still-to-be-cleaned-up ice storm debris. Though I think it’s bound to be trampled on well before it finds its way to a crust-less sandwich.

Poor thing. The world needs more cucumbers.

I’m tempted to make a sign…



in search of bloodroot

I set out this morning to see if the bloodroot had opened. I’d noticed leaves and buds curled up near the creek the other day. En route I pass the man who I usually see in his plaid bathrobe taking out the recycling… today in a Canadiens jersey, laying out a tarp to dry on his driveway.

A long-haired Alsatian chases a black squirrel with a brown tail while the dog’s person calls something like Jingles!  and a cat in a window looks smug.

There’s a house where daffodils and red tulips bloom—dozens of them—it’s the only place that has more than one or two and, weirder still, they look like they’ve been there for weeks and I wonder how this can be.

Over here a truck delivers a load of sod and topsoil and over there a couple of chairs on a front porch look ready for a mug of tea. Further along, a grease stain in a shape that can’t be overlooked and which I add to my collection.

There are reminders everywhere of December’s ice storm.

And on various curbs, a total of three toilets, one bathtub, two sinks and a countertop.

I notice the hockey net around the corner has been replaced by a basketball hoop and a skipping rope abandoned on a lawn beside a pair of mittens.

There is a thing I don’t recognize.
And a song that I do.

And the Italian man with the garden near the park is walking around his patch of still bare earth, smoking, figuring out where the tomatoes and beans and zucchini will live this year. Rotation is good.

There’s wild ginger.

And tame things.

And then, by the creek, one of my favourite oddly named things…

hello, spring

On my way to the library I see a man pacing in his garage, smoking. I’ve seen him there before. He pretends he doesn’t notice me as I pass and I sense I’m meant to do the same. I feel sorry for those who like to indulge in a cigarette. They’re always huddled outside but no one waves, no one says Hello, fine weather, isn’t it!  the way you might to someone raking a lawn. I may have to change this pattern next time I go by.
Further along the same street, a boy, playing hockey on his own,
and the blueprints for a house interior sketched onto several squares of sidewalk.

This is the kitchen. The living room is to the left; bedrooms to the right.
Around the corner, a man in a green ski jacket cleans a ski-doo the exact same shade as his coat. When I stop a few houses down to make some notes, I look back and notice the man staring at me. He’s actually stopped cleaning the ski-doo and looks concerned about me jotting things on a notepad with a pencil. It occurs to me that if I’d stopped to look at my BlackBerry or equivalent [which I don’t own] he’d be feeling much calmer. It reminds me of my experiment at the casino, and the unexpected things that frighten people.

At the library, a woman comes up to me, says, quite out of the blue, “You must be an artist,” and I assume she means because of the hat but I ask whatever makes her think so. She says she was driving by and saw me walking, saw me stop on the sidewalk and go back and take a picture of something on the ground. “Only someone with a certain kind of eye would do that,” she says. I tell her she must have a pretty good eye herself and we laugh the laugh of strangers.

This is the picture she saw me take.
IMG_5875Tell me this doesn’t look like a monkey spitting out an apricot.

Back outside a black pick-up truck goes through a red light and from the other end of the street, totally unrelated but at the same moment, tires squeal.

A woman in white plays drums on her steering wheel and sings while waiting for the light to change.

I take a different route home and find a nest of feathers. Not a good kind of nest.

And in a nearby window, what appears to be a rather self-satisfied expression…IMG_5878
Close to home I find a bag crackling in the wind and so I detach it with the idea of collecting a few bits of the always-debris that is everywhere.
Less than ten minutes later, I’m out of bag.IMG_5884


The streets where I live are considerate.

For one thing, they make it very, very hard to lose your way.
But if you should, don’t panic. There are places to take shelter.
Or stop for a drink.
Some with a view.
[Choices are chilled or unchilled; puddled or bottled…]

Big plus: there’s never a shortage of drinking vessels.
And please use a napkin. [No need to be uncivilized.]
There’s reading material.
Complimentary coat check and/or coat.
And excellent company.
Thank you, streets…

always something

I rush outside this morning with the intention of catching a spectacular sunrise. But it’s not all sherbet colours as expected, merely yellow.
Still, I’m well into the ravine by now, cleats attached to shoes and the crusty icy snow crunching and cracking, the weird human rhythm of it propelling me onward. [Animals, by contrast, are so quiet.]
And so onward I gallump through the woods and into the park with the merely yellow sun rising to my left…
and then once I get around the big loop…
on my right.

No one about this early, or maybe because of the cold. My crunch and clack disturbing only one black squirrel and a flock of chickadees huddled among the lowest branches of a spruce.

Nothing to see but white white white…
and then a splash of blue, turquoise even.
Every time I see one of these colourful bags I wonder how it gets left behind. Does someone set it down in order to play fetch or Frisbee or chat at length with other dog walkers while sipping a Timmy’s and then simply wander off in a haze of forgetfulness? I think that’s why they’re made in these very striking ‘hello!!’ colours, so they’re hard to not see once the Frisbee is over, and yet…

There’s always something.

today’s walk


Except for the daring blue heron that wades in the creek up to its icy blue thighs, and the black and white bird that watches from an overhead branch. No idea what it is. Magpie?  But we don’t get those here… I haven’t seen one since Edmonton in the eighties when everything was a revelation. I had a friend there who grew up on a dairy farm so we spent a lot of time in the country. That’s where I learned that magpies aren’t exactly the most beloved birds. Also, that you can drink directly from a cow. No middleman or cartons required. This was big. I didn’t believe it at first. Could not fathom that a tin bucket in the kitchen was what I was meant to ladle milk from for my Cheerios. One afternoon I took a walk in the back forty, picked some flowers, brought them inside, found a jar and filled it with water, a gift for the dinner table. When my friend’s mother came in she said Where did those stink weeks come from? It’s true that there was a very distinct and un-gift-like odour in the room… I’d assumed it was the fermenting milk.
But today’s walk.

Uneventful, except for the above and a dove too— just because the sight of them always makes me happy. They needn’t be doing anything and they usually aren’t; something about their shape pleases me, the way they look to the left, the right, left again, as if always curious, forever surprised at the sameness of things. And a blackbird soaring above yellow and crimson leaves, circling and dipping and dipping some more, just because it can. A sparrow hiding under a Toyota Camry, or maybe just keeping out of the rain.
And a man in his eighties, wrinkled from laughter, bright-eyed and sprightly, carrying two logs from the back of a house where I hear a chain saw working. He tells me he’s looking for volunteers to help… I tell him I’ll help him look, send them all his way. I circle the block and when I pass his house again, he’s there carrying more logs. He laughs, calls out, says in a wink-wink tone, “You haven’t forgotten where you’re going have you??” I realize the fact that I’m carrying a full shopping bag makes it look as though I should be heading home with my groceries, not strolling about the neighbourhood. I don’t tell him the bag is full of litter… I’m simply pleased that I’m finally worthy of insider status to an octogenarian’s joke…