A very short list of a few of the things in my neighbourhood I’m going to miss…

…now that moving day is nearly here and we will be heading to a new community all the way across the city.

The grocery store just up the street. I know where absolutely everything is, aside from the egg replacer (turns out no one there knows where it is, either…might have something to do with the fact that there is some question as to what, exactly, it is). The friendly faces of the staff members will be missed, as well – including one gentleman my hubby and I both worked with years ago at a different job, and a courtesy clerk who treats my hubby like a rock star and makes us smile about it every time.

Our landlady, who has a magical green thumb and grows the most incredible nicotiana and tomato plants I’ve ever seen, and who has always been so kind and generous and thoughtful.

The perennial flower beds that I’ve tended for nearly twenty years…which, well, *sob.* I can’t even begin to tell you how much I will miss them. The balcony in our new place is small and I will be restricted to just a few plants in containers. It will be very difficult for me.

The community garden that I’ve been a member of for five years and served on the organizing committee for.  I met some fascinating people through the garden – everyone with diverse backgrounds, education, and opinions – and learned several lessons about plants and life (!) during my experience there.  I am delighted that there is a community garden near our new place, and I’m already growing some veggies there. I’m starting off small this year (both due to a serious lack of time and a cutworm problem that is unfortunately keeping the plants in check), but hopefully next year’s growing season will be more promising.

The plants in the community that mark the seasons in their own ways: the neighbour’s yellow forsythia in early spring, the soft-needled larch trees in the park next door, the ginormous lilac hedge along the drive.  The mayday tree out front with its sickly sweet-scented but gorgeous white flowers, the snowball viburnums in front of the building across from us.  The plums and crabapples down the street, and the splendid mountain ash with their persistent berries.  Even the green ash tree that has threatened to drop branches on our truck in stormy weather several times over the years.

Nose Hill.  If you’ve followed Flowery Prose for a while, you’ll know this is my favourite place to walk and I have posted many, many photographs of the flowers and the landscape there.  Of course, I will still be living in the same city and I will still be able to travel to Nose Hill to walk there but because of the distance, I know I will not be able to go there as often as I do now.  On the plus side, in the new community, there will be several new parks to explore.

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The northern flickers that nest in the trees outside the back door of our apartment building. They are a joy to watch.

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Photo credit: R. Normandeau

The jackrabbits and the squirrels.  Yes, they ate or dug up great chunks of my garden most years, but you can’t help but smile when you see these little furry bundles of energy.  Even while you’re clapping your hands and chasing after them, screaming, “Get out of there, you little ********!” and your neighbours are all going to their windows and lifting the curtains and wondering what the crazy lady is doing this time.

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The library branch I used to work at, a twenty minute walk from my home. I dearly miss the friends I made there – but I know I will keep in touch with many of them in years to come.

That dude who takes his acoustic guitar out on sunny days in the summer and sits on the bench in front of our building and treats us all to some great music.

Cross country skiing in the park next to our apartment.  Especially fun after a fresh snowfall, at night, when it’s quiet and you’re the first to make tracks and the snow is all powdery and perfect and sparkling in the street lamps.

The courtyard of the school where, in the summer, I used to go to read and enjoy the weather on my lunch breaks from work.  One late afternoon, I hid out under the roof for nearly an hour while the most insane thunderstorm I’ve ever seen raged around me.  There was so much lightning and thunder and rain that I had to wait it all out before safely walking home.  Lightning hit a generating station a few kilometres away and the resulting sonic boom was terrifying and awesome.  And…then there was that time I was reading and I heard a noise nearby.  I looked up to see that something…someone…had opened the window of the classroom next to me and stuck a hand out the window.  To say I was freaked out is an understatement, as the school was closed for the summer.  Sure, it could have been a janitor (that’s what I tell myself, anyway), but in truth, there were no cars in the parking lot and the hand sort of just “felt” the air and went back inside, leaving the window ajar. Not really the behaviour of a janitor, but how else to explain it?  And no, I wasn’t reading Stephen King at the time.

The neighbourhood Korean barbeque place that doesn’t have an English name, where my co-workers and I delighted in some really delicious, cheap meals for birthday and other celebratory lunches.  It has the plainest decor and you can seat perhaps a maximum of twenty people in the place, but the food is really stellar.  Sometimes those tiny hole-in-the-wall places are the best.

The community arena where my hubby and I occasionally watched junior lacrosse games.  It’s one of those places where the reek of sweat has completely saturated the entire building, from the floorboards to the ceiling, and you can probably get athlete’s foot from merely sitting on the spectator bleachers, but it’s so fun to watch Canada’s national summer sport grow with these kids.  Sometimes, if we were lucky, we caught a glimpse of one or two well-known professional (current and retired) lacrosse players coaching their students in the field outside the arena.

If you had to move today, what are a few of the things you’d miss about your current home and the community where you live?  

 

Family Literacy Day.

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Today, January 27, is Family Literacy Day here in Canada! Since its designation in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada, Family Literacy Day is an annual celebration of reading and other activities related to literacy.  “Learn at play, every day” is this year’s slogan, reflecting the link between play and reading and the development of children.

At work this week, I found a couple of picture books that were so appealing I just have to share…the first one is Planting the Wild Garden by Kathyrn O. Galbraith (illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin). Although it’s classified as fiction, it approaches non-fiction in its clear explanation of the many ways seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, animals, and people. I love how everything seems to be moving in this book, expressed in action words and noises: the crisp sound of pods snapping, the “per-chik-o-ree” of a goldfinch, the chomping of raccoons on blackberries. Portions of the text are even printed topsy-turvy on the page, reflecting the constant motion of seeds.  So clever!

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(2011, Peachtree Publishers, Georgia)

Well-known children’s book and fantasy author Jane Yolen’s poetry is simple, sweet, and lyrical in Sing A Season Song, and combined with Lisel Jane Ashlock’s spectacular illustrations, this book is positively breathtaking.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have kids or you’re a long way from being one yourself, it’s worth finding a copy so you can delight in the artistry and beauty.

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(2015, Creative Editions, Minnesota) You can find more examples of Ashlock’s art on her website here. Chances are you may have already read a book she’s illustrated or provided the cover art for.

Spend some time reading to or with a child – not just today and not only if you’re Canadian! Kids + books = something magical and amazing!  Adults + books, too…. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Hesitation.

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For a pelican, he sure looks a little hesitant about getting into the pool….

Photos taken 10 July 2014, on the South Saskatchewan River near the CPR Bridge, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – something I was more than a bit hesitant to cross over on. It would be an understatement to say I’m not good with either heights or bridges and this old pedestrian bridge adjacent to the rail bridge completely unnerved me. Built in 1909, it felt decidedly creaky to me, although everyone else seemed blissfully unaware that we were all going to fall off into the river below if, for a split second, I took my white-knuckled fingers off of the oh-too-short railing or stepped on the wrong wooden board.  😉

 

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Do you have any phobias or fears that make you hesitate?

The don’ts of bird photography.

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My hubby says these two are likely in the avian equivalent of the witness protection program. I’m thinking I need photography lessons or new eyeglasses or both. 😉

Hope you have a wonderful, sunshine-filled Tuesday!

Baby jackrabbit.

We have an…erm…flourishing population of white-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii) around here this spring and with their clearly discerning tastes, they would far rather munch on the free buffets everyone’s gardens than the gazillion luscious dandelions popping out of the lawns.  The adult rabbits are big, too – much larger* than a housecat and many dog breeds, and they have this steely look in their eyes that suggests you don’t want to mess with them when they’re chowing down on your tulips.  They’re so used to people that they barely blink when you try to shoo them away – sometimes you really have to make a fuss to get them to run.

This little one is going to be a problem one day, but for now, he’s the cutest thing in the neighbourhood.  Our landlady hasn’t planted up the boxes in the doorway at the back of our building just yet, so he’s taken to snoozing in one, casually pretending that no one sees him when they enter and exit. I guess having his back to the bricks makes him feel very secure.  He certainly didn’t move a muscle when I took a photo over the stair rail a few evenings ago.   I just can’t get over how long his legs are compared to his body size – he’s going to be one huge bunny.

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*In Wayne Lynch’s article “More Than Fluff: The Curious Behaviours of Rabbits and Hares” in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Alberta Conservation, he writes that white-tailed jackrabbits can reach a hefty 3.5 kilograms.

Are rabbits a problem in your garden?  What have you done to try to deter them?

Alberta Snapshot: Flying deer.

Winged deer sign - Bragg Creek - 8 April 2014

I checked in the library’s copy of Mammals of Alberta and couldn’t find this particular ungulate listed in the family Cervidae.  After my hubby took this photo near Bragg Creek, we stuck around for awhile to see if one of these amazing beasts would fly out from the underbrush, but none appeared and we eventually drove home to grab a bite to eat.

 

(Seriously, though, what an inventive way to warn of a dangerous animal-vehicle collision zone).

Okay, I have to know – what strange or interesting road signs have you seen lately?

Have a fun and enjoyable weekend!  Hope the sun is shining for you! 

Snowy reward.

Well, we were shut out in December but it finally happened today….

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(Photo by R. Normandeau)

This very cooperative snowy owl posed beautifully for my hubby and I in a field southeast of Calgary.  So happy to have found one at last!  🙂

What kinds of birds have you seen lately – in your garden or on a drive or hike? 

N.B. – I’m afraid I had some difficulty with WordPress and this post was deleted a few hours after it was originally published.  Any comments and likes it received were tacked onto another post – sigh! As well, there may be a chance anyone who receives e-mails of my posts will get two copies – I’m so sorry!