The Eagle Has Landed

     The eagle has landed – on the ice floes in the river, and I have joined the paparazzi lining the banks in search of a picture. He perches on the ice hunting for fish in the water and lives with his brethren in the nearby trees. People have reported sightings of his massive wingspan while driving along the river road.

For all I know, this could just be a myth, for I’ve never seen a bald eagle, although I hear they like to hang out in the waterfront park this time of year and catch fish.  

They’ve even been known to hitch a ride downriver with the swift-moving current, like surfer dudes trying to catch the big one.       

Surf’s Up!

This quiet park has been frequented this past month by photographers along the shore, tripods and fancy zoom lens in hand, watching and waiting, all eager to get that first photo for the Facebook page.  Apparently, it’s been a good year for eagle sightings, for everyone but me.  

I’ve walked in this park quite a few times the past six weeks and nada…..although the fellow walkers I meet and greet will tell me, “there were nine here yesterday.  Yes – nine!”  A real eagle convention.  My neighbor saw one swooping down right in front of her windshield.  One man told me there were two circling high in the sky, but not to my eyes.  All I saw were seagulls.

Maybe they know which days I walk, and decide to stay home and take a nice long nap in the old nest.

Eagle nests can reach a great size, but usually only have two eggs.  The large nests must support their weight and height, as they can be big creatures, averaging 12 lbs for the female, and 9 lbs for the male, and standing up to three feet tall, with wingspans up to seven feet. They hardly flap their wings, but glide about on the air currents. Both the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs, although the female does the majority of the incubating. They can use the same nest for years, and the eggs hatch mid-April to May. I saw a news video recently of baby eagles in a nest – two cute little balls of white fluff. The young eagles are brown until they are about 5 years, and then develop the distinctive white heads and tails. They are birds of prey, predominately fish eaters, but also small birds and mammals, and not too fussy about the type of carcass – roadkill will do just fine. They are notorious for their sudden dives and grasp their prey with their talons, using the sharp hind toe one to kill. Average life span is about 20 years although they can live longer.

Photo credit to St. Clair County Community newspaper MI

Apparently, there is a nest somewhere, in the trees along the river, whose bare branches would surely make such a sight visible, but again not to me.  The nests tend to be mid-tree in order to support their weight. It must be farther back along the creek which empties into the river.   This is a popular spot for overwintering birds, as an industrial plant discharges warm water into the creek, thus providing a sauna-like atmosphere much appreciated in the freezing cold.  There are plenty of seagulls, more Canadian geese than anyone would ever want to see, and those pairs of mute swan lovers I’ve featured on Wordless Wednesday.   

Eagles are majestic creatures, a symbol of freedom.  My American readers surely know more about them than I do, as the eagle is their national bird, (I really liked that eagle on Lady Gaga’s sweater at the inauguration), whereas we in Canada have the more industrious and ugly-as-hell-rodent – the beaver.   

There’s been very little ice in the river this year.   After a brutal snowy February, we’ve had a relatively mild March, so the ice and snow have all melted now and the photographers have dispersed. The eagles must either be nesting or have gone south for spring break, leaving me with no good reason to visit a park now littered with green geese goop.  There’s always next year….

    700 words seems kind of short for a blog, so I’ll add some art, poetry, and music.    

My mothers art – Bald Eagle – 2014 – on canvas paper
recent version – Bald Eagle – March 2021 – based on a newspaper clipping

I remember studying this Alfred Lord Tennyson poem in grade school:

The Eagle:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Music: Fly Like An Eagle – Steve Miller Band – 1976

(Eagle stats from Wikipedia and St. Clair County Community Newspaper – MI)

A Waterfront Walk

In an attempt to hold onto summer for as long as possible, I’ve been walking along the waterfront recently.  While none of these parks are close enough for my daily constitutional, they are more scenic options when I want to add a few extra steps to my exercise routine or work off some calories from the fall baking.   Plus a change of scenery is always good, never more so this pandemic year.  

Centennial Park - Sign Great Lakes Waterfront Trail

Our first park was designated in honor of Canada’s centennial year, 1967, and occupies prime real estate along the bay – a handy venue for all those nearby condo owners.

Centennial Park

Strangely, on this beautiful late Friday afternoon there are few people around.Centennial Park - flowers

Just a few seagulls preening for a photo-op.   The flower beds in the park grounds have been sadly neglected this year due to the cancellation of most maintenance services, but the urns are still pretty.

Centennial Park - Seagull

This Diva let me get real close…Centennial Park - Seagull closeup

until she got annoyed (see Wordless Wednesday) and flew away. 

There’s a fountain where you can stand in the mist and get cooled off.  Centennial Park - fountain

And a cute garden bench/sculpture for the little ones. Centennial Park - Bench turquoise

If you follow the long boardwalk all the way around, there’s a boat ramp and a small marina on the other side of the bay, with an over-priced outdoor restaurant where I had one of the worst meals ever and never went back, despite the scenic view.

Centennial Park - Marina and  restaurant

The big yacht on the right is mine…..someday…..

There’s a tour boat which offers lunch and sunset cruises up and down the river, although not this year.  Centennial Park - boat - Duc du Orleans

Let’s hop over to the Beach Park now. While it may be unusual to have a beachfront park in the middle of a city, a few forward-thinking city founders, aided by a very generous donation from a rich benefactor back in the Great Depression, ensured that beach access would be available to all, not just those lucky enough to own a house with their own private beach. Of course at the time of the purchase, the park was at the edge of city development. In addition to the 3000 foot stretch of sandy beach, there’s a hundred acres of trees with walking trails, a children’s animal park and a small inland pond perfect for winter hockey. (We may return here later this fall for a leaf-peeping tour.)

This is a picture of the beach in the 1950’s before the parking lot was paved. Sadly there has been so much erosion from high lake levels in the past few years, they may have to un-pave the parking lot to salvage some of the sand.

Canatara Park - Birch tree

I was upset to see that half of my favorite birch tree had collapsed onto the ground, it’s roots uplifted by the pounding waves.

Canatara Park - rocks

There’s so little beach left at this end of the park that they’ve installed a new row of arbor stone to try and prevent any further erosion.

The groynes are all under water now, but the sailboats were out, and so were the kayaks. Canatara Park - kayaks

In my younger years, many a summer weekend would be spent under a beach umbrella with a book and a cooler of snacks and beverages.

Let’s go further up the lake to a place I blogged about a few weeks ago in On The Waterfront. While the dance pavilion may be long gone, you can sit in the gazebo or on a park bench and admire the view.

We picnicked in this park every summer Sunday when I was a kid, but the beach is washed away now and the waterfront shored up by expensive arbor rock.  Brights Grove beach

The road in front of it is so narrow, Brights Grove beachthat I wonder how long it will be before it’s closed and people won’t have access to their property.   The waves were so wild during the winter storms last year they were lapping at the porch of my favorite house.  Brights Grove Park - house

Switching venues now to the park where the river meets the lake.

Bridge park

The darker blue water denotes the deeper shipping channel used by the Lakers – the big freight boats.

Bridge Park - sailboat

This area is lined with park benches where you can watch boats heading out into the lake. It’s always a popular spot because of the refreshing lake breezes even on the hottest summer day, plus the chip trucks and ice cream parlors nearby.

Let’s follow these tubers downriver to the marina. (Note: tubing is a dangerous sport due to the swift current here but people do it anyway.)

Bridge Park - tubing

This larger marina has berths for sailboats during the season. If I was ever fortunate enough to own a waterfront condo I wouldn’t want one with three floors though, even if I could tie my boat up out front.

I wonder if the condo owners ever worry about the high water levels, which is even more of a problem downriver. So let’s visit our last park downriver – unfortunately it was an overcast day.

The clouds get in the way…..

There are small strips of parkland here and there along the river road, with lots of ancient willow trees lining the banks.

Downriver park - willow tree

In some places the water level is so high the grass around the tree trunks is  swampy, and it’s only a matter of time until they are washed away too.  Many of the docks are almost level with the water now, surely a worry for the homeowners. 

Downriver park - sunflowers

These cheerful sunflowers are announcing fall….

My mother enjoys going for a Sunday drive along the river and looking at all the big houses, but we hardly ever see anyone sitting outside. I wonder if people who have waterfront property really appreciate it?

I’ve always felt a sense of calm being by the water, probably the legacy of two sets of water-dwelling ancestors. I could sit for hours with a coffee and just enjoy the view. Unfortunately the only park close enough for me to visit on a regular basis, is overrun by a gazillion Canadian geese, year round. The constant aggravation of having to watch where you step and/or clean your shoes is not worth the trip, although I did visit last March to take a picture of the two resident mute swans. They need to relocate some of the population and train the rest of them to migrate south like good little geese should.

I hope you have enjoyed this waterfront tour as we say goodbye to summer for another year.

My favorite picture even if there are clouds in the sky!

A Colorful End to Summer

I was looking at my big fat beefsteak tomatoes the other day and it struck me how very green they were, so I thought I would do a photo essay of  summer ending – by color.   Color my world –  just like we used to back in grade school, with the big 64 pack of Crayolas.   I just happened to have a box with my craft supplies in the basement and they have the same waxy smell I remember.  

Crayola crayons

The Crayola company first began selling crayons in 1903 and since then they have made over 200 distinctive colors.  (Wikipedia link)  Although many of the original colors are still around, I believe they are a bit more inventive with the names now, so I’ve decided to help them out, (see brackets).

The very green tomatoes.    (Lean Green Tomato Machine, because what tomato plant isn’t this time of year)

green tomatoes

The purple clematis is blooming.   (Purple Rain, as in the Rock Star Formally Known as Prince).  

purple clematis

The neighbors yellow Black-Eyed Susans nodding hello over the fence, (so very Mellow-Yellow).

Sunflowers

The orange tones of fresh summer fruit – melons, nectarines and peaches. (Fruit Salad Palette)  

Ripening tomatoes.   (Red Hot Salsa)   

Red tomatoes

The Last of the Pinks.    This  Dipladenia was the best plant I bought this summer, water and drought resistant (we had both) and no deadheading.  It’s still hanging in there as if it was in the tropics, which it felt like some days.  (Caribbean Dream Pink).

Pink flowers

The first bouquet of fall flowers – yellow and green and pink.

Autumn bouquet

White for the clouds of late summer, towering and cumulus, but looking fall-like.    (Cumulus Cloud White)

seagull and clouds

Blue for the water and sky and sailboats.   (The original Sky Blue can’t be beat).   

Sailboat

And beige for the sand and the last trip to the beach.   (Sandblaster Beige)

beach towel

Let’s say goodbye to the last (Psychedelic Sunset) over the lake.   

Sunset over the Lake - AMc

The first signs of fall are already here – the sound of crickets at night, sometimes on the hearth – the first drift of wood smoke in the air – the maple tree with it’s leaves dipped in paint – that first chilly morning when you have to reach for your chenille housecoat and it’s not because of the A/C – and that dreadful/wonderful/your pick pumpkin spice which saturates the season! 

Class dismissed – put the crayons away and go outside and play while the sun is still high in the sky!      (Sky High Blue-Green)

seagull

apples

PS.  Red for the apple for the teacher and for the harvest coming in at the farmer’s market.   Speaking of farmer’s markets, I’ll be doing a restaurant review soon on a locally sourced Harvestfest Dinner (link) – so get your forks ready to join me.   I hear there will be pie – as in (Very Cherry Red)!    

Harvestfest Pie and coffee

 

A Farewell to Summer

Please join me while we take a last peek at summer and enjoy the first signs of fall….no pumpkin spice or mums involved! 

Let’s say goodbye to the flowers first.    The petunias fared well with all that rain.Petunias

The dinner plate hibiscus are always late to the party, but they are like Beyonce, they make such a statement when they finally arrive that nobody minds.

Dinner Plate Hibiscus

The Rose of Sharon was so full of flowers it bowed down to Mother Nature.

Rose of Sharon

But the morning glories were not so glorious, lots of foliage draped over the back fence but no buds in sight.   

morning glories

They were very late last year so I still have hope, but here’s a link to last years (unpublished blog), A Glorious September Morning, plus a bee having his last drink of the summer.  

morning glory and bee

The nectar of the gods

My mother always grew glads and zinnias in the farm garden, but this year my glads were a disaster both in color and form.   My vision of them lining the back fence like little pink soldiers faded into the sporadic appearance of a spike of pale lavender or orange.   Lavender is okay, and peach I could handle, but I dislike orange, and pale orange is even worse.   Is it too much to expect the color on the box is the color you get?  

Next year I’ll just buy some at the farmer’s market. 

pink glads

I have never had any luck growing zinnias but my neighbors were prolific,

and the water lilies in their pond finally bloomed.   

pond lily

The sunflowers are drooping but are decorative enough for a vase.

Sunflowers - AMC

Sunflowers in a Vase

The lavender was late as I replanted it all in the spring, but it still bloomed if not extravagantly.  

monarch

The hot humid rainy summer produced a rain forest jungle of a vegetable garden which desperately needs sorting out.   More on the potager in another blog, after the harvest.

potager before

Where are the monkeys?

The monarchs have all flown south, except this little guy with an injured leg/wing who I rescued from a parking lot.   He was able to crawl a bit so I brought him home to lie among the lavender.   

monarch

This year I have seen more monarchs than I have in years.   After the township sprayed all the ditches, they almost became extinct, but now that gardeners are planting milkweed again, they are slowly making a comeback.  They tend to congregate in Point Pelee Park in southern Ontario on their annual migration route, before crossing Lake Erie to the US and eventually Mexico.   Tens of thousands cluster to rest and wait for the right wind conditions to cross the 40 km stretch of lake – the park posts the daily monarch counts on it’s social media pages.   One picture is of a friends backyard near the lake, and one is a weather-watcher picture of Point Pelee.   I wonder how such a small creature can make such a long journey?    For more information on monarchs, check out garden blogger Invitation to the Garden‘s wonderful post on The King of Butterflies.  She also has posts about the different kinds of milkweed you can plant to attract butterflies.

monarchs

just dropping in to say goodbye

Monarchs

Rendevous at Point Pelee Park

Our last look at the beach, and my favorite photo of this summer.

Beach umbrella

Beach Day

Our first look at fall, the maple leaves they are a changing….

fall leaves

The chestnuts are starting to fall from the trees near the library.   Chestnuts always bring back memories of gathering them on my grandmother’s farm at Thanksgiving.   Last year one of the librarians made the nicest wreath from chestnuts…..nothing I would attempt as I’m sure it involved lots of glue. 

chestnut tree

The crab-apples are ripening and getting ready to drop and annoy all the grass cutters.    

crabapples

The first of the apples are being harvested.   We stopped at an orchard last week and they had Galas and Mac’s just picked that morning, a bumper crop. 

Gala Apples

The scarecrow festival has started with a large party in the town square.

scarecrows

The crunch of dry leaves underfoot and the smell of wood smoke reminds us summer is winding down.    The days are growing shorter, it’s getting dark by 7:30, time to go inside, light the candles and welcome fall.     And if you are in the mood to feather your nest check out last years (unpublished) Autumn Decor blog for some cozy fall ideas. 

Asters - AMc

Fall Flowers

There will be a harvest moon on Sept 24, so here’s some music for a fall night.    This song is about as jazzy as I get but it has great lyrics and it always reminds me of my student days and walking home through a park after pub crawling….not sure anyone would do that now in downtown Toronto, they’d probably be mugged or shot.

Song of the Day:   Moondance by Van Morrison 

“Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
‘Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling…”