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Rural Roots - Rural Roots is a column by Fred Jones
2012-04-19 at 11:40

Winter's last gasp?

So, I was going to devote this entire column telling you all about my bucolic saunter down to our beaver pond and how burgeoning green growth and spring-like, earthy smells assaulted my senses. 

Then it snowed. And it blowed.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Saturday evening, our neighbour, Wendy, stopped by and informed us that a fierce storm was approaching. 

The weather guys were calling for rain changing to sleet, changing to freezing rain and sleet, changing to snow accompanied by fierce winds. 

“Snow? Say it ain’t so!” I whimpered. 

Just the previous day I had done that sauntering bit down to the beaver pond, a place dear to my heart and one I’d avoided especially since the pond is a rest stop for migrating geese. 

I have been tempted to put up a sign by the side of the pond that reads “Feathered Friends: Food, Fuel, & Accommodation while U Wait”
Well, I don’t know about that fuel bit.  

The day was gorgeous. When the dogs realized that we were, in fact, going for a walk and heading in a direction we’d not taken since, oh, last fall, they leapt and attacked my hand (all with affection) as we started off. 

There is a lane way that is bordered on the west side by a paddock and on the east by trees. 

In that bit of bush, I have planted red pine trees that seem to have suddenly surged up after a couple of years biding their time. 

The dogs were happy slipping in and out of the bush, noses to the ground.

When we arrived at the pond, the surface was like glass mirroring perfectly the trees, rushes and the occasional cloud gently floating overhead. 

I stopped suddenly having detected a spreading v-shaped ripple on the water. 



No, a single Canada goose swimming very quietly with its head and neck low to the surface away from the intruders. 

Wait, these guys mate for life.  Where is the other one? And as soon as I thought that thought, the second goose swam out of the rushes to join its mate well away from snuffling pooches who, fortunately, took no notice of the subtle movement on the pond.

I watched for about five minutes to see if any other feathered denizens would appear like red-winged black birds or Beave or Ratty. 

But no, only Ma and Pa goose. 

The air was fragrant with the rich smells of earth, water and pine since I was standing right next to one of my planted red pines, a couple of self-seeded spruce, and tamarack whose green buds were just beginning to show. 

You had to look closely (and in my case squint) to discern them.  So, spring, coming along just fine, thank you.

And then wham!Winter, back again.  Boo and hiss!

Oh, it won’t stay; the snow will melt; the grass will riz; and as the saying goes: “I wonder where the boidies is?” 
That is, how have the newly arrived survived this mean blow hurled at us by winter? 

Son Doug was worried about our resident ravens, Edgar and Lenore. 

“Oh, don’t worry about them, Doug,” I soothed.

“They stay here all winter and survive the coldest of conditions.  No, it is all of those little grey and brown jobbies, the sparrows, thrushes, robins, et al, for whom this storm could potentially be a killer. No chirping today.” 

I pray that their eggs don’t freeze, that they are safe and fluffed out on their nests and able to wait out this storm until they can resume the task of finding food and getting a new family going.

Heck, by the time you read this missive, fine weather (hopefully) will have re-asserted its claim on the land and all who dwell therein, this storm but a blip in our memories.

You can contact Rural Roots by e-mail: or by writing to Rural Roots, P. O. Box 402, South Gillies, Ont. P0T 2V0.


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