Monday, July 11, 2016


This is a bit of a departure for the Wetland blog - poetry. July was my mother's month. Not only was it the month of her birth, it was also her favourite time of the year.  She loved the sun, the warmth and revelled in the return of the foliage, the fauna and her feathered friends.

This is my tribute to her, remembering and missing her this July, Marion Terry White, July 25, 1931 - March 5, 2015.


On these summer mornings
so lush and
achingly lovely, wrapped in their hazy veils
heavy-lidded in the slumbering heat
fleeting and therefore precious
I often think that my mother is still alive
tending her garden
bending over the bedding plants
parting the shrubbery with her hands
watchful, vigilant, protective
or listening at the open window
a joy rising in her to see the birds
take wing
thrilling at the wren’s song
watching the hummingbirds
sup, stroking the dog’s head
slowly all the while
he, faithful and adoring at her side
she, taking it all in –  the bumblebees in the black-eyed-susans
the cicadas in the trees
I almost expect to hear the phone ring
the excited voice, telling me some tale
about her day – the strawberries washed and sugared
the peonies clipped
the dog walked and oh, I saw a deer!
How are you? What are you up to today?
What are you working on?

Today I am working on remembering
today that is my job, my sole task
all others I sweep impatiently aside
so that I may stay with these memories
and revive summers past
a vain attempt, I know, to make it real again
to somehow give her
one more summer day.

©Victoria White, July 7, 2016

Are you a Beaver Believer?

Beavers should never have been extirpated as "nuisances" but perhaps we humans are finally gaining some wisdom:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Wetlands Under Threat

The world over, wetlands are under threat from development, a push to clear land for more agricultural development and from oil exploration, as in this case in Florida. A must-read if you are concerned about our disappearing wetlands:

Monday, May 2, 2016

What Were You Doing on Save The Frogs Day?

Illustration courtesy of Save the

Save The Frogs Day was celebrated this year on Saturday, April 30 with hundreds of events planned all around the globe. It is very encouraging to see that so many people care about amphibians and are acting on behalf of threatened and endangered frogs and toads. Preserving habitat is so critical to their survival. Protecting and supporting wetlands rather than draining them is absolutely vital. 

One easy thing we can do if we live in built-up areas where roads and highways intersect habitat is to be mindful of the fact that we actually share the road with other species. These small animals face incredible danger on a busy road and, unfortunately, they can't know what it is they are crossing.

So it is up to us to be cautious, caring and mindful. Slowing down, keeping to the speed limit and even stopping (safely!) to help a toad across the road - these are all ways in which we can reduce needless amphibian deaths.

And that mindfulness should extend to all animals, large or small, especially this time of year when their activity is heightened. They are out foraging for food, building nests and looking after young.

So be careful out there this spring. Watch out for deer, raccoons, opossum, squirrels, voles and moles, turtles and snakes.

And a special note for Londoners: Please slow down, people, along Harry White Drive at White Oak Road! White's Wetland ESA takes up the entire northeast corner and is home to all of the above! Obey the speed limit and/or reduce speeds. Please do not interpret "country road" as your license to drive "like a bat out of hell."

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Greetings 2016 from White's Wetland

I'm hoping that this tiny oak has a chance to become a mighty oak one day. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our Disappearing Songbirds

Please consider attending the screening of The Messenger on Monday, April 25 at the Hyland Cinema in London, Ontario. A portion of the proceeds from the evening's event will support The Thames Talbot Trust and its efforts to preserve local natural heritage and habitat. 

The film was shot in part at Western University (UWO). 

If you love birds, a must-see.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Return


Each spring we eagerly await the return of birds and animals to the wetlands. Many are just passing through, on their way to somewhere else, but we welcome the sight of them and are glad of their safe passage and return. We watch them pause and rest for a few days before moving on. Some stay. Spending spring and summer at the wetlands, much to our delight. The robins are back, the geese and a mallard pair. They join the throngs of winter birds that never left.

A doe appears at the edge of the woods, and in the morning mist that shrouds the tamaracks at dawn, the promise of spring is heralded by the sharp, shrill clarion call of a red-winged blackbird. 

Who will arrive next? 

We await with anticipation!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thanking The Bees

This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks to pollinators and acknowledge the work they do to put food on our tables in abundance, for without bees and other pollinators we would not be able to enjoy the kind of Thanksgiving meals we have come to take for granted.

I am especially thankful and grateful this year because we almost lost our colonies. I cannot imagine late summer at White's Wetland without the familiar liquid gold harvest, the silky textured honey, pure and light and delicate, that has been gracing White family tables since 1919.

So the tragic and frightening scenario of a world without bees hit a little too close to home this year. The fact is that all over the world bees are disappearing. Bees are at risk on every continent. And if bees are at risk, the human race is at risk. It's that simple. Colony-collapse disorder, pesticide use, disease, loss of habitat - we are putting our most important animal kingdom allies at great risk by virtue of our own bad habits, our abuses and negligence and our ignorance. Books like Laurence Packer's can help us to better understand these tiny underrated creatures so that we come to appreciate how critical they are to our own survival.

Keeping the Bees is not a puritanical moral lecture, however, but a delightful journey around the world - the world of bees, that is. Packer teaches and enlightens with prose that is as easy on the palate as the finest honey dripping on fresh-baked bread. Fascinating and informative, it will forever change your relationship to these incredible insects. If the first step to saving them is to start caring about them, then this book is essential reading.

We must save the planet's pollinators before it is too late. We humans fear their sting, but the harm we are doing to their world will have painful repercussions for all of us - it will be a painfully hungry world, a world with more people but fewer crops. Fewer plants, fewer flowers, fewer fruits, fewer vegetables.

So before you pile your plate with delicious baked squashes, green beans, carrots or pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, give a thought to the tiny creature who really brought it to your table. That yummy goodness really didn't come from Loblaws, Metro, Whole Foods or even Farmboy. It has been brought to you courtesy of the humble bee.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Deciduous Dreams

I don’t know about you, but my eyes are starved for colour. I long to see green foliage and clear blue skies. If the bleak January landscape of white on white with shades of grey is starting to play with your psyche and if you’re not about to jet away to the Caribbean any time soon, may I suggest a quick and economical alternative?
Here is a good book all about trees, so you can pull the drapes against the drabness and indulge in deciduous dreams at your leisure. Roger Deakin’s  Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees is beautifully written, each chapter weaving facts with personal anecdotes about our complex and perhaps often unexamined relationship with wood, trees, woodlands and forests. Tree huggers unite, because there is something in this marvellous book for every interest or reason for loving trees.
Take, for example, the chapter entitled “Among Jaguars.” I turned to it believing I was going to be whisked off to the emerald rainforests of Central and South America. Not so. Deakin takes us to the Jaguar factory in Coventry, England and surprises us with some interesting data about the nuances of the walnut burr, the coveted and costly part of the walnut tree that is used exclusively to trim the mechanical beast’s dash, steering wheel and gearshift knob.
My favourite chapters, however, are “Willow” and “Ash,” two exquisite paeans in prose about two very lovely trees species that grace our lives and our landscapes here too in southwestern Ontario.
In “Willow” we learn that there are more willow varieties in the world than most of us realize, but only one, a  special variety of the white willow, is used to make the world’s best cricket bats. Yet Deakin’s curiosity for facts and stories about man’s many uses of wood through the centuries reveals an underlying reverence for trees just being, well, trees.
Of the willow he writes, ”All willows abound in life and vigour, and their pliable wands give them grace.” Willow’s genus, Salix, he reminds us, stems from the Latin verb salire, which means “to leap.” And leap they do, as willow’s natural spontaneity means that new saplings will emerge easily and readily from cuttings, all on their own and with little help from us. Willows are often planted inadvertently when we simply drive a willow fencepost into the earth or if we happened to leave a green log lying on damp ground.
Nature, so glorious, no?
As for the chapter on the Ash, I can only say – just read it, for under the spell of Deakin’s pen this great tree spreads its glorious branches across your mind ― Fraxinus excelsior, a name that exquisitely evokes its majestic essencemaking you want to run immediately to the nearest woods, find a specimen for yourself and throw your arms about it.
He writes:
“I love the skin of ash, almost human in its perfect smoothness when young, with the under-glow of green. It wrinkles and creases like elephant skin at the heels and elbows of old pleachers where they have healed. It bursts out in pimples or heat bumps where the epicormic buds are about to break out into new shoots.”
Roger Deakin passed away in 2006, shortly after writing this book. But by sharing his deep and abiding love for trees and the wooded places in this world he has reminded us of how intertwined our human lives are with those splendid giants among us who have given us fuel and furniture, ornament and shelter across the ages and who sustain us still with their grace and beauty, for whose soul is not stirred with wistful delight at the memory of a leafy canopy of green above on a hot summer day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

On a Positive Note...

Credit where credit is due, the Ontario government has done something (environmentally) right recently! Ontario is now the first province in Canada to have a Local Food Act. Forest and freshwater foods have been included in the Act, and we can thank Ontario Nature (again) for this. Why is the inclusion of forest and freshwater food important? Because forest and freshwater foods rarely garner the same attention as agriculture in the discussion of local food. Yet it is intrinsically part of the discussion in many areas of our province, most certainly our boreal north. The new Act, which will probably be proclaimed in the spring of 2014,  will provide increased recognition of the importance and value of wild habitat and the need for clean water. Kudos for that. Or should we say two green thumbs up?