Friday, July 9, 2010

Another Sultry Summer in Canada's "Old South"

A string of steamy, sunny days came to an end overnight with a sudden rain shower, just after midnight. Today it's overcast but still muggy. The air, somewhat stagnant. I am not complaining, however! For this is summer in southwestern Ontario, and while the rest of the country was gasping through an unprecedentedly long heat wave, we who live in the most southerly part of Canada just smiled and took it all in stride. What's the fuss?

This is Canada's "bayou" in a way, the last stand of the remaining Carolinian Forest north of the border and home to more species of amphibians, reptiles, and plant and animal life than probably any other part of Canada.

For that alone, this territory is precious. And I haven't even mentioned the Great Lakes yet! The largest inland waterway in the world surrounds us in its blue embrace. Lake Huron to the west and Lake Erie to the south. A green elbow of lush deciduous woods and rich farmland in between. Can you tell that I love it here? You bet!

So this morning's sightings were a feast for my city-weary eyes: great drops of rain dripped from the majestically tall tulip tree; everywhere I looked, green, green, green, green. And the birds: a flicker, a brown thrasher, a hummingbird, and two tiny goldfinches—a splash of brilliant yellow in the deep green foliage.

Then, from the tall grass along the banks of the creek, our blue heron rose suddenly, slowly, struggling (or so it seemed at first) to carry himself aloft on his great wings. Right behind him, a very vocal, very upset red-winged blackbird. The smaller bird relentlessly pursued the long-legged heron, as red-winged blackbirds are wont to do when protecting their nests in the marshes, until the heron was well out over the pond. Of course, no camera on me at the time.

Last year, the blue heron wintered here. I am hoping, in view of the travesty of the oil disaster in the Gulf, the heron chooses to remain here at White's Wetland again this winter. Even in this seemingly secluded, serene sanctuary that is our wetland the utter horror of the destruction of the Gulf's wetlands and marshes is never far from my mind. I worry. I am concerned about the birds who will be migrating straight into Hell this fall. And I feel so helpless.

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