Category Archives: our home

Loving the land

One of the things that has surprised me about our move is the intensity of my feeling towards our 2.5 acres of land.

I am awed that we have shoreline, Shield rock, woodland, wetland and meadow, all in this small space!

I had not anticipated the strong sense not so much of ownership but of stewardship that I feel. I want to do right by the land and the creatures that share it with us.

As winter approaches, we are working hard to get the external jobs done. Putting away kayaks and garden furniture, blowing and gathering up some but not all the leaves for compost (the layer on the grass would be just too deep otherwise and the compost will be so useful), cutting wood, replenishing paths . . .

Timber . . . !

We had something like seven trees felled last weekend, which sounds more drastic than it was.

A Basswood (Linden) was partly uprooted in our wood and had to come down for safety, taking at least one other tree (cherry) with it. Then there was a dead Elm in the wetland.

Otherwise it was what the locals consider a ‘weed tree’, four Manitoba Maples (Box Elder, Ashleaf Maple). They shoot up everywhere, are very brittle, don’t burn particularly hot and are perceived as a nuisance. We had one threatening our garage, septic system and the neighbours’ power lines and another that would have also grown through the power lines.

We now have a lot of logs to split (the start of our firewood for the winter of 2017/18) and smaller branches to feed through a wood chipper. The resulting chips are awesome for replenishing our path down to the shore and for creating our way through the woods.

On the plus side, the weather has been largely sunny and mild and doing physical work outside appeals to both of us so much more than going to a gym.

It could take a while though!

The next chapter: moving rural (1)

A good friend asked for my first impressions of this new stage of our lives. If I had to choose one word, it would be ‘blessed’.

Homecoming

For me there is a real sense of coming full circle, of ‘home’, of ‘returning to the land of my soul’[1]. Although I have tried throughout my life to live authentically, have enjoyed each new stage and adventure, all the riches of experiences and connections, in returning to rural life there is a feeling of re-accessing a true, deep part of me that I associate with my childhood and teens. I was a child of nature, integrally connected with the rhythm of the seasons, with a strong link between external and internal realities. I have at times struggled to find that link amid urban overload. Here it is a sweet, familiar melody running through my living.

Always the lake . . .

As each day dawns, I am excited to experience anew the beauty of ‘most this amazing day’[2].

Carrying Place 2016 (3 of 33) Our dock Carrying Place 2016 (10 of 33) A house with a view . . . Carrying Place 2016 (11 of 33) A house with a view . . .

 

Cranberry Lake, a cranberry bog flooded during the construction of the Rideau Canal, is what I see when I open my bedroom curtains; it takes my breath away every time I glimpse it. In a house with more windows than walls, it is a constant presence, the backdrop to our lives.

Some days, the water has been sprinkled with diamonds or fine, powdery glitter. Then there are the times of mirror calm, when every island become a Rorschach inkblot, or of grey shot with silver, of rising mist heralding the mellow mornings of Fall; and, to start and end the day the sun (and sometimes the moon) throw fire into the lake, painting it in reds and golds or soft pinks and purples.

 

Carrying Place 2016 (25 of 33) Rorschach shadows Carrying Place 2016 (30 of 33) Fire on Alice Island (Harvest moon) Carrying Place 2016 (29 of 33) On the water at sundown

I have always loved the wind, but until now I had not begun to understand its subtleties; the lake shows me how its tendrils touch and change things, shows me the quiet spaces where the wind is not. I notice which way the wind is blowing – usually from the south east; even through this hot August, colder when from the north.

Carrying Place 2016 (14 of 33) Early morning on the water Carrying Place 2016 (18 of 33) Water lily Carrying Place 2016 (16 of 33) Early morning on the water

 

The lake roots us in change, it is never quite the same as it was. Out paddling in the flat calm of early morning, I understood both that that calm is always present beneath the water’s every mood and that in those moments of absolute calm it is can most fully reflect back the light – it is truly magical to watch it ripple on a leafy overhang.

[1] A reference to a lovely song I know through Neshama Carlbach, ‘Return Again’ 

[2] e.e. cummingsI thank You God for most this amazing’ 

Painting with plants . . .

All winter I have been waiting, gathering thoughts, learning about native species, thinking about colour, height, flowering time, scent and more. I have never savoured the process of creating a garden this way before.

At last the sun has made a claim on summer for the Victoria Day weekend; my muscles may be complaining, but my soul feels sated with the pleasure of transformation. A day and a half of planting and a garden has emerged from our back yard.

There is, too, a sense of the garden that exists for now only in my vision of it, of an ongoing process of transformation to be wrought by nature in the months and years to come.

Back garden William Hancox Avenue - back yard, with door into garage (as it was when we bought the house) Back garden, before planting Ready and waiting after our landscaping efforts last Fall (2010)
Back garden Newly planted, May 2011 Back garden Newly planted, May 2011 Back garden Newly planted, May 2011

(Click into any photo for a mini-gallery and to see a larger view)

I still have the planting at the front to do that we were unable to complete in the Fall, hence the remaining plant pots. And Paul wants to give the deck an additional coat of protection, but we are nearly there in time for summer!

Last year’s efforts on our front garden are already repaying the hard work with the pleasure of breakfast on the terrace,  surrounded by tulips and narcissi, punctuated by fritillary.

Front garden in Spring First year bulbs Front garden in Spring A great, sunny spot for breakfast
Front garden in Spring First year bulbs Front garden in Spring First year bulbs