The Summer of 2013

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened since then, both personally and professionally. Most notably, this past March, we sadly said goodbye to our dog Charlie who’s been a family member for over 13 years. Topping 150 pounds, Charlie was known as the gentle giant.

Charlie

I could go on at great length about how he’s missed and the emptiness of the daily routines  he was once a part of. However, life goes on, new routines evolve, yet the fond memories last forever. We’re also blessed to have Charlie’s daughter, Violet with us. Violet is a wonderful and timid dog who looks like her mother Marlie, a black lab, but is the size of her father. Surprisingly picking up on many of Charlie’s habits, Violet continues to help us fill an empty space in our hearts.

Violet

Enough said. Let’s get back to Grey Highlands and the weather that seems to define us all.

After an extremely dry summer and fall, we had considerable precipitation during the winter of 2012-2013. However, we didn’t get the accumulation of snow that was expected due to rather extreme temperature fluctuations, a phenomenon that seems to be becoming  the norm, regardless of the season. The winter photo below is the same scene of the Rocky Saugeen River at Grey 12, featured in my last post.

Winter Saugeen at Hwy 12

Judging from the heating bills, even after compensating for rate increases, it was a colder winter overall.

This past spring was a welcome departure from what has been the norm. For many years now, we’ve been experiencing several weeks of hot summer weather in March or April, only to be followed by a significant snowfall in late April. This has created havoc with farmers, orchards, and nature’s natural succession. This year however, we never got our spring heat wave and experienced a more normal cool and wet spring. Nevertheless, the extreme temperature fluctuations of winter continued into this spring and summer with several brief snowfalls well into May. The photos below were shot after a snowfall turned ice storm in mid-April. The siberian iris were totally encapsulated by ice and luckily, the twenty-plus foot white birches laden with ice survived with little or no damage.

Siberian Iris in Ice

White Birches in Ice

Although the wet spring frustrated farmers eager to seed, it was nonetheless welcome because of its restoration of the soil parched from last year’s drought. The restorative powers of the rain were evident everywhere and in everything. For the first time in many years, massive blooms of multi-coloured lilacs burst out of the rich green landscapes everywhere. These were followed by old and often neglected apple orchards announcing their existence and majesty through full blossom.

The rains also had a definite impact on the wildlife in our area, seemingly bringing them out of hiding in celebration of nature’s bounty. After more than twenty years in the area, I’ve never seen such a diversity of wildlife. Also, what’s been delightfully strange is lack of fear on their part. While still remaining cautious, they’ve been bold in announcing their presence while acknowledging mine.

The photo below features a pair of wild turkeys that conduct an almost daily inspection of our compost bins.

Wild Turkeys

The next photo features two young white-tailed deer bucks in the early afternoon.

Deer

The next photo solved a long-held mystery of mine. For years now, I’ve heard the haunting calls of birds coming from an isolated field on our farm. My numerous attempts to capture a glimpse of those birds in order to identify them have been fruitless. This year, after earlier mistaking them for pasturing deer because of their similar size and colour, a closer encounter revealed them to be sandhill cranes. We now enjoy watching these majestic birds on a regular basis.

Sandhill Cranes

While continuing to enjoy the experiences of summer, my memories are cast back to the fall while working on completing Beaver Valley Panorama.

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