A beautiful rain is falling as I sit writing this column, and I am joyful! All farmers and gardeners will be smiling.
Before the heat and dryness came some of us wondered if the cold nights would ever give way to better growing conditions. But gardeners know how quickly the “May garden” turns into the “June garden”. Before the last tulips and narcissus are finished the first bearded iris are blooming. And the bloom stalks of other stalwart perennials are lengthening and hints of fat buds can be seen. The cold nights, and not very warm days, have quickly been replaced with humidity, heat and brilliant sunshine. How can it change so quickly? For those of us who delight in the garden treasures of spring it is too much too soon, while for others who can’t wait for beach days or the lusty gardens of June this is not at all too much. You can never please everyone!
Early one morning I was engaged in one of my favourite things: drinking my first cup of coffee as I walked around the garden, and I saw two interesting things on this dewy early morning. First I watched as a robin stripped pieces of dead vine in order to get nesting material. (I would normally cut this dead vine to the ground but last year I saw a female oriole doing the same as the robin. I can put up with bits of dead vine to see this!) And as I was watching this, a female hummingbird zoomed in and sat on a rhubarb leaf. She pushed into the leaf and opened her wings slightly. I watched as she did this repeatedly as she moved from leaf to leaf. The dew was heavy on those large leaves and, obviously, she was taking a bath!
But far away from the tranquil pleasures of the garden there have been interesting sightings that will alarm some. A black bear and her cub were seen near the Fairgrounds. And on Upper Medd’s Mountain Trail someone reported seeing a snake they thought was a Massasauga Rattlesnake. The bear sighting will be familiar to us because it happened last year as well. And with proper precautions and thought this need not be a dangerous thing. The bears will only be passing through. But let’s think for a moment about snakes. It is extremely doubtful that this could have been a rattlesnake: these endangered creatures are not native to this area and are now rare in their own area, so if it really is one it must have been released. No, some of our non-venomous snakes are routinely misidentified as rattlesnakes. In all likelihood it was a Milk Snake, a beautifully patterned and useful snake. For some irrational reason so many of us fear snakes. But they have an important place in the web of life. And when the web of life is disrupted we all suffer.
On June 4 Millbrook Valley Trails marked International Trail Days by hosting a guided hike. John Fallis, Alex Bushell and I were pleased to welcome six hearty souls. We met south of 4th Line and walked from the trout ponds along the newest stretch of trail to the end of Elgar Line. It was a fine day with no mosquitoes and we all had a wonderful time.
Nature is right at our doorstep. Get out! And enjoy!
By Glen Spurrell
Snapping Turtles leave the safety of water to nest at this time of year. Please watch for them on roads and under parked cars. This yearly occurrence always coincides with Fair Weekend. Enjoy but watch out for turtles!