14 05 2009

It is spring.At seven forty p.m. the sun is just falling behind me. The morning was sunny but now sporadic fits of strong wind are  winding the day down and there are dark horses racing across the sky. I came in to my swamp-house earlier this morning but was brain-dead, Dear World, and left again after sitting and watching the water and the dead cat-tails for an hour. There is not much happening in the swamp at the moment it seems although King Frog announced spring last night but seems to have thought better of it today and has remained silent. A pair of green-winged Teal is around every day now and there is a pair of mallards nesting as usual but they are very shy and paddle quickly to the edge behind the cat-tails. It is strange how these same creatures can be so bold and  strut and squabble for food around peoples legs in the city’ park-ponds but here they keep well away from people and most of the duck-world leaves the slough when I arrive. It is the same with the geese. I hear them honking and barking as they arrive in the morning and at night , but if I appear on the scene they leave. If you are a birder the city is the place for watching wildfowl. Of course they are not nesting in the city and birds become very secretive in the nesting season. But I am having difficulty getting going – at least as far as writing is concerned. I have puttered all day  though—repairing the door-handle that a friend broke last year and didn’t fix—a female trait, I have decided. Women give us guys hell for not washing the dishes, or for leaving the toilet seat up but quite comfortably break things around the place and leave it for us to fix. Aaaahrg! Those Gurrls! I must confess that it was a wretchedly complicated door-handle to fix—a home made artsy one and insanely fiddly to put back together. It has taken me a year to finish it—doing varying stages of it . I have decided that every ‘Thing’ is also a job—no matter how simple the thing may be. Thus ‘Laurie Payne’s law of Things’ : ‘All things are a job.’ At some time or other at the very least they have to be picked up and wiped clean of the cosmic filth that is in the protracted process of migrating out of space into my kitchen. If it is a mechanical Thing it will break down some time or other and have to be fixed. My fault for being complicated, I guess. Anyway , it is done at last—for awhile. And then I puttered around the garden, cutting back some of the forward battalions of the underbrush that advance yearly with relentless determination. And the reason for my use of the word battalion is because it IS like a war and the outer perimeter of my garden is a shifting demarcation line that registers my age,  my diminishing energy. Unfortunately the short grass is by far and away the best deterrent against the spring mosquito invasion. They live in the tall scrub so I am committed to the gardening and lawn thing. Actually I have always been conflicted about gardening—both loving it and at the same time feeling that there was something a little presumptuous about it— like telling Mama nature’ “Yes ! You are very beautiful But you would be more beautiful if  I just combed your hair and tidied up your clothing a little. I guess I am also a bit racist about gardens. |I like English gardens with their semi-wild look and nooky little pathways and secretive arbors and ponds. But I am not very enthused about Japanese or Chinese gardens where shrubs and trees seem to have been brutalized into completely artificial shapes and the hand of man seems too evident. Perhaps it is those demarcation lines that are the most attractive thing about the gardens I like—the places where the gardener’s energy fades into nature’s. It is comforting somehow, when viewing neglected or abandoned houses to see how readily nature re-establishes it’s dominion. It seems to affirm that the universal system is safe and as strong   as ever and infinitely stronger and more enduring  than even the most persistent individual’s energies. As I write this three Canada geese arrive barking loudly and splash down right beside the swamp house. There seems to be one lone male who stays away from the pair who celebrate their successful touch-down with a little bill-weaving dance. They are very intuitive and sensitive.They can see my face illuminated by the laptop screen. But it is now nearly dark and I have to leave while it is still  light enough to navigate the plank walkway back to shore without falling in.But I don’t want to disturb them.However I want even less to swim in my slough.

Last minute news:- We have been evicted , Dear World. Mama goose has decided that she likes the view from the roof of my swamp house and has built a skimpy nest of cat tails right on the edge. If I remember rightly she did that last year and the eggs rolled off the edge into the pond. Game over. Sometime when she isn’t home I’m going to have to build a shelf along the eave to keep those eggs safe.  AAAARah! Those Gurrls! But its probably politically incorrect to slight even geese in Canada these days. They cant help their genetics so I mustn’t be Goosist. Anyway, Dear World, the upshot of all this sex and reproduction is that we have moved  to the house attic. Here are our new quarters, and nice enough with beautiful views across the tiny creek and the seventy six tree cherry orchard that is summoning me to get my lil arse together and finish off the pruning. Cherry trees grow incredibly rapidly.And here is a photo of the new

Blog Office.house summer 2008 007 Up in that attic. Check out the weather cock—the first of it’s kind and a memorial to my friend the late Neal Cassady ( aka Cody) in the book ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac. Time now for some more country puttering. And what could be a better excuse for not breaking my brains at the keyboard than adapting the roof of the Swamp house so that Mama Goose’s eggs won’t roll off into the water as they did last year leaving her childless and grieving. My kids who are here for my birthday suggest that I am facilitating Goosy stupidity’s survival in the genetic marathon. I tell them—with P.C. righteousness– that they are Goosist.That WE are the problem, invading their environment and building sophisticated and seductive nesting sites which are in fact unsuitable for the purpose, and thus damaging their survival. So I get a heavy piece of fir –four inches by two feet wide and three feet long and I nail a sill on it, sticking up, and then, when mama is away grazing at another mini lake I heave it up on to the roof, discovering in the process that she has two eggs and may have had more that rolled off the roof into the pond.Her nest is a meager pile of dead cattails chomped into pieces an inch or so long. As I push  it into position I cant help thinking how sparse are her tools for  her survival project—just her beak in an environment where bears with incredible strength and  dexterity roam her world looking for eggs to eat– And coyotes and water rats and skunks. Its a bit like deciding to raise a family in the Gaza strip and I can’t help feeling deep sympathy with her. I am determined to do all I can to assist her. Geese are astonishing creatures. In early winter I have clocked them in my car flying at forty five to fifty kilometers on a day when the temperature was minus 20 C and the headwind was forty five KPH. In other words that small creature was flying sturdily in an environment where the temperature plus wind chill was around 60 below Celcius with no other protection than a three eighths of an inch layer of down and a belly containing a desert-spoonful of river weed and mud plus a few grains of the fall barley harvest. It seems to me to be an inescapable fact that we humans have a great deal to learn about insulation, nutrition and energy use at the very least. I would have been dead in those conditions. How did we get to to be so vulnerable? Anyway, here , I think, is a shot of the new  blog office. Close up. Trumpets Off! A squad of red-coated dragoons presents arms. The flag of triumphal creativity is hauled to  the pinnacle and the grand spectacle of arrant nonsense gets under way.


It happened that my kids had planned a birthday party for me so we had a night of fine dining and  making music and after the guests had left, my No 1 son and daughter stayed on. My darling daughter took upon herself the Herculean task of cleaning my house—a trial to equal that of Hercules, commanded to clean out the Aegean stables. He was, of course, able to divert the river through it and wash it all away. She scrubbed and polished night and day until my old bachelor pad looks like a sumptuous country residence. My home is lovely, when it is clean, I saw- at the same time that I realized I don’t run a very clean house. AAAAAarrrg!  Those Gurrls! It became evident to me that if women weren’t in the world, constantly cleaning and civilizing men, males would be distinguishable from apes only by the fact that they were much dirtier. When she had finished all the vacuuming washing dishes, cleaning floors, washing windows, and on and on, she  turned her attention to my computer which, like the rest of my world, was a shambles of disorganization.Carefully she explained to me all the intricate turnings of Bill Gate’s mazes so I could understand them and make them work for  instead of against me. I might have absorbed some of it. What a rich man I am. AAAAaaaagh !Those wonderful Gurrrls! And perhaps that is the best place to end this blog.Godnight , Dear World. Goodnight.




3 responses

27 05 2009

Hey Laurie – just a note to say hello and tell you how much i enjoy reading your blogs. Hugs and belated happy birthday, love pilinka

31 12 2009
Fantastic Forrest

What an amazing place! And I agree with you about how we tempt creatures like poor Mama Goose – you are a good egg to help insure her babies hatch. 🙂

I’m enjoying reading your blog, although I’ve begun in the middle. I’ll be back.

26 01 2010

Dear Fantastic Forrest, Thanks for your post. Well I wasn’t much help to the poor old bird and I would have htought that she could have selected a cooler site with some shade. But geese are notorious for insane nesting sites . I have seen a goose nest seventy feet up in an old osprey nest which was fine for baby ospreys that had room and are fligh capable when hey make the first jump, but the geese are too crowded long before the geese are flight capable. hey are prize candidates for the Darwin extinction award. ut is she does it again this year I’ll put a stryrofoam slab under her nest. I’d prefer she didnt since I cant use my writing shack for half he summer. All hebest. Laurie

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