Just Once: Nature’s Surprises

caterpillarEvery so often something different appears or happens near the pond.

Last year it was a Belted Kingfisher. What a commanding presence with his big handsome crested head, his strong beak. He sat on the lowest branch of the spruce over the water, making a terrific din. Below him was a large dead snake in the water. I thought the kingfisher might have found the snake too big to handle and had dropped it into the pond and was now trying to retrieve it, but I’m told that is highly unlikely. He stayed there all day, then that was it, I never saw him again. I had to fish the snake out with my net.

Another time the surprise was a beautiful red fox. No hanging around. Just slipped past.

Then there was a bear – but fortunately that was on a neighbor’s property!

This year, there was the turtle. A bee sting was new to me too. And today: two fairly young deer with antlers. We see a lot of deer including, once, a three-legged deer, but I’d never, in the more than twenty years I’ve been here, seen antlered deer. The antlers were about eighteen inches, knobby rather than spiked points. Just beautiful. I reached for my camera, but they were already gone. Good. Hunting season is not so very far off.

frogs in water hyacinth


The Firsts of Summer

earth pond with fishSo many wonderful firsts of summer: the first firefly, the first croak of a bullfrog, the first flower, the first swim in the earth pond… This week? The firsts that say fall is on the way: picking the first ripe blackberry (early this year), the first red leaves appearing on the trees, the first buds on the Japanese anenomes, a first something in the air.

Of Rain And Change and Hummingbirds and Witches

turkeys perched in tree in the rainAs the rain comes down, a flock of seven or eight wild turkeys fly up into the trees alongside the stream for shelter. I hope that’s a good idea – a tree beside the pond has just fallen. Not right down. The trunk broke off and hit the ground but the upper branches caught in the trees beside it. There was no warning, and not even much wind, just a loud crack and down it fell. Those turkeys are huge, I hope the trees can take their weight. What a noise they make as they Continue reading

Pond Greetings


A day lily dips to the water, dragon

flies flit through red bergamot,

a white butterfly too.

white butterfly

In the woods nearby, a chain

saw roars into life, calling out

greetings to the frogs. One, large,

fearless, answers.

green frog and reflection

Then another and another and

another. Beneath the water, a tadpole flexes

his new hind-toes, and

waits.tadpole with hind legs

Turtles and Territory

turtle in the earth pond


I saw the turtle again yesterday evening, floating serenely on the water’s surface. I think it’s a Painted Turtle because of the red markings.

I’ve read it’s a destructive creature. It’s certainly made a mess of the bulrushes at the water line. I’d thought it was the deer although they’ve never gone for the bulrushes before – but no, it’s the turtle. I hope it doesn’t go for the day lilies which are now coming out. The tubing has popped out of the pump for the frog fountain – that’s never happened before. Did the turtle think the tubing was a juicy root? Continue reading

Canada Day Weekend Beside the Pond


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

The deer have eaten the tops off all the rudbeckia. The strong smelling soap I left out in plastic bottles obviously didn’t deter them.

The end of the inlet pipe in the stream needs digging out again as it is covered with gravel and rocks brought downstream by the heavy rains. A small mouse scuttles away as I lift the cover off the pump plug.

beside the pond - creeping buttercup

creeping buttercup

As I sit by the pond I hear our new neighbours finishing work on paving over a good part of their garden.

Odd to want a place in the woods then cut down the trees and cover the earth with slabs of concrete. Although I must admit we also have a small patio of paving slabs – it was already here when we moved in almost twenty-five years ago. Now they’re moss-covered, with violets, Deptford pinks and forget-me-nots and roses growing in the spaces between them. According to a 2002 National Geographic article, 83 per cent of the earth shows human “footprint”.  I

pond inhabitant - American Toad

American Toad

wonder what additional percentage of the earth has since then disappeared under paving stones, asphalt, parking lots, malls, condos.

There used to be a beautiful bountiful garden in a parking lot on rue Bishop in downtown Montreal. The birds flocked to the birdbath, flowers and greenery, and the sunflowers grew to enormous heights – sometimes they grew so tall that even the revelers from the clubs in the area held back from cutting the flower heads off. The next-door lot was scrub grass, broken glass and needles – until the chicory came out, when it became a carpet of blue. Now a large

condo building is going up on the street and the garden and scrub grass have disappeared. With the tall layers of concrete and glass, the street has become dark and closed-in.

on the pond-blue fronted dancer dragonfly

Blue Fronted Dancer Dragonfly

Behind me, water gurgles in the stream, in front of me it bubbles from the fountain. Frog twangings from all around. Huge tadpoles with hind-legs sprouting rest on the floating roots of the water hyacinth. Dragonflies chase each other, mating.

on the pond - common whitetail dragonfly

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

As the sun dips behind the trees and the shadows spread, the water in the pond darkens, shining green and black. The mosquitoes come out.IMG_2446

Oh my gosh, there’s a turtle looking at me from the middle of the pond – the first time that I’ve seen one here.