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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

testing Atlantic waters in March

Spring sometimes takes one step forward and two steps backwards…

But this spring’s steps forward and backwards seem more extreme than in the past.   How can I be finding refreshment in the waters of the Atlantic one hot day, and soon afterwards be wondering if I should thaw the water in the birdbath?

The vernal pools in the woods are almost dried up. Unless we receive a lot of rain this spring, we’re going to have a very dry summer as there’s no snow left to melt.

The Cow Bay River in late March 2010 (left) and late March 2012 (right)

The Cow Bay River in late March 2010 at left, and late March 2012 at right

Even the Cow Bay River is looking a bit drier than usual for this time of year.

Under sunny skies on Friday, the waters in the marsh were wild and churning.

On the weekend, they were calm as glass…

So calm, that you can barely tell which of these images is inverted…

March is a time of change, when winter gives way to spring.  The process is never gradual.  But these waters seem more mysterious than ever.

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dawn sunrise march 22 2012
This morning it looked like a hot summer sun was rising on the horizon.  The 25.7 degrees Celsius high yesterday in Halifax broke the previous record by 15 degrees!  (That’s a 59 degree Fahrenheit DIFFERENCE).  In 1979, temperatures here on March 21st reached 10 degrees Celsius.  The average for this time of year is 5 degrees Celsius.  Today’s forecast promises more of the same.

The elderberry trees in the backyard are already showing their buds which is unusual even for them.  They’re the first to flower in springtime.

elderberry leaf buds march 2012
It’s all very strange.  What will happen if we go back to average temperatures later this spring?  I wonder if wildlife is as confused as we are.

still water in cole harbour salt marsh

The waters in the salt marsh looked particularly still this morning.

It was fairly quiet except for the sounds of the songbirds near the woods.  The soft sea breeze was refreshing in the warm sunlight.  It likely won’t be as comfortable walking there later today in the full heat of the midday sun.   It might be a better idea to go to the beach 🙂

 

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dawn sunrise march 21 2012

It’s getting warmer.  And despite Canadians’ delight at enjoying higher temperatures than normal this week, some of us can’t help but wonder about the dark cloud that’s presently revealing this silver lining.  Regardless of what’s causing climate change, its progress seems a lot faster than anticipated only a few years ago.

red backed salamanders

Surely it’s the smaller creatures that will be affected the most by climate change.  We’ve had less precipitation than normal this winter.  If a long, dry summer is to follow, amphibians like the red-backed salamanders shown above will not find the moisture they need to stay healthy.  If spring vernal pools dry up too quickly, they and their kin will have difficulty finding a good moist place to lay their eggs.

spring fly

This past winter likely didn’t kill off as many insects as a colder winter would have.  Yesterday I saw numerous ants active in the flower beds, as well as this fly on the siding.  If there are so many more insects than usual in March, what will their numbers be like in mid-summer?  Will we be overrun by ants?  At least the baby birds will have lots to eat once they are born.

spring robins

These bright and perky robins were singing cheerfully in the woods this morning.  Were they checking out nesting options in the neighborhood or just passing through on their way farther north?  I wonder if they sense a change in the weather.  Like them, we should be out enjoying the blue skies while we have them.  It may feel like summer this week, but we’re bound to see snow again before long.

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The day after Saint Patrick’s Day is an excellent one for catching a glimpse of remnants of leprechaun activity the night before.  And what better than enlisting the help of little people in the quest for evidence of Little People? Trodding through the woods this morning, we weren’t disappointed by our findings.

shamrocks or wood sorrel

Shamrocks or wood sorrel coming to life in late winter.

Beneath some dried leaves we found some green wood sorrel, also known as shamrocks.  Surely the leprechauns’ merrymaking coaxed them out of their sleep last night.   They looked a bit limp, but the warmer days ahead should see them coming back to life again.

leprechaun jacket near vernal pool

A leprechaun jacket and prints found near a vernal pool.

Melting snows have created numerous small vernal pools over the past couple of days.  These provide temporary watering holes for wild creatures and excellent spots for leprechauns to catch a quick dip.  One must have done just that by the light of last night’s moon.  Could a surprise visit from a neighborhood cat have prompted him to leave so quickly that he forgot to take his jacket with him?

green moss heart on birch tree

Of course nothing says spring like a bit o’green smiling in the sunshine.  The heart-shaped moss we found on a birch tree was a delightful find, and surely a sign of creative activity by the Little People themselves.  Although many will roll their eyes at the thought of leprechauns still roaming the woods, I find it hard to not believe when  there’s so much evidence to the contrary.  Spring and warmer days are ahead and surely that is something to smile about.

For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song,
Crooning all the day long,
Comes your laughter so tender and light.
For the springtime of life is the best time of all,
With never a pain or regret.
While the springtime is ours,
Through all of life’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

~  When Irish Eyes are Smiling

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stone beach

Finding the ideal love is like trying to find a perfectly symmetrical stone on the beach.  It’s not easy.  Even with so many possibilities, the task is more difficult than one would imagine.  And the longer you look, the slimmer the odds of finding that perfect specimen may seem.  Though some might appear somewhat perfect at a distance, upon closer inspection, it soon becomes apparent that they are not quite so.

That’s not to say that it’s downright impossible to find perfect specimens. They are indeed out there, but be forewarned that many years may pass between one discovery and the next.

circular stones

Whether or not we realize it, we also search for physical symmetry in other human beings. Characteristic of good genes and general good health in nature, perfect symmetry in a mate would likely increase one’s chances of creating healthy offspring.  No wonder we’re so drawn to people with beautifully symmetrical faces.

And yet, there is a certain charm and character attributable to the not-so-symmetrical. With perhaps an even stronger  magnetism, especially where romantic love is concerned, we are drawn towards the imperfect.  Why? One theory suggests that while our minds are pleasantly calmed by symmetry, they also quickly become bored with it.  Intrigued by complexity, when faced with marginally flawed symmetry, our minds are perked and subconsciously go to work to try and figure out what’s causing the disparity.

Although the human body is symmetrical in so many ways, the shape of the human heart is not.   Could that be a clue that perfection in matters of the heart was created to be elusive?   If we are to achieve any semblance of perfection in love, like the rare round stones found sometimes on the beach, it’s only due to years of surviving the pounding waves and stormy seas.  Now there’s something to ponder as we approach Valentine’s Day.

Text and images copyright Amy-Lynn Bell 2012

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What on earth would you liken love to?  Ever since King Solomon compared his beloved to a garden of delights, poets and writers of prose have made use of elements in nature to describe their feelings of  love in terms that others can understand.  

In the 1700s, ‘The Ploughman’s Poet’ Robert Burns wrote:

My love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June…

These wild roses found growing behind Rainbow Haven beach last summer are more pink than red, but the effect is similar.  Their petals look so soft and tender, and the buds seem especially full of promise. 

Anyone who thinks love is only for the young might be surprised to learn that Pulitzer prize winner Carl Sandburg was in his eighties when he wrote these lines from Offering and Rebuff:

I could love you, as dry roots love rain.
I could hold you, as branches in the wind brandish petals.
Forgive me for speaking so soon.

 

‘The Poet for the Planet,’ John Denver, frequently found inspiration in nature… 

You fill up my senses
Like a night in the forest
Like a mountain in springtime
Like a walk in the rain
Like a storm in the desert
Like the sleepy blue ocean…

Later in life, Denver also wrote

Perhaps love is like the ocean
Full of conflict, full of change…

If love is anything, it’s never that way for long.  Like so much in nature, it keeps transforming itself as well as those who are touched by it.  

Matt Groening, creator of the comic strip ‘Life in Hell’ and ‘The Simpsons’ wrote:

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath.  At night, the ice weasels come.

Though ice weasels (ermines), like this one I found last winter in the salt marsh, are pretty cute creatures, they tend to go right for the jugular when attacking.  Love can be like that too.

In good times and bad, there is no denying the power love has over our lives.  Perhaps Solomon, the wisest man who ever walked the planet, said it best…

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.
~ Song of Solomon 8.7

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you’re in the mood to read more about love, here are some previous posts on the topic:

The Deepest Secret

Love at the Beach

Transformations

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