Robin? In winter?

It’s -34 or -35 today without considering wind chill. The sun is bright but it’s cold and in our front yard, there’s a robin, in winter, in Alberta. The poor little guy pecked a bit from an ornamental plum, frozen and desiccated, the only available food. Whether it’s climate change or an odd anomaly, he won’t survive without help. Robins like protein- bugs, grubs and more bugs.

We’ve fed wayward robins before. They like hamburger mixed with a little fruit and one winter Robbie and my husband, Gary, became good friends. He’d come to Gary’s whistle and was fairly tame. A female (who was more cautious) also took advantage of the food we’d set out, too.

This new outlier has just eaten 7 meal worms. Who has meal worms on hand, in case of robin emergencies? An ice fisherman. Meal worms last a very long time before pupating when they are kept in refrigeration. Yes, my downstairs beer fridge has harboured various types of legal, live bait. Gary had almost forgotten the meal worms but they were there and alive.

The robin looked at the apple and tiny bits of raw chicken I set out in the sun on my cutting board. He was interested (as were the sparrows) but too suspicious of something new to come down and investigate. Then Gary set out the meal worms that wiggled, catching the robin’s eye. Down he came and you can see him in the picture after eating the first three worms. Gary got four more and they disappeared in very short order. Mr. Robin sat on the cutting board in the sun, full and hopefully warming up.

The real test is later and then tonight. Meal worms will have been a huge change to whatever he’s been eating. We have fingers crossed that the switch isn’t too much of a shock to his digestive system. Even in this short time, we’re kind of attached to Robbie 2.0 and if he survives, we know where to get him live worms.

Hang in there, Alberta Robin. We’ll help you through winter and the temperatures in the minus thirties.

The Last Wiener Roast-2019

Summer is gone; autumn almost done. The signs are everywhere. Leaves have turned and many fallen. The air is crisp with an undertone of vegetation preparing for winter and the sounds of leaves crackling underfoot. The weather is supposed to change Tuesday to become much colder.

That meant it was time for the last wiener roast. It is past the first frost and it even snowed, then melted. Bodies of water have taken on the deep cobalt of fall; even prairie puddles become this dark blue.

Cobalt blue…

We packed the wieners, some lunch, the dogs and got into the truck. Before long we were the only people enjoying the breezy fall day. Nothing makes a wiener taste as good as cooking it over an open fire. Nothing is as much fun for dogs as running around in the bushes and coming back to beg for morsels. There’s nothing like the wood smoke to remind of me of campfires and it could be a while before I smell it again.

The Jack Russell leaps in pure joy.

On the way home, heavy swaths of canola and wheat wait to be harvested. This hasn’t been a good year for farmers to reap their crops. Now they are out and making the most of the shorter, cooler days. May the change in weather not bring snow.

These daisies survived frost and snow…

The end of outdoor meals has arrived. We don’t barbeque in winter so the big treat will be next spring. The last flowers gasp a final bloom and we turn to other activities. The man will hunt in November. After that, he’ll play more guitar. My winter hobbies have begun with the fall art workshop and the first writers group meeting. Our Arts Festival planning for February has started so there are winter things to keep us busy.

Daylight Savings Time will end. Although many don’t like it, I’ve taken some walks in the evening after supper that were very pleasant. The long shadows, the ebbing wind, and the resulting quiet make it a good way to relax.

One more time, I resolve not to whine about winter. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Still blooming.

October Arrives

Today is the first day of October. It is the month often associated with fall but this year, fall arrived in September. We’ve already had snow and hard frosts.IMG_3748 (2).jpg

I took this picture of the Battle River Valley when I thought the leaves were at their most colourful. Now there are stands of aspen which have lost their leaves. When you drive through the countryside, the colours are there but they are not as spectacular as they were.

This morning on my dog walk, the geese filled the air. They were flying south east from where they had fed earlier. Their honking and calling reverberated. It is eerie to hear and humbling to think how they cooperate in the flight and how they are getting ready for their migration south.

In our yard, all kinds of birds have come to gorge at the feeder. They are battling the colder temperatures and getting ready for winter. There have been chick-a-dees, sparrows, two kinds of native sparrows, nuthatches, warblers, juncos, and a small downy woodpecker. The blue jays are the bold birds that screech at my husband to bring out the peanuts.

We’re still on daylight saving time and sunrise is getting later and later. The twilight lingers but not for long. The shadows are somehow thinner and more slanted. The wind bears traces of ice.

October days can be bright and crisp. The water in ponds has a cobalt blue not seen in other months. The clouds no longer gather and expand at the horizon but instead move in carrying the promise of precipitation. The land settles in, getting ready for the coming winter.

Welcome, October. I hope for sunny autumn days that carry a hint of the summer gone by.

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