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Archive for the ‘Canada geese’ Category

I couldn’t resist.  After tucking into our Saturday morning pancakes, my little red SONY® and I plowed through drifts and wandered in our park.  I was besotted with the abject beauty, which SONY faithfully recorded for me.

From this snowy scramble, I clipped three small shoots of red osier dogwood which are now set into flower frogs in a Victorian transferware pitcher.  Soon the shoots will sprout tiny buds and leaves, and we’ll be on our way to the very next thing:  SPRING.

Much as we anticipate Spring, we can never deny or ignore the charms of the season at hand—although yesterday was a good day to celebrate the season at home rather than on the roads.  I may tire of winter, but I never grow weary of living in Wisconsin.

Early this morning I updated my WordPress Profile—so that whenever my Gravatar is clicked, my five blog sites will appear for readers’ easy access.  While on the Profile page I wondered if I should change the Northern Reflections’ explanatory blurb, which presently reads:  “gleanings from Wisconsin’s wild rivers, lakes, marshes, and woods”. 

When I began blogging in Autumn, 2008, we were firmly entrenched in our far Northern lifestyle of living on 14 plus acres surrounded by a plethora of wildness including black bears, wolves, fishers, more Virginia whitetails than people, and all kinds of winged life.  Eagles soared over constantly year around—and our marsh, lake, and river abounded in waterfowl and songbirds in spring and summer. 

Now we live in Southern Wisconsin, in a semi-rural area with easy access to Milwaukee.  Yet we are still surrounded by wildlife. Only the bears, wolves, fishers, and eagles are missing here—although eagles have been sighted in our county and somehow a very hapless black bear wandered into the Milwaukee suburban area a few years back.  There has been cougar evidence just a few miles north of us in Hartford—and coyotes roam the bountiful Milwaukee Parkway System, terrorizing small dogs and their owners.

Yes, we have wild rivers, lakes, marshes, and woods all over our state—even in our Southern county.  In fact, we live in the middle of the Lake Country with water all around us.  Our home faces a park near Lake Nagawicka, with a wildlife sanctuary along the entire side leading to the lake.  Waterfowl and other large birds fly overhead constantly in spring, summer, and autumn:  great blue heron, ducks unlimited, and of course the Canada geese.  I’ve seen cattle egrets in farm pastures around here—and we have an abundance of hawks and owls. 

Any day now, we’ll hear that “Hallooo-hallooo-hallooo” of the sandhill cranes—like reedy bamboo pipes, rolling their notes with a French “R” while preparing to land in a swamp for some raucous partying before heading to the cornfields. (We actually did see cranes in a nearby cornfield yesterday, so they must be “Hallooo-ing” up there already.) 

When they land, the sandhills may possibly only be “out-raucoused” (if there is such a word) by the tundra swans who sound like Canada geese with asthmatic bronchitis.  But oh, that winsome flight song of the cranes, soothing as our bamboo windchimes rustling in the breeze.

Yes, I’m still gleaning Wisconsin’s wild places.  No matter where I live, I’m wildness, bred and born.  My mother knew the name of most every wildflower and bird, and my dad was a hunter who loved the out-of-doors.  Although a city, Wauwatosa, was my home for most of my growing years, I had an eight year interim in a small upstate community—and there I grew to love the quintessential Wisconsin small town. Precious childhood memories include hunting and fishing with my dad.  Although I hope I never have to shoot anything, I totally respect our local culture of hunters—responsible hunters, that is.  As a kid, I traipsed along behind my father when he went pheasant hunting along the fieldstone hedgerows of hilly Kettle Moraine North near Sheboygan Falls.  I still recall the woodsy, hilly beauty which grabbed ahold of me and never let go.

Summers were spent on water, which I was “in” as much as “out of”.  In our state, learning to swim is a huge GIVEN. It’s a matter of survival, as we are surrounded by rivers and lakes.  Wisconsin kids learn to swim along with learning to read, and often before.  Ever desiring to have a companion, and lacking a son, my dad taught me to fish at an early age as well. 

Yes, I believe I can continue to blog my “gleanings from Wisconsin’s wild rivers, lakes, marshes, and woods” even though I no longer live in the wild north.  Wisconsin’s wildness is an integral part of my soul.  And there is plenty of wildness within easy walking distance of our home!

“Our village life would stagnate if it were not for the unexplored forests and meadows which surround it.  We need the tonic of wildness—to wade sometimes in the marshes where the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the snipe . . . At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be infinitely wild, unsurveyed, and unfathomed by us because (it is) unfathomable.”  Henry David Thoreau, WALDEN

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

Note:  Below you will see my original copy of Thoreau, which I purchased in 1967.  A few years back I bought a new, hardcover edition of the book you see pictured here.  Same everything, but lacking in the ambience of my special dog eared book—with pages falling out, pages ripped, pages annotated by me, and pages flapping.  Time and again I try to read from the new hardcover, and then return to the old worn out copy I love best.

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For weeks our home has been surrounded by silence—the silence of deep winter.  Only the whoosh of wind outside our windows, the whisper of sleet and snow, and the strident caw of hungry crows have broken the lifeless hush which set in around late November and continued through the darkest December days—into the new year.

But suddenly, last week, the silence broke.  Outside our bedroom window, we have an ornamental tree which has graced us with pink blossoms in spring, lush verdure and families of robins in summer, and lovely orange berries in fall and winter. 

Last week, the ornamental tree graced us with a flock of chickadees feasting on the berries, filling the gap of winter with their happy commotion of “chick-a-dee-dee-dee”.

I weep for joy when the birds and their songs come back.  Each day I go into semi-raptures over the cardinals in our front yard tree.  In just a matter of weeks, we will be “cheer-cheer-cheered” when the cardinals burst into territorial proclamations.

In about five weeks we will be able to make the hour trip south to Whitewater, Wisconsin, where we have traditionally seen the first returning redwings of the season.  Their “oka-reeeee” sends me into a state I cannot even begin to describe.

About the same time, the skies will fill with returning Canadas.  I will gaze upward, and wonder which ones are headed for our beloved northern home, to nest and raise their goslings along the Big Elk River around the bend from us.

And chortling robins.  And chattering sparrows.  And the joyous ringing of sand hill cranes overhead, sounding like hollow bamboo wind chimes on a gusty spring day.

Grace in the trees.  Grace in the skies!  Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord!

© 2011, Margaret L. Been

P. S.  For a bit of funky fun, see “Frontal Lobes and Happy Genes!” on another one of my blogs:  http://northernview.wordpress.com/

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Joe, Dylan, and I just returned from an early morning hike around our park.  Mourning doves “wooo–oooo-ed”, robins chortled, and cardinels “cheer-cheer-cheered” us along the path.  A huge flock of snow geese (flying in a wavy line as opposed to the Canadas’ V formation) rejoiced overhead—focused northwest, in the direction of our northern home.  He is risen!

The world darkens around us.  Our nation has fallen from Grace due to a departure from God’s truth, as manifested in legalized baby murder and rampant immorality.  But God’s creation testifies to His unchanging truth.  Great is His faithfulness!  Christ will return, perhaps very soon, bringing righteousness, peace, and justice to earth!  He is risen!

I have a personal Easter story to share, from the pages of my 2009 journal.  A year ago, we were living in our Northern Wisconsin home—settled there, loving life, and believing we’d be there “forever”.  Yet there was an underlying sadness, as many of our family members—including a number of our great-grandchildren, all of whom had been born since we’d moved north—were 285 miles away in Southern Wisconsin.

At Easter last year, our daughter Debbie phoned and told us how she’d bought colorful little plastic wheelbarrows for each of the children and they were planning an Easter egg hunt in her yard.  Something in me ached over hearing about this event which we were missing.  Joe and I went south 3 times a year or so, but simply couldn’t be there for every occasion.  Now it was Easter, and we were missing a special gathering of a whole new generation—our great-grandchildren.

In my April 14, 2009 journal page I wrote this prayer:  “Easter was good, but I missed being with family.  Lord, you know my desire to return home to the family.  I love this place here, the woods and water.  Joe and I have grown infinitely closer to each other from living in this quiet, remote spot.  But since coming here, great blessings have occurred around our former home in Southern Wisconsin—great-grandchildren!  Lord, I want to go home with my Joe—to Waukesha County!”

Weeks passed, and spring came to our northern land.  Life was pleasant and good, and I enjoyed each day—having spelled out my Easter petition to the Lord.  There is perfect peace in knowing He is in control.

God really does work in mysterious ways!  On June 13, 2009 it became apparent that Joe would need to go to St. Luke’s in Milwaukee, for a heart procedure.  In the next 2 weeks, he was hospitalized twice at St. Luke’s.  Stents were inserted into clogged arteries.  His cardiologist said, “If only you people lived around here, it would be good!”

The days around the 2009 summer solstice melted into a blur.  Our daughter Debbie found a sweet condo on a Monday; the next day Joe and I looked at the condo and bought it.  We returned to Northern Wisconsin at the end of June, geared to packing and moving.  All of that history is recorded on the summer and fall entries, in this blog as well as on “Grace with Salt”. 

Here we are, looking forward to Resurrection Day 2010.  Debbie has planned another Easter egg hunt.  Since the life-changing events of last June, 2 more little people have joined our roll call of great-grandchildren—2 baby boys who are crawling all over the place, grabbing on to each other, grinning, and giggling.

Christ is risen!

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

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Robins chortling in the treetops.  Cardinels spreading cheer in the woods across the park.  Canadas jetting across the sky.  Redwings oka-reeee-ing as they assert their territorial claims.  Soon the peepers will trill in the swamps, and we’ll be swathed and saturated in that glow which is springtime in Wisconsin.  Now we’re inhaling the wet fragrance of woods and soon-to-be plowed soybean and cornfields.  Spring!

Joe and I take frequent “wanders” in the nearby nature preserve.  We discovered the trail which leads down a little moraine to Lake Nagawicka—the quiet, natural end of the lake.  This will be a spot for sitting and sketching, when I can’t be at home up north over the next few months.

Like Edwin Way Teale, we are soon going “North with the Spring.”  Not from U.S. border to border as Teale traveled, but rather we’ll be driving much of the length of our state—back to the bears (who are snoring away like Snow White), wolves (whom we can see any time), badgers, bobcats, and porcupines (whom I hope Baby Dylan never sees).  Back to visit our sweet church in Phillips, our favorite cafe, and my friends in God’s country.  (Are you online, Linda?  I hope to see you on Monday!)

And Baby Dylan will revert from a (fairly) dignified condo dog to the guardian of 14 plus acres of wild sights and sounds.  He has a “girl friend” up the hill, across the road from our land.  Her name is Lady, and she’s no more of a lady than Dylan is a gentlemen.  They hate each other, and make furious reciprocal music even when they can’t see each other for the acres of woods that lie betweeen them!

Meanwhile, I shut my eyes, and envision myself carried heavenward on the wings of the Canada geese—while rejoicing in their ecstatic chorus.  The sound of goose music reverberates through our very walls.  Spring!  The season of music! 

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

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