Category Archives: Nature

Irish-ish and vaccinated

My family is so many generations deep in Canada that I don’t really feel Irish. A little Irish-ish, maybe.

Enough that tomorrow I will drink Irish beer and eat Guinness Stew sopped up with Irish Soda Bread.

I do it to honour my ancestors who immigrated and suffered—really suffered—so that I can sit in my warm house and eat plentiful food in good health. They lived in a remote log cabin. No plumbing. No furnace. No Mac’s Milk on the corner or butchery down the street.

It is especially fitting to do so this year, during a pandemic, because in 1866 my ancestors lost three children in one week to a diphtheria epidemic.

Children aged 13, 11 and 9 just . . . gone . . . in the space of a week.

Three children in one week lost to a disease that we never have to think about because WE HAVE VACCINES.

Time has made some people complacent. North Americans born after 1920 don’t know how death used to brush up close in daily life. Our generation has never seen with our own eyes an entire family wiped out in a week, because WE HAVE VACCINES.

Cheers and Éirinn go Brách!

And when it’s your turn, get the vaccine.

Shamrock cookies
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Nameless: The downside of privacy

A few weeks ago I posted this photo of a mailbox. I speculated about groundhogs snoozing abed under the snow.

A country mailbox with no name written on it.
The mailbox with no name.

But I really took this picture about a year ago, not thinking about groundhogs at all. I took it while on a drive with my mother on the country roads around my hometown. As we drove, I was struck by something: the mailboxes had no names written on them.

In my youth, every mailbox at the end of every country drive bore the name of the homeowner. The letters might be scrawled crookedly, or the stick-on kind you find at the hardware store, or beautiful script, but they were there. During country drives you would pass by and say, “Oh, there’s the Miller place,” or “The McLaughlins live there.”

No more.

The namelessness feels like a dent in community. Something that used to be open now closed.

Protecting our privacy is good, they say. Still, the need for it makes me sad. Nameless, if you will.

Chill cat, fast cat

In honour of World Cat Day tomorrow . . . some tidbits.

According to the cat calendar I received at Christmas, owning a cat reduces the risk of stroke or heart attack by a third. Chillin’ with a creature that’s chill is medicine for body and soul, or catspirin as the calendar calls it.

Who couldn’t use a little blood pressure relief right about now?

Also from my cat calendar: Olympic sprinter, Usain Bolt, can run 27 mph (43.5 km/hr), but cats can run 30 mph (48.3 km/hr).

If they want to. 🙂

I know. These cat facts have made your day better already. A little cat medicine for you.

Don’t let this cat’s repose fool you. He could outrun in no time flat.

Groundhog Day: Start from where you are

When we run a race, do we start at the finish line?

Of course not. We begin at the starting line, run every step (maybe walk a few), and cover all the ground in between.

Why do we want to start at the finish line in other areas of our lives? And why do we expect other people to be standing at the finish line before they have run the race?

Parents do this all the time. Children pass through difficult phase after difficult phase, with parents wishing each phase away:

  • “When will this baby ever (take a bottle . . . sleep through the night . . . wean from the breast . . .)?”
  • “When will my toddler ever (potty train . . . stop throwing temper tantrums . . . give up the soother . . .)?”
  • “When will my child ever (stop crying every day at school . . . learn to read . . . stop sucking her thumb . . .)?”
  • “When will my teenager ever (do his homework on time . . . clean up that pigsty of a room . . . stop doing drugs . . .)?”

We want our children to be perfect, fully formed people without letting them run the race.

We adults have unrealistic expectations of ourselves too. We want to be in some other better place instead of where we are.

Whether it’s losing ten pounds, playing “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano, finishing a jigsaw puzzle, or writing a book, we can’t start at the finish line. We have to run the race, go through the process.

I’m thinking about this on Groundhog Day.

This is a picture of a groundhog in summer – not in winter in Ottawa, Canada, where I live.

No respectable groundhog is showing his face around here any time soon.

I LOVE the movie (it might be my favourite of all time), but the day? What a ridiculous idea. We can’t skip over winter to get to spring. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE SIX MORE WEEKS OF WINTER NO MATTER WHAT! This is Canada, for goodness sake. Nature has to run the race.

We can’t start at finish line. That’s the theme of the movie. Settle in. Take steps over and over. You’ll get there.

All the groundhogs in this field are snoozing under the snow.

Natural beauty: Ottawa

I live in Ottawa, Canada, and even I found this image stunning.

Winter is here, but it has been too “warm” (a relative term) to produce ice thick enough to support people on the Rideau Canal Skateway—the world’s largest skating rink. The conditions did produce this natural beauty though.

I’ll take it, even as I count the days until I can tie up my skates to glide on that ice.

Burning to see the moon

Barn's burnt down
now
I can see the moon.
—Mizuta Masahide

The year 2020 was a scorcher, wasn’t it? A heck of a lot of “barns” burned down.

So hard. So sad.

But . . . what can you see now, that you couldn’t see before?

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” 

—Maya Angelou