21 June 2010

Summer Comes to Small Pond (a pretty Purdy place to live)

“… Something irrational had stirred in my brain. It said: stop wasting your life conventionally, waste it yourself, unconventionally.” - Al Purdy, poet and former resident of Prince Edward County.

Today marks the first day of summer, and for us, the beginning of our first summer at Small Pond. What a metamorphosis we have witnessed since we moved here four months ago! The gardens and fields are an endless parade of blooms – just as one flower is fading, another is coming to life.

The vegetables in our garden are growing by leaps and bounds. We are about to have a whole lot of veggies on our hands, so if anyone wants to stop by for an organic garden salad, you are most welcome!

The wild grasses, left unchecked, have in some places grown chest-high; to wade through them is like walking through a jungle. In the ‘back forty’, paths that were easily followed in the spring have become impassable tangles of brush. Next to the silo, the raspberry bushes are filled with the sound of happy, buzzing bees. The wild grape vines seem to be climbing everywhere; Al Purdy was famous for getting visitors drunk on his homemade wild grape wine.

The fruit of the black currant bushes are turning colour like so many jewels. The wild strawberries are sweet for those patient enough to stoop down and pick the small red fruit. Early one morning, I saw a wild turkey by the outhouse; it was huge, up to my waist at least. It didn’t bother to run or fly away, but casually just strutted off into the bushes. We have grown to know many birds on an individual basis; there’s the huge black crow that can be found on our front lawn most mornings, pacing back and forth as he looks for breakfast in the grass. The crow babies’ nest is in a tall pine tree out back; they entertain us with a variety of comical noises. There’s the red-winged blackbird that lives in the crabapple tree, who is extremely territorial and gets very upset when we come too close. And there’s the robin who repeatedly builds nests in our barn, despite the fact that I kept taking them down (I have now given up and conceded the robin free reign of the barn.  Robin - 1 / Human - 0).

A nest with horse-hair lining that I found in the early spring; these eggs were left abandoned on the lawn

One afternoon Guy and I were riding our bikes to town when we encountered a good-sized turtle crossing the road. We picked it up, and it retracted its head and legs inside its shell. As I held the turtle I looked into its eyes, and it looked into mine, surely wondering if it was about to become my lunch. We returned the turtle to the ditch it had been heading for, and went on our way, giddy for our encounter with such an intriguing creature.

A toad explores the front garden

A few weeks ago, I finally saw my first deer on our property, after months of seeing the tracks of these elusive animals. Milé had invited a bunch of our friends over to surprise me for my birthday, and we were gathered outside near the silo. I guess we were making such a racket that a doe was too curious not to check us out, and stood watching us from the edge of a nearby field before prancing off into the fading light.

Last week we met a woman who told us she has an entire photo album of Prince Edward County sunsets, each one of them different, and I can believe it. The skies here are some of the most beautiful I have seen, particularly at sunset, often lighting up in fiery shades of pink. At night the stars are clear and bright, and fireflies dance their magical lights through the tall grasses near the house.We love living here. We love it here even more than we thought we would. Although we have a piece of paper that says this land is ours, we know that we are such a small, insignificant part of the abundant life that is all around us, too astonishing and magnificent to ever truly be owned.

Caitlin meets Butty the butterfly

Since moving to Small Pond, we’ve barely watched TV, and I have to admit we’ve been a little slack on keeping up with news from the outside world. The one story that I have been following is the horrible tragedy of the Gulf oil spill. In the midst of this devastation I have taken great comfort in the pure, unhampered life that is thriving all around us.

     The world’s pain is a little away from here
     and the hawk’s burst of speed that claws
     a fish from its glass house is earlier
     and later than now under a rejuvenated
     Pontiac with frogs booming temporary
     sonatas for mortals and Beethoven
     crows thronging the June skies and
          everything still
     everything suddenly goddamn still…

     - From Spring Song by Al Purdy

(Some good folks are trying to purchase and restore Al Purdy's A-frame house in Ameliasburgh and turn this important site into a writers' retreat.  To find out more about how you can help, click HERE)

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