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An Update!

A lot has happened in the last two months since I posted last.  Life took over and unfortunately I was feeling fairly uninspired to come on here and tell you fun stories.

I finally got a job that has me out of the house and working.  It was a major adjustment due to working shift work which includes 12 hour shifts switching from day shifts to night shifts.  I was terrified of the change but I was able to embrace it and make it work as best as possible.  Unfortunately right now, work has slowed down and I have been temporarily laid off (for about 10 days).  With the days getting nicer as summer approaches it is actually quite difficult to think about going back to work.  Unfortunately the bills don’t stop so back to work I will go!

Shortly after I started work I became an Aunt.  It was a whirlwind of a day and we are all overjoyed to have this new little bundle of joy in our lives.  Her birth meant we were able to have everyone together for Easter which doesn’t get to happen as often as we’d all like with all of us spread around the country.   My brother and his wife have adjusted splendidly to having their beautiful baby girl at home.  I love that I am only ten minutes away so I get to hang out with the new family whenever I want as well as being able to babysit when needed.

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The Victoria Day long weekend has just recently passed and CB and I managed to get away for a three-day camping weekend that was much-needed.  I have never camped this early in the year but we were lucky enough to have three days of temperatures over 25 degrees.  We canoed into the camp-site, set-up our stuff and waited patiently for the rest of the crew to show up.  In total there were eight of us camping which made for an entertaining weekend.

CB’s plan for the weekend included fishing, fishing, fishing and more fishing!  He got a fair amount of fishing in but unfortunately there just weren’t a lot of big fish biting.  He did manage to catch two clams while we were trolling (which ended up being the most memorable catch of the weekend)…Perhaps his lure was going a little too deep….dragging the bottom of the lake!

I think we all managed to come home looking like we had a case of the chicken pox from the swarms of mosquitoes that were waiting in the wings ready to pounce whenever a fresh piece of skin became available.

The camping weekend also gave CB an opportunity to have fun with his GoPro camera.  Check out the Time Lapse photos and video below to enjoy a taste of our weekend!

Sunset at Camp

Canoe Trip to go Home

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CB requested I make a new favourite cookie recipe to take camping.  We received more than a few good reviews on these cookies.  And we may have used these to make S’Mores (talk about decadence! WOW!).

The Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies are the perfect chewy cookie.  I have made these in a single batch as well as a double batch and both worked out perfectly.  I found that the cookies don’t cook down very flat so when I made these the second time I pressed them down a little bit on the cookie sheet before baking mainly just for aesthetic purposes.

I am off to make a Thai dinner feast.  It feels great to be back here writing away to you and I will try to keep the information flowing.  Please feel free to let me know what you have been up to the past little while and what you are looking forward to most this summer.

A Side Note – Don’t Go Shooting Your Quills At Me

While out for my walk earlier today I had a hard time ridding my brain of the weekly tweets of @brontecreekpp regarding finding shed White Tailed Deer antlers.  My eyes were peeled and while I was reminiscing at the location of my brothers’ old fort I noticed an area of bare bark…(GASP…Oh excuse me for looking!) on one of the large trees nearby.

Bare Naked Bark

My initial reaction was deer rubs left behind prior to and/or during the annual rut (or fall mating season of our local White Tails).

Deer Rubbing

 

Deer Rub Scar

I was feeling pretty impressed by my nature knowledge and interesting find even though it wasn’t the highly sought after deer antler.  Well that was until I looked up…

More 'Scrapings'

Well I’ll be damned, there are some tall deer around here!

Not quite.  So the gears started turning.

There is a hollow in the tree and just so happens that most of the other bare bark occurs right around this natural nesting spot.  Who likes to sleep in trees and possibly chew or scrape at them?  Perhaps these scrapings are more likely to be feast scars of our dear prickly friend the North American porcupine who happens to LOVE the delectable flavour of tree bark.  Well it sure isn’t my cup of tea but maybe that’s because I don’t have a coat of soft fur and barb-ended quills!

I took a quick look around to see if I could find any other signs of a porcupine being in the area (I looked for a large brown lump in the branches) but nothing really presented itself so a quick Google image search when I got home confirmed the markings were porcupine gnaw marks.

No deer antler but still a find I am proud to share.

If you are interested in learning more about our dear friend the porcupine please check out the link for National Geographic below and be sure to listen to the sound clip!

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/porcupine/

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever come across a nature mystery while on a walk.

(@adrianp_james maybe a deer leg in a tree?!)

A Sunny February Adventure

After spending three days staring out the window at the beautiful sunny weather I decided to kick my butt into gear and get outside.  I am lucky enough to have what seems like endless woodland bordering my parents property.  I have wandered these woods my entire life.  Certain locations bring back fun memories while in others I am creating new memories.

As a kid you wandered with little purpose other than to be away from the house and out in the sunshine.   My desire to wander these days is more a way to clear my head, bring myself back to what I really enjoy, seeing nature in its most basic setting, and reliving my park naturalist side.

Being located where I am in Ontario we are cursed fortunate enough to have a good coating of snow on the ground.  So this morning I put on my boots, old coat, hat and mitts and ventured out into the yard.

Dressed for the Stroll (serious business!)

As I started to walk I was immediately flooded with memories and certain places I wanted to cover while out for my walk.   Should I go see if by some chance there is ice in the quarry?  Take a walk by the stone where my most precious childhood pet is buried?  Check out the old mill silo that we were certain as kids was part of  a rocket ship?  Or, as I did today, just meander around searching for signs of life in the winter wonderland that is ‘our’ back yard.

I made sure to take my phone with me, for two reasons:  emergency purposes (certain people in my life worry that I will get eaten by coyotes or fall in the swamp), and also my iPhone has a wonderfully handy camera to take pictures of the dorky things I love about the outdoors.

The ground was scattered with what I believe to be coyote tracks, rabbit tracks and grouse tracks as well as many yellowed snow patches (we all have to go sometime, somewhere – I hold no judgement!).  My curiosity would get the better of me and as I noticed animal tracks headed under a juniper bush I would peer underneath hoping to find a cosy, snoozing creature – not this time!

Beyond the cedar trees there is a wonderful marshland that is always exciting to explore in the wintertime.  The past couple winters we have been able to head out onto the ice to explore beaver lodges up close and personal as well taking a look back at the shoreline from a new perspective.  Today, because it has been so mild and I was alone on my journey I did not head out onto the ice.  I love a nature adventure as much as the next guy, but not willing to be knee-deep in freezing cold water with no hope of being found.

I headed to my favourite spot along the shoreline where a natural spring enters the marsh.  The water is almost always free of ice in this spot and it creates a hub of activity for the busy beavers that live nearby.

Winters' Lifeline

I didn’t see any beavers milling around but lots of evidence that they have been working on some major construction projects.

The Latest Beaver Construction Project

Lots of trees large and small had been trimmed in the area.  I found myself standing under a precariously hanging tree swinging in the breeze.  I took a few steps away.  It was fascinating to me to see two main transportation routes established up the bank.  The paths were icy and could imagine just a few damp webbed feet had helped to establish these routes up and down the bank.

A Well Worn Path to Water

After exploring along the shoreline for a little while I decided to visit one more place before trekking back to the house.  Growing up with two older brothers there were many adventures and projects that occurred in this forest.  My brothers and a few co-conspirators decided to make an elaborate tree fort as teens.  They somehow managed to make the trek with the family lawnmower and trailer back into the bush with wood scraps, a generator and power tools to start this adventure.  I did had very little to do with this project but was on occasion present (invited or otherwise) to see how work was coming along.  It was excellent place to spend summer days as the tree fort was definitely a summer project.   The fort consisted of two platforms that connected two separate trees as well as a zip line from one tree to yet another tree.   As with many projects the fun wears off just as quickly as the plan came together.  The fort was never formally removed but nature has done its’ part to restore the natural setting with some minor remnants left behind.

Forest Fortress

It was now time for me to head back to the house.  The snow seemed to get twice as deep and difficult to trudge through on my walk home but I realized the heaviness in my feet was a result of the adventure being over… but luckily, only for today!