Forgotten garden

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This is a sunny glade that is on one of our regular walking tours.  It is an abandoned and overgrown property where a house and garden once stood.

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These ‘ditch’ lilies are somehow magical in this context – the last vestige of a cultivated garden.  I have also seen two everlasting sweet peas, almost swallowed up by weeds, as well as several raspberry plants.

In the spring, there is this -

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A remembrance of gardens past…

Rescued dogs are worth it

Do you know how many organizations there are in the Ottawa and eastern Ontario region that rescue and find homes for abandoned, unwanted and homeless dogs?  Twenty-eight.  And each facility lists a sizeable number of dogs, making hundreds of potential best-friends waiting and hoping for a family and a permanent home.

This includes not only city-run facilities like shelters but also independently run rescues, both breed-specific and not.

Many of the dogs who wind up in non-profit, volunteer-run rescues are from far away and have been pulled from shelters where they were days or hours away from being euthanized.  Many of these dogs were picked up as strays and many of them were surrendered by owners who could no longer care for them.  They come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all temperaments and all stages of obedience.  But they all share one thing:  through no fault of their own, they were born into this world and then they were discarded.

It shocks me how many discarded dogs are looking for homes.  And yet, when looking for a new canine member of the family, so many people still look in the classifieds, online or on bulletin boards to find that ‘perfect’ puppy.   They go to advertised breeders and have in mind a specific type of dog or a specific “look”.  They often don’t research the breed they’re about to share the next ten to fifteen years of their lives with.  They don’t meet the dog’s parents, they don’t sign a contract that promises they will return the dog to the breeder should they not be able to keep it.  They don’t imagine this puppy will end up being riddled with health issues because it was created as a “designer” dog.  They don’t consider whether or not this breeder is reputable, that is, how the breeding parents are vetted (health, temperament, genetic predispositions, etc.), how often the dogs are bred, their reasons for breeding and last, but not least, what kinds of conditions the dogs are living in.

Not all breeders are bad and not all rescues are good.  But all dogs deserve to be given a chance after they’ve been cast aside.

If you’re thinking of adding a dog to your family, please visit the website for Canada’s Guide to Dogs here.  There is a comprehensive list of organizations where rescued dogs may be adopted (the adoption fee takes into consideration the cost of running the rescue), reputable breeders, as well as breed information that will help you decide which kind of dog is for you.

"I was discarded."

“I was discarded.”

Memories of walks past

The stranglehold of winter appears to be loosening.

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Pretty soon it will be a memory.

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Can sunshine and warm breezes be far away?

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I normally walk this trail on the bluff overlooking the river only in the winter months.  Not because it might be more picturesque during these quiet, snow-blanketed months but because of this:

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These leafless stalks bearing dried creamy white berries are poison ivy.  The bane of my existence.  Thickets of it line either side of this path and taunt me as I walk through, as I hold my hands in my pockets and stand straight as a soldier as I trek by.

My skin’s reaction to this kind of plant (and all its dastardly relatives) is so acute that even a couple of weeks ago I suffered a flare-up from the latent oils, either still on my hand or a glove, or — who knows what?

I have walked this path for almost twenty years now.

It is now crowded by a new housing development, but the path still skirts the water and descends down to a small sandy beach where Skye can swim and where my first dog, Riley, would wade.

I would pass this giant white pine.

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This ancient tree is shrinking from age and it’s limbs that have been weakened by the weight of successive winter snows.

The thick branch that reaches out to the right was once where a racoon lay.  My morning walk took me underneath this tree, as usual, but on this day I looked up.  A motionless racoon lay sleeping, straddling this wooden arm.  It was unaware of us as we walked below.

We returned in the afternoon to see him again.  It wasn’t until then that I realized he was not sleeping.

It was a safe place to die.  His body remained there throughout the early days of autumn, and as the winds chilled, bits of fur wafted down onto the ground below.  Safe from predators and hungry opportunists.

Every day I looked up.

I measured the seasons by how he began to disappear until one day in the spring, all traces of him were gone.

Except in my memory.

Winter in black & white

There is such stillness in the woods at this time of year.

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Although the stream still flows, the edges are crystallized in ice.

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And there is always evidence of creatures just having come and gone…

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The depression in the snow around this tree trunk reminds us that there is energy in the form of heat emanating from its seemingly life-less form.

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Is there anything more solitary than this abandoned chair?

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I feel like this contorted weeping mulberry; huddled and twisted in the cold.  I’m ready for spring, thank you.

Blue interlude

Today, mountains of snow, fallen before Christmas, are melting.  The sky is grey, the air is almost warm, but the streets are dirty and the remaining snow is granular and sticky ….

Days like this are so predictable here; they usually arrive with ironic precision around Winterlude time, but this year, they are thwarting any possible January opening for our record-long skating rink along the canal.

So this kind of dreary day demands a serious interlude.  I present you with beach, ocean, cloudy blue sky (hey? you gonna be picky?), warmth and a marguerita, for good measure.  Enjoy.

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