Paradise, by the Morning Lights

I am pleased—nay, relieved—to announce that paradise has arrived chez nous.

Paradise, according to my standards, that is.

Your idea of paradise might be very different from mine. Yours might not include early morning walks, with long shadows and stunning green.

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Maybe you don’t care for birds singing and roosters crowing, and woodpeckers pecking. Maybe the sight of old cats finding their inner kitten and frolicking in the sun fails to impress.

Maybe you’re bored with flowers blooming and grass greening, and the sound of lawns being mowed. Maybe the uncurling, unfurling, of tender hosta leaves doesn’t move you.

A lake free of ice and full of sparkles, with boats venturing out in spite of the water temperature being a mere 40 degrees F (that’s about 4 C)—maybe that doesn’t spell paradise to you.

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The signs of spring and the hints of summer abound. The promises of things to come are all around.

My paradise isn’t a static place—paradise doesn’t stand still. It whispers and suggests and promises that even more and even better is . . . soon.

Peonies, Solomon seal, lilies of the valley . . . they will come.

Old chairs on new grass, and the good old, same old sun. Kayaks in the water, bikes on the road, hot dogs on the grill. Music and song at the campfire.

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And two of our favorite people will arrive from their Florida home and take up residence just down the road.

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My paradise is . . . well, paradise! I hope you have your own, whatever it looks like.

Autumn Senses–The Sounds of Canada Geese

geese2I stand on my front deck. I hear a faint sound that confuses me, even as it’s getting louder. It’s the sound of a train coming through.

But the closest train tracks are several miles away . . .

The sound grows louder, gets closer.

It becomes clearer what it is.

That’s no train!

That’s a huge flock of Canada geese, heading our way.

The temps are in the 80s, the leaves are still green, the grass still needs to be mowed.

But it’s autumn. The geese tell me so. They insist.

Dozens, nay, hundreds, of Canada geese visit our bay at this time of year. In November, they’ll give way to snow geese.

The Canada geese are the early harbingers of fall. And they sound really, really excited about it.

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They sit out there in the bay and yak among themselves. They squawk and they chuckle and they chortle. They yip and they yap. They sounds like they’re laughing, and arguing, and announcing important news.

They get quiet and then for no discernible reason, they start in again, all at once, raising a ruckus.

They chat early, early in the morning, well before first light, and they are the last sound I hear before drifting off to sleep.

It not just their voices I hear. When a flock comes in, I can hear the beating of all those wings and the splish as they hit the water.

And when they leave, it’s never a quiet “exit, stage left.” They leave with noise and splashing and flapping and a big huzzah.

It seems they must be communicating; it can’t all be sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I’d love to know what they’re saying. Is the meeting in Monty’s Bay the equivalent of a block party, a meet and greet with neighbors? Or is it more a high school reunion, seeing friends they haven’t seen for years?

Are they talking about how they spent their summer vacation? The sights they saw up north? Or are they planning the upcoming trip, deciding where to stay and where to eat. That’s what we talk about when planning a trip . . .

They sound pretty happy and excited, but sometimes they sound cranky and argumentative. I imagine them arguing over who gets to fly first, out in that big point in the V in the sky.

“It’s my turn! You did it last time!”

“Well, I’m better at it than you! You led us to Kansas. Who wants to got to Kansas?!”

“How come I never get to be in front? I’m tired of looking at your back end!”

“You can’t be in front, you’re a girl!”

“You sexist gander, you!”

They all talk at once, nobody seems to be listening. It’s enough to make a person think of American politics . . . well, never mind.

Autumn in upstate New York smells like campfire. It tastes like a Northern Spy apple and cider doughnuts. It looks like maple trees with leaves aflame.

And it sounds like Canada geese.

What does autumn sound like in your neck of the woods?

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The Wind She Blow . . .

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The wind she blow on Lak’ Champlain

By’m’by she blow some more.

You’ll never drown on Lak’ Champlain . . .

So long as you stay on shore.

–(to be spoken with a laconic and wry French-Canadian accent)

It’s inevitable.

Whenever the wind blows strong at our house on Lake Champlain, someone recites this old folk rhyme.

Take yesterday, for instance. Most of the rest of the United States was basking in spring warmth, enjoying outdoor activities, and doing garden chores.

On Lake Champlain, we were watching, in awe, as the waves crashed on the seawall and ice built up on . . . everything.

At least it wasn’t snow . . .

A Close Encounter of the Sea Monster Kind

champAnother summer is on its way and, once again, I am hoping to see something I’ve always wanted to see.

It’s not Paris, although I hear that’s very nice. It’s not a puffin, although they are supposed to be very cool birds. It’s not a total eclipse of the moon.

No, I’ve always wanted to see the sea monster that inhabits “my” lake. I’ve always wanted to see Champ . . . although maybe I already have.

I live on the shore on Lake Champlain, a lake that measures 120 miles long and is 12 miles at its widest point (that makes it a LOT bigger than Loch Ness!) Lake Champlain is a fresh water lake and it forms the border between upstate New York and Vermont.

For hundreds of years, stories have been told about a monster in the water. The Native Americans in the region, Iroquois and Abenaki, had legends about the beast, calling it Tatoskok or Chaousarou.

In 1609, the first European to see the lake, Samuel de Champlain, supposedly wrote in his journal about seeing the creature, and hundreds of other reports have made Champ a local legend. He (she?) is the mascot of a minor league baseball team in Vermont and the celebrity behind the annual Champ Day in Port Henry, NY.

Champ has been seen by not just cranks and drunks but by officers of the law, clergy, college profs, a whole boatload of tourists. The best-known photograph of the monster was taken in 1977 by Sandra Mansi.

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This copy of the Mansi photo taken from http://www.csicop.org

Killjoys have spent a lot of time trying to debunk the photo and to come up with scientific explanations for the sightings of the monster.

They even go so far as to say that most sightings are only pieces of wood floating in the lake!

But I caught these photos a couple of years ago.

What do you think? Huh? Huh? I’m just sure that all sensible, clear-minded people will agree that’s no piece of wood.

Right? Are you with me on this?

Just Another Blogger . . .

IMG_0008_2Just another set of photos, from just another winter-weary blogger.