Note to self … this reanimated web-journal is supposed to serve two purposes.  As an aide-memoire for our declining years and to provide photographs and comment on matters of interest in a manner that  may keep our small, but loyal, readership coming back for more. So – “Don’t be boring”.

That could be tricky 🙂

Yesterday was the annual Winter Solstice even in the arboretum that we, in the Friends (of the Morgan Arboretum) have been organizing for a few years.  This is not the Saturnalia of old by any means but a couple of hours during which small kids and their families make ornaments and decorations that they then hang on the solstice tree … followed by a walk to feed the Chickadees then hot chocolate and cookies and away.  It has grown to attract a quite regular audience of kids that we see each year plus some new faces and is a surprising, if low key, success.  The Chickadee feeding is the best bit.  There is a long tunnel – part of a ski trail if only we had had snow this year – that runs through a huge high and wide evergreen “hedge” (spruce perhaps?  I am not good at tree identification – need to check this) and in winter is a splendid place to hang out if you are a small bird and try to keep warm.  These birds have realized that small children holding out their hands are often offering seeds to them and it has become, over the years, quite a thing for local families to do.  The birds soon find you if you stand still and approach in small flocks.  They will arrive high in the trees and gradually hop lower and lower down the branches, getting closer and closer until they have plucked up enough courage to sit on your hand and take a seed.  It’s a really neat thing – these little balls of almost weightless fluff voluntarily making contact with you, albeit for only a fleeting moment.

As an ardent, non-anthropomorphising conservationist type of person part of me says that we shouldn’t be doing this at all … but we happily put out bird feeders in our gardens and scatter scraps for the squirrels (well, some do) so there is no real difference here I think.  It’s not as if the birds are becoming dependent on our hand outs. What is good is that this is a fine way for small children, who are all urban and “cool” and internet-oriented these days to actually and suddenly find themselves in contact with a wild creature.  It never fails to excite then please them and who knows, it could be the start of an appreciation for nature that people sorely lack these days.  It’s a bit of a cliché, but someone a few years ago promulgated the concept of people suffering from “nature deficit disorder”.  Maybe this is a small step towards the cure.

On this theme, I just discovered that Chris, the interpretative naturalist wo works at the arboretum was on CBC radio yesterday morning, enthusing about the place.  You can listen to the interview by following this link:    http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Radio/Local_Shows/Quebec/All_in_a_Weekend/1366095091/ID=2178007875

Meanwhile, a light sprinkling of snow this morning but rain is forecast for later and there is now almost no chance of a white Christmas.  That was not part of the deal when we moved to Canada.  What we want before the new year is HUGE dump of the white stuff.