Tending the Home Fires

This past weekend was brutally cold and I remained cocooned in my house. No way in hell was I going out to run in -30ºC (with the wind chill) no way, no how.  For the first time this year, I decided to make a fire in slow burning wood stove.  Man, the wood I have is fairly useless.  Burns just like that (snaps fingers).  My cubby holds three large loads of this wood carrier doohickey.

I burned the whole lot Saturday.  Sunday was supposed to be warmer and I thought I’d go for a run and then fill up the cubby for the next cold snap.  ‘Parently the cold snap wasn’t done.   Whilst the kids were still snoring, I lugged in the three loads, snow-covered, and got that fire going again.  Thankfully snow doesn’t make it that wet.  It was a few degrees warmer than Saturday…

I decided to make a leek and potato soup, which got me to ruminating as I chopped.  I remembered how I followed Pol Martin’s recipe for Crème de poireaux (cream of leek), having graduated from the Sel et Poivre magazines to real cookbooks.  Sel & Poivre was fine and dandy but often included ingredients such as custard powder rather than include how to make the custard.  Funny thing is, in another recipe from a later issue, there was a recipe for crème pâtissière (pastry cream/custard)!  I used to take out both copies so I could combine them.  Especially after having searched high and low for the prepackaged powder crap (and finding it lacking).

Anyway, back to my soup.  I remembered cutting the veg rather small, and never puréeing it in the end.  It never mentioned to purée it and so I didn’t.  I no longer have the book – frankly, because this was the only recipe I ever tried in the otherwise dull and lacklustre book and I now know it off by heart and have probably modified it since, anyway – so I cannot confirm that that part of the recipe was omitted.   Not so much a crème then, was it?  However, I remember really liking it and receiving no complaints.  Funny then, that was the only time I didn’t whizz it up into a smooth and creamy texture, adding a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.  (I have also since figured out that the veg didn’t have to be cut so finely, especially since it was going under the immersion blender, or blender, that I no longer have.)  And then Sunday’s soup.  On a whim, I chopped everything fine and left it as is.  No cream necessary. I loved it.  And guess what?  Different audience, still no complaints!

As much as I could have remained in my cocoon for yet another day, I instead checked my fire and decided that it was warm enough(ish) to go out there, well-bundled up.  By 2:30 pm, I grabbed my camera, hopped into my car and determined where I would walk.  On a whim, I parked near the “country road” and started walking.  Realising I’d have to go a good ways before seeing anything, I trudged back to my car.  Off to the bird sanctuary, instead.  Note to self, these boots, while warm, are so heavy.  Time to go shopping.

I parked on the street behind another car, having noticed the parking lot was pretty full. Ugh. I long for the days when I worked shifts and could come here on a weekday.  It’s way too people-y on the weekends.

I took a good many photos, some of which ended up on the Facebooks and the Instagrams and I shall share them here, saving more for another post… 😉

 

I am a Snitch

Much to my children’s dismay, I am officially a snitch. They cannot believe I would do what I did.  I can only say that there is no way my conscience would let me do otherwise.

You see, on this cold December day, I decided to go to the Parc de la Frayère and it’s neighbouring Stephen-Langevin Arboretum. It’s where I have captured many birds with my lens, including a lovely Northern Saw-Whet that I shared on Sorryless for Wordless Wednesday.

As I walked, I happily captured a mourning dove and some male and female cardinals.

And a couple woodpeckers.  I’m not very knowledgeable about birds so I did google them before writing this post.  From what I can understand, I have both a Hairy and a Downy woodpecker.  They do look so very similar but the downy one has no red on its head.

There were also the usual chickadees (sorry, forgot to take their pic), since all these feeders attract them, as well.  I continued along the path, walking behind a couple.  A couple who knew their birds.  They, Carl and Nancy, told me they had had to leave their camera at home as they had forgotten to charge the battery.  A bummer of a day to do so as the birds were numerous.  While they could not photography, they were more than happy to point.  “Oh look at that fat robin.  He definitely does not look hungry…”

Oh! A waxwing!  Right there!  Look at his mask, isn’t he beautiful?  Of course, they were giving me the names in French and I was so busy trying to point my camera where they pointed that I heard a whole lotta nuthin’.  I had trouble seeing and basically hoped that something would land in my memory card.  Surprisingly, they did.  Google images search has helped me out.  I’m thinking this is a Cedar Waxwing.  I seem to remember hearing Jaseur de Bohême.  Of course, I could be wrong.

There were so many starlings in the trees.  These guys I could see really well!

The last bird they pointed at was the Dark-Eyed Junco.  At least, that’s what I think it is. It was on the ground and pretty far away and looked like a grey little bird. But, like I said, I know a whole lotta nuthin’ when it comes to birds!  Cute little fella.

We continued walking, searching for owls, but all for naught.  We parted ways and I went back to the bird feeders, hoping to find a cardinal couple on the same branch.

What’s that?  You ask if I’m to leave you hanging for much longer on why I am a snitch?  My apologies. I got side-tracked.

You see, as I rounded a corner, so to speak, I could smell smoke and hear the crackle of fire.  I took a few more steps and there they were.  Two “yutes” with a pretty decent fire.  Another gent comes up beside me.  “Are they allowed to make fires here?” I ask, knowing full-well the answer is “no”.  This is a bird sanctuary.  We’ve had enough trouble with people disturbing the owls last year, trying to shake them out of their trees.  The man grumbled along-side me.

As we started to exit the arboretum, I decided to dial 9-1-1 and let the fire department know.  While the boys were on the edge of the park, I feared they might get over-exuberant.  The gent said he was of a mind to call as well.  “Do,” I said.  “More than one call will make it serious.”

I don’t know if he did or not, but as I walked on the other side, I heard them approach…

…and keep on driving.  “What the–” I was too far to flag them down.  I waited for a bit and kept on walking to the edge of the river, wondering if they would turn around.

Knowing the sunset would not be happening, I started walking back to my car when I got a call.  It was the fire department. They couldn’t find the fire.  I told the dispatcher that I had seen the truck drive right past and figured they would turn around eventually.  He couldn’t understand where it was so I explained in detail how the park was set up, telling him the truck could not drive into said park, that they would have to go by foot. Once it seemed all was clear, we hung up and I kept on walking, turning around to see if they showed up.

They did.

I know not what followed.  I’m not a snitch and watch kinda gal…

 

 

 

 

Walktober – St. Helen’s Island and Marie-Victorin Park

It’s October and that means it is time for Robin’s Walktober!  I had plans. Big plans. Was gonna go to St. Helen’s Island on one day (okay, that part I did, but not as much as I wanted to) and the next day was going to go to Mount Royal in Montreal (which didn’t happen because I was just too damn lazy to get up and out of the house early enough). So instead of crossing the bridge and half the island of Montreal to get to Mount Royal, Zeke and I just went to the next town over as there is a lovely area by the St. Lawrence River in the town of Longueuil, called Marie-Victorin Park, we enjoy walking along.

Actually, I am totally going to cheat here. Yep. Imma combine THREE walks, adding in Parc de la Frayère in Boucherville because I got some amazing shots that I want to share with you. And this walk did take place in October.  I do hope you don’t mind…

On October 5th, Zeke and I went to the Parc de la Frayère (which means spawning ground park) for a sunset walk. For once the stars were aligned, or rather, the sky was clear and I was able to take advantage of the golden hour followed by the sunset.

Yesss! We parked, went right to see if maybe, just maybe the heron was hanging about and he was. I did catch a little black duck but that photo is a tad dark as well.  So we turned around towards the little bridge when I spotted the moon between the trees

A half-pie slice of moon.  Crossing the bridge, we made our way towards the water’s edge and were rewarded by a woods tinged with gold.

Even Zeke took on a golden hue

The sun then put on a spectacular show and it was difficult to NOT inundate you with a bazillion pics…

Satisfied, Zeke and I climbed back into the car but I glimpsed a little marina on my return and had to stop. (Sorry, Zeke, you stay in the car for a minute or so…)

I couldn’t make up my mind on which one to share, so you get two.

October 8 was a Tuesday and the first of my two days off that week.  Into the car we went and off to St. Helen’s Island between the south shore and Montreal. There are so many things to see but we stayed within one little section.  It was a glorious day with the bluest of skies and brightest of colours all around.

Up the steps for a nice view.  I took this angle of the Tour de Lévis (built in the 1930’s, usually we have access to the steps inside bringing us to the top where we can have a spectacular view of Montreal and surroundings) but now gated shut for repairs

We walked along the lovely leaf-strewn trails (seriously? a construction cone? are there no construction-free zones in all of the province?) and then down a hill past this huge boulder. I loved how the moss draped over it.

We walked some more and whoa! I have been on this island countless times and have never ended up here. And if I did and don’t remember it then I must have been otherwise preoccupied. A little oasis in the middle of seemingly nowhere.

 

I let a friend know I was in his neighbourhood so we ended up going to his backyard to have a beer before heading home. The view from the communal backyard is lovely.

As mentioned at the start of this walk post, Wednesday was supposed to be a totally different walk but I hemmed and hawed and took my time – so much so that the idea of driving into Montreal no longer appealed to me. Plus the sky was not quite as blue so, I decided to go to another lovely park in the city of Longueuil. This is also along the St. Lawrence River so we had a chance of seeing geese, ducks or simply lovely trees.

The entrance of the park has this… thing. There are no signs and I have no clue what it is.

As I walked towards the official path, my eyes were drawn to this bright red…

And then the entrance to the park

There were a couple of ducks but the light was shite and they were far and I took ’em anyway. Thank goodness for PicMonkey to play with settings.

We walked along and I was struck the by colours… yellows, reds, sticking up out of nowhere.

We kept on walking and arrived at this easily walked into water… which Zeke, as per, did not hesitate to enter. Which is fine because I had arrived at a busy section with some sort of seagull (I think) and a heron.  While Zeke played in the water, he didn’t disturb the birds or me!

The seagull was busy fishing and every time he’d dive down to pick at a fish he’d caught, his wings would flap. I took so many photos but will not bore you with more than two 😉

And then Bob (for you, Mr. Paxson) was standing there waiting for me.  I took pictures as I got closer and closer with the intent – I know, I am mean – of hoping he would fly away and I could attempt to capture him in flight…. I got my desire.

I was pretty pleased with myself even though I felt a tad guilty.

There is a wonderful new overpass that has been rebuilt after an unfortunate accident – a dump truck with its dumper raised hit it and it smashed it.  My sons and I were on our way to the movies and never made it because we were stuck in the traffic it caused. I wrote about it here.

It is quite spectacular at night and I have promised myself to go there and cross it.  But till then, here is the view during the day.  It was built specifically for bicycles and pedestrians.  Zeke and I planned on going to  the top to see the view. Unfortunately, once we got to the second floor, the stairs were metal teeth-like things and poor Zeke tried the first four. I couldn’t let him go up so I told him to stay on the landing whilst I went up. I don’t usually get the willies but you can see through the stairs and my stomach did flip-flops. Since when am I such a wuss?

It was time to go home and the golden hour was arriving. Walking back I noticed there were crabapples and had I a sac, I would have filled it. (Thief that I am.)

I hope you enjoyed my walk and didn’t find it too long! I apologize. I got somewhat carried away.  Should you want to join in, the link is above on Robin’s name.