April 13, 2009

Good Friday - Beer Saturday - Easter Sunday

Friday April 10th, 2009 - Sunday April 12th, 2009

We took off for the ridge on Friday night prepared to stay over for two nights. The nights were clear, starry and cold and the days were sunny and warm. A perfect weekend for working outside and huge bonfires at night. Friday night was really great. We had a huge roaring fire, a full moon lighting up the woods, and Caramilk smores. It was almost dark when we arrived, and we had to walk back in from the Woods' farm because the road is questionable and a culvert still needs work before we will attempt to drive over it.

Saturday was our work day, and we got up early and started digging out and improving the firepit Jared made for burning brush. It would have been a great spot for an outhouse, you could dig a huge hole without hitting bedrock. There aren't too many places on our property we have encountered like that. We dug out a massive tear-shaped pit, lined it with big rocks and spent most of the day cleaning up the woods and burning piles of brush. This firepit will also be our cooking pit because we don't have a lot of room in our campsite for the custom cooking rack my dad gave us. The BrownTowners came up for a day trip and hung out with us for a few hours. It was a gorgeous day. Jared made it a new holiday - called Beer Saturday - and we did drink beer!

My crocuses were blooming all over the place! In my original rock garden I had shiny violet Crocus vernus 'Flower Record' waiting to unfurl their petals, my second campsite rock garden had Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc' partially opening their white blooms by the afternoon, tiny Crocus chrysanthus 'Blue Pearl' and 'Snowbunting' glowing amongst the leaves of the forest floor like gems, Crocus tommasinianus 'Whitewell Purple' and my clump of Crocus vernus 'Vanguard' were fully open displaying their gorgeous flowers and taking my breath away. I am already making a shopping list for more crocus in the autumn. They are my favourite spring flowering plant. My snowdrops fell over on Sunday so I think they are pretty much done for the season and my daffodils are growing so fast, and each clump looks like it has multiplied a little compared to last year.

On Sunday we had to pack up our stuff and go because we were going to have Easter dinner with family. A red squirrel came around for a bit, but the chipmunk we saw briefly on Saturday never came back. We had 3 Dark-Eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) hanging around pecking at the ground, a Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) climbing the trees looking for bugs in the bark, and a pretty male Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureaus) hogging all the sunflower seeds at our feeder. I have never seen these birds on our property before so it was exciting. We also had a male Downy Woodpecker visiting our feeder, plus all the usual Black-capped Chickadees, White and Red-breasted Nuthatches.

April 5, 2009

Spring Arrives

Jared and I took a day trip today to our property because we were both missing the place. Jared had taken a day trip on March 14th when there was still a lot of snow on the ground, but I hadn't been up since New Years. The huge rain storm on Friday combined with the warm temperatures melting all the snow created major flooding of the rivers on our drive up. We saw many houses flooded, and the Irondale River was so high in Gooderham that many people stopped to take pictures.

It was such a beautiful, perfect early spring day. The sun was shining with only a few cloudy patches, and the birds were really happy to see us fill up their feeder. Most of the snow is gone now in the woods, except for a few patches here and there, and on northern slopes. There were lots of huge wet areas in some parts of the woods that created islands in the middle of ponds, but for the most part our property was well drained. We walked around a lot in the woods to different spots to check out what was going on, and to search for any antler sheds. We didn't find any antlers, but we were relieved that no new trees had fallen over from the wind storm yesterday and happy that our cabin had no damage. The mouse trap we left over the winter still had food in it so that is a good sign. We saw moose, grouse, deer and what we think were wolf tracks. We also heard a small pack of wolves howling nearby.

I took the opportunity to check out my gardens, especially the spring flowering bulbs. Every year I plant a whole bunch of bulbs, and it never fails that I always miss the crocus. This year started out the same, tons of new green shoots and in some cases buds that will open sometime this week, but nothing in full bloom. Until I went around to the side of our cabin towards the pathway to BrownTown and saw a glorious sight - Crocus 'Vanguard' almost popping open and completely gorgeous. This is definitely my favourite crocus variety and it brought a huge smile to my face. One of the flower buds was almost open, so I sneaked a peak by carefully opening the petals for some beautiful photographs. This crocus has silvery outer petals and the inner petals contrast with a lavender colour. The stamens are a breathtaking bright orange. Anyone who wants that burst of early spring colour should plant this crocus, and I guarantee they wouldn't be disappointed. My single and double snowdrops were blooming as well, and I would also highly recommend the double snowdrop Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' as another gorgeous early spring bulb.

I did a bit of a spring cleanup in the campsite gardens, cutting back the ornamental grasses and perennials, and removing all the leaves and debris from the beds. The daffodils are coming up nicely but no sign yet of all the hundreds of grape hyacinths I planted last autumn. I was even surprised to see that the delphiniums I planted last summer had big healthy buds coming out of the soil - surprised because I was doubtful if they would survive since they can be finicky. I was also very happy to see about 6 flower buds on my Viburnum juddii, which is supposedly a zone 5 shrub. I can't wait until later in the spring when it blooms because the scent will be incredible.

It was a really fun day and I can't wait until the next time we go up!