Thursday, May 27, 2010


Early one morning last week, on one of my usual walks with the two Dogs, I met a Hummingbird.  Or should I say the Hummingbird met me? He had a message to impart.

I'm not sure I would have noticed him, had he not made his position as clear as he did.  Hummingbirds are prolific in the early Spring...they arrive early in the season, even if the liquid in Hummingbird feeders still freeze at night.

I am accustomed to them speeding around the place. Their buzzing noise, a little louder than the huge, bumbling Bees that are also prolific, gives me a heads up that one of them is near. And with their first arrival, it is magical. 

Upon the first sighting, everyone rushes to fill the feeders; during one of the first trail walks I took when we moved here, I found a feeder hanging from a Tree far from any dwelling. And it was filled with fresh the time I wondered if the feeder would draw a Bear or two. But the only creature feeding upon it was the Hummingbird, that I could discern.

But the Hummers have been here for a long while least a couple of months. I'm accustomed to the sound of their wings and rarely look up to watch in wonderment any more. There are so many of them, you see...after awhile, they become commonplace, a part of the twittering, tweetings, buzzings, chirpings and sharp calls that abound in the mornings.

I planted many Seeds this year, right into the Earth, rather than starting them indoors. But, as soon as I planted them, I forgot which and where. I tell myself every year to find a scribbler and write down which Seeds I've planted; every year I skip that step. And every Spring, my memory gets worse...

So I had my head down, intently searching for the first signs of something lifting its head up through the Soil. The World recedes then; I am completely in the moment, completely oblivious to anything other than willing the Seedlings to grow.

I was dimly aware of hearing a Hummingbird close by. And then I heard the swish of Air, just a little closer than normal.

Closer than normal is right.  I was completely startled when the Hummer landed upon my head. I was not sure exactly what to do...I was bent over, my head close to the almost blossoming Tulips. Did the Hummer mistake my head for one of those blossoms? Should I brush it off? Thoughts ran through my mind, speeding as if they had taken wing as quickly as the Hummingbird.

I heard it twitter once or twice. I was worried it might get tangled in my hair, which is shoulder length and was up in an untidy bun. What was I to do then, should the Hummer get caught in hair and clips?

There was nobody around, other than the Dogs, who watched the whole debacle with interest...and a bit of humour, if I'm not mistaken. There was no one to come to my aid.

Within a very short time, although it felt like eons, the Hummer, with a sharp tweet, took off, speeding his erratic way through the Trees. And I was left guessed it...Hummingbird excrement, mixed in with my hair.

For that tiny Hummer, there seemed to be a lot of it. I touched my hair and discovered a small, gooey blob right in the middle of my head. I dashed it off, only to feel liquid running down the side of my face. He had left his calling card, in spades!

The Dogs laughed and laughed, dancing around me, sneezing and huffing. As I walked into the house to take a shower, I wondered what on Earth that Hummingbird thought he was doing.

Had I wandered too close to a nest? Hummers are territorial and most species are fighters...sparring for feeder rights with other kinds as soon as the feeder is put outside. But I've been in that particular area many times, before and after the incident. And have never had problems with any Bird, Hummer or otherwise.

My hair is grey, glinting silver from Sun's rays upon it. Could he have thought my head was some kind of untidy, exotic Flower? Could he have been attracted to the colourful clip that was trying to contain hair that wouldn't be captured? Others have grey Birds alight on their heads, as well?

I'll never know. But I do know the Hummer's message is inner Joy.

From this site, I read about the Hummer and the other messages he gives.

His first message is to taste and enjoy the sweetness of as it is, not what I wish it to be. I am to make the most of what is.  The Hummer tells me to be more adaptable; he tells me I am not to look back in life and wish for what was.

And then there is that inner joy I am to find and project to others. I am proficient, he tells me, at finding the good in life's situations for other people. Now I must learn to find the good in me and my situations.

He tells me I have a gift for working with flowers...he suggests aromatherapy as an adjunct. He warns me to take care with sweets...I am diabetic, so the little warning was taken.  But why does he not worry about overdoing it with that nectar he is constantly guzzling back? Never mind that his energy output is phenomenal!

I believe strange interactions with the Animal Kingdom should not be overlooked, and so I take Hummingbird's message seriously. He was right to remind me to take what is and not try and change it for my own satisfaction; rather I will try and accept circumstances as they are right now.

Perhaps I am thick-headed...perhaps I was not hearing or accepting what I knew to be true. And having the Hummingbird relieve himself on my head certainly brought the message to the forefront.

He had some words of wisdom to impart, this Hummer.

It is up to me what I do with the wisdom Creator tried to send, so uniquely.

And now? Now I keep my eyes and ears open when Hummingbird flies past...

Monday, May 17, 2010


During the course of my life, I have never experienced anything quite like the wildly exuberant Cariboo Spring. 

The Land here is rife with Bush growing wildly and encroaching everywhere, with Birds from far away countries trilling their song from each Tree, with Deer and Fox and Rabbit and Squirrel all doing their respective mating dances...some right in front of me.

I guess it is only the Human species who want privacy during their mating dance, because it surely isn't a priority among the Animals.

I have yet to see Deer actually mate, but they show off their offspring to me with regularity. And Fox visited the other day, as silently as usual. I thought she was by herself, but once the coast was clear, meaning no Dogs around, she allowed me to see her family.  There were three kits, I believe, each tumbling over each other in their eagerness to keep up with Mom.

They were outside the fence. Mom wanted to be sure there was no impediment to their getaway, should this be required.She sat in full view with her kits, her eyes meeting mine. It was a look that has passed between Mothers through the ages...full of pride, understanding, and loving patience.

The Mother Fox may have looked at ease and relaxed, as I watched.  But I noticed Red-tailed Hawk fly overhead, and the next time I looked for the Fox family, they were nowhere to be seen. In just a wee instant, they were gone.

The huge Mule Deer have babies as big as an adult White-tailed Deer on the Island. There is a mother Deer here who regularly brings her rather large, still faintly spotted baby for me to admire.  She will leave her youngster among a group of Fir Trees while she browses,  even knowing I am watching from the deck. Should any danger approach,she will be there with her baby instantly. But on this quiet day, no danger lurked, and baby whiled away the afternoon among the Firs

Birds find a haven in the backyard in a pile of brush which is slated to be burned in the Fall, since there is presently a Fire ban. But Squirrel has recently discovered his own hiding place amidst the brush and regularly chases or even kills the young fledglings who seek safety there.

Squirrel will eventually fall prey to one of the larger Hawks who frequent the area.  Hawks have babies as well and there is a very young red-tailed Hawk who lives in the Forested part of our property. I have seen him practice his killing skills...he is not very good at it, as yet. And I mourn for the Birds he maims and who will flutter and tweet, until finally the young Hawk is able to finish his kill. I mourn for the Birds who try and get away, only to fall victim to Hawk's quick strikes, tumbling into the brush with Hawk swiftly in pursuit.

It is completely silent, after one of Hawk's kills.  Even the Insects fall quiet. And then, after a silent signal only Animals can see or hear, a cacophony of twitters, chirps, and buzzing begin once again.

I love to sit on the deck after chores have been completed, find my Bird book and drink my Tea.  It is so interesting at this time of year; many different kinds of birds flock through this area on their way North.

There are a few Birds I do not require a book for, since they are easily recognizable.  One is the Raven, of course.

There are two Ravens who make their home here with us. They love to rile the Dogs, both of whom know if their back is turned, Raven will swoop down and steal a bone. They make the Ravens big in the Cariboo...I doubt if I have even seen one quite as large as the shiny, blackish-blue Raven who believes he rules this place.  He projects a royal presence...a kingly sureness.

Last year, he brought his young.  Young Ravens do not have their father's strong presence...they are comical in that their feathers appear to be growing every which way, they quarrel amongst themselves, they fall off the wire to which they cling, swinging upside down, until they flutter to the ground, still cawing in that young Raven voice. It does not matter.  Parents...yes, even Raven parents, are proud of their young and their parental accomplishment.

On my way to a Hospice appointment the other day, I was completely surprised by two young Eagles fighting over a  Fish. They swooped and swirled, both attempting to fly and hang onto the Fish at the same time.

I was on a deserted highway, right next to a rest area, as it happens. I stopped there, and watched the Eagles as they continued to fight over the Fish. Inevitably, during a tug of war, the Fish flopped to the ground.

Even as young as the two Eagles were, they were big!

They were not interested in me, a mere Human sitting in a car. One Eagle flashed to the ground, and hopped closer to the Fish, while the other berated and grumbled and flopped about in the Air.

And then, quite inexplicably, the Eagle on the ground flew off, along with the Eagle already in the Air. The Fish flopped weakly, and then lay still. Not for long, however. One of the Eagles returned, the other nowhere in sight, and picked up the now dead Fish. He flew off with his prize.

And I drove on with my prize...a feather which had fluttered to the ground during the Eagles' brouhaha.

I am in wonderment when I arrive at my appointment and tell whoever will listen about what I've just seen. But the people I tell are all long-time Cariboo residents...they have seen Animals like this interact for a very long becomes commonplace. But not for me.

Summer will be here soon, and in the dry, hot heat of a Summer's day, the Animals seek shade and Water, find the deepest part of a Forest, fly further North. Spring is bounteous and beautiful here, but it lasts for only a very short time.

I will not see most of my friends again until the Fall, when they will once more return, making our property a stopover on their way South.

I must make sure I stock up on Bird Seed, because the Cariboo Spring and its joyful creatures will have decimated my supply.

And then, perhaps, there will be another gift to me from one of them.

I consider a feather or two perfectly adequate payment!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A Wart

Our Dogs, Nate and Lucky, have trouble with the hot, dry Summer we experience here in the Cariboo District of BC. It makes them itch; hence there is much scratch, scratch, scratching going on. There is much banging as their elbows hit the floor during a particularly delicious scratch.

We treat their coats with a drop or two of insect that will fight off Ticks and Mosquitoes and it works fairly well. But somehow, somewhere...Nate received a big bite from one of the flying bombers last year, on the back of his neck. Or so we thought...

He couldn't scratch was situated perfectly in the middle of the upper neck, almost right behind his head but in front of his collar. It looked a little odd, all bulbous and round. I knew we could have a mess once it popped, if it ever did.

Years ago, our family had a dog called Roscoe.  He had an insect bite which blew up into a bubble very like Natey's. It was situated on his inner thigh...not visible unless one was brushing or bathing or drying him with a towel after one of Roscoe's many dips into the Lake.

Because Roscoe could reach it, he took care of it himself. The lump eventually drained, he would clean it...and then leap into whatever body of Water happened to be nearby. The combination of his cleansing of the wound and the River or Lake Water eventually healed it, although I like to think the herbal salves and antiseptics I used on him had something to do with it.

When we first noticed Natey's lump, I thought it looked much the same as the one Roscoe had. It didn't seem to bother didn't appear to be itchy or painful. The lump stayed static for the longest time...we would bathe it with antiseptics and made sure the area was clean, but since it didn't bother him, we left it alone.

As an old farm girl, I am accustomed to using old tried and true home remedies on my pets.  During my youth, in the small town I lived in, there was no vet available. We relied on ourselves and our knowledge of herbs and salves and antiseptics when it came to dealing with our animals.

But when Natey's lump burst and drained, and all our remedies did not work, it was time to realize I was in the 21st century...and there were veterinarians available.

After scaring myself silly looking on the internet regarding lumps and bumps on Dogs and what they could be, Graham made an appointment with a vet.  The idea of taking Nate to a vet took longer because Nate is a big Dog who suffers from arthritis. Getting him into a car could be painful for both Nate and me, since I also have problems with arthritis and chronic pain.  And...there was the not so small problem of Nate's great dislike of Cats and small white Dogs.

There are often many Cats and small white Dogs in a vet's office.

Nate has a memory like an Elephant.  He was only a Puppy when a Cat decided to take a swipe at a tender nose; yet he has never forgotten the insult. The small white Dog...well, it was actually Lucky, his kennel mate, who was frightened completely silly by a small, white Poodle, when he was a very young puppy.  Lucky would shiver and shake each time he was near a Dog who was small and white...and Nate decided it was up to him to defend his friend. I believe Lucky outgrew his fear, but Nate has not outgrown his protection of Lucky.

The fact that Lucky is a fair bit bigger than Nate matters not at Nate, Lucky is still small, afraid and in need of defence.

And so, it was Graham who took Nate to the vet's office, one early morning a week ago. Graham is stronger than I; it was a good thing he took him in since the vet's office was indeed full of Cats and small, white Dogs. But strength on Graham's part and perhaps the fact Nate is ageing and becoming more mellow allowed the appointment to go on without incident.

The vet proclaimed his weeping lump to be a "wart gone wrong". A wart?

After all the Dogs I've had the pleasure to live with, none had ever had a wart. I didn't know Dogs could get warts.

But indeed they can. It was rather a grisly subject I researched on the Internet after hearing the news about Nate.  Some Dogs even get them in their mouths...and the photos accompanying the articles made me think Nate's wart was hardly anything to worry about.

The vet wanted to operate and take the wart off. She proclaimed it to be infected, which it may have been, since Nate was now rolling in mud. He'd been rolling in Snow up till now, but Spring comes to the Cariboo eventually, melting Snow and leaving mud behind.

Another appointment was made for the operation and Nate once more made the trip into the vet's office, where Graham left him. Lucky, who had been left at home, of course, moped and looked as if we had done him a great injustice. He wouldn't drink or eat; his best buddy was not with him.  This situation may have reminded him of the time the two were separated, when we moved here.

I understand the vet operated on Nate under sedation, rather than a full-blown anaesthetic. We requested Nate's nails be cut, since he won't let anyone near his feet. Even under sedation, Nate fought mightily against having his nails cut. Why would a Dog fight against this so hard?  In all our time with him, never once has the quick in his nails ever been cut, and he was a very young Pup when he arrived into the family. He will not even allow us to hold his paws. It is a conundrum.

Nate came home with a six-inch scar running from his shoulder to the middle of his neck. Much of his hair in the same area has been shaved. He is rather proud of his perceived war wound and knows he has to take antibiotics for the previous infection. He will come to me when it is time for them...but I feel he probably desires the bit of wiener in which the pill is hidden more than the antibiotic pill.

I have done much reading on dog warts over the past few days. Nate's first diagnosis has not been corroborated with the vet, as yet. I imagine we will know exactly what it was when the stitches are removed.

The Internet has many stories about these disorders which can really raise anxiety. On the other hand, I have learned some remedies for warts in dogs...Vitamin E or castor oil can be rubbed on the wart, Vitamin C and Vitamin A can be given for the Dogs various immunity protections, and then there are surgical removals, electrocautery and cryosurgery.

An interesting part of my research is the idea Dogs cannot digest the many grains which are a part of commercial dog food. We feed Nate and Lucky a very expensive Dog meal made of Oatmeal and Fish. It is locally made and is meant to target skin problems. It is a last resort regarding Nate...he either gains weight or his skin becomes very dry with other foods we have tried over his life span. Or he is highly he is to Chicken and to Chicken products.

Now, of course, I am wondering if he can digest the Oatmeal.

I do not recall the Dogs of my youth having many health problems.  I remember they were fed on leftovers, bones, and homemade Dog food. Possibly a very unbalanced diet, all around...and yet. They had few, if any, skin or digestive problems, other than the odd flea or two.

Many Dog foods list wheat or corn as the first ingredient in a bag of food. I have read Dogs require a small amount of grains, which they would have received from the stomachs of small prey if they were in the wild. But I wonder if Dogs can really digest as many grains as they are now receiving.

And so I believe I will research a little further and find recipes for homemade Dog food.  I met a lady from the UK the other day who does just this. She feeds her brood only meat and vegetables...and not many vegetables, at that. She vehemently believes Dogs are carnivorous and we personalize Dogs when we think they can eat "porridge" as a regular diet.  

It seems to make sense to me, when I remember what we fed our Dogs in my youth.

All it needs is a little tweaking in the nutritional department.

And Nate? Well, he's recovering well, albeit he now sports a limp.

A limp which gets worse, when he's in need of sympathy.