Monday, July 30, 2007

Not Thinking

My older son has finished his first year of university. He attends Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario where academics are combined with the four years of training which will help to sculpt him into an officer for the Canadian Armed Forces. His solid determination and unwavering patriotism fills me with equal parts of intense pride and undeniable fear.

He's home for one final week of his thirty day leave, the longest time off that he anticipates having for the next several years. Training courses will occupy full summers from here on in. I try not to think about how much I miss him when he's not home. I also try not to think about where his military career will take him over the years, and what dangers he will encounter. I'm generally not very successful at not thinking.

For this month, I'm simply enjoying his time at home. We've made a point of getting out and wandering around local conservation areas which are visually appealing and quiet. This time together allows us the chance to reminisce, catch up and share our mutual appreciation for nature. These mini excursions will be among the memories that I hope to recall when I'm trying not to think.

We brought the camera along on recent outings to a nearby marsh, and for an afternoon walk at Rattlesnake Point - a series of hiking trails that hook up with the 845 kilometre (525 mile) long Bruce Trail on the Niagara Escarpment.

Rattlesnake Point is a popular spot for rock climbers, and though we didn't encounter many people during our walk, a number of groups or individuals can often be seen rappelling at various points along the way.

Rattray Marsh is Mississauga's wetland, which is located on the shore of Lake Ontario. There are semi-rugged hiking areas as well as raised wooden walking paths that follow its shoreline. The area is home to a variety of insects, birds, amphibians and mammals, a few of which we were able to see, fewer still which we managed to capture on camera. An Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail (or something very similar) lands briefly on the rocks and shows off its markings.

The sandy area below the rocks leads up to the lake where bright green moss is growing close to shore.

Gnarled driftwood contrasts with the smooth stones which were perfect for skipping across water, but I wasn't quick enough to capture the multiple splashes.

We opted instead to toss some of the larger rocks out into the water.

Wandering along the wooden pathway, we approached this saucy little squirrel. He seemed indignant that we dared try to snap his photograph. As we moved nearer, he appeared to stand his ground, almost with "arms" crossed, challenging us to stay back

A moment later he was up the tree and poked his head around from behind, seemingly sticking his tongue out at us. The human attributes that we assigned him provided us with much amusement.

Before leaving for home, we stopped to watch as one by one, the ducks dipped their heads into the refreshing water. The reflected colours which surrounded this duck's bottom gave the appearance of an Impressionist painting.
The end!


Frank Baron said...

A duck's bottom awash in colourful ripples....

Is it warm in here or is it just me?

Hilary said...


This song is over, but the malardy lingers on...

Ron Southern said...

Good nature photos, except for the duck's ass, for which I didn't give a rat's ass! (Just kidding.)


Hilary said...


You quacked me up with that one.

Anonymous said...

For a moment I thought you decided to show how skilled you are at synchronised swimming... But it was just a common duck... =)

Unknown said...

Since everyone seemed to comment on the duck, I wanted to mention how ugly Canadian squirrels seem to be!! Permit me to point your esteemed guests to a rather more quaint ENGLISH squirrel. Ok, a rather well-fed one.


PS: Long time no see.. again!

Hilary said...


Darn, that other duck was just out of range.

Thanks for stopping by, Brazil nut! :)

Your squirrels are indeed cute too, but I think the Aussie immigrants might be tossing them a few too many peanuts.. or TimTams.. or Vegemite

Good to hear from you, Dave. Drop by the room sometime so we don't have to keep missing you.