Unexpected joy on a frosty morning . . .

From a domesticated North Pennines garden to the wild open space in Ontario’s near north

The world is a small place. I thought I’d take a quick snap of the lovely sparkling frost covering the garden this morning, and when I returned to the kitchen table to upload the image, my brother’s snap of his own frosty morning (yesterday’s) pinged into the laptop.

Our mother related with great glee how several decades ago she was followed by a moose cow and her calf as she walked along the road outside their house. Now we have documented evidence of just such an event along a road not far from there. All along the roads in northern Ontario are triangular signs warning of charging moose. These half-tonne (that’s over a thousand pounds in old money) beasts will wreck just about any vehicle that might encounter them. But truth be told, sighting of them is not a common experience, so I’m grateful for the photo!

Sometimes we see roe deer ambling through the fields below us. My struggling willow whips have certainly experienced their presence. But mostly our garden is a haven for the smaller types of wildlife: the one visit by an exploring red squirrel compelled me to make the regulation house I’ve propped up beside the picnic table. It had been up in a tall tree before the wind blew it down. I’ve been trying to think where to put it again, but since we’ve not seen the red squirrel since, its placement has not been a priority. Anyway, no charging moose around here.

I’ve been reading an intriguing novel, ‘The Gathering Night’ by Margaret Elphinstone, which concerns a remote community in the Highlands and Islands of some 8000 years ago, about the time of the tsunami that wiped out Doggerland. Aurochs roamed the land at that time, as well as wolves and bears. It’s hard to believe, but the people then were probably much more sophisticated than we might think. With only an oral/aural tradition, and very little archaeological evidence of their presence remaining, their culture has vanished from the earth. The novelist used her fictional licence to imagine the Shamanistic, holistic environmental ethos that would have been their lifestyle, much like that of the indigenous peoples of North America and the Sami of northern Scandinavia.

Nowadays, from the comfort of our warm kitchen, looking out at the glittering frost, we’re less likely to feel as if we’re personally an integral component of our surroundings. And yet, even though we may not realise it, we are. There’s some joy in that, mostly unappreciated as we go about our busy lives, but there for the consideration, nevertheless.

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