Winter flipped the coin into “Sprunger” last week, that is to say our daytime temperatures went from 5-7 degrees C (41-45 F) to 25-28 C (77-82 F), the barren and dead-looking trees in the courtyard burst into clouds of pink and white blossoms and the flower beds thrust bright spikes of narcissus, daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips from the brown earth into the sunshine. Hostas unrolled their leaves and fanned them out like green umbrellas.
Calgary doesn’t have “Spring”. We go from Winter to Summer in a single bound, then, like those times you leave home with the nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten something, and it turns out to be the baby, dressed in his snowsuit, and cinched in his carseat, Calgary goes back and gives us three days of 5 degrees C (41 F), and a cold drizzle, or it snows 53 cm (21 inches) on the 21st of May. Just because we didn’t get a “proper” Spring, or because the weather gods here are sadistic. I’ve lived here 45 years. Nothing surprises me any more. But back to the lovely weather last week.
While all this magic was happening in the garden, we were doing our own thing. After a week-long paralytic episode, during which I should have gone to the ER, and didn’t, I developed phlebitis in my left leg. This was a sharp and painful lesson that despite my aversion to Emergency Rooms, I do still need to go and suffer the never-ending questions, the blood-gas draws (which are very painful), the potassium IVs, the beeping monitors and being treated as if I was intellectually challenged and know absolutely nothing about my own disease while some Intern, who has never heard of it, goes to look up a single article, probably one riddled with errors, and comes back “knowing everything”.
But having put all that behind me, on Mother’s Day Ian and I went out for lunch and then, with me in Tony’s wheelchair, we went to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. I got to see far more than I’ve seen in ages because I’ve not been able to walk farther than the 1st bench for a long time. We went down river and watched the Canada geese squabble over “their” staked-out stretches of the river. These territorial boundaries, though invisible to us, are obviously very clear to them.
One pair was grazing on the bank of the river above us. Down in the river another pair was leisurely paddling around, apparently minding their own business. Suddenly the female of the grazing pair stood up, gave an eardrum-rending screech and assuming a threatening posture, began running down the bank towards the water, presumably squawking, “Your goose is cooked!”. The male reluctantly followed. The two of them chased down, beat and pecked the “intruders” until they had retreated well upriver, and across the invisible border.
We moved upriver to another bench, where we sat and enjoyed the sun and watched the merganser ducks, chickadees and other birds who were coming and going. At one point I looked up and about 30 meters (100 ft) away a couple of very plump coyotes in beautiful condition were trotting past. They were in such good condition they looked as if they’d just come from the dog groomers. But then Calgary is overrun by rabbits. A woman farther down the path, much closer to them, simply stopped and waited for them to pass. As she walked by she said, “I thought they were dogs at first, they were in such good condition!”
As we turned to go a garter snake, about .76 meter (30 inches) long slid from the grass onto the path in front of us. It was in fine condition, plumb and sleek. It crossed the path at a leisurely pace to begin with, but when Ian started getting close to try and get a photo it put on some speed. In contrast to the garter snakes in the den on our property in BC this one was not dark green and yellow but two tones of brown. It was a lovely snake and seeing it capped off a beautiful walk on a lovely afternoon.