As one would expect, there's a considerable amount of difference between the flora and fauna at our (Paul and Kitty Antonik Wakfer's) two residences - Kitty's house in Arizona and Paul's cottage in Ontario. Numerous photos have been taken in the past (and available via the Photo Index) of plants and animals in and around the 3.5 acres of desert upon which Kitty's house was built in 1988. Paul has still not quite lost his amazement at how many animals inhabit or travel through that property. In comparison, there are relatively few animals to be seen at the cottage. Part of that is because the cottage is situated on a narrows between 2 lakes (actually one lake, but connected by a shallow point bridged for vehicles and always referred to separately). This keeps the bear, deer, moose and wolves away from the house properties in this immediate area and mostly in the highly wooded portions of this 7200 acre private park, the only private park in Ontario. (Only lake front property is built on and not even on all the lakes in the park.)
The animals seen most frequently near the cottage itself are a few squirrels, chipmunks (earliest view of almost tame one in summer 2005), and several varieties of birds. We have seen a racoon a couple times late at night. Rather than simply dig the little bit of plant-origin food scraps we have into the ground as we'd been doing, we decided to leave out this pineapple skin and top to see what would happen.
Kitty spied a group of ducks as she was cleaning the dock planks and quickly picked up her camera that she had nearby to take photos of the dock refurbishment (see prior page). The 7 ducks took their time cruising the area, which was relatively quiet during the time even though it was a Saturday afternoon in August. Unfortunately we've not been able to identify what type they are; it seems unlikely that they would all be females, which are typically less colorful than the male of a species or variety.
The skies in Ontario, lake country at least, are typically populated with big puffy white clouds - heavily or lightly depending on the day. That's one feature that Paul misses when in central Arizona where the skies are most often cloudless or just with a whisper of white.
The moisture in the air remaining after a rain (which is far more often than in Arizona) makes for some really pretty skyscapes. On a drive back to the cottage from further south, we stopped and Kitty caught these pictures along the way.
It seemed like a good time in warm mid-August to take one of those photos of Paul that let's readers see how this 70 year old man who practices a nutrient dense modified calorie restricted diet and is considerably physically and mentally active, as the past few photo pages as well as his many writings show, really looks.
The cutting of downed trees in the wooded area between the cottage and the road from winds and heavy snow during the past couple of years was a purposeful change after the dock refurbishment.
A cherry tree was one of a few that had fallen in the wooded area of the cottage property. Upon closer examination when we'd brought it out into the open, it was clear that the tree had a sizeable mutation of its trunk. Before Paul turned it into firewood, Kitty took some photos since it was unusual - at least to her - and was somwhat reminiscent of the mutated (crested) saguaros in the Sonoran desert of Arizona.
Paul also spent some time cleaning up around the outdoor fire pit and restacking the cut wood - for our planned wood-burning stove. In between these tasks, though, was the task of cleaning and sealing parts of the deck on the cottage itself.
Paul began to cut away at the long downed large log that has been in the yard for many years and has more recently begun to deteriorate. But despite the bugs that are eating it away and the woodpeckers that occasionally come to pick at the bugs, Paul decided that this log - and it's neighbor - is not going to be completely sawed or chopped up any time soon. He'll just work on it occasionally for some exercise...
We varied our work in order to give our muscles, joints and activity a change not to get burned out at any one thing. Even so, Kitty found that the repeated scrubbing of, followed by sealant application to, the dock, and later the deck, resulted in some temporary hand tingling. (We chose not to use algae removal and bleaching chemicals, which also would require scrubbing.) Paul, therefore, lent a hand at these jobs on the deck. He found that scrubbing during a light rain actually made the job easier. Kitty and Paul decided to concentrate only on the horizontal surfaces of the deck (and its steps), and working together they got all of them cleaned of algae/dirt and coated with sealer. The vertical bars of the railing will await summer of 2008.
Another task that Paul put on his "now" list was removal of a limb from the large birch on the northwest corner of the cottage. The branch was growing such that it blocked his view of the lake when sitting at the dining room table.
Not every minute was filled with property maintenance or MoreLife/SelfSIP work. We even made the time one evening in mid-October to bake cookies - a peanutbutter raisin pumpkin variety of our own invention.
Paul decided to clean the metal roof of tree sap/residue that resulted in the surface being somewhat sticky and contributed to leaves and needles collecting. But the job was so time consuming that only the worst side (the south) was finished. Maybe summer 2008 for the other...
It had been a long time since the north side of the property had been so neat. Paul had restacked the firewood so that it is unlikely to fall over as had happened several times. And the brush pile is completely gone! Everything small was hand mulched and deposited in low spots and the large pieces became part of the wood stack. Now the area is ready for the fallen branches over the 2007/2008 winter.
Three days later there were more broken limbs after a storm - either on the ground or hanging precariously.
Paul pulled down a few that were stuck but likely to come down soon.
Kitty did more than find things to photograph. She spent a fair amount of time manually mulching, right along with Paul. The bigger pieces that didn't break by hand or foot, she left for him to chop with hatchet or ax if he found it to be necessary. There was incentive to get that brush pile gone again and the space ready for Spring clean-up after our return.
Finally there was the young healthy evergreen that we decided was inhibiting the growth of a young red maple, of which there are only a few on our property. With it removed the maple will have much more room to develop nicely.
Paul proceeded to reduce in size the many branches and the trunk from the downed evergreen - Kitty catching in view the nearby large long-dead tree just onto our neighbor's property that drops a few branches every year and someday will fall itself.