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Summer 2009
At & Near the Cottage

We (Paul and Kitty Antonik Wakfer) are very pleased with our enlarged window facing on the woods (also the road) side of the cottage since it allows us to see many more animals than we could before that change in 2007. However there is often a glare from the large lake-side windows that cuts down the clarity, especially when Kitty takes photos. Evenso, the sights were many during 2009, many more than the few photos Kitty took.

Occasionally a pileated woodpecker will stop in our yard and peck away at a dead tree in search of bugs (see summer of 2006 photos) and this was early June day was one of them. The birch that was cut down the previous Fall apparently looked inviting.The red head crest of the woodpecker can be seen on right side of birch log; curtain reflections are from front windows Now s/he is on top of the lower logFinally woodpecker is on the remainder of the standing birch trunk

Black squirrels are plentiful in Ontario, but Paul does not remember seeing them outside of the Toronto area (where he and his former wife lived) when he built the cottage here in Harcourt Park over 40 years ago. While the reddish gray squirrels are the common variety out here in the woods, there are occasionally black ones to be seen. We've chuckled to ourselves about them hitching rides to "cottage country" years back and now their progeny are full time residents. It was interesting to see a red one perch on the old tree stump that a black one had used only a few hours before - and to capture a photo of both.Black (blurry) squirrel sits atop old tree stump Red/gray squirrel makes use of same tree stump later the same day

It always seems a bit odd to see rain falling when the sun is shining. Here Kitty caught the rain drops hitting the lake, seen between the trees, while the sun shines through a break in gray clouds.Rain falls on the lake as the sun shines
We wanted to see the difference between where the sun sets at summer solstice and our last day before heading south to Arizona. A markings was made on June 21st just as the sun set. Paul sites along his long level as sunset approachesPaul takes final siting as the sun sets before marking the deck railing

The cleared (of trees) areas under power lines provide an opportunity for various berries to grow, very often along with wild flowers - the closest such area is less than 1/4 mile walk from the cottage. It's June 22 and some mature strawberries can be seen on the plants that are mostly hidden to all but those who pay attention. Kitty picks this field every few days for about a month, taking only the ripe ones and being very careful as she walks through it so as not to step on any with berries not yet ready. These are a steady larger amount of strawberries than what grows in the berry patch in our yard. (Food related berry items.) Power pole, with field of wild flowers and strawberries around it, carries warning of narrow bridge aheadOrange devil's paintbrush are a sure sign of wild strawberry plantsThe first of the small wild strawberries are ripe - but one has to look closeThe first ripe berry in this clusterNumerous strawberry plants but only a couple have any ripe yetThere's one ready for plucking

The blueberry bushes are continuing to spread out after the mostly dead birch was removed 2 years ago. This year we got at least 3 times as many blueberries from this spot as last year, plus ones from up on our cliff and across the water from our dock, though all together that is still not a very great number. Even so, they are a delight to watch ripen, fun to pick (plus good exercise :) and delicious little morsels to add to Cheerios, our fruit salad or ice cream.Lots of sunlight allows blueberry bushes below birch stump to spread Good number of unripe berries on June 22 Closer view at unripe berries Same blueberry bushes on July 16 - start of wild blueberry season!Close-up of our earliest ripe wild blueberries

In early July Paul cut down and then removed the stump from a smallish evergreen that had been dead for many years situated very close to a live one of the same size. (It was not worth paying the experts who cut down the large ones in the Fall of 2008.) The location is the overturned dirt at the far end of the rock wall in the photos below. Our plans for expanding the front deck around the corner of the house to meet up with the back porch includes steps that will descend where the tree once stood. The rock wall is to build up the area a bit in that corner. Kitty dug up the area for the large rocks and encountered numerous large tree roots. We decided to leave most of them intact, not wanting to damage any of the live trees.
Paul isn't sure he likes how this wall ends in relation to the tree root off to his rightPaul wasn't satisfied with the first placement of rocks and redid them 2 days later.2 days later Paul rebuilds the wall to sit higher and extend to the tree root

As a return of value to our north-side neighbor for the mushroom picking we have been doing on her property, we offered to clean up the brush that we could see from our property and also thin out some of the saplings. Susan was very appreciative since now as a widow she does not get up to the cottage from Toronto very often, though she and her late husband enjoyed the area very much before he died. She gave Paul permission to use whatever tools and equipment her husband had left in and around the shed, which were several very useful ones for our purposes. Additionally all the cut trees were ours to use for firewood since her cottage no longer has a wood stove.
Here is some of the first thinning alongside her steps down to the lake, which we increased later after she assured us that the more she could see the better. It was good exercise for us and enjoyable to see the property appearance improve rather quickly over the 3 months we worked on it in between other tasks. Susan will likely have some blueberries to pick next year from the bushes beside her walkway now that there is increased sunlight to them. Just started removing saplings from alongside Susan's walkwayThose blueberry bushes will likely now have more berries - and the lake is more visible

When it's not completely overcast (even if not raining) the sunsets at Harcourt Park are usualy nicely colorful. We enjoyed most of them this summer while eating our fruit salad portion of the meal down on the dock, even when it was chilly and we bundled up. We would often stay till after the stars appeared in the sky, hoping to see some of the Northern Lights; unfortunately they were not visible in our region on Canada for the entire summer of 2009. But we did see some meteors, and also interesting jet contrails before dark.
Spectacular sunst sky at cottageThis was a particularly beautiful sunset on August 27, which Kitty captured from up on the deck since this was one of those evenings when we had not been down on the dock.


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Initially posted 3/8/2010
Page last updated 5/23/2010
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