Saturday, March 28, 2009

Early Morning Lovecall, or Raucus Cawcaus

No that's not a typo, nor an invitation to read an explicit expose. It's what woke me up far too early on a overcast, dreary Saturday morning. To wit, the LOUD harsh cawing of crows in the fir trees behind our house, meaning closest to the bedroom windows. A she-crow may think it's a heart-stirring sound but my less-tuned ear thinks it's simply an assault to my sleep-tender brain.

I suppose it was time to get up anyway. Thursday night/Friday morning was my death/resurrection scene, a 10 hour rest and recovery session after what in hindsight was indeed a stress-filled and tiring week. Come the weekend, no matter the temptation to sleep in, it only makes the work day early morning starts more difficult. And truly, with spring (and summer?) soon upon us, early morning is a special time of day, the best time of day to work outside before the stifling heat of midday sets in.

Early morning mating songs bring to mind the flicker fest up north. Some of you have heard this before, either from me in letters or laments over the years, or through first hand experience of your own - but only if you had a handy supply of metal surfaces.

The log house on our homestead farm had a tin rain cover over both wood stove chimneys (heater and cookstove); there were metal eaves troughs along both roof edges as well as the metal spouts running down to the metal rain barrels; there was tin roofing on the small shed where we hung our meat and on the barn, and of course the metal fuel tanks on metal stands. Lots of flicker communication devices.

A flicker is a member of the woodpecker family, a rather annoying member at that (we all have our certain 'aunties', ney?). Their offspring are akin to the obnoxious kids we encountered at children's birthday parties (not your children, I'm sure) that you wanted to ever-so-sweetly smack up the side of the head. The are a hazard to log houses. Any redeeming virtues? They eat mountain pine beetle larva.

Anyway, about this time of year is mating season for the flickers, and in normal environments, the guys would call up the girls by ratta-tat-tatting on hollow trees and logs, sort of the hand-crank phone of the bird world. Our metal-filled environment provided them with high-speed, loud and clear instant messaging technology. At I-kid-you-not 4am, or the faint edge of first light, the ratat-ta-tat would begin on a chimney cover. A response would come from the fuel tanks. Rebuttal from the rain barrel - a particularly good resonator - would prompt more frantic hammering up on the chimney. More would join in on the conversation from all the aforementioned metal spots.

And this would go on for two hours.

It did not inspire reflected ardour on the part of the humans in the vicinity.

And flickers are really, really hard to get a bead on with a loaded .22. Trust me on this.

Endangered species, you chide me. Where I live, you bet.

On the other hand, one sound I listened for with great eagerness was the thump....thump-thump....thrrrrrump of spruce grouse. It's an awesome thing to listen to and to watch. Grouse were fairly content around our farm and plentiful of a year. I have a grand photo of a male in his glory atop a hollow log (to amplify the sound), upright and wings in a blur. If his call is successful and hens come to him, he then does the northern version of the prairie chicken dance - hunched over, wings spread wide and low to the ground, tail up and wide in splendor, little feet thumping madly as he pirouts around the ladies.

If you've ever been to a southern pow-wow (or I suppose the Calgary Stampede still has the Indian Village?) the chicken dance is so very like the birds, it's stunning. It's my favorite dance next to the hoop dance.

For grace and beauty, absolutely nothing beats the mating dance of cranes. I once watched two sandhill cranes with total awe as they performed a ballet duet that brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure there's a video somewhere in the cyberworld that you could find to watch, but it's no substitute for a live event.

Quick shout-outs:

Becca - if I don't get to you before you read this, tell Dad I sent the insurance cards up in the mail yesterday. Thanks, hon! Love you.

McKinnons of Airdrie - I won't be coming over for Easter. Abby and her entourage are continuing on to Revelstoke to visit G-G Giesbrecht, so I'll see them then. And Bryan is getting in Grandpa time this weekend.

Tannis - so lovely to finally meet you in person after our extended business correspondence! We'll have to find a warm patio that features blender beverages next time, hmm?

Lynnette, Susan and Sisters in Fibre - your posted project work is both inspiring and depressing. How I wish, truly wish, I had my loom back up and running. There is work to be done in the future weaving room, though, so I grit my teeth, live vicariously through your blogs and keep my day job to finance said-room!

Well, the sun still hasn't made a full-face appearance through the overcast sky, but it's more than time for me to get out for a walk. The joy of that! Long strides without muscles tensed against slides on ice. Then some garden work - it's much easier to do any required digging now when the soil is still soft with spring saturation, so I'm getting the prep work done. Then early this afternoon I'm off to a dinner date with the ladies in Revelstuck - well, now that the snow is melting I suppose we can be respectful again - Revelstoke.

Hope you have a productive and enjoyable day!

1 comment:

  1. My favorite bird is the pigeon. I love them for their calmness and for their ability to always find their way back home.