Author: simonpayn13

  • Home and family

    There’s a chickadee that has visited my feeder for three winters now. All chickadees look the same except for this one: it’s leucistic – part of its black head is white. So it stands out. When I don’t see it, I miss it. When I see it again, I smile. This chickadee is part of […]

  • Day 21 – Home

    I’m in the middle of a course on plant identification. We’re looking at everything from grasses through to trees and figuring out how to tell one species from another. Biologists don’t know how many species of living organisms there are. The best estimate they have is 8.7 million, but estimates go from 3 million to […]

  • Day 20 – Husbandry

    The place we live bears scars. A trail was hacked through the forest, a building was demolished, our house was built over 18 noisy months. Although it was a place of nature, that nature was damaged. So it became our job to nurture it back to health, to be stewards of the land. We planted […]

  • Day 19 – Sand

    A few years ago I was on a beach in Florida. All was right with the world: the sun was shining, the waves were waving and the seagulls were staying away. I took a handful of sand and examined it. For the first time, I noticed what sand actually was. Instead of a monochrome grit, […]

  • Getting away and bringing it all

    The Highlands sure is getting bigger. As we’ve reported, our County has the fastest-growing population in Ontario and fourth fastest in Canada. Whether it’s people retiring to the family cottage, buying a second home or purchasing a property to rent out to others for August weekends, this place is booming. There’s certainly an allure in […]

  • Day 18 – Glasses

    A couple of years ago, I started to need reading glasses. First it was medicine bottles, then books, then my computer. If you’re of a certain age, you know how it goes. So off I went and bought a drugstore pair. They were wonderful. How clear the world was when I had them on! The […]

  • Day 17 – Walk

    During the early days of Covid, when we were stuck at home and spring was slowly poking through, we’d go on a walk every afternoon. We started when the ground was covered in snow, but as the days went on, the ice gave way to the first green ferns that curled towards the precious sun. […]

  • Day 16 – Museum

    My childhood bedroom was home to my museum of nature. There were two parts to this museum: the original collection, which was in a small piece of furniture with shelves and tiny drawers, perhaps a former home to sewing materials; the second part was the new, modernist addition – made by my father, painted white, […]

  • Day 15 – Aspen

    My drive to the office is usually on autopilot. So familiar is the route, I arrive at the parking lot without thinking about it. One day a few years ago, all that changed. I noticed the leaves of the aspen that lined the road were quivering. It was if each branch and each leaf was […]

  • Day 14 – Seeds

    One day I found a packet of wildflower seeds. Don’t know where they came from, don’t know why I had them. But when you find a packet of seeds, what do you do? You sow them, of course. So I did, on a lump of ground piled up by the folks who built our house. […]