Snakes Need Safety, Too

HalfRattlerI was out for a walk along the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay and came across this poor creature.

The massasauga rattler is a threatened species. It’s kind enough to tell you when you’re too close. Just back away and leave it alone. Choose another direction for your walk. Don’t kill the snake. He deserves a peaceful home just like you.

For more information, check out

photo of porcupine by Mary Harssh via Wikimedia CommonsA porcupine wandered by the screen porch while enjoying my morning coffee at the cottage.

Porcupines are funny-looking critters. Their long stiff quills are a light sandy colour and lay fairly smooth along his back. On the top of his square head, though, they make an awesome Mohawk.

I expected a squat fellow, but his legs are quite long. His profile is more bear-ish than beaver-ish.

He moves at a leisurely pace, as would any creature carrying around spiky armour.  Did you know that a porcupine can’t actually throw it’s barbed quills? They’re released on contact with a mortal enemy. Did you know there are Old World and New World porcupines? Huh.

All I know is: when I tried to take his picture, he raised his quills and I quickly backed off. This dude could teach Hollywood a thing or two about avoiding the paparazzi.

For more information about my visitor, check out the all-knowing Wikipedia.
Photo © Mary Harrsh via Wikimedia Commons, 2011

It’s early morning and the house is stuffy from windows closed against the threat of rain. Breakfast is done. Bring your coffee, or tea, and come with me.

Leave your slippers behind. It’s barefoot season after all.

Come with me through the sliding doors and out to the deck. The boards are cool under your soles, slightly damp from the heavy dew. Descend the stairs to the bare rocks, even cooler in the dense shade cast by scrub oak and white birch. Along the path, the tall grasses tickle your shins.

Come with me into the sunlight and have a seat on granite already warm from the touch of the sun. Yes, sit on the bare rock, feel it against the backs of your bare legs, brush your fingertips over pale grey-green lichens. Pick a wild blueberry, small and pungent, the taste of cottage country.

Follow the swoop and sploosh of a tern fishing for her breakfast. She mewls to her mate. There’s food here. A loon laughs in the next bay over. Behind you, a chipmunk rattles through the dry leaves on the forest floor.

Lift your gaze to the far shore where rocks and trees are blurred and dwarfed by distance. Lift your gaze to the misty horizon indistinguishable from the blue waters of the bay. Lift your gaze to clouds that play with the sun trying to kiss your shoulders.

Inhale deeply. So deeply that your eyes close, your head tips back, your soul memorizes the scent of sweet tarry pine, of deep living water, and peace.

© Joan Leacott, 2013

Through my Goggles

Underwater is a green and golden world. Quiet but for the muted sound of a motor boat cruising the channel between the mainland and the inner islands.

Fat-bodied fish flick into the shadows. Water weeds wave in the currents. Clams trace wandering paths in the sand.

Stories team in the depths as well.

A big old wood and iron anchor makes me stop, hold my breath, and wonder at the storm that separated it from its ship. Rough-sawn trees, escapees from a long-ago log boom, tease with tales of husky lumberjacks working through the winter.

This year, I observed something new in my daily swim across the bay. I’m not quite sure what to call it/them.

On sunny days, as I stroke through the water, concentric rings fan out from my movements to stripe whatever lies beneath me with bright bars of sunlight. Every stroke I make sprays more rings over the sand and rocks. Some rings overlap to form diamonds. My own figure is diminished, so it appears the rings just happen. It’s the most fascinating thing. Totally blanks the effort of swimming.

Sure, some scientific type would give my sun rings a fancy name and a prosaic explanation involving the refraction of light.

I’d rather call the phenomenon sun shadows.

Have you ever noticed some natural occurrence and created a fanciful name?

© Joan Leacott 2012

Dancing Deer

photo of young buck

Look very closely behind his left ear, to see an antler.

I’m sitting at my computer at the cottage, minding my own business.


My head snaps up. Has a bird smacked into the big window in the stairwell? No. But it’s amazing how many of the feathered folk recover from the impact.

Thunk, rustle, rustle.

What the heck…?

Oooh… it’s a deer. A four-point buck with his antlers still in velvet is munching on the sumac by my front door. My, what big ears he has. And eyelashes to make a model weep.

The next day, I’m sitting at the breakfast table, minding my own business.


My head snaps up. Are the terns catching extra big fish?

Splash, splish, sploosh, splish, splash.

Ooh… It’s a deer. A little one dancing and skipping back and forth on the beach. He appears to delight in the different noises he generates, like he’s making music with the water. Mama Deer is back in the bush, munching and keeping a close eye on her youngster.

I remember watching my young son at play, totally engrossed in a world of his own creation, complete with sound effects. Dinosaur farm in space, anyone?

As a writer, I love to play in a world built in my imagination. Clarence Bay is an amalgam of several small Ontario towns, set on the shores of Georgian Bay, complete with gossip,  scandal, and romance. Oh yeah! I love my world and wish I could live there for real.

If you’re writer, what’s your world like? Would you like to live there? Or just visit.

If you’re a reader, which world would you like to move to? For me, I’d move to Robyn Carr’s Virgin River in a heartbeat.

© Joan Leacott 2012

Stormy Weather

A murmur rolls across the lake from the west. What’s that? A plane, a train on the trestle far away, thunder? You pause, listen a while, go back to what you were doing.

Murmurs turn to sporadic mutters. Thunder.

The great debate ensues: to close or not to close the windows. Such a hassle if nothing comes of it. There are fifteen of the big suckers on two floors.

A flash of lightning. You count the seconds to gauge the distance. Check the trees to gauge the speed of the wind.

Mutters escalate to growls. You squeeze your eyes against the strobing light.

Zigzag. Zigzag. BOOM! Floosh!

Shoulda closed the darn windows. Run, crank, run, push, run, slide. Don’t forget the door. Slam!

The bowling balls are rolling. The disco ball is flashing. The gods are having one heck of a party. Doncha wish you were invited?

The storm blows eastward, casting nasty growls and dirty looks over its shoulder. The grateful, yet bedraggled, plants and trees wave goodbye, flicking off the last of the rain drops. The sun grins at dominating the skies once again.

Left behind in the bay, a gift from the grouch, are frothy whitecaps. Streamers left over from the  party, they curl over and woosh up the beach.

Now it’s time for mortals to play. Out come the noodles and boogie-boards. Kids and adults dip and dunk, flop and fly, in the waves. Drag and drip ashore.

Take your breath away, first with awe then with laughter. I love a friendly storm. Don’t you?

© Joan Leacott 2012 
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photo pin cc

Birds are Weird

There are some truly weird feathered critters living in the woods around my cottage. Strange variants of normal birds that make me scratch my head and say “What the heck…?”

 The Canpecker

Downy woodpeckers usually bang away at trees looking for insects to munch on. This variant took a strange liking to an empty can; lid removed, and inverted on top of a fence post. Haven’t a clue why the can is there. Early every morning, this bird bangs away at the open edge of the can. The resulting racket is heard for miles over the lake and through the woods and deep inside my sleepy head. GRR!

The Platepecker

Pileated woodpeckers also favour insects burrowed into wood as their normal diet. But this one dude finds a flat metal plate on the hydro pole out back. He bangs on the edge of this plate creating another almighty racket. Then the dude cocks his head, listens and laughs. Honestly, I’m glad somebody’s having a good time.

The Flagpecker

My husband has a red baseball cap with a small Canadian flag stitched on the back. This intrepid creature assumed the red maple leaf was the throat of a white flower and, you guessed it, pecked my husband’s head. Fortunately, it was a tiny little ruby-throated hummingbird and not a big plate-pecker with a heavy-duty beak that went after him. Would that make him a pate-pecker?

What bizarre creatures have you seen around you?

Text © Joan Leacott 2012
GNU Free Documentation License for Photos Used in this Post