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The Cove Journal

by JoDee Samuelson

Artwork by JoDee SamuelsonIt feels good to be out raking this time of year. You can look at your pile of leaves and say, there, that’s one thing done.

Little by little we push off our winter quilts of inactivity and slip into lighter summer shawls of sprint to the finish. But it’s a slow start this year. Although the sun rises higher in the sky every day telling us there is no time to lose, the snow on the ground forces us to take things easy, stretch one muscle at a time, do little things like examine our garden tools and paint their handles if needed, sand and oil rusty spots on shovel blades, dig out rubber boots, throw away gardening gloves with holes in the finger tips and buy new ones.

A garlic shoot is coming up under the mulch. Hurrah! That whole area of the garden was under water for months and it seemed like the garlic might not…let’s not talk about it. What an unsettling winter we had with all that water sitting around, all those frozen ponds. So much ice. The Cove still fills with ice when the wind is from the south, then the next day it’s gone somewhere else and we observe that the water along the shore, usually so clear, is now colored a vibrant crimson from topsoil and sandstone washing down from fields and cliffs. A friend who grew up on Cape Breton told me that when she was a child they knew that spring had arrived on Prince Edward Island when they saw the water turning red.

On the hillsides, migrating geese by the hundreds engage in boisterous discussions about food and weather, while blue herons cruise slowly overhead, eyeing the landscape. Our birdfeeder is still in demand by our resident bird population, the mourning doves, blue jays, chickadees, goldfinches, sparrows, juncos, nuthatches and woodpeckers. A few red-winged blackbirds have joined the feeder queue, along with the grackles who are setting up shop in spruce trees around the yard. We love the grackles’ iridescent green heads, their bright intelligent eyes and their self-confidence.

And for the first time ever, a pair of gray partridges has appeared and they are obviously very much in love. They remind us of that highly visible royal couple, Harry and Meghan, always touching and exchanging meaningful glances. Our partridges, however, are practically invisible against the dead grass, and can only be spotted when they duck in and out of the low bushes. Possibly their nest is nearby, safe (we hope) from hawks, coyotes and foxes. When Mother finishes laying her 10–20 eggs she will settle down and incubate them for three weeks, and they will all hatch on the same day! Then things will really get busy for Ma and Pa. Partridge chicks only eat bugs (high protein) so that’s good for all of us, isn’t it?

I like to think of partridges looking at their nest full of chicks and saying, there, that’s one thing done.

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