Dawn rose a little over an hour ago, and I’ve been out of bed for around 45 minutes. The birds woke me from my dream-journeys—or rather, Ava the dove woke me with the eager early morning coo-cooing that she does, as though she’s delighted to discover that another day has dawned—followed by the sparrows, who flew over me in the half-light, requesting kisses and snuzzles before curling up in my palms to doze a little while longer. I lay on my back for a little while with a little brown bird in each hand and a smiling white dove on my chest before giving them all some millet and leaving them to their own devices.
It’s a cooler day today, and the weather outside is just chill enough to require a bit of bundling up if one is going to sit outside for a bit (which I’m fond of doing in the early hours). Wrapped in a hoodie and soft blanket, with a steaming mug of lemony tea, I perched myself on the back balcony to watch the world wake. There’s a mated pair of red-tailed hawks that dwell in a large tree just across the river, and to watch them waltz in midair is truly a sight to behold. Thick, wide wings catch the breeze as they circle and swoop, returning time and again to their aerie. Their dance seems to be reflected in the leaves of our quaking aspens, shimmering silver-green as they flutter and tremble with even the slightest breeze. By contrast, the river nearby seems to be nearly lethargic, swollen as it is from recent rains; it’s meandering lazily, seemingly oblivious to the creatures that bounce and sway around it.
Sitting here, watching all of this unfold around me, I am filled with a sense of gratitude more immense than I could ever put into words. We live in paradise.
Let me place a bit more emphasis on that:
We. Live. In. Paradise.
Granted, some people might consider a true Eden to be a place where the weather is always warm, and the landscape is lush with fragrant blooms, but our little patch of boreal forest is absolutely perfect for us. Tucked away in the woods as we are, we have the opportunity to watch wildlife in its natural habitat, like the flock of 40+ turkey vultures that floated in the pre-storm high winds last night, or the plump little porcupine that ambled its way along the road a week or so ago. In addition to the fauna that’s so abundant here, there’s also a wealth of flora to celebrate in. Being out here has allowed me to rekindle my love affair with trees, and I’m reveling in every second of it.
“The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Having been a rather solitary, strange child (who subsequently grew into the solitary, strange woman penning these words), my companions were the trees around the many places I lieved, and the animals I befriended in and around them. Instead of watching TV or going to the pool in summertime, I’d pack a little bag with snacks and drinks and haul books up into a tree, where I’d spend as much as possible until I was called down. On rainy days, I pored over encyclopedias and “fact” books, learning all I could about the magnificent beings that towered overheard, creating such a glorious canopy. Being out here in the wild presents a new opportunity to immerse myself in all things arboreal. There are species here that I’m just getting to know, and others that I’m still trying to identify, and I’m also doing a fair bit of research on the trees I’d like to introduce here—I need to make sure they can be added safely, without any negative repercussions to the natural balance.
White oak—a rare and endangered species—is a safe bet, and we can benefit from its sweet, edible acorns once it start to produce in the future. I’m looking into hybrid hazelnut shrubs that are hardy for our zone, and I’d love to get some nut-bearing pine trees on the property as well. Beeches are already around so we might add a few more (mmm… beech nuts), but since neither of us are terribly fond of fruit, we’ll skip the fruit-bearing trees and aim for berries instead. There are so many indigenous varieties that would work well on our land, from luscious raspberries and blackberries to gooseberries, currants, and Saskatoon berries.
Berries and perennial veggies are dreams for another day, though. Today, it’s all about listening to the trees and learning their songs.