Fairweather Blogger

It seems I only update this blog during cottage season. I can’t easily carry my big camera around with me during our day-to-day activities, so when we go to the cottage, I try to make up for it.

Here are some photos from our last trip to the cottage, over Canada Day weekend. It has rained pretty much all summer; that weekend was no exception. When we did go outside, it was in rain boots and sweaters. In July.

There weren’t a lot of butterflies (they are most active on hot sunny days) but we found a clutch of chubby monarch caterpillars on one of our walks. There were so many dragonflies too, more than I have ever seen.


Hope you are all having a beautiful summer so far!

 

Cottage Season

Our first trip this year was a bit later than usual, but worth the wait. Every year is familiar but always a little different. I have never seen so many dragonflies in past years, and the shy loons have been coming closer to the dock. Maybe I will finally catch a decent picture of them.

It is sweet to walk down the trails with our two-year-old, as she picks flowers and wild strawberries along the way. She loves getting dirty and doesn’t hesitate to climb any rocky hills we encounter. Despite her carsickness and the uncertainty of sleeping in an unfamiliar room, I think it’s going to be a fun summer.

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wake robin

I remembered the last photo from a couple of years ago, and thought it went so well with the first two.
I always take so many photos that it’s hard to narrow them down, so be prepared for more!

Hummingbirds

One of the things I look forward to most about summer is the hummingbirds buzzing around the cottage. They are mesmerizing to watch, like tiny sequined acrobats. Because so many of us enjoy their presence in our gardens, I thought I would share a little piece of advice about attracting them. Keep in mind I am no expert, but I believe there is just one important thing to consider:

Provide flowers rather than a plastic feeder. Here’s why. 

Pollinating
One of a hummingbird’s most important jobs is pollinating. Bees, butterflies, birds, and even bats play a crucial role in this life cycle. Every time they visit a flower, they carry its pollen onto the next flower, regenerating the plants, which in turn feed everyone and everything on the planet. If you want to learn more about why pollination is important, there is a beautiful documentary (currently on Netflix) called Wings of Life. Its amazing cinematography features slow-motion footage of hummingbirds in flight.
 

Cleaning
Most people don’t realize how often a hummingbird feeder should be cleaned. The general consensus seems to be every couple of days, since the sugar solution can ferment and grow bacteria that can make birds seriously, even fatally, ill. It is an easy thing to forget, and some feeders can be a pain to take apart and clean.

Beauty
I think we can all agree that flowers are much prettier than a plastic. Photographing birds in their natural surroundings can be more of a challenge but has a much greater reward. When choosing flowers, look for blooms that are brightly coloured and tubular. Beebalm, columbine, buddleia, foxglove, verbena, and honeysuckle will beautify your garden while attracting hummingbirds. Find a list of flowers online and check your hardiness zone to find out what you can plant in your area.

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Safety
If you decide to use feeders, don’t hang them directly in front of windows. If you have a lot of birds around your home, make sure your windows are “bird-safe.” We’ve all seen the birds of prey silhouette decals, but I recently found some new versions that are more subtle on your windows. They are essentially reflective stickers that show birds a window is a hard surface to be avoided. View them HERE. While it is lovely to see them up-close, it is heartbreaking and TOO close when one hits your window. Believe me.

 
hummingbird window (3)

I hope this inspires you to create a natural environment to bring hummingbirds to your garden. You will love having them visit and you will be doing your part to help pollinators!

Flowers for Painting

The hydrangeas in our yard are starting to fade, looking a bit wild and rustic. The baby spotted them on the kitchen table after her nap, and excitedly signed “flower.”
 
A very talented friend of mine will be teaching an art class- specifically acrylic painting. I loved painting in high school and I’m really looking forward to starting it up again and learning with a more mature perspective.
 
In all of the floral photos I’ve taken lately, I am seeing the potential for paintings. I can’t wait.

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Golden Summer

As soon as I start writing, she’s going to wake up, I know it. But if I let that stop me, nothing would get done around here. That includes blogging -something I rarely make time for these days- and sharing these photos are definitely on my to-do list. I also have a recipe to share, or rather a couple of ingredients that were made for each other.

These flowers are EVERYWHERE I look. After noticing a pattern in the photos I’ve taken over a few years, I think black-eyed Susans are now synonymous (in my mind) with August. The only other flowers blooming in our yard right now are hydrangeas, and together they fill out a mason jar quite nicely.

black eyed susan hydrangeas

black eyed susan closeup

I recently bought a basket of Ontario peaches and they disappeared before making it into any kind of dessert. (Fresh fruit and scrambled eggs are a favourite, simple breakfast around here.) But when I saw those blushing, golden orbs sitting on the counter next to some sweet potatoes, the seed was planted in my mind, and I wondered if they might get married one day… They would be lovely together in a crumble, I thought.

black eyed susan

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The fruit part of a crumbles is always an experiment around here (unless it’s just apples), but I always start with a proper recipe for the topping. Below is my grandmother’s crumble, but you can use your favourite standard recipe. Most of them have a similar baking time and temperature. 

Crumble

½ cup brown sugar     
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 cup oats
¾ cup flour (gluten-free is fine)
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
pinch of allspice

Fruit

8 ripe peaches, cubed
1 medium sweet potato, grated
1 thumb of fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp. cinnamon
(Try adding some brown sugar to the fruit mixture to bring out the flavours more.)

Cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly. Place fruit into an 8×8 glass baking dish and cover with the topping mixture. Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes or until the fruit is soft and bubbling.