Of Fireweed fluff, Spit on Shillings…

Day lilies, palms on Firth, warm west winds, ripening tomatoes and burgeoning bonsai.

Lately I’ve been confronted by the ugly end of summer and my mind wanders as me and Kevin amble over to start the generator in the morning. But there is undeniable beauty everywhere and I can’t stay down. The fluff from the fireweed is giving  evidence to every puff of wind that buffets Sportsmen’s Camp. It is absolutely fascinating to observe all the minor currents and eddies that convey the little fluffies all over. As we walk to the diesel house in my flips I occasionally inadvertently kick a small pebble forward and I am reminded of a anecdote told to me as a child by my Grandmother Iva – She was in Kenya Africa I believe visiting Masai Mara and she regaled me with the spitting prowess of the Masai women. As a demonstration, shillings would be tossed on the ground and the Masai women would claim the alms by expectorating onto the coins at great distance. She was much impressed by this ability. Apparently this ability was fostered earlier by the women spitting juice chewed from certain herbs onto small lizards that would momentarily disable them for the women to collect them.  Also it was explained to me by Grandmother that the Masai being a very proud yet poor people declined to accept freely given alms but would accept “prizes” collected by skill. This made for fun spirited competitions between the women when the safari would encounter them on one of their foraging forays.

As the diesel is warming to operating conditions I have a set number of tasks to complete, I water and admire my vegetable garden and bonsai collection and perform minor pruning and branch adjustment which I find absolutely captivating (I could do this for hours). Then I admire my three ripening tomatoes. There’s lots of green ones but I may get ripe tomatoes this year! Then I review the latest blooms purveyed by my fabulous collection of Waskowiak hybrids. Then I engage in what I like to refer to as “biological artistry”. I get my collection of sterilized fine paint brushes and cross my favorite blossoms with other blossoms that exhibit the qualities I would like to foster and mingle in the next generation. I am not a true hybridizer though as I do my decisions on the fly and never record the crosses – I don’t like paperwork. My first set of hybrids are beginning to bloom this year – jack’s F1 from three years ago. Only two of the nearly dozen plants will be blooming this year but it is exciting nonetheless. I am now seeing the fruits of my labor – its things like this that make a person want to live forever.

After the diesel is warm and the power is on I walk down to the beach to bring the water system online. I fire up the pump and observe the pressure bubble controller to be sure that the system is pressurized and then walk the beach with my friend and assistant Kevin. Kevin checks the lake out for water temperature and taste as well as wind direction. I am often accosted by guests at this time but I am rarely in a mood for any lengthy conversation other than confidences exchanged between me and my friend Kevin. This morning it was glorious! No one could possibly be down with the impending end of summer witnessing what I saw.


The Canadian Flag stretching on its pole at the behest of a westerly zephyr.


A warm and fragrant wind redolent with cedar and spruce like a gaseous gin and tonic gusting from the weed bed bay.


Kevin after the obligatory lake water tests confirming that all is well with the world as he surveys the surroundings for possible barking targets.


I close with a shot of an Abomination serving as an erstwhile Desert Island for a regal palm tree. It’s odd but it is a boating regulation in Ontario that for safety’s sake all abominations must have a palm tree aboard!

Is this Heaven? — Yeah I think it is.

1 thought on “Of Fireweed fluff, Spit on Shillings…

  1. As a writing professor, I simply loved this blog entry as a piece of rhetoric. It definitely had a different tone than other entries. It didn’t just walk your reader through your routine of warming the generator and making sure all is well at camp to start the day – it brought us into your mindset while doing so. These lines stole the show for me:

    “Only two of the nearly dozen plants will be blooming this year but it is exciting nonetheless. I am now seeing the fruits of my labor – its things like this that make a person want to live forever.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s