Yes. It’s finally here. Summer. In Canada, “summer” has special meaning. Here, we like to cram t-shirt and sandals activities into a time frame of approximately mid-May to Mid September. In other areas, farther south, they can take their lazy time with the same activities, starting January 1st and ending December 31st.
Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not being jealous, or bitter, or envious or anything, I’m just explaining how Canadians deal with summer. Here’s how: we play it to the hilt! Every day is really, really precious and exciting! Every blue sky, sun-drenched day is priceless! And make no mistake, Canadian summers are really breathtaking! We don’t have time for our grass to go brown, (well, maybe sometimes in a particularly hot August, but hardly ever.) Everything pretty well stays lush and green…
with amazing arrays of flowers and flowering shrubs.
This is the time we fit in as much activity as possible: volleyball, tennis, bocchia, lawn bowling, gliding, hiking, adventure racing, backpacking, cycling, camping, canoeing, caving, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, mountaineering, photography, adventure park, rock climbing, running, sailing, water skiing, surfing, rafting, hill walking, water polo, trekking, bird-watching, amusement park…
snorkeling, scuba diving, ballooning, Safari park, mountain biking, para-sailing, flying, dog parking, metal detecting, beach crowding, motorcycling, bungee jumping, tree climbing, windsurfing, picnicking, sightseeing, mushroom hunting, clam digging, swimming, canyoning, field tripping, skeet and target shooting, foresting: in general – getting acquainted with the sun, wind and fresh, warm air again.
Or – maybe just the hammock…..
I have a solution to enable Canadians to get the very, very most out of the summer season. I think sometimes we take our two-or-three-week vacations entirely too seriously. Yes, we should have them, granted. We’ve certainly craved them, and probably earned them, but there’s more! Instead of waiting all year for those precious free-from-work days where we trip off to the Algonquin area, or Barry’s Bay, or Collingwood, Lake Simcoe, Muskoka, Magnetawan, Georgian Bay, Haliburton, Huntsville, Kawartha, for a frantic few days, –
we can do all that, yes, but here’s something else to think about…..
In those two or three week periods, it usually takes at least five days to give your mind and body time to wind down enough that you can actually begin to look around you and start to enjoy what you see. That time lasts for about a week or so, and then the anxiety factor creeps back in. How many days do I have left? When you realize you can’t fit in all the things you planned to do in those few days you have, you create even more anxiety, starting and ending the vacation with a tight, tense feeling, instead of a relaxed high.
So – why not take planned mini-vacations many times a year instead? By taking regular breaks throughout the year to augment summer vacations, it can make a world of difference to the health of your mind and body. For instance…… what if you took two (or three) single weeks instead of taking them consecutively? For starters, you could have a week in the summer, a week in the winter (or two). That way, all the work you left behind which your substitute was going to cover for you – but didn’t – wouldn’t still be there when you got back. Or at least, the pile would be smaller, because your time away was shorter. You also realize your vacation isn’t ended – you still have a week (or two) coming up – no anxiety.
Next, you calculate all the single holidays we have in Canada – there’s quite a list, depending on where you live.
– New Year’s Day, (January 1)
– Good Friday (except Quebec) the Friday before Easter Sunday
– Victoria Day (National Patriotes Day in Quebec) on the Monday preceding May 25th (except New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland),
– Canada Day (July 1)
– Labour Day (First Monday of September)
– Thanksgiving (Second Monday in October – except New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland)
– Remembrance Day (November 11) except Ontario, Qubec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland)
– Christmas Day (December 25)
– Islander Day (3rd Monday in February – in Prince Edward Island)
– Family Day (3rd Monday in February, second in BC) in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario
– Louis Riel Day (3rd Monday in February) in Manitoba
– St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) in Newfoundland
– Easter Monday (Monday after Easter Sunday) in Quebec
– St. George’s Day (April 23) in Newfoundland
– National Aboriginal Day (June 21) in Northwest Territories
– Féte Nationale (St. Jean Baptiste Day) – June 24 in Quebec
– Discovery Day (June 24) in Newfoundland
– Nunavut Day (July 9) in Northwest Territories
– Civic Holiday (first Monday in August) in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nunavut
– Boxing Day (December 26) in Ontario
Other time off can include saved-up “sick days”, or personal days (personal time off) which many companies allot and which can usually be accumulated. So why not take some of those extra paid holidays and stretch them into long weekends?
A five-day cruise is a wonderful thing! Any five days in the sun when it’s winter at home can be a life-saving remedy for winter doldrums.
In the summer, being in another country can be exciting too – like a trip to Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan, Australia, Ireland…. (how about a whiskey tour in Scotland, hmmm? just sayin’)
….in the winter the beaches in Florida, Hawaii California or Costa Rica can beckon us to take a break from snow shoveling.
Because our business kept us busy, my husband and I expanded many, many weekends into “mini vacations” which were refreshing and exciting and jam-packed full of things to do (or not do, depending on the mood). Because we were our own employers, we chose what would have been our summer vacation this way. During that time we would zero in on an area in Canada or the US that was having a festival or had a regional flavour not found anywhere else.
To illustrate what I mean – pick a state (any state) – such as Iowa.
Check out what alluring, interesting events happen there, and zero in on a destination of your choice.
Boone, Iowa hosts a biennial Farm Progress Show, is home to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Museum, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, and Ledges State Park. (Incidentally, BSVY #6540, is a former Canadian National Railway GMD FP9 with CNW markings – a hands-across-the-border link to Canada.)
The Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama is the only American Indian settlement in Iowa and is host to a large annual Pow-wow.
In Madison County is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has collections of paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. It’s also home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Davenport boasts the Figge Art Museum, the River Music Experience…
and the Putnam Museum, Davenport Skybridge, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Quad Cities, and plays host to the annual Bix Beiderbeck Memorial Jazz Festival…
and the Quad City Air Show.
There are several resort areas such as Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park (having one of the oldest amusement parks in the country) and the Okoboji Lakes. Fort Dodge has the Fort Museum and Frontier Village. Dyersville is home to the famed Field of Dreams baseball diamond from the movie of the same name…
and the Maquoketa Caves State Park contains more caves than any other state park.
But Iowa is also the number one producer of corn in the US, and hogs, and chicken eggs. In 1872 the Red Delicious apple was discovered in an Iowa Orchard, and is now found in nearly every produce section of grocery stores in North America.
So Iowa’s food could become an enticement for you too – a little research will bring up the best places to go, then just center your weekend around that area. Those are only a few of Iowa’s attractions. It’s so exciting to see new places, experience new things. See what fun you could have in Iowa on an extended weekend? C’mon, confess – before today it probably never crossed your mind, right? (Unless you’re explorers like we are.)
I picked Iowa randomly – it is one of 48 states we were fortunate enough to visit together – for one of our mini-vacations. I calculate we had roughly twelve – sometimes fourteen mini-vacations every year. We tried to make them five days, but sometimes took four — all of them lazy, relaxed days. All of them providing priceless experiences and memories.
All of them making work just a bridge between vacations!
I trekked back into my older poetry books looking for something about vacations, and found a poem which could illustrate the Ultimate Vacation. It was written by the youthful me, wondering what it would be like to travel to the stars. At that time, we hadn’t even sent a rocket into space, so this poem illustrates that one invaluable commodity a writer must have – imagination.
THE STARS MY DESTINY
If it were in our hands to choose
The time for birth – the time to die –
I’d wish my destiny to be
When Man controls the farthest sky!
Someday, somehow, I know, will go
Beyond the bounds of time and place,
A restless few who cannot stop
Until the very end of space.
This pod of mine is rooted here,
And only Earth will know its deeds.
My final planting here will be —
But ah! My seeds! My seeds!
Someday a part of me will gaze
On unfamiliar shore and hill;
O! restless spirit, patience yet —
O! yearning, wandering heart, be still!
© E Joyce Finn/Collie
Hi again! It’s the “daughter” signing in with a few songs for those hot “Dog Days” of summer coming up. As usual I’ve posted songs or artists that represent some special memory or meaning for me, and tie-in with the theme of Mom’s blog. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them too.
Connie Francis (b.12/12/38-) is an American pop singer of Italian heritage and the top-charting female vocalist of the late-1950s and early-1960s who has remained a top concert draw and is still active as a recording and performing artist. (wiki)
1962 – To get the “beach” ball rolling, here’s Connie Francis belting out a popular sixties summer song “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N” – (vanderbeer/YouTube)
Nat King Cole (b.3/17/19 – d.2/15/65) was an American singer and musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He was widely noted for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. He was one of the first African Americans to host a television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, and has continued to maintain worldwide popularity since his death.(wiki)
1963 – Nat King Cole performs one of his biggest hits, and one of my favourite old summertime songs, “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” live on BBC TV (the ladies singing live back-up are a bit more operatic sounding than the recorded voices I’m used to listening to!) – (Johnny Brown/YouTube)
The Lovin’ Spoonful is an American rock band of the 1960s, named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of “Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry”, prompting his friend, Fritz Richmond, to suggest the name “Lovin’ Spoonful” from a line in Hurt’s song, “Coffee Blues”.(wiki)
(This band had a tie-in to Canada as the lead guitarist, Zalman “Zal” Yanovsky (b.12/19/44-d.12/13/02), was born right here in Toronto!)
1966 – Enjoy with me a TV performance by The Lovin’ Spoonful of a song that’s special to me, “Summer In The City” – (DiscoBar80/ YouTube)
Mungo Jerry is a British rock group fronted by Ray Dorset, whose greatest success was in the early 1970s. They are remembered above all for their hit “In the Summertime”. It remains their most successful and most instantly recognizable song. Their name was inspired by the poem “Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer”, from T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. (wiki)
1970 – Listen to Mungo Jerry performing “In The Summertime” and I bet you won’t be able to keep your toes from tapping along! – (Hits70s/YouTube)
The Go-Go’s are an all-female American rock band formed in 1978 who rose to fame during the early 1980s.. They made history as the first, and to date only, all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, is considered one of the “cornerstone albums of (US) new wave” (Allmusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts.(wiki)
1982 – Let’s take a nostalgic look back at what I affectionately refer to as an 80’s “Big Hair” band, The Go-Go’s, singing “Vacation” (emimusic/YouTube)
Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, known by her stage name Lana Del Rey (b. 6/21/85-) is an American singer-songwriter who started songwriting at the age of 18 and signed her first recording contract in 2007. Del Rey’s music has been noted for its cinematic sound and its references to various aspects of pop culture, particularly that of the 1950s and 1960s Americana. The singer has described herself as a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra”.(wiki)
2013 – Lastly, here’s a current favourite of mine, Lana Del Rey, performing her version of “Summer Wine” (sung with Barrie-James O’Neill) originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood in 1967 – (Lana Del Ray/YouTube)
THE MIGHTY WOLVERINE
Because there are an estimated 20,000 or more of them in our Great Northlands, but only an estimated 700 in the USA, and low populations in Europe, China and Russia, I like to think of the mysterious wolverine as being primarily Canadian. The Canadian provinces and Alaska state have the most stable and largest concentration worldwide. So let’s call him “The Mighty Canadian Wolverine”. Many people are devoted now to the study of the fascinating wolverine, and up until recently, most information on him was scanty, and not totally accurate. I’d like to share with you what I’ve found out about this wonderful creature.
He is classified as Gulo gull which in Latin means roughly “gluttonous glutton”. He has a hearty appetite, eats with gusto, even finishing off the bones and teeth of his prey. His teeth and jaws are so powerful he can bite through a totally frozen carcass with ease. Imagine taking a solidly frozen roast from the freezer (bone in) and trying to munch on it. Child’s play for the Canadian wolverine!
For a mighty critter like him, the wolverine is actually quite small, like a medium-sized dog, but still the largest land-dwelling species of the Weasel family. He looks like a powerful, stocky little bear, muscular, furry, with a thick body, short legs, small rounded ears, broad flat head, little beady black eyes, arched back and a foot-long bushy tail. He weighs in from 30 – 55 lbs, is up to 4 feet long (including the tail), the male being about 1/4 larger than the female. In winter, his coat becomes dense and long, his large feet covered with stiff hair, helping him walk or run easily on snow. The oily dark brown to black fur has light brown to yellowish stripes running from each shoulder along the flanks. There are sometimes white markings on chest and throat, or a light-silvery facial mask. His fur is resistant to frost, (frost just brushes off) making it a popular lining in jackets and parkas in Arctic conditions, which is one reason its population numbers have dwindled worldwide, except for Canada and Alaska.
The Innu people of eastern Québec and Labrador called him Kuekuatsheu, known as a trickster and a hero at the same time. Kuekuatsheu built a big boat, putting all the species of animals in it, and when there was a great flood, he made an island of rocks and mud, which became the world. So he was in their folklore the creator of the world.
He is an omnivore – eating whatever he can find from nuts, roots, seeds, insects, berries, even greens at times, to small animals and nesting birds and their eggs, up to medium and big game. He’s great for the landscape, because he eats mostly carrion, and constantly scours his 500-600 square mile territory (30 to 40 miles a day) searching for fresh or old kills, eating every bit of them, and leaving a clean scene. He has an extremely keen sense of smell, being able to sniff out dead meat two miles away, or under 50 feet of snow. His powerful claws can easily dig down deep to find deer, elk or moose buried by avalanches or trapped in deep snow. He can drag carcasses up to five times his own weight to a cache site, where he will return and devour every scrap. Sort of like nature’s super street sweeper. He will boldly steal a carcass from another predator larger then himself, because when it comes to getting fed, he considers “Me – first, last and always!” as his motto.
For his size, he is the strongest of all mammals. He is absolutely without fear, showing courage and tenacity beyond belief. Cougars, lynx, wolves and grizzlies are known to relinquish a freshly-killed carcass to him. Once he is in a conflict, it is “win or die” with him, although he is extremely cautious to enter a fray, always in ready-mode to run from perceived danger. He won’t back down from a fight, pursuing victory against all odds, and usually winning. Because he is intelligent and cunning, his thievery can be crafty and ingenious, sometimes stalking his prey while it eats or rests, taking small quiet steps, hiding, before making a quick final spurt to bite and kill. (Korzhechkin, 2005).
Jeff Copeland of the U.S. Forest Service who studies wolverines in Glacier National Park, says the wolverine embodies the image of wilderness. “We see the grizzly as defining wilderness, but they can’t stay away from our garbage cans,” he says. “Wolverines don’t get in our garbage or go after our livestock. They stay far away,” avoiding humans.
He’s a solitary, tireless journeyman. His incredible claws enable him to easily climb trees, and to be an amazing mountaineer, with no landscape posing a challenge to him. Jeff Copeland once watched a male wolverine climb 5,000 vertical feel on Mount Cleveland in about 90 minutes. His claws can also tenaciously hold onto prey, as in one account clinging to the throat of a polar bear until it suffocated.
Although he’s a solitary traveler, he’s also a family man too. “Reproduction is by delayed implantation. Females breed in summer, but the embryos don’t implant for several months, finally developing into fetuses in early winter, with birth taking place a few months later in late January through April.” (Montana Outdoors) So the female can decide when her kits are born. Up to five kits are born in rocks, hollow trees or in deep tunnels built into the snow, and they are weaned and ready to go after two months, staying with Mom Wolverine a year or two, with Dad Wolverine coming for visits from time to time. Recent information reveals that the males will form lifetime relationships with two or three females, visiting them occasionally, although some males never have a mate. Father makes visits to his offspring until they are weaned and some kits reconnect with their father at about six months, travelling with him for a time, with Dad teaching them the ropes.
A 1994 movie, “Running Free” (also known as “One Paw”) is about a young boy and his friendship with an Alaskan wolverine. The first full-length documentary about them was called “Wolverines – Hyenas Of The North”, produced in 2006 by German Gulo Films for German TV, and has been broadcast in many countries as “Wolverine X” or “Wolverine Revealed”, and in the US as an episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. It has won more than 20 international festival awards and nominations.
Here is a great YouTube video called “The Wolverine Whisperer” which will give you a wonderful view of two tamed wolverine kits. I found it fascinating, and very informative, and I hope you will take the time to watch. It’s a one hour documentary, so please come back to continue visiting my blog once you’ve watched it.
There is also a series of six videos showing a 2013 Canadian Alberta wolverine tracking project, showing the building of a special trap (they’re too smart for ordinary traps), how it works, various visitors to the trap – including wolverines, but also showing an ermine, marten, fisher and a wolf, how they gently treat the wolverine, wake him up, let him go, and examining what great clean-up artists they are at a kill site. You can see these videos by clicking The Wolverine Foundation’s website link below. Once there, scroll down to “On The Wolverine Trail” and click Chapters 1 through 6.
We need to know more about him to keep this incredible critter around, so that the wolverine is not only safe in Canada but in the U.S., Europe and China as well.
Hope you’ve had an enjoyable visit — come back again and see what’s in the other blogs….. (some neat stuff!)
Waving ‘bye! …. ej