Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Nature Notebook – Free To Go

By: Joel E. Byrne

Back in ’97 while vacationing in Texas I somehow got this poem into the Big Bend Bull (the park’s newsletter)… “Dedicated to the good folks of Big Bend National Park in grateful recognition of their continuing efforts to keep the magic in the air.”:

Free To Go

I roamed green hills throughout the east,
And tarried in the west;
I rolled the south ’round in my mouth,
And in the north did rest.

I tasted of the ocean,
And watched the desert bloom;
I dreamed of southern woodlands
As ice hung ’round my room.

I warmed by a maple fire,
Remembered a mesquite tree,
And longed for sandy reaches
But the north had hold of me.

Then in the dead of winter
I struggled up a knoll,
And gazing ever southward
Felt a tugging on my soul.

I left the lakes and woods asleep,
And ran down to the plains,
Free again in the sunny south
To laugh in winter rains.

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Nature Notebook – The Purloined Partridge

By: Joel E. Byrne

This was written in my hunting days. The “owl” could well have been a Northern Goshawk, according to our own “Professor Partridge”… Dr. Jim Bendell.

The Purloined Partridge

An owl a partridge plucked for tea,
And had it eaten partially
When my dog pounced on it
Beneath a tree…
Good boy, Lukie!
I purloined the partridge plucked,
And racing home with glee
Popped it in the oven with potatoes
One, two, three.
Somewhere out there, in a tree,
A mad old owl waits for me.

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Nature Notebook – Thunder Down Below

By: Joel E. Byrne

Just stick your ear to someone’s gut,
My God! the sounds you’ll hear,
No matter what their diet is…
Veggies, toast or beer.

I thought of this the other day
When the merc’ dropped out of sight;
Old winter covered up the lake,
And bid the bays goodnight.

But the lake was in a party mood,
And mumbled discontent–
It growled and groaned all through the night,
Three guesses what it meant.

Imagine being put to bed
Your belly full of ice…
An ice-sheet for a blanket,
And your stomach lined with gneiss!

So stick your ear to somone’s gut,
My God! the sounds you’ll hear–
Reminds me of the lake’s complaint:
No veggies, toast or beer!

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Nature Notebook – Algonquin Chinook

By: Jeff Mills

I wrote this while skiing in Algonquin Park last winter.

Algonquin Chinook

deep cerulean

held on a pedestal of
beech’s grey fingers

the sun and its shadows
grace white sand dunes of snow

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Nature Story – A Peril of Owling

By: Pip Winters

It was a clear, crisp night, about 4C .There were a few wispy clouds when we set off owling. We headed for an area west of Hopetown contained in our Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas square. It seemed prime owl territory- wetland surrounded by spruce and cedar.

Using the atlas tape recording that features screech owl and barred owl calls, we made our first stop as dusk set in. Frogs were croaking but nothing else. No response to the calls.

Our second stop was about 1 km away. We heard owls as soon as we stopped the car. Two barred owls were calling but they were going further away from us. We hastily set up the “boom box” on top of the car…silence…screech owl(tape)….silence….barred owl(tape)………silence. Suddenly, the barred owls were calling back and coming closer. Barred owl (tape) again.

I was positioned by the car and my partner about 20 feet up the road. I looked NW through a corridor of trees and saw a dark shadow of wings coming towards me. Instinctively I put my hands over my head and ducked.

I heard a whoosh of wings and saw the owl circle and land in a tree across the road from me. Seconds later another owl landed near the first. We held our breath. The owls “chatted” to each other for a minute. Paul moved closer and one owl changed its position. I shone my flashlight under the first owl to get a better look. Another minute and they both flew noiselessly away. What a breathtaking experience!

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