Fewer Daisies

By |2017-11-29T07:35:59+00:00June 28th, 2017|Animals, Landscape, Plants|

Well something ate the daisies again.

I say ate, but the buds are left like little insect eyes just scattered on the ground. Decapitated is the word. Some are even caught up in the plants’ leaves. And the cuts are precise; I couldn’t imagine a squirrel doing that, unless it had scissors, which I know is next to impossible. Anyway the chicken shit I’d sprinkled on the ground was supposed to scare squirrels off. It’s almost like some grinning fairy did it in the night to piss us off. Or the woman my landlords let park her car in our drive: she’s nasty enough for such an act. But too dimwitted to figure out how to open the gate, I suspect.

I imagined maybe my neighbour Harry had done this as a service. Maybe he had thought that these buds somehow needed to be “deadheaded.” He did used to be a gardener, and who knows, maybe he knows best about these things. But I asked him and he said No, have you considered that it might have been squirrels? I told him the buds were just scattered on the dirt and some were caught in the leaves of the daisy plants. He registered surprise.

Then at 8 o’clock at night, as the sun had fallen past the houses to the west and the light was perfect, Marta and I looked out at the garden and maybe got a clue: Raccoons on the climbing hydrangea, little baby ones, right on top of the whole fence-hedge too. And they were putting hydrangea flowers right into their mouths. Raccoons eat flowers.

The neighbour clapped at them to shoo them off and we joked that the animals mistook it for applause.

So I guess these silly baby raccoons put daisies in their mouths and spat them out. Why not, other babies do it with apple sauce and peas. And no one ever heard of a racoon afraid of chicken shit.

I think people have a love-hate relationship with raccoons. They smell like the city trash heap but with their mask and stripes and their brontosaur hump they do look very good.


By |2017-06-19T21:32:01+00:00June 19th, 2017|Animals, Landscape, Plants|

Daisies in the garden today. Last year the squirrels ate the flower tops right off the plants and they never came back. This year I put chicken shit on the dirt around each one. Squirrels dislike the odour it is said. Now the daisies are in good form. I deadhead them every day.

Jeff Tutt, the painter who is a flower designer, picked a dozen for our big party and these are back in bloom already. He says these guys look like cartoons. I think that characterization suits them fine. Each morning they sing to me in four-part barbershop bliss.

New song, new video

By |2017-05-22T15:17:52+00:00May 22nd, 2017|Architecture, Art, Cities, Landscape, Music|

I just premiered this video in New York at 3A Gallery. I wrote the song, played guitar and sang it, and that’s Mike Overton on bass and Jay Anderson on drums. The video is shot in New York, Vancouver, and Toronto. The first half you may recognize the setting: Dan Graham’s rooftop work at the Met with landscape architect Günther Vogt.

Stay tuned for more music. We should be releasing a record this year.

Little River Loop

By |2017-04-18T22:19:05+00:00October 12th, 2015|Animals, Landscape, Places|

Today it rained.

We walked the little river loop at Little Campbell River, a canopy of vine maples bent and beckoning over the path like a glowing arcade of autumn’s yellow leaves.

I tricked a chickadee to land on my hand, even though there was not a bit of seed in it. Then from a branch nearby he sat and looked at me.

Even a sparrow today was tame enough to try a sunflower seed husk I’d turned over in my palm to bring it near. Strange for a sparrow, that friendly approach. She’d been following me around like a little sister, so I thought she’d take the bait. I wished it hadn’t been only the husk, that I could have satisfied her appetite and not just her curiosity.

There were herons, perfectly still and almost hidden by the misted river bank. A wren that hopped with its tail held up at high angles.

And, I’m happy to say, the rufous-sided towhee, in the same spot I always see it every year. Its call seems, like some gentle reptilian interjection, to be thrown through a wormhole from the Jurassic to us.

Peanut Pond

By |2017-04-11T17:15:30+00:00October 11th, 2015|Animals, Landscape, Places|

Overcast yesterday at a peanut-shaped lake. The air was still, the trees barely indicating any atmosphere. Chickadees whirred electrically.

The cottontails seemed tame, but hopped off as soon as a certain buffer was breached. Two black crows walked like Egyptians. They were thirty feet apart but followed the same basic path at the same basic pace. Their type of black, like coal, contains deep indigo. And grey.

At lunch, my father spilled a cup of powdery Parmesan cheese on his chair, swept it up into his palm, and shook it off in the yard on a pile of golden dry cedar leaves, where it remains. Lucky mouse.

Leslie Spit Sunday

By |2017-04-18T22:20:12+00:00September 12th, 2015|Animals, Landscape, Places|

Sunday at Leslie Spit, the waves crashed and the wind was high. Everywhere I walked hopping bugs hopped up, and to my left and right they chirred in the red and green grasses.

Only some things were brown today, like the dead and cobwebbed seedpods and desiccated bushes. Some trees were going gold, but there were many bright flowers, and strong young pines, and the leaves of the poplars seemed to rush through the wind like surf.

No butterfly would allow me close. Many cabbage whites lighted nearby, but they are in almost constant and erratic motion, and when they do stop they stop for less than a moment, and you only have time to consider approaching, but never the time for even one step before they fly.

Mink and coyote scat at the edge of the trail. Dried and cracked mud on the dikes. The sun was out and my face got red. It was 20 degrees.

Outside my window now, the air is thick with midges. They get caught in the hairs on my arm.


By |2017-04-20T22:18:18+00:00June 15th, 2014|Animals, Landscape|

The sun is shining. A barrel of dirt is overflowing with mint.

Bumblebees love the hydrangea. The hydrangea is so seething with bugs its pollen falls like snow.

The park

By |2017-04-20T22:47:17+00:00May 19th, 2014|Landscape, Places|

I walked in the park taking pictures of trees. Two people played euphonium horns. Languid unison melodies and marching in step. Their tuning slipped in and out. It started to rain. Water wet my camera. The people stopped playing their horns. I went home to set down my camera. I went out with my recorder and umbrella. The rain was falling and the smell of petrichor filled the air. The people were back at their horns. It wasn’t as good as it had been but maybe it would be. My batteries died. I went to the store and bought two double As and some cigarettes. I put them in the recorder. I don’t smoke, but I wanted the hint of euphoria it occasionally brings. When I returned to the park the horn players were gone. I heard their echo from far away. I walked around the ravine with wide open ears. To no avail. A squirrel allowed me to get very close to its place on a branch. The sky was a million grays. I saw a red house and a gigantic Japanese maple. Heard firecrackers and the call of a thrush. Then it ate a worm. I wanted more pictures but the camera was gone. Even my phone was at home. And it was off. The rain came down and the sun came out. A rainbow emerged in the east. I went back for my camera and back to the park.


By |2017-04-20T22:47:27+00:00May 19th, 2014|Landscape|

In the garden today, pulled up dead leaves.

Uprooted Artemisia and mint.

Chopped down dead maple.

Cultivating the coriander, parsley, lemongrass, and thyme. Begonia and geranium. Stonecrop sedum, Solomon’s seal, and obedient flower. Lily of the valley, lady’s mantle, bleeding heart, goat’s beard.

Woodlice scrambled; millipedes squirmed. It was twenty degrees.

It’s tulip season

By |2017-04-20T22:47:38+00:00May 2nd, 2014|Landscape|

Yesterday morning at half-past nine I felt the warmth of the sun like no other recent day. Shortly after ten, a weird darkness fell, and a chill. Today the gloom remains. The gloom and pinpricks of rain.

Still, Ryan Driver sings it’s tulip season. And it is. I bought a lily to bring the yellow sun inside.

Buds on the lilac tree. Raccoon shit by the maple’s trunk.

Come out woodlice; eat brown leaves!

Sparrows and starlings

By |2017-04-21T23:02:14+00:00April 12th, 2014|Animals, Landscape|

Sparrows and starlings in the cedar tree at dawn. Chuckleheads.

At times like these, spring seems to be here. Soon it will be. Soon vegetation will begin to fill in some of the space we have now. Now it’s still about the distant views brought by winter. Tomorrow it will be views blocked by quivering leaves. Compared to the empty space of winter, the coming seasons seem like something you could swim through. A plenum.

The sun

By |2017-04-21T23:14:43+00:00March 31st, 2014|Animals, Landscape, Places|

Click edit button to change this text.The sun is out in Ontario. Many people will have worn the wrong thing and are just now a little wet under the collar. The smell of dog shit released from winter snow melt no longer lingers in the air; most of it has washed away. Still, I take care where I walk, for everywhere there is mud. It is six degrees

The wave

By |2017-04-21T23:27:56+00:00March 8th, 2014|Landscape, The cosmos|

I was looking at the sea.

The surface of the sea is the surface of the atmosphere. What we call a wave on the surface of the ocean is also a wave on the surface of the air. The wave is an expression of instability between two media, a moment of encounter, a threshold under constant negotiation between sea and sky. The contingency of the one on the other. The audible air. The entire scene a shimmering field.

The world is packed with matter and coursing with energy.