Snow covers large parts of the country and it’s more Christmassy now than during the Christmas holiday itself. This is also the time of year when you can see large flocks of the beautiful and “punk” looking waxwing invading trees and bushes, especially in areas with lots of berries like rosehip, juniper and rowan.
Unfortunately, waxwingsare also said to benotoriouswindow hitters. The prevailing opinionis that they becomeintoxicated bypossiblealcoholformed in theberriesthey eat, and thus easiercollide withtransmissive orreflective surfaces.
Twice this fall we have been fortunate to see bears in their natural habitat. The second encounter happend on a sunny afternoon, when we were driving around on small forest roads hoping to see some elks (mooses) to shoot (with the camera, i.e).
Suddenly Roffe stopped the car, rolled down the car window and pointed at a sunlit stone some 40, 50 meters away on a clearcut.
-Look at that stone over there, he said. Doesn’t it look weird, or is it just the sunlight playing tricks on us?
Suddenly the “stone” began to move and we could see the outline of a bear.
We were both ready with our cameras in the lap and Roffe’s clicking the camera, as if it was an AK-4, immediately alerted the bear.
Well, we just wonder how many such “stones” we have have passed throughout the years while walking or hiking the woods and wetlands searching for berries and fungis.
Today is a very special day – celebrating 25 years since the fall of the Berlin wall.
The wall seen from the west side.
Though most of the Berlin wall was dismantled, a 1,3 kilometer stretch was saved as a memorial of freedom. The stretch was painted / decorated by 118 different artists from 21 different countries and became East Side Gallery, the world’s largest open-air mural collection.
After spending four months at our Paradise, it was finally time to return home last week and we are now slowly adjusting to city life again. There has not been much work done on the blog these past months, the summer has been way too gorgeous to be spent hunching over a laptop. But piles of pictures have been taken of both bear encounters, beavers, and birds and they will be posted eventually.
Today’s post is from a trip in September to the nearby Gröntjärn nature reserve. This is an area of exciting geology with traces of the most recent Ice Age about 8500 years ago, for instance many so called kettle holes. When ice blocks buried below sand and gravel melted, the ground subsided and formed steep sided hollows of which many were filled with water. The most notable of them all is this strange, greenish glittering lake, like a turquoise gem, surrounded by tall pine trees.
The lake is known for its unusual hydrological conditions. It has no brooks running to or from it and a natural water-level difference of 14 meters due to a complicated interaction between surface water, groundwater, and the groundwater flow.
Its beautiful turquoise green colour is an effect of the groundwater, which is free from particles, unlike the water in streams, together with the reflections from the sky and the surrounding trees.
After a three-kilometer walk around the lake we were ready for lunch. The area is well equipped with picnic tables, grills, and wind shelters. We had decided to skip the hot dogs this time and instead make us some charcoal buns.
Charcoal buns is a provincial dish from way back, a kind of pancake with salted pork or bacon (the modern version). Rich and robust food from a time when lumberjacks, navvies, charcoal burners, and log drivers had to live away from home for months and work under primitive conditions. This was food containing few and sustainable ingredients – flour, water, and salted pork – and was baked in pork grease in a cast iron pan over open fire.
All you need is pet bottle with pre made batter (always 100 ml less water than flour, and a pinch of salt) and a container with pre fried chunks of salted pork or bacon. Serve with lingonberry or cranberry sauce. Enjoy!
Oh yes, I almost forgot, the iron cast pan! That one can be heavy to carry in your rucksack, but there are special light metal pans with long handles.
When visiting our summer cottage up north during the Easter holiday we had the priviledge to watch and follow a “lovesick” kestrel couple which, as it seemed, was planning to take over an old abandoned crow’s nest in one of our pine trees.
When returning to our Paradise in early June, now for the rest of the summer, we were of course very curious to find out if the couple had moved in and how the family planning proceeded.
The characteristic sound of the kestrel revealed that the couple was still there and in a small gap between the branches of the dense pine crown we managed to catch a glimpse of a brooding bird. Around midsummer some downy little heads popped up over the edge of the nest. It was difficult to see how many, but we guessed at three chicks.
Suddenly one morning I noticed a lot of activity up in the pine crown and then the sound of flapping wings. I realized I was sitting in the front row to watch the chicks testing their wings.
Practising flying can be tiresome, time to take a nap…
…. and then get a bite to eat
I appologize for the bad quality in this and the next two photos. I blame it on the far distance and that my camera is nothing of the fancy kind. When I was taking the above photo I was so focused on the chick that I never noticed the mom coming with a vole until I opened it in the computor.
Mother and chick and a moment of peace and love.
For two whole weeks I had the pleasure following the chicks’ progress when flying around from tree to tree on our lot. But then, on a Monday morning, those “klee-klee-klee”- or chatter calls I had got so used to were missing and so were the whole Kestrel family. Hope to see them again next year!
This morning, when the ”heat was on”, the lake smooth as a ballroom floor and it was just me and my red kayak out there slowly drifting through the water, it was close at hand to start humming “Oh what a beautiful morning, ….”.
Yesterday, on the other hand, was quite another day, when it was closer to allude to Apollo 13’s crew and their call from outer space down to Earth: “Houston, we have a problem”.
Yes, Houston, I have a problem too, a wasp problem, and on top of that I don’t have a control center that can respond and assist me. My son and grandchildren have just left and returned back to Stockholm and Roffe, my devoted husband, is somewhere in Finland near the Russian border to shoot bears and wolves. No, not rifle shooting, just shooting with the camera.
My problem appeared this morning when I opened the greenhouse for the usual morning routine, to greet my plants and “ruffle their hair.” Someone told me the ruffling would help the pollination along!
Inside, there was a nice summery buzzing from insects but no matter how I looked around, I could not see whether bumblebees or bees. On the way out, however, I discovered the source of the buzz. A large wasp nest was under construction on the ceiling above the entrance. And believe me, they were many who apparently planned to move in when it was finished!
I did not want to use toxic insect spray inside the greenhouse, instead I went for the water hose and tried to shoot down the nest and kill / drown the little creatures with a hard water jet. To tell the truth, this was not a successful strategy at all, though. It just made those black and yellow bastards aware of me and preparing counterattacks as soon as I tried to approach the greenhouse.
The whole day went by and all I could do was watching how my plants slowly wilted in the heat due to lack of water. There was only one thing left to do now. I had to start a war. So while the rest of you probably were glued to the TV watching The Netherlands vs Argentina, I covered myself from head to toe, gloves and rubber boots on and last but not least that old mosquito hat that was purchased for a mountain hike ages ago. Then a firm grip on the water hose, shove it up into the nest and spray, spray, spray and then run for my life.
After three or four attacks with the water hose the nest was finally gone, dissolved in little gray tears.The wasps that did not die drowning seemed to have fled the field.
Well, did this brave soldier get any memorable war injuries? Yes, a sting in the thumb (despite the gloves) from an angry wasp, but nothing serious and nothing that a little ointment made from spruce tree resin couldn’t soothe