I’ve been spending some time sketching down by the river, taking advantage of recent nice weather. The Thames River comes right through our city of London, Ontario (we’re original with names aren’t we?) and there are many spots throughout the city where you can relax on its banks.
This little spot is actually at a fairly busy corner at Wonderland Road and Riverside Drive. Traffic goes roaring past but after a few minutes of sitting there, the street noise fades away and all you can hear are the sounds of the river and the wildlife living in and around it.
The views are very pretty – despite the colour of the water which in some of these photos looks quite blue but in actuality is quite brown and dirty looking. Still, there’s a peacefulness that comes from sitting here staring at it.
The birds are in song and fluttering around. I spy red winged blackbirds like this one, chickadees, sparrows, blue jays, cardinals, ravens, grackles, and crows. A sudden whoosh of air and and a burst of red goes flashing past my eyes as the red winged blackbird takes flight. Splashes of colour are evident among the greenery of the trees and underbrush, the brown of the earth and the tree bark. A mother bird sits perched in her nest, high up in the branches above the water’s edge. What a lovely view of the river she must have! For a moment, though, the protective mother in me comes out as I muse about the baby birds having to take their first “steps”, learning to fly, with the water below.
The sunshine is warm on my shoulders. They’re getting pink from it as once again I forgot my sunscreen. I watch water fowl making their way up and down the hill from my position on a bench overlooking the water to the water’s edge down by the dock. I guess those webbed feet must come in handy because who knew they could be so adept at navigating such a steep hill?
No natural area around here would be complete without Canada Geese. They chatter away and hunt for food among the grass. I keep my distance. Canada Geese may be pretty to look at but they are bad-tempered and have a powerful bite!
A mama goose brings up her babies and you can notice a change in the flock. They become much more visibly aware of their surroundings and several of them post themselves at the perimeter of the group, like sentries, guarding the babies. They are completely alert and attuned to everything that’s going on around them. I name the one on the right, lying in the grass Sam after my daughter. This, unlike the others who are moving around hunting for food, simply chooses to lie there and eat whatever it can reach from its relaxed position. Very Sam-like.
A group of mallard ducks have joined us up on the hill. There is a constant noise coming from them as they walk past – not really quacking but more like a ducky muttering sound. I notice that they walk past the geese, heads held high, muttering away as if to say “We’re not afraid of you,” but at the same time, keeping their distance from the geese too.
At one point, a duck apparently ventures just a little too close to the baby geese. One of the babies themselves chase the duck away. The adults let the baby handle it alone but they have moved a little closer, clearly relaying a message of “Don’t worry. We’ve got your back!”. The duck, griping the whole time, runs away. He apparently is well aware of the bad temperament and nasty bites of geese as well.
After observing the sights for a while, I do some sketching and then read more of one of my current books, Canada, A Portrait in Letters by Charlotte Gray. I’m not sure how much time has passed but eventually, the siren call of mojitos on the patio reaches me and I head off for today. But only for today….I’m sure the river will send out its own siren call and I’ll be back again soon.
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