Signs of spring


Snow is still on the ground and the official first day of Spring is two weeks away, but today I had the first feeling that spring is really on its way.  I wrote two haiku–the first, after looking out the window to check the weather.  The second continues my thoughts using prompt words from Ronovan Writes Weekly Haiku Challenge #87.

Wet drops drip slowly,
puddles gleam from the driveway,
It’s above zero.

Above zero days,
March shift, a new weather range,
May this trend stand firm.

The prompt words used in the second haiku are  ‘class’ and ‘firm’ (range=class).  The temperature reference is zero degrees Centigrade.

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“Run Deer Run”— Ronovan’s Haiku Prompt #63: Stag & Noise


An interesting combination of prompt words this week from Ronovan of Ronovan Writes: ‘stag’ and ‘noise’. When  ‘stag’ refers to a deer, one thinks of a peaceful, graceful creature, such as the one who passed behind my house in July. The above picture, taken through a glass door from afar, isn’t great, but for me special, nonetheless.  The deer was on the move, undoubtedly not feeling welcomed by our barking dogs.  And there it is, when these peaceful creatures pass by, noise often occurs as noted in Ronovan’s opening Haiku:



Around where I live, hunters and poachers are out on the prowl for wild turkey, rabbits, and deer.  Sometimes at night, especially later on in the year, we hear gunshots. We keep our back light on to remind them that there is a house in range.  Here is my haiku:

Hunters are roaming,

Gunshot din punctures silence,

Run doe, Run stag, Run!


imageThis post was written in response to Ronovan Writes Monday Haiku Challenge #63.  To read more haiku using the prompt words “Stag” and “Noise”, please  visit Ronovan’s  Prompt Post.  There he offers his opening haiku and explains how to participate;  participants post links to their haiku contributions in the Comments section.   On Sunday, September 27, visit RonovanWrites for a Roundup with links to all of this week’s entries, plus an informative and entertaining commentary. 

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Willow Tree Story–Strength and Resilience

This post was inspired by Writer’s Quote Wednesday hosted by Silver Threading and our backyard Willow tree. For my willow story, pictures, and quotes about surviving life challenges, please read on.

A new tree suddenly appeared in our backyard last year. It emerged out of a pocket of tall marsh grasses. ‘What a pleasant surprise’, we said–‘a new tree with leaves!’ Being surrounded by rugged conifers, a leafy deciduous tree is like a long lost friend.  It grew rapidly, developing multiple slender trunks and tall long branches with slender leaves.  I snapped pictures but got nowhere with identification.


This year, the tree’s growth was so rapid that we started to become concerned– it was growing out of a slope next to the septic tank and bed.  Roots can damage drainage systems. It all seems obvious when the story is related now, but in the moment ‘reality’ dawned slowly.  We called in the septic people to pump out the tank and to seek advice…they told us the tree was probably a kind of willow and should be removed as willow roots tend to encroach.

Concrete septic tank with dirt cover removed for pumping. Underground pipes and bed extend beyond to the left.

Wikipedia says that the Willow genus consists of 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs.  The leaves of some  willow species look similar to ours so I am now convinced that our young tree is some kind of willow. Unfortunately the tree will have to go. I have started mowing surrounding grasses and pruning off the long slender branches. Someone else–not I–will wield a saw and cut through the thicker trunks.

Willow viewed from bottom of slope with trunks exposed.
Willow viewed from bottom of slope with trunks exposed.

In honour of the willow, who sadly must go, I looked into willow symbolism and sayings. A theme of strength and resilience caught my attention. Willows stand firmly rooted yet their slender flexible branches bend in the wind–a desirable quality noted by Confucious:


“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Confucious

A more contemporary formulation by Bruce Lee brings willows into the picture:

Bruce Lee quote courtesy of

I like the way Wayne Dyer explains the benefits of  being  “resilient, elastic, and pliant” when faced with major challenges:


“When powerful forces push you in any direction, bow rather than fight, lean rather than break, and allow yourself to be free of a rigid set of rules–in doing so, you’ll be preserved and unbroken.”  Wayne Dyer, Wayne’s Blog: ‘Bend, Don’t Break, with the Wind’

Truth holds many contradictions. The wisdom of bending in a storm, captured from observing supple trees such as willows and palm trees, confronts an equally important truth– that we must stand tall and be true to ourselves. If we are too flexible, we may have no personality, focus, or standards–on the other hand, if we are too rigid we can miss the flow of life or life itself.  I just discovered this quote by Eartha Kitt which seems to go for the feeling of being true to ourselves while bending or following the flow:

eartha kitt bends in the river quote

Gaining Traction–How to Prevent Slips With Rock Salt Alternative

Ice Melter Alternatives

I’m not writing about ice melters and de-icers because of my slide at a snowy intersection the other day (see my previous blog, “Winter Mishaps”).  It’s a coincidence.  I happened to read about rock salt and other ice melters in an environmental newsletter sent to me by  There are good reasons for finding rock salt alternatives.


Rock Salt Prevents Slips, but is Toxic

In winter, icey porches, stairways, walkways and driveways cause slips, falls and skids.  Sand and ash were once popular for increasing traction, but more recently rock salt has come into the picture. While it does melt ice, salt comes with many problems, such as corroding vehicles, cement, and pavement.  Sadly it is also poisonous, causing cancer and other diseases for tongue happy pets–and heaven knows what it can do to  children and wildlife, such as birds, squirrels, and rabbits.

Rock salt  builds up and kills vegetation.  It  seeps into the groundwater.  When your water supply is  well water, as mine is, the importance of not poisoning the nearby land  becomes quite apparent.  And  for those who prefer to minimize their toxic load on the environment, using rock salt will not be attractive.


An Alternative:  Eco Traction

One of the options mentioned in the Green Living article is a product called Eco Traction.  There are other traction products on the market, but this was the one I purchased this winter after mulling over packages and prices.  The Green Living  article’s reference to it caught my attention–did I actually make a good choice?  I read up on Eco Traction again and learned that it is not only safe for pets and kids, it’s also beneficial for lawns and gardens! 

My experience using Eco Traction has been quite positive.  A very small amount sprinkled on the steps has gone a long way and definitely prevents slipping.  I shovel and sweep regularly, but ice does form, and that’s when I sprinkle.  If you’re really interested in this topic, I would suggest the article at as it describes the pros and cons of common ingredients used in alternative products.  And naturally,  I would also be interested in  hearing what you have to say.

Sweeping Snow Away

 I love sweeping snow.  Does that sound strange?  I sweep it off the front porch, off the back deck,  bird houses,  propane tank and pipes, solar lights, front lip of the garage to prevent freezing, and so on.  Why scrape with a shovel, when for light snow and delicate spots it is so much easier to use a broom or a wisk?

I hesitated about sharing this simple snow removal technique.  Is it obvious?  Do many people get out their brooms and wisks  and sweep away?  I did a very quick surf to see if anyone else is talking about it.  One notable comment that I found was that using a broom to clean off Christmas lights is a good idea.  Once I get outside with a broom I see many places where it makes sense to brush snow off—-such as the air conditioner, gas tank, and window sills.

When I first moved to a house in the country, I wondered if I would eventually need a snow blower or a plow attachment for the sitting lawn mower.   So far it appears that a household broom, a small light push shovel, and a large snow scoop do the job.