A few evenings ago I watched Canadian TV program on the flora and fauna of the Carolinian forest. For those who aren't familiar with this term, the Carolinian forest is the Canadian appellation for the eastern deciduous (broad-leaf) forest that once covered a huge stretch of eastern United States, from the Carolinas up to parts of southwestern Canada. Much of the original forest is gone, and what remains if very fragmented in both countries. In Ontario, the remnants of this once-great ecosystem embrace several preserved areas. Perhaps the most important of these is Point Pelee National Park, just down the road from my place. In Canada, this ecozone occupies less than one percent of Canada's land mass, but has one quarter of the population, so development is always a threat. Some 60 species have been officially designated as "at risk" but a number of others are also in trouble. Some of the rare and endangered species in tiny Point Pelee Park (just 15 square kilometers, or less than 6 miles) include the the southern flying squirrel, the five-lined skink, the common hop tree, the prickly pear cactus, monarch butterflies, red-headed woodpeckers, and the bald eagle. Many naturalists know Point Pelee as a world-class migration spot, both spring and fall for birds, and for the monarch butterflies in the fall, but it's a great place to visit all year.
I live right on the lake (Lake Erie) so there's not a lot of natural habitat in my backyard, but I do get some cottontail bunnies, and the occasional raccoon and once, an opossum. This winter has been particularly tough. The normal mild winter temperatures of the Canadian Carolinian zone have taken a beating from the Jet Stream. It's been colder for longer than usual, and that takes a toll on all the resident species. One critter in particular is especially vulnerable, I learned from the TV show: the opossum. I've only seen an opossum a couple of times; they aren't plentiful, and I'm not often out on the roads at dawn and dusk,when the 'possums are active, but I do see many poor opossums dead by the side of the road, killed by cars that were out early or late. One quiet morning I did see a mother 'possum cross my yard with a sweet pointy-faced little baby clinging to her back. The TV program said that opossums don't hibernate, and must be abroad in any weather to find food. They also don't have fur covering their sensitive noses, tails, ears and paws, so they are especially susceptible to frostbite. I feel badly that this cold spell will probably mean that some of these creatures may not survive. They may not be the cutest critter you could name, but as Canada's (North America's) only marsupial, they'd be entitled to a special place, if it were up to me. Here's hoping spring comes soon!
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.