Written by Terry Lende, member of CALL Our Lives, Our Stories Group 3;
photos by by Terry Lende
The bitterly cold wind is howling as it blows the snow sideways into drifts. It is hard to reconcile the snow piled in my garden with spring. Spring equinox is past, day light savings time is here, every day, there is a perceptible lengthening of daylight. Yet the current conditions, –18 with the wind chill, make it hard to believe this is the end of March. Luckily the birds provide a reminder, a hope of what is to come.
About a week ago, I saw my first gulls on the river. She, and two cohorts are out-riders, scouts doing a reconnaissance before the arrival of the masses. It used to be the robins were a sign of spring for me, but no more, not since seeing a group of robins in early January feasting on crab apples in the middle of a snow storm. No, it is the gulls that are my harbinger of spring. Now, the first flocks arrive. I hear their raucous joyful cries before seeing them. A screech like metal upon metal, the sound takes up all the space. ‘Where have you been? How was your winter? What’s new? Hooray, we made it!’ I imagine a multitude of conversations and am entranced. They come in massive flocks. Swirling, twirling, dancing in the air, up up up, their white bodies like tissues blown across the blue fabric of the sky. I wonder how it is that there are no mid-air collisions at this aerial Cirque du Soleil. Then at the signal of an unseen ballet mistress, act two begins. They alight on the water and bob along in unison, their heads down in the water then up to the sky, like a well-trained corps de ballet, they perform a Welcome to Spring dance.
The Canada Geese are impassive to the performance, but I see that they too are in spring mode. As the middle channel of the river opens, the geese claim their space. A quick fly pass to check for potential danger, then at the all clear signal they glide in for a landing. So graceful in the air — such a stark contrast to their waddling gait on land. A night, they group together on the edge of the ice, their honking a counterpoint to the burbling river as she finds her voice again. Bodies curved, heads tucked under wings, I am reminded of a row of curling rocks in the mist of the early morning light.
Competition for mates and nesting spots begins. Another performance to watch. A brave bachelor flies in to see if he can entice a female. A male goose in an established pair takes offense. The battle begins, neck extended, wings outstretched he catapults toward the interloper, pushing him away. The would-be Romeo rebuffs the attack but to no avail. He scuttles off, still searching for his Juliette.
The osprey are late comers to the Welcome to Spring party. By the time they arrive in early April, there is a good chance the opportunistic geese will have taken advantage of the jumble of sticks and detritus that remain from last year’s nest and will have staked their claim. Not so fast say the osprey. A new aerial battle ensues. The osprey survey the interloper from a nearby tree. The goose extends her neck and flaps her wings. ‘I am big, I am strong, do not think you can scare me!’ Then the battle is on. The osprey launches himself into the air, catching an updraft, he circles higher and higher. Then, with deadly precision, talons outstretched and the skills of a hunter, he swoops down to strafe the nesting goose. At the last minute, the goose tucks in her head. No damage done. Again and again, the osprey attack, the goose does her best to not be dislodged. Some years the osprey reclaim the nest, other years it is the geese who are victorious. But memories are long. Even in years when the osprey claim the platform, the male remains ever vigilant. I have seen him swoop down to harass the geese on the gravel bar just to remind them who is boss.
My spring welcome would not be complete without one final performer. This fellow is a hardy soul. He stays year-round. He endures -30 temperatures and forages for food by clinging to the suet block I hang on a tree. Then, as the weather warms, his thoughts too, move beyond basic survival. With all the honking, and screeching, and chirping I expect he wonders how he can be heard? Then, aha, the perfect solution! At 4 AM, a jack hammer pounds on my roof. No, it is not a new construction site. The metal caps on my chimneys are an ideal sounding board for a Great Northern Flicker to announce his presences to potential mates. Surely his beak must be bent from such staccato reverberations! Smart bird I think to myself as I curl up in my duvet and dream of spring to come.
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The snow is almost gone. Are you tired of being cooped up at home with your significant other (SO)? You can't wait to get outside; in fact your SO has probably encouraged you with these four words of wisdom — GO FLY A KITE. We have the solution for you.
You can be 'out-standing' in your field enjoying the peace and quiet; SO didn't want to come. You can feel the sun on your face and the wind (it is not a knife) in your back. Social-distancing, not a problem — our kite lines are at least 19.8 m (65').
You might say "I don’t know anything about kiting". Zoom has your back — we have developed eight, one-hour Zoom lessons for our Kite Ground School that are available on request. These lessons give you all the basic knowledge to get you started. And best of all, Kite Flying School is about to start and you can try our kites. We are also introducing fighter kites this year.
Our flying fields are almost bare and inviting us to come and play — no one else is there. So contact me to find out how you can keep learning, get some exercise, enjoy the company (at a distance) of like-minded people and develop new skills to impress your grandchildren.
Facilitator: Wayne Marshall firstname.lastname@example.org
If I read a book and it makes my body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way? Emily Dickinson
Poetry gives us 'a glimpse, a doorway, a window, a path out of our routine … poetry stirs the senses, the imagination …' Cathy Dana
Poetry can take on a new role in our lives at a time like today. It is familiar and creates images unique to each listener. It is often short and perfect for our disjointed concentration. It can very importantly make us laugh. The members of the CALL Readers Theatre Interest Group would like to remind you of the importance of poetry. Please check out the following links to hear readings of poetry:
Poetry Power — BBC Correspondents Read Their Favourites and The Power of Poetry. And, of course, a Canadian perspective UBC Professor Offers Poetry in Troubled Times. Listening to these will remind you of old favourites and offer you some new.
On Friday, April 24 Readers Theatre will offer a small audience the opportunity to listen to an eclectic selection of poems. We had hoped to invite CALL members to join us in C-Space. Owing to the times, attendance will be by invitation only and will be on Zoom.
Julia Melnyk, Co-facilitator of the CALL interest Group Asian Mah Jong
Mah Jong is flourishing at CALL. Currently there are two groups playing online and, in normal times, four groups play on a weekly basis.
Mah Jong is a game like rummy played with tiles. The game originated in China and, although it is rumoured to be 2,600 years old, the first historical record dates from the 19th century. The game was first introduced into America in the early 1920s. Legend has it that Joseph Babcock, a Standard Oil employee, first encountered the game on a ship on the Yangtze River. He added Arabic numerals and Western letters and began exporting his sets to the United States.
Mah Jong has always been a social experience, helping to create a sense of community. However, in some circles, it is looked down upon as a gambling game and is disapproved of. You may have seen Mah Jong in movies such as Crazy Rich Asians and Joy Luck Club.
The first Asian Mah Jong group at CALL was started in 2013. Asian Mah Jong rules are a hybrid of Chinese, Singaporean and other Asian rules. Julia Melnyk and Betty Gourlay joined that group and then took on facilitating the group in 2015. It became so popular that Betty recently started a second Asian group to accommodate people on the waiting list. There are currently 22 in the first group and eight in the second. Because CALL players lead busy lives, the number playing varies from week to week.
Dawn Bartusek took the initiative of starting Mah Jong American Rules in 2018. The American version, favoured by snowbirds to the US, uses a card defining the winning hands that is provided annually by the American Mah Jong Association. The group has grown to 16 members. Some of them are now playing online supplemented by chatting on WhatsApp.
A fourth group, playing yet another version: Hong Kong Mah Jong was started this year by Patricia Fosbrook. Although the game is very similar to how the Asian group plays, the scoring is different. The Hong Kong group started with nine players and will take on more in September. At present they are playing online using Zoom.
Mah Jong is alive and well at CALL.
by Marje Wing
Kanopy is a video streaming service which is available free of charge through the Calgary Public Library. There are over 30,000 documentaries, classics, international films, and learning videos, including selections from the Criterion Collection, The Great Courses, and Frontline series. Offerings are different from paid streaming services such as Netflix and include “indie” films, stimulating documentaries and films such as Exhibition on Screen.
Kanopy films can be viewed on a desktop or laptop (PC or mac) as well as many different devices such as tablets, phones and smart TVs. Follow this link to the Calgary Public Library page about Kanopy: https://calgarylibrary.ca/read-learn-and-explore/digital-library/kanopy-2/
Scroll down and you will find clear, simple instructions telling you how to set up an account and start streaming. You will need your library card number. Setting up an account is easy and only has to be done once. Although the library is closed due to COVID 19, there is staff there to answer phones. So if you have any trouble setting up your account call: 403-260-2600
If you want to find Kanopy without using the link above you can find it easily through Calgary Public Library. Go to the Calgary Public Library website. Scroll down to “Popular Resources” and click on: “Stream movies and TV with Kanopy”. This will bring you to the same page contained in this article.
CALL member Sherry Heinze compiled the following list of online resources. Email email@example.com if you would like to add to the list.
The CALL Newsletter is our way to communicate what is going on in our community. Usually we communicate to members about upcoming events, however, since all CALL gatherings are postponed for an undetermined period of time, we decided to use the newsletters as a way to ‘peek behind the curtain of CALL’, to give some general information about CALL groups and members.
You are invited to send your ideas and suggestions for future issues to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know what your Interest Groups are doing and your strategies for coping with this situation in which the whole world finds itself. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity; not every submission will necessarily be published.
Meanwhile, be well, stay well in every sense of the word.