return to round hill   11 comments

The dogs and I have returned to the old house at Round Hill. The weather has been very cold and damp – a familiar scene around much of North America this spring. I was feeling as though I must be turning into a wimp, but after overhearing a few conversations at the hardware and grocery stores this week, it appears that I’m in good company as there was much cursing and moaning on the part of the local population.

In spite of the weather, the dogs and are are doing okay, but have had to spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in the living room which has been converted into a bedroom-office. I have taken to calling it my Cape Evan’s hut. Although much work on the house is planned for this summer, for now, it’s too wet and miserable to work up much interest in carpentry. Instead, I’m devoting my time and energy into yard clean-up and gardening. Two new rhododendrons, fifty strawberry plants of two varieties, and about two dozen large perennial clumps were purchased for the garden and I have been busily working up garden space and planting the latest acquisitions. Also added is the Mexican Talavera ceramic coyote which I carefully packed and brought back from Bisbee (see above). To me, he seems like the embodiment of desert light, brightening up an otherwise misty coastal garden. I had hoped to bring back a large iguana as well, but after packing my van for the trip home, I realized that the iguana would have made an already crowded situation even worse. Maybe next year.

About the middle of last week, I was struck by a brainstorm for solving the problem of what to do about a big heap of crumbling planks in the back garden. It was too large and rotted to load up and move to a waste disposal site. However, I reasoned that it would make good organic fill for the hollow at the end of the yard. It took about fifteen wheelbarrow loads to move everything to the new location. During the clean-up process a 4.5 cm red eft was exposed (see above). An eft is the terrestrial juvenile stage of a newt – in this case, of the Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens). Sorry for having disturbed the eft, I relocated it to the end of the garden where I dumped the rotted wood. Hopefully the little creature will find adequate food and shelter.

After removing the last of the wood, I dug up a bed in which to plant two varieties of strawberries – Annapolis Early, and Bounty, which is a late season variety.

Also found in the tangle of grass and rotted wood was the above snail. I wrote to my friend, Dr. Fred Schueler, to find out which species it might be. He identified it as Cepaea hortensis. Here is another view showing the working side of things.

A few hard days of digging and now I am sitting in my room waiting for the rain to stop. Today, I made periodic trips outdoors to empty the five-gallon collector pails that catch water from the drip edge of the roof. There are two large rainbarrels for water storage, and I am thinking of adding one or two more. I store the water to use for washing laundry and watering the garden.

On dreary days when the rain is pounding down, I sometimes wonder why I am doing any of this. I work quite hard just taking care of the daily stuff as the house has no modern conveniences. Basically, it’s just a step above camping. However, finding a little newt in the garden, seeing an Osprey winging over the rooftop clutching sticks for its nest, or having an enraged Pheasant pace back and forth outside the kitchen window screaming at his reflection in the glass, help to remind me that this is why I am here, doing what I set out to do when I bought this place. Not to try to make the house into something it can never be, but to live in harmony with whatever exists here. I will write more soon.

P.S.: I would like to call attention to two posts on Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog, at this and also this link. Clive has provided a wonderful “tour” of the retrospective exhibit of his art at the National Library of Wales. Be sure to click on at least a few of the photos to see much larger views. It really is quite something. I regret that I can only attend via the internet!

Written by bev wigney on May 16th, 2011

11 Responses to 'return to round hill'

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  1. I love the comment about the pheasant and newt reminding you of why you are proceeding with this adventure.


    16 May 11 at 4:32 pm

  2. Bev, you’re doing exactly what fits your personality and your perspective on life. It’s good to be reminded of such things from time to time and your recollections when you raise the question give just the answer you need! I wish I were there, sharing the dampness and looking forward to more hospitable weather!


    16 May 11 at 5:35 pm

  3. So glad you and the puppies have made it safe and sound back to Round Hill. How did the house survive the winter? The spring must be very high, with all this rain….any flooding in the area? It must be very rewarding seeing what you have accomplished from when you arrived last Spring. The yard must be starting to show signs of the tips of plants, you put in last summer. We’re going to be staying at Kartcher Caverns next March and April….so hope to get together with you. Take Care.


    16 May 11 at 8:00 pm

  4. Skye – Thanks!

    John – Maybe you’lll make it here for a visit sometime…hopefully when the weather is *nice*!

    Judy – Great to hear from you! No flooding that I have heard of in this area, but the river down below my house is really running now. My place is high with a steep drop down the hillside, so in no danger, but it has been interesting to watch the flow pick uo after each successive day of rain. You’re quite right about returning here and seeing the work that I did last year. Over the winter, I had kind of forgotten all that I’d done and how it looked by the time I left. It was actually a bit of a surprise when I returned. That’s neat about you being at Kartchner Caverns in March and April! Relatively soeaking, it’s practixally in my backyard – maybe 40 miles from where I stay. We’ll definitely be able to get together for at least a couple of visits. I can’t wait to see both of you!

    bev wigney

    17 May 11 at 1:06 am

  5. Much grumbling here on the west coast too with the return of “winter storms”– makes me wonder how we can still be calling weather winter, when we are five weeks from summer solstice! I love that colorful ceramic coyote in the yard. I see how important it is to add color when the flowers have not started to bloom yet. A real treat for the eyes.

    We have held off on doing our spring garden planting. Good thing too, the weather has been miserable with a light snow on May 15th. I think we might just be coming to the safe time to get the tomatoes, peppers, squash, and basil in the ground. Good thing the summers here are reliably (if not unbearably) hot. I hope we all have clear skies soon and get the growing season under way.

    robin andrea

    17 May 11 at 9:59 am

  6. Here on the coast of Maine, we’ve had mostly sunny weather for the past few weeks, and my gardens were starting to look thirsty. I was a little worried it was going to turn out like last year, when we received so little rain through the summer that I had to drag around a hose and sprinkler and water the gardens in rotation through weeks of hellish heat (El Nino-related, no doubt).

    Right now we’re exactly where we should be in terms of average precipitation, and the plants are loving it.

    So I’m not thinking of this as “bad weather” at all — it’s just free water!


    18 May 11 at 4:12 pm

  7. I meant to ask, are you on well water at Round Hill?


    18 May 11 at 4:18 pm

  8. Looks a lot like Western Washington. Great photo with the van, coyote and lion. I like the way the coyote brings a little bit of Arizona to Nova Scotia. You and Sage and Sabrina bring a bit of Canada to Bisbee. Connected places of the heart.

    Thanks for the links to the Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog!


    18 May 11 at 7:11 pm

  9. Hi Bev

    I have to admit I find that more and more I turn to nature for solace and peace.
    Whether it is photographing a bee in a city park or hiking about the farm that seems
    more important and more vital to me than so many things society promotes.

    I did investigate the Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog. Thanks for posting the links I have
    always enjoyed prints, book illustrations and dustjackets so I found his work quite appealing.

    Hi to Sage and Sabrina and all the best with the house.



    18 May 11 at 8:02 pm

  10. robin – I check out the weather in a good number of places through which I usually travel and am amazed by how crazy the weather is just about everywhere. If it is not raining or snowing, it is flooding, or there is a severe drought. It seems that there is very little moderation except in a few places. Obviously, the entire weather system is in a chaotic mood this year. I hope that we at least get a good summer!

    firefly – Regarding the water here. Although the house has a deep well, which I am told has excellent water, I am not using it at this time. The well head is down inside a concrete vaul structure in the back yard. You have to go down a metal ladder into what is a fairly small vault to access the pump and pressure tank. They are modern in vintage, but not *that* modern. Everything is large and sort of crazy. Apparenty, the pump last worked about 3 years ago, but the pressure tank – a massive old thing – is waterlogged and needs to be replqced. It should all be hauled up out of there and replaced with a modern system – a submersible pump, etc… For now, I have decided to ignore the whole problem as I can only deal with so much each season. I’m finding that, by improvising, it hasn’t really been all that big a deal to be without running water. I collect rain water using big buckets placed under the roof eaves, and these are dumped into 2 large rain barrels and that water is used for laundry and watering the garden. I found an excellent fast flowinf spring where people fill water jugs, so I use go there about once a week and fill up a bunch if jugs. That water is used for showers (solar shower bag hung up in a tree)’ and for washing vegetables, etc… As I don’t know if that spring has been tested for water quality, I am currently buying a couople of jugs of water a week for drinking supply. The toilet is a modern composting unit that uses no water. Yes, it’s all a bit inconvenient, but I don’t really mind as it is just me and I am used to much less in the way of conveniences when I am on the road out west.

    am – Yes, it’s funny, but I like having objects from one place to connect me to another. I have several pieces of pottery by my favourite Ottawa Valley potter, Doug France, around the house and the birth bath in the garden. There are also a couple of large ironwood sculptures by Bisbee artist, Tom Suby around the house (I will do a post about his work sometime soon). There are also rocks, driftwood and other objects that connect me to places I have been. It helps to tie my rather fragmented world together so that I don’t feel so displaced. It seems to work. Glad you enjoyed visiing Clive’s Artblog.

    Guy – Thanks! I am glad that you too enjoyed viewing Clive’s work. Quite amazing. Agree about finding more peace close to nature. I don’t really relate to cities at all now, so I know just what you mean,

    bev wigney

    19 May 11 at 5:35 am

  11. Bev, good to visit and see that you and Sabrina and Sage have arrived safely back in Round Hill, Nova Scotia – how I do like that name – “Round Hill”. The newt and the shell are gorgeous! Oh yes, and it is STILL raining here in the Ottawa valley.


    29 May 11 at 4:09 pm

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