Is it spring?

I know spring has arrived, because our cat now spends hours every day in one window or another watching the birds, murmuring to them as they fly about their business. My son regularly welcomes new goat kids and lambs to the fold. A bright hydrangea is gracing our dining room table. Garden centres are brimming with pansies. The last bits of grey snow have finally left the shady spots of the yard, and the first crocuses are up. Always keen to get past the dregs of winter, I have been searching for signs of life in the asparagus and rhubarb patches, knowing it is far too early.

Springing back

One of my sisters, who is a retired veterinarian, now does volunteer work with a rewilding animal clinic. Last fall, she and her team repaired the fractured wing of a young female broad-winged hawk. That hawk is migratory to her area, passing through twice a year to destinations farther north and south. By the time the bird was ready to fly and strong enough to be released, migration for her species was over, and it was too cold for her to survive in the wild. She was kept at the clinic, where she had outside time but could come inside when it was too cold. In her frustration at being inside, the bird damaged some of her flight and tail feathers, which would have required  her to remain at the clinic until fall, when she would be able to fly after her late summer moult.

Using flight feathers they had saved from another broad-winged hawk that had died, the team cut her damaged feathers about an inch from her body, preserving the base. Here’s how my sister described what they did next:

“After carefully measuring against her other feathers, we cut the replacement ones and attached them with toothpicks and epoxy in their hollow cores. Flight feathers and tail feathers are all slightly different, so have to be matched up and put on in the right order so the bird is aerodynamically sound. This worked perfectly and once everything had set she could fly! These replacement feathers will remain until a normal moult occurs and, since the bases were undamaged, this will happen without a problem.”

This week, with the arrival of spring weather, broad-winged hawks were seen back in their area, and my sister released her “patient,” who flew successfully away.

In her words:

“It was awesome!!! I know in the scheme of things, war, covid, tanking economy….. it’s minor, but man, this put a smile on my face!!”

That story, filled with happiness and hope, has put a spring in my step all week.

Go, Jays!

For avid baseball fans, spring signals the beginning of the pro season. While I enjoy the occasional opportunity to watch a live big league game, I don’t hold a candle to the enthusiasm my daughter and her partner have for the game.

No other plans were made in their household for the Blue Jays opening weekend, with three back-to-back home games lined up. Ball caps, pennants and other paraphernalia were hauled out and dusted off, hot dogs and chili were made and beer was chilled. Archie, the ever-enthusiastic Westie in their house, settled in on his TV-watching ottoman to cheer on his favourite team and, no doubt, also snag the odd bit of hot dog.

By game three, my daughter was watching on her small kitchen TV while she made dinner– after all, the rest of life can only be postponed for so long, even when there are ball games to watch.

Is it cake?

Surely the silliest game show on TV, “Is it Cake?” describes itself as: “Skilled cake artists create mouthwatering replicas of handbags, sewing machines and more in this mind-bending baking contest inspired by a popular meme.”

Desperate for some truly mindless entertainment to distract me after a particularly gruelling day, I watched one episode last week. For half an hour, I watched three bakers prepare cake imitations of different kinds of fast foods: tacos, a croissant breakfast sandwich and a cheeseburger. The stresses of my day disappeared as the competitors made sliced tomatoes, crispy bacon and ground beef, all with cake. Once the final products were prepared, judges had to distinguish them from the real items, while audience members yelled: “Is it cake?”

I don’t think this is a show I’ll watch again, although, for some reason, there is something fascinating about food that looks like something else.

Boston Cream Pie is on the menu for our family dinner this weekend. Created in the mid-1800s, by the chef at a Boston Hotel, it is apparently called pie because it was baked in a pie plate.

Is it cake? Yes, it is. It’s a cake that will look like a cake, not like a taco or a shoe or a bowling ball. And, it will taste delicious!

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