Do you know what the collective noun for geese is? I always thought it was a ‘gaggle’, but listening to Canadian radio earlier this week I find out that there are several different collective terms for geese – all dependent on what the geese are doing at the time. For example, if geese are on the ground, then quite rightly, they’re often described as a ‘gaggle’, ‘herd’ or ‘flock’. But if they’re in flight, then it’s either a ‘wedge’ or ‘skein’. I never knew that till this week. It got me wondering how geese have managed to get to the high echelons of having so many descriptive terms? I did an internet search to see how many collective terms are used to describe the joys of having kids – and found a complete dearth. There’s many terms I’d use to describe my 3 kids – many of which wouldn’t always be complimentary …..
Anyhow. This all came about as Canada Geese are arriving back in Edmonton (maybe it was a slow news day as it was the key topic of conversation on the radio) with ‘wedges’ being spotted in full formation flying in from goodness knows where. Comes to something when even the Canadian Geese migrate away from here over the winter …. maybe there’s a message in there somewhere? Being upbeat, it’s obviously a sign that the worst of the weather is over and a lot of our snow is finally melting away after months of being surrounded in a blanket of ‘whiteness’. I love the snow and have really enjoyed getting active with the skiing this season, but it’s hard to describe the feeling of finally seeing grass in your front and back lawn slowly re-appearing. Optimism, I think. That said, most of the lakes are still completely frozen so we’ve a little while to go as yet. I’ll have to temper my excitement. And it’s March already …..
Not surprisingly, the grass isn’t looking that great. Mind you, if I’d been covered with over a foot of snow for the best part of 4 months, I’d be looking rather worse for wear too. Even the Arctic Hare that visits our back garden and ‘stops over’ occasionally under the decking, is rather at a loss. His fur is still pure white so he’s standing out like a belisha beacon until his coat changes to the summer brown colour.
One of the things I miss most about being in the UK, is the bulbs that start appearing and the daffodils bringing bright colours ready for St David’s Day in early March. Easter is always a good time to get out in the garden and see some colour and new growth. Not in Edmonton. The rule of thumb seems to be to hang on in there till May as the ground is still solid and heavy frosts appear during the night, plus not to forget the occasional snowstorm that can bring a full covering back again instantly. Talking of which, I think that’s the forecast for this evening. Oh well ……
We took a jaunt across to Jasper last weekend. We haven’t been there at this time of year, and whilst the mountain valleys are free of snow, as you start to climb the mountains you suddenly hit the snow-line and the snow depth that still remains is huge. So much so, that it makes you wonder how long it will take to fully thaw. The views across the mountains and lakes are spectacular though. You alternate from being in early Spring down in the valley, to a ‘Narnia-like’ winter experience where the snow even on the conifer branches is 5 inches thick – it’s quite surreal.
And quiet. I’ve never experienced ‘quietness’ quite like it when you’re in the mountains. Complete nothingness. Absolute silence. And still. The only sounds are from our feet tramping through the thick snow. I was almost expecting Mr Timnus (namely, James McAvoy from the Chronicles of Narnia films), to appear from behind a snow-covered tree. Failing that, I had hoped we may spot some wild animals in the forests and near the lakes, but these I suspect, were wisely remaining hidden due to our 3 kids who were grudgingly trudging along with us. I was sorely tempted at several points to feed one of them to any animals brave enough to put in an appearance but in the end we had to compromise on bringing them back home with us (the kids that is – not the wild animals), after we plunged the oldest kid into 3 feet of snow when she ‘helpfully’ doused her youngest sister with a vast amount of snow down the inside of her coat. We saw the funny side, but it took several hours before comedy and even the smallest hint of humour was felt by the kids themselves…..
The joys of having kids so helpfully brought to mind. It got me back to thinking of collective nouns again ….. 🙂