Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas Letter From Winnipeg, Canada 2021: Of Manitoba Maples, Monarch Butterflies & Patootie


'Peace On Earth, Goodwill To Men'
YouTube Video by: Instruments of your Peace.

December 2021

Season’s Greetings!

“They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?” -- Jeanette Winterson, Author

We hope this letter finds you in good health and fine spirits, enjoying whatever aspects of the season’s activities you celebrate, and surviving the festive mayhem. As the end of the year races toward us at warp speed, it is a reminder to take time for family and friends who mean so much to us.

Thankfully we are both in good health, as are our families and our beloved cats Patootie and Minnie. 

Cutie Patootie [behind] and Skinny Minnie 
are sisters and rescued cats from Montreal. 
Patootie means, 'it's something so cute you
want to put it in your pocket.'



Manitoba Maple Tree and Leaves

In spite of pandemic constraints, 2021 was as full a year as ever for us. In January we bought an electric car and are very happy with it. In the spring we managed to sell our old car (which we both found surprisingly emotional; best car we ever owned, still running like new; we did regular maintenance, but never had to repair it... imagine!). 

Our seemingly endless litany of home projects continued. We finished our bedroom, did window repairs, replaced our sinking front porch, put up a pergola on the back patio, and amidst some argy-bargy’s managed to put up a few gallery walls of our collected art. The next room for wall repairs will be done in January... at last!

"When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbing along"
Photo by BRIAN PRESSEY


Most of the summer was spent indoors, sadly -- extreme heat and toxic smoke from surrounding forest fires made outside a miserable place to be. Garden work was minimal maintenance only, no new projects. Still, nature restored us in so many ways. As examples: In the spring we had large flocks of dozens of robins in the neighbourhood and in our yard. Until now we had never seen more than 3 gathered together at a time. We had about 15 monarch caterpillars in the garden (significantly more than last year), and many of them made it all the way to butterfly, one of which I was able to witness taking its very first flight. Autumn was so long and mild that several plants continued to flower until mid-November, when a heavy snowfall shut that down. The monkshood was particularly lush, and it only began to bloom in October! 
The magnificent Monarch butterfly with 
15 caterpillars in the writer's garden.

But ... the pièce de résistance was our very own backyard nature adventure. In June/July we happened to see a pregnant rabbit building a nest at the base of our Manitoba maple, from the start of her digging to her final brilliant camouflage of the entrance. Once the babies were born, we were also blessed to witness -- on 3 occasions -- her feeding and grooming them. (This usually takes place overnight, so it was a real treat.) Mama was a fierce protector of her babes; we swear she didn’t sleep a wink while they were in the nest. If a crow, a squirrel, a cat or even a butterfly intruded on that area of the yard, mama rabbit would fly out of the shrubbery and be on them like a heat-seeking missile, driving them away. Once the babies began to venture out of the nest for short forays, we watched her coaching them on the ways of their world, and when they finally left the nest, we also watched two of them grooming each other in the garden. Needless to say, we were very invested in this little family. A friend even put up a large umbrella to keep the hot sun off the nest area. We had the perfect view from all the back windows of the house, and were very protective of their space. 

A wild and pregnant Canadian rabbit.

Getting ready for their Easter getup, soon 
they'll be hopping around the garden too.

Travel was out of the question for us, and we remain apprehensive going forward. We long to visit family and friends and to visit those places on our bucket list -- snatched from our plans in 2020 -- but... still biding our time. We are grateful though for the cheering visit of two friends, who hit the road in their camper van, and made time to be with us when passing through Winnipeg... a true highlight of the year.

The Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg with
concerts, plays and conventions galore.

Since late summer we have been going out more to restaurants, visiting with friends in small groupings, and are back at our physical activities and martial arts training. We now go to some concerts and plays in person, but continue with online options for others. That balancing act of living our lives and reducing our risks, at which we all have become so adept. I am not a huge fan of technology, but Zoom and Skype have been a boon, helping us remain connected with people near and far. And ... importantly, we make sure we have at least half an hour of chuckles and belly laughs each and every day, for sure in the evening, but as often as possible. It really is the best medicine.

We usually make a plea for world peace at this time of year especially -- and we still do, fervently -- but this year we are focusing our energies towards the requirement for significant and meaningful progress re: limiting & ultimately reversing climate change. If we collectively don’t get this right, nothing else will matter. Surely, together, we can heal some of this wounded planet we all call home. If we don’t get it right, there will be no universe large enough to contain our grief and rage. We will not give up hope; without hope none of us could go on. In the meantime, we endeavour to live in the moment, to find joy daily, and to celebrate and be grateful for every blessing in our lives, and for every beauty and wonder in the world ... of which there are so, so many.

We wish you and yours good health and every happiness this festive season and throughout the New Year, and the experience of wonder on a daily basis. 

Joy and many blessings to you and all those you love,

Written by: J. & A. 

Images: Google, Microsoft Bing.

20 comments:

Unknown said...

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all.

May this season’s greetings bring you great health, love, hope and peace.

Cheers

MRS DAISY KOH said...

Congratulations
You are leaving a fantastic music legacy for future generations.
Keep up the good work.
👏👏👏

RANDY LEE KHENG [DJAKARTA]/STYLERS said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS N NEW YEAR

MRS ROSE KHOO said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS ANDY

MRS TRACY [NG] said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS

FACEBOOK said...

Mar Gie
Joycelyn Leong
Lim Kuan Min
Larry See
Myo Min Htun
Tracy Ng
Gracie Teo
Yen Chow
Winston Koh
Koh Daisy
Somkid Lakhawat

THANKS TO THE FOLKS HERE WHO LOVE THIS POST

MYO MIN HTUN said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS

RAYMOND CHO said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS

STEPHEN HAN said...

HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR

JIMMY APPUDURAI-CHUA - ENGLAND said...

Blessings for all your fabulous posts, Andy.
xxxxxxxx

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

A country full of nature and wondrous and friendly creatures.
Do read the Christmas letter from Manitoba; it's an eye opener for folks who lives in the tropics.

Even to this day I've never seen a Monarch caterpillar, let alone 15 of them.
And a pregnant rabbit. No, never.

Thanks to my dear friends, J & A for the delightful and informative letter.
We got to save the earth.

THANKS TO ALL READERS WHO SHARED THEIR COMMENTS.


correction said...

Correction
"Folks who LIVE..."

FACEBOOK said...

George Teo
Jimmy Appudurai-chua
Stephen Han
Ericbronson Wong
Raymond Cho
Mar Gie
DICK YIP
MOODY CASH
RANDY LEE

THANKS THAT YOU LIKE THE POST

FACEBOOK said...

Aloysius Tan
Jim Kokkoon Bory
Rose Khoo
Hiroshi Deguchi
Denyse Tessensohn
Kali Dass S
Alexandra Hsieh
Betts Manry-Chua
Freda Hanum
Dan Ebenezer
Francis Anthony Rozells
Yen Chow

THANKS FOR LIKING POST

FREDA HANUM TEEPEES said...

Wish you and your wonderful blog a very blessed Merry Christmas and also congratulatuons to you, that your blog being archived by National Library Board..
Wow that is amazing Andy...
God bless you....
Merry Christmas Andy and every readers of your blog
🙏 🎄🎄🎄🎄🎅

DAISY KOH [MRS] said...

Hi Freda hope the situation in Selangor/ KL improves soon. Hope that you are not affected by the hazards of the weather and that you and your family continue to stay safe.

FREDA HANUM TEEPEES said...

Luckily my area is ok dear not affected at all, thanks so much for your concern, though sad to see so many places are affected badly... Poor souls, these 2 days have been dry with sun thank goodness... You have a good day and wonderful Christmas Season to you and your loved ones dear Daisy🙏❤️

TIN LEONG LIM said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS

PETER LIM said...

MERRY X'MAS ANDY

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

THANK YOU ALL FOR THE GOOD WISHES.
THANKS ALSO TO J AND A FOR THEIR WONDERFUL PIECE OF WRITING AND THE DESCRIPTION OF WINNIPEG IN WINTER AT THEIR GARDEN HOME.