Here in the countryfied town of Cochrane, waking up early has its benefits. Goodness knows I would like to be able to sleep in and wake up completely rested. After all, isn’t that what one should be able to do in retirement? Well, it seems I can’t, for various reasons, not the least being my old man’s sleeping habits. It seems this waking up early and during the night is common amongst us old guys.
I find it soothing to step outside with my freshly brewed, aromatic coffee and sit on the deck in the quietness and freshness of the morning, listening and looking. As the sun creeps over the trees to the East and spills onto the deck I am warmed, even though the air is cool, being this close to the mountains. Above me are the branches of our Mayday tree, loaded with berries. Dark and shining in the sun, they look tantalising. Sure enough, as I watch, birds arrive to feed on the berries. I am surprised to see not one, but four fledgling robins arrive with slightly uncontrolled flight and land on branches while trying to maintain their balance. They quickly tuck into a feed of the berries, taking a few from a clump and then flitting off to another for some reason. Maybe it is the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ thing that draws them. They feed and feed, then in an explosion of flight they all fly off in the same direction, along with all the sparrows that were also in the tree. I presume a nearby parent warned them of some threat.
Gradually they all return and continue feeding. The sparrows don’t pick at the berries, but seem to find some kind of insect in amongst the leaves and berries. My guess is that they are eating the larva of the fruit flies that will explode into the air around the tree within the next few weeks. Hundreds will find their way into our house and will be flying in our faces for weeks afterward.
I decide that I would like to try to get a picture of one of the fledgling robins, so I run off to get my camera and an appropriate telephoto lens. When I get back I can’t initially see any birds, but then I notice one lone youngster, relaxed and dozing on a branch in the sun. I think if I could relax like that, I would be sure to fall asleep and erase my sleep deficit. Too late for that, I’m fully awake now. I made lots of images of that robin, one of which is above.
As time drifts on this morning, the quiet of the country is broken when the construction vehicles in the new district across the tracks start up for the day’s work. The engine noise blends with the annoying reversing beeping that they all do. For the last three years, since we moved out of Calgary, such sounds have been absent here, but that all has changed this year. The housing construction is exploding around town and along with it, the noise and traffic is going through a peak. Considering the growth that is happening all over Alberta I guess this will be the norm for a few years. This saddens me to some degree, as we really wanted to get away from this growth messiness when we left Calgary, but it’s unstoppable so I guess we just have to get used to it.
It all makes me wish that I could have fully retired about five years earlier so I had a chance to experience small town living before this new change hit Cochrane. Still, there is so much good stuff about our lifestyle here that it offsets the other.