The Hammer’s Column.

The sights and sounds of spring....some good-some not

There is no doubt that in one way or the other, all of us, no matter what age we may be, will always enjoy the sudden arrival of the sights/sounds/sign and unique smells of spring and summer. Surely we all love waking up to the delightful tones of the song birds at 4 a.m., even though they are quite often rudely interrupted by the noisy squawks and caws of those pesky crows, ravens, and magpies.

How can one resist heading out on an early morning walk, where the air is always cool, crisp, and fresh, especially after an evening rain or storm? On some occasions, we may even have a little ‘dew’ on the grass, but we can still stroll along amongst the awakening mosquitoes and plan all the great ‘toodoos’ for the rest of our week. Who cares if it rains, because that’s what umbrellas, slickers, water proof jackets, and puddle jumping boots are for. Here are some of mine, and I hope that all of you have some of your own fresh air fantasies to experience and enjoy from dawn to dusk for the next six months or so.

*Take some time to smell the flowers and the new natural treasures that spring up and out, some with a delightful and magic scent, but always be aware of those noxious species that sneak up us, and may not agree with our delicate sense of smells and touch, and can be murder for those of us who suffer from allergies or asthma. Some of these include stink weed, poison ivy, hawk and knap weed, all sorts of pesky thistles, and lots of poplar fluff.

*For the food fanatics, this is a great time of the year for the overwhelming and tantalizing smells that lure us to fairs, picnics, and special events. This, of course, includes the amazing results achieved on a sizzling barbecue, hot grill or snapping camp-fire, which attack our taste buds and fill our tummies with massive helpings of fries, fish, chicken, mini-donuts, burgers, steak, wieners and all the rest, and they always taste better when they hit the fresh air.  There’s also those very best and most traditional sounds of spring and summer at sunset, the likes of chirping crickets, the eerie howl of the wily coyote, the rumbling of thunder, the lonely train whistle and the exciting chatter of children rushing or rolling home after a great day in the sun.

*Some other great smells that many of us can look forward to and linger around are those of fresh wood chips, newly mowed grass, suntan lotion, fresh mint, newly cut hay, fall harvest and  the fresh baking that moms always leave to cool on the edge of the open kitchen window. On the other hand,  there are a few dreaded smells of the season which we can hardly avoid, including fertilizer, bug spray, raunchy perfumes and after spray, manure spreaders, wild fires, and that most horrific lingering smell of our little buddy with the white stripe, not so fondly known as skunk.

*What really BUGS me the most during the heat of the summer is the constant buzzing and swarming of all sorts of pesky no-see-um tiny winged and crawling critters, many of which tickle or bite, but are way too fast to swat, and most of which end up splattered in bits and pieces all over our windshields. This is why it is most important to take along your trusty old bug spray, incense, stay-away perfume, or zapper wherever we go, especially in the evenings.

We got skunked

My most not so memorable experience with a skunk came many years ago when our family was living on top of ‘chicken hill’ in Riverside. While puttering around in our big back yard, I came around the corner of the garage and was shocked to come  face to face with one of those most dreaded critters. I quickly dashed into the house to plan my attack against the sultan of the stinky spray.

My good buddy suggested that they were likely planning a family under our shed, so I should go down to the local Fish and Game Office and pick-up a skunk trap. Following instructions, we carefully placed the trap in front of the shed and baited it with a tasty morsel of fish, and sure enough, when we awoke early in the morning, the trap had been sprung, but we couldn’t see what was inside. Right away yours truly made the compassionate decision to take ‘our catch’ down to the Battle River and let him or her loose.

When my son Kevin and I reached a quiet spot down by the black trestle, we gingerly removed the trap from the Lumina, then sat back and contemplated how we were going to lift the lid without getting sprayed. Finally I spied a long stick, after which we snuck behind the trap, slid the stick into the ring on top of the trap door, tugged and tugged for a few very stressful moments then the door came open and out dashed the neighbour’s cat. All I can say is thank goodness no one was watching, the skunk family disappeared, and that was the end of our ‘skunk hunting’ days.

Whatever the case, have a wonderful and safe summer, respect nature and our precious environment to the fullest, and have a ‘rootin-tootin’ Ponoka Stampede week, all of you.