The May Apple

They’re out! Of course, it’s May!

I’ve always found this plant to be rather attractive and somewhat tropical looking.

Despite its pretty flower and leaves, all parts of it, roots and all, are highly toxic, especially to dogs. However, in the latter part of the year, the ‘apple’ turns yellow and is edible in small quantities, not that I am that desperate to attempt fate by trying one.

May Apple plants are thriving well in the Oxbow, about half way down the trail. There is also a patch of them in nearby Harts Woods.

Spring Clean Up 2022

On the 14th April about 30 Boy Scouts and 20 parents descended on The Bow and did a fantastic job of cleaning up fallen branches, old tires, sheet metal, fencing wire and much more junk. I was really surprised at what they found, considering we’ve been at this for several years now. Thanks to Mr Gavelis and his son Ever for organising this.

The next project is to rid Bowood (that area between the Oxbow Trail and the school playing field) of Swallow-wort or nick-named Dog Strangling Vine (DSV). The Scouts intend to cut it down once it has sprouted, to reduce the amount of seeds produced.

Its a very invasive weed from Ukraine and because it is a milkweed, it messes up the Monarch Butterfly’s life cycle, as they lay their eggs on it and don’t survive.

But other help is on the way –

Hypena opulenta is a moth and it’s caterpillers munch through the DSV.

Spring again!

Does anyone know what this flower is? It is a perennial -bulb I think.

It’s been a long winter as we move from a couple of years of isolation and many difficulties in the World, so to see the first few glimpses of summer is very comforting to most.

Where better to enjoy the outdoors than a quiet walk down The Oxbow! Stay a while, sit on a park bench and enjoy the birds singing their praises of this warm weather. The frogs are chortling too, especially in the evenings.

Our daffodils are out. Some more bulbs planted recently are yet to appear. There are a few crocus peeping through the grass, planted by the inhabitants of yore. The snowdrops are almost over. We transplanted numerous bunches of them along the trail this spring, so next year we should have a really good show of them.

That thin veil of gossamer green is appearing on the islands as the bushes slowly break out into leaf.

And just look what my dog Morgan found on one of her many sniffing expeditions -a garter snake about a foot long. It’s a pretty creature, even though they make my skin creep. Yes, the reptile world is waking up from hibernation. I suspect we’ll soon see those big old Snapping Turtles trundling along the stream channels, heading for deeper water. And hopefully, not trying to lay eggs in the Oxbow pathway, like last year.

A new bird-is it just passing through, or here to stay?

A Great Egret

The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret, or great white egret or great white heron is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, it builds tree nests in colonies close to water.

What is the difference between a great white heron and egret?Great egrets are a little smaller than the white-phase great blue heron, but the real giveaway is the color of the legs. Great egrets have black legs while white-phase great blue herons have much lighter legs. Herons also have slightly heavier beaks and “shaggier” feathers on their breast.

You never know what you’ll find down the ‘Bow’

Just three ‘stalks’ of this pretty little flower have emerged down the Bow. In all the years we have been visiting there daily, we’ve never seen this one before.

How did it get there? Who knows! Is it indigenous? No!

Wikipedia to the rescue – they say – Tansy is native to Eurasia; it is found in almost all parts of mainland Europe, as well as Britain and Ireland. It is absent from Siberia and some of the Mediterranean islands. The ancient Greeks may have been the first to cultivate it as a medicinal herb.

Tansy is used for digestive tract problems including stomach and intestinal ulcers, certain gallbladder conditions, migraines, nerve pain, joint pain, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using tansy might also cause toxic effects.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant in the genus Tanacetum in the aster family, native to temperate Europe and Asia.

It is also known as common tansy,[2]bitter buttons, cow bitter, or golden buttons. The Latin word vulgare means “common”.[3]

It is connected with some interesting old customs observed at Easter time, when even archbishops and bishops played handball with men of their congregation, and a Tansy cake was the reward of the victors. These Tansy cakes were made from the young leaves of the plant, mixed with eggs, and were thought to purify the humours of the body after the limited fare of Lent. In time, this custom obtained a kind of symbolism, and Tansies, as these cakes were called, came to be eaten on Easter Day as a remembrance of the bitter herbs eaten by the Jews at the Passover. Coles (1656) says the origin of eating it in the spring is because Tansy is very wholesome after the salt fish consumed during Lent, and counteracts the ill-effects which the ‘moist and cold constitution of winter has made on people . . . though many understand it not, and some simple people take it for a matter of superstition to do so.’

‘This balsamic plant,’ says Boerhaave (the Danish physician), ‘will supply the place of nutmegs and cinnamon,’ and the young leaves, shredded, serve as a flavouring for puddings and omelets. Gerard tells us that Tansy Teas were highly esteemed in Lent as well as Tansy puddings.

A most interesting plant. Long may it live here!

Cranes and ducks and herons!

Today, there seemed to be lots of birds at The Oxbow Lake. This is the first time I have ever seen a Crane here. He (or she), was fishing at the back of #14 Erie Crescent, and quite unperturbed by my presence.

Further along, there were two Blue Herons just hanging out along the shoreline. I think it must have been all the rain we’re having today, but it seemed like all the birds in creation were out and about, busying themselves at Bowood! Maybe a flush of insects to feast on?

The lawns had just been cut the day before, so maybe that contributed? It certainly is a busy place today!

Lots of New Shrubs

Another Eagle Scout project and donations from a local nursery have resulted in all these new shrubs being planted. The capped posts are for me to tie up my boat – very POSH – I must say! AND -there is the world famous (best dog in the world) BARKLEY! It looks like he’s waiting for the boat, but unfortunately, the boat slips are late opening this year! Maybe today we’ll get delivery of our pontoon?

Our First Mow This Year!

Spring has been a little late coming this year, but at last the grass is growing, the birds are singing and everyone seems to be happier, at least those folks walking The Oxbow do.

The daffodils are almost over, except for the batch I planted in the spring. They are a little later blooming, but it was a good thing, because it extended the pleasure of seeing them.

After this mow, The Oxbow trail is the best I have ever seen it, Simply beautiful, tranquil and it is a pleasure to sit on our new benches, breath in the fresh air, and watch and listen to all the many birds here. We seem to have attracted a lot of wildlife. The Blue Herons, Red Kingfishers, finches and even an otter last week. He was running across the trail up and into the wood.

As I (Mike Caswell) have retired from the day to day running of The Bow, Eric Gavelis has taken over the permit from the Canal Corporation to look after the project. Under his direction, the new benches were installed, and our first mow carried out by Mr Kim of #1 Oxbow Rd, and Eric.

They are looking to do this work themselves so want to purchase a lawn tractor they can designate to this work. If you feel like making a donation, please leave a message here.

A new photo of the Bow cottages

This photograph emerged today on Facebook, posted by the Perinton Historical Society.

Apparently, the photo was taken about 1958.

Its interesting to see how all these buildings have really good docks, and obviously great waterfront property. From what previous inhabitants have told us, this was a really fun place to live, especially for the children.