Monday, September 15, 2014

Dem dry stones

Cougar Creek drains from the clay soils near our house, seeps under a couple of malls, meanders over to Cougar Creek Park with its lagoons and beaver dams, and plunges into a steep canyon. At the bottom end, it tunnels under the road into Sunshine Hills, and out into the Burns Bog flats.

We started our rock flipping excursion from that road, heading upstream, at first, into the canyon.

Reflections of the trees at the top of the Canyon. This year, the creek is shallow and slow.

Dying alder leaves and shadows of horsetails on the stones along the river bank.

We turned over many stones, both on the banks, and in the dry areas of the creek bed. Under a few, we found pillbugs, and one earthworm. Nothing more; the ground was dry, the creek bed scoured clean, and barely damp.

Where the creek was slightly deeper, held back by sticks and leaves caught on a few rocks, I turned over a rock, saw something flashing in the current, and caught it. I spread it out on the next rock to examine it.

A gruesome find. A red dragonfly, minus most of the head and abdomen, probably eaten by fish. The wings are intact. Nothing there to interest a hungry trout.

We crossed the road into Burns Bog. This part of the bog was once extensively mined for peat, and is criss-crossed by walls and railway tracks. A large part of it was paved over, but the pavement is cracked and mossy, buckling as the ground has heaved under it. Alders and maples grow in the gaps.

Moss breaking pavement, making soil for larger plants.

Cracked pavement. I looked in the cracks; nothing was moving.

It's been a dry summer; even in the shade, the moss was dry and scratchy. The ground underneath was no damper. We turned over many rocks and chunks of broken concrete, finding mostly dry soil, baked hard.

Under one slab of concrete, a few reddish ants had dug tunnels. They have something damp and bluish in the upper centre here; some sort of dead critter.

The underside of a paving stone. Ant trails, hot and crispy. No ants in sight.


And a small, sleeping slug. I have never seen one before with a spotted white face; I didn't know there were such critters.

And this I will never understand: Burns Bog is supposed to be an ecological preserve, even this once-mined area. Access is mostly on foot, and the trails are long. Why, then, do people haul garbage deep into the woods here? On foot, carrying heavy trash, when we have door-to-door pickup or easily available bins?

Every time, we find something. Bottles and buckets, bicycle parts, grocery store trolleys, old cabinet TVs, rotting mattresses, shoes . . . This time, it was electronics. Underneath the chunks of concrete.

TV? Or what?

And what is this? It's plastic, backed with cardboard.

This I do understand. There's a graffiti'd wall just beyond.


  1. I love that you posted just ordinary, everyday bugs from under your rocks, instead of skipping it because nothing was "interesting".

    I would call your pillbugs woodlice as they can't roll up, but most people aren't that picky.

    I forgot to flip a rock yesterday, hope to do it this morning with my kids as we wait for the school bus. I have concrete stepping stones in my front yard that will always give me at least ants and woodlice.

  2. Missed another rock flip. I just hate it when people through trash around in beautiful places. - Margy


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