Galwegians May 2021

As Covid-19 cases continue in the wrong direction, the recent cycles of opening up Ontario, followed by locking down Ontario, appears to not be working. In this latest “stay-at-home’ order, the Galway Hall continues to remain closed until further notice.

For the month of May, the funniest word added to the 2020 dictionary is “Amirite”. No, it is neither a rock or mineral found in Galway Township. This word is the informal variant spelling of the phrase, “Am I right?” It is used to elicit agreement or solidarity at the end of an observation. This word can also be used facetiously to undermine or mock the proceeding observation.

With the first rain we had during the second full week of April, did you notice a pleasant, earthy smell right after the first raindrops began to fall on the dry soil?  That smell is called ‘petrichor’ and the word is constructed from Greek petra (rock) or petros (stone) and ichor (the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods of Greek mythology). This odour is caused by the water from the raindrops mixing with certain compounds in the soil like ozone, geosmin, and plant oils.

Remember the weather on Good Friday morning this year? The wind was from the North, the temperature was cool, and it was sunny. Actually, it was a ‘Bluebird Sky’ day for most of the day. Weather lore states that the way the weather is and/or the direction of the wind is the way it will be for forty days. In the first sixteen days of observations of this lore, 3 days were Bluebird Sky days, 5 days the winds blew from a northerly direction while for 7 days, the winds have been from the east, south-east. Note, May 10th is the final day of this observation.

Does anyone else think that spring 2021 came early? On Clear Bay, this year’s “ice-out” date was Wednesday, April 7th. Historically, the ice-out date used is April 22nd.

Nature’s spring orchestra has been performing throughout these early spring days. The percussion section has a variety of woodpeckers that are joined by some ruffed grouse (partridges). Chipmunks and red squirrels also contribute to this section. The horn section is dominated by Canada geese but some ducks and one lone trumpeter swan have made their contributions to date. And then there is the choir! Spring peepers and other frogs, migrating songbirds, red-eye vireos, robins, kingfishers, loons, owls, crows, ravens, wild turkeys, red-wing blackbirds, evening grosbeaks, chickadees, mourning doves, and so many more.

Here is a friendly spring reminder. Be wary and mindful of all the critters that are on or near our roadways and highways. Turtles, salamanders, frogs, snakes, wild turkeys, deer, moose, fox, hares, ruffed grouse, and this list too could go on and on. Remember, safety first (especially your safety) if you choose to assist a turtle across a road. As bug season looms, many animals seek the openness of our roadways, hoping to find relief from the swarms of insects.

Speaking of our roadways and highways, the disappearance of the snow has revealed the litter that motorists have thrown along the sides of our roads. C’mon people! Really?

With more time on our hands and nowhere to go, have you noticed the catkins hanging on some of the trees? The catkins on the Alder are the first to shed pollen in spring. The Pussy Willow, also called the Goat Willow, and the White Poplar have separate male and female trees. The Beech, Hazel, and Silver Birch also have catkins. Catkins usually do not rely on pollinators to spread their pollen. Catkins simply release their pollen into the wind instead. Wind-pollinated trees can be a source of springtime allergies.

On a recent, early morning jog, I found a spotted salamander on East Clear Bay Road. Although it would be attempting to gain whatever heat from the road surface there was, it was in a dicey position for vehicular traffic. Since I was wearing gloves, I picked it up and relocated it away from the road. The spotted salamander’s spots are yellow in colour. Did you know that spotted salamanders can live for over 30 years in the wild?

Let’s face it folks! Most of us are probably more than a little weary from the lockdowns and the stay-at-home directives that we have faced for more than a year now. However, visualize this! An Eastern Red-Backed Salamander’s range over its lifespan is one square metre! Without intentionally looking for these little creatures, three have already been located on our property. “Stay-at-home” does not appear to be an issue for these little creatures.

Year 3 of “Shamrocking Galway” is getting started. By the time you receive this May edition, there should be 28 mini-pots planted with the ‘corms’ from last year’s plants. Stay tuned for updates on the success of the 2021 purple shamrock crop by visiting

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