Wednesday, November 9, 2011

dreaming of a house on another hill.... gumboots not included.

I never was the one who dreamt of the house on the hill.  But I can imagine that dream.  A beautiful home with a wide covered veranda and a porch swing with Victorian detailing and Queen Ann Spindles, casement windows and elegant gables.   The house sits  perched on a hill that drops away on all sides providing sweeping views of rolling hills, forested groves and gurgling streams.  Sunsets are glorious and in the fall the days are crisp the air is golden, it smells like apples, and cinnamon,  and dry leaves underfoot, the land is alive like a dancing flame in oranges, reds and gold.   It is a lovely dream,  sometimes a lone and ancient tree sits near the house, a perfect place to lounge in low branches and read, write or draw.  

While it was never my childhood dream to live in the house on the hill, there are benefits to living on a hill, and this is especially true when you are surrounded in muskeg that acts like a soggy blanket draped over the landscape  and allows water to stagnate on steep hillsides in addition to the low lying areas

I did, in the end, buy a house on a hill.  Actually my home is  more of a house propped up on a hunk of bedrock that just happens to rise out of the muskeg swamp. There is no veranda, no detailing, or elegant gables,  but it is home. And sitting atop my little hunk of rock, I console myself that water runs downhill (for the most part)  and therefore my yard is drier than most (theoretically).   Especially given that the majority of this island (apart from the stray outcroppings of bedrock) is Muskeg Swamp...  Muskeg itself consists of dead plants in various stages of decomposition, ranging from fairly intact sphagnum peat moss or sedge peat to highly decomposed muck.  (side note: sphagnum moss can hold 15 to 30 times its own weight in water, allowing the spongy wet nastiness to invade even the steepest of slopes. All in all a recipe for very wet feet. Gumboots anyone? )

© Spider Bug
 After 10 or so feet of rain in 2011, and more than 10 inches of that in the last ten days.  I’m feeling a bit waterlogged.  A trip out into my yard to chase my dog back in the house after she decided that digging herself her very own swimming pool in all this wet muck was fun has led me to the conclusion that the water table is variable.  It is not – as is commonly believed -  an inch under the surface... but it is a highly variable height and even on my little knoll raised above the rest of the neighbourhood the water table is exactly one inch ABOVE the surface.  Which may help explain why I have a unique lawn consisting of a form of semi- aquatic vegetation known as a liverwort that grows only in the deepest shade. 


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