Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Another Trip "Down Memory Lane" in Norwich

Hauling Gravel by Horse and Buggy, by Doug Harrison

Alice, Roland, Roland Sr., Doug (front), Myrtle Harrison
Likely in front of their frame house, Spring Street

Doug reaches a long way back to fetch a story from the 1930s in Norwich:

 "about music and my inquisitive mind"

Harold Williams, circa 1940s
Photo - Norwich Gazette

My father's stories always give me lots to think about: How did he connect with Billy Nobles, Alabama? Were Heman and Harold Williams related? Where was the swimming hole? I should thank Edith as well, for clipping out family stories and putting them into a scrap book.

Thanks, Mom.

Doug's music collection (of tapes) is now on Prince Edward Island with my oldest sister, Lannie Dee.

Please link to Birds: "Waltzing Starling Won't Mate with Hootchy-Kootchy" (2)

Photos GH

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Birds: "Waltzing Starling Won't Mate with Hootchy-Kootchy" (2)

Observations About "Curious Creatures" Continues

Doug H. maintained a backyard chicken coop for many years

I occasionally find stray articles written by my father in a shoe box or filing cabinet and the one below is the second part (I think) of a series he submitted to the Norwich Gazette in 1989. (Part 1 was listed earlier on this site and a link to that article appears at the bottom of this page).


"gourd-type nests of the cliff swallow, made of mud..."*

*I find these nests each year under a bridge on my way to Port Bruce. GH

* * * * *

Part 2 of a related story of my own:

Dad passed away the following winter, after we'd enjoyed several more rides in the country, and when summer turned to fall I followed my nose to Hawk Cliff, east of Port Stanley, in order to see the migration of many large birds, chiefly raptors.

I went mainly because Hawk Cliff was a place my father and I enjoyed together and I wanted to connect with him. Like my father, I carried a camera or two in order to capture significant shots for posterity's sake. After parking my motorcycle I parked myself near the edge of the cliff with a good view of Lake Erie's north shore. I chose a shady spot beside a fence, sat down, leaned back against a post, unpacked a sandwich and thermos of coffee from my backpack, and waited.

I waited - and enjoyed 'the quiet' as other visitors to Hawk Cliff came and went. I waited as I ate lunch and half-hours passed. I waited as colourful hawks flew by and my thermos was drained. I waited while an hour or two passed and my desire to move along grew stronger. I waited (impatiently at times; I really don't like sitting still for long), I waited some more, and after about three hours I was rewarded... beyond expectation.

At first I saw only a large speck of a bird approaching me from the east. It was not over the lake but was following the cliff's edge. As it flew toward me it was not high in the sky but was almost even with where I was sitting. In fact, it seemed as if it was gliding effortlessly right at me. When it was 50 meters away I knew it was a bald eagle.

Of course, it was not the same bald eagle that had flown overhead my father and I a few months earlier. If I'd waited for that particular eagle I'd still be sitting at Hawk Cliff, wondering how to tell one eagle from another.

But it was a large, majestic bird, and it helped me recapture a moment Dad and I caught in a state of wonder, not many months earlier, while sitting silently and breathlessly inside a small Honda Civic.

I heard Dad say again, "I've never seen anything like that in my life!"

Worth the wait? 

Worth the wait.

* * * * *

A few related photos taken in and around London, Ont.

 Cedar Waxwings in my front yard

 Hairy Woodpecker in my backyard

 "Use the outhouse, then move along," I say.

 Young hawk is keeping his eye on me, inside the city

Near Springbank Park, London

Please link to "Birds: Curious creatures observed in Norwich" (1) by Doug Harrison

Photos GH

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

"Needs Job to Eat, But Art is His Love" by Suzanne Hanson

Kim Douglas Harrison, Local Artist (Norwich Gazette, circa 1981)

Kim is a wee bit older now but still has many projects underway.
Photo Credit - The Norwich Gazette

While looking for Part 2 of a story (chiefly about bluebirds) by Doug Harrison, regular contributor to The Norwich Gazette in the 1980s and '90s, I came across this story by Ms. S. Hanson about my younger brother. I'm glad I found it. Now I know he did better at university than I did (but I became a teacher before he did).

Caption with above photograph:

Kim retired to a certain degree from being a full-time artist and art instructor just a few years ago but likely has a longer list of projects to start/complete than ever. More than me, I suspect, but I retired before he did : )

Kim, laughing at how I flip burgers over my head and onto the bun. 

In my spare time I will try to set up a proper photographic table so that I can stitch other Gazette columns together in a more professional manner. (But don't hold yer breath).

Unattributed Photos GH

Monday, January 6, 2020

"Birds: Curious creatures observed in Norwich" by Doug Harrison

From The Norwich Gazette, September, 1989

Doug H. maintained a backyard chicken coop for many years -
he learned how to handle hens and roosters at a young age

My father was pretty happy whenever one of his five children would accompany him on a tour of his 'birdhouse route'. He built 100s of sturdy plywood birdhouses and placed them on fence posts at the edge of several farmers' fields in the Norwich area. He loved his bluebirds (I couldn't spot them easily until he pointed several out to me), barely tolerated sparrows, and yearly kept detailed notes about birds' habits, size of their broods, and the successes and failures of survival rates.

Besides the birdhouses which dotted the countryside around Norwich, he expressed his deep interest through his writing, book purchases and various pieces of artwork even into his last year.

Below is a 1989 column, stitched together using modern technology : ).

Note to readers: At the * above, please insert Doug's hand-written note. I.e., "at three of my (boxes last year. It was the most) bluebirds I have seen in many years."

Please note the "To be continued"

Mom and Dad had their own brood and it occasionally gathered at Turkey Point during summer months:

L - R: Gord Harrison w son Paul (in front of me, 3 - 4 years old then, 46 now),
Edith (Catton) Harrison, Doug Harrison, Ida Catton, Murray Catton
(facing camera),and Kim Harrison (lower right). Circa 1976-77

Hopefully I will be able to find the followup to Dad's story. Here's a bit of my own recollection of another bit of 'bird action' he and I enjoyed together in fall 2002:

Dad's Last Bluebird and Bald Eagle Sighting

I picked up Dad at the front door of Parkwood Hospital, London, just about every Saturday in the year before he passed away. We had a standing appointment - 1:00 p.m. He was always ready, eager to get out for a ride.

Within five minutes we would usually be heading south-east toward Oxford County - Tim Horton coffees in hand -  and toward familiar country roads, just following our noses.

On one such drive in the fall of 2002 we ended up in Long Point - with customary refills - drove past Gord Bucholtz's old, tin-covered boathouse ("We caught some big green bass out of there," he said, and I nodded, remembering good times before my teens, before 'hanging out' with parents was not 'cool'), sampled ice cream at a well-worn variety store (once operated by the Bushells from Norwich), prior to turning around at the entrance of Long Point's campground in order to aim the car westward and toward home.

Within about 30 minutes I ventured onto a gravel side road northwest of Walsingham, and a few minutes later I spotted bluebirds flitting from fence posts to telephone wires to a farmer's field, and back and forth, outside my driver's-side window. I slowed and stopped the car. Dad's eyesight wasn't the best at that time so he couldn't see them, so I described the action - well enough for him to be pleased about our stop.

"I can't see them but I know they're here," he said.

As I slowly pulled away I saw more 'bird action' on the opposite side of the road. A large gang of crows and blackbirds, 200 - 300 meters away, filled the air with troubling energy. Oh, they were after something, and I didn't know what, but I suspected an owl. So I pulled over again.

As the rolling mass of birds approached - swooping, swirling, attacking - I saw the large, victimized bird, and it was not having an easy time. And as the whole gang drew closer I realized that the large bird at the centre of things wasn't an owl, but a bald eagle. It was swerving and taking hits, no more than 5 meters above the ground, and the whole scene was heading right toward Dad's passenger-side window. 

He sat and stared, as silent as a ghost, as the majestic eagle and black darts raced toward the car and passed, seemingly, over our heads by mere inches. I instinctively ducked, then glanced over my left shoulder and watched the drama for another 10 - 20 seconds before it disappeared into the distance. Then we each took a deep breath.

Dad spoke first.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life!"

Did I believe him? I'm not sure, but I nodded agreement. We were certainly not going to see anything like that again, at least anytime soon.

To be continued (after I locate the second-half of Doug's story re curious birds).

Norwich Outpost Cartoons (3)

Family and Friends and More.

Ever been hit by a heavy rain? If not, you've never lived. Or been badly hurt by rain drops.

Ever been beside yourself? Really, it's a thing.

Kids these days! You gotta love 'em.

Viewers might think that I frequently try for 'nose jokes'. It's true. It's a 'Harrison family' thing.

I actually went to university with a guy like that!
He became a close friend (I liked his style).

Yup. Another nose joke. You've been warned.

More to follow. Just follow your nose next time.

Please link to Norwich Outpost Cartoons (2).

Photos by GH