ePub 版
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* 14 lidi

Let uit het in ni 'Fethi Hd HOWY seni ve been the

| | nep sesape, he quelle Mall pocs me' For Fateral wat hom prila 11 in bospitažite se soimass to the strengt friends were the ori Jonsehold of women , out into the fores viderness of the OM*** rights were tie Írst. Both familien totale Wet States about the same time.) A short tittar Wars ! to know him, a party of English officers had topong

near his place. HAH.,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

out and hunting time with them, and thoroughly enjoy He had lived and travelled in the r, not an Dae14 years; and be told me the story and *** three days by an Iriais baie suspicions excited, we w starenced


set a watch for the resu

in Chamberlin's be

n, of er ito put ing e of

Next day

wild duck for var bed of the

in و

the man, oping

balanced by the experience gained of forest-life. Here the forest-kings have fallen before the lumberer's axe. The settler has followed in his train; making the land yield increase to him—not once in a generation by its spoils of timber-but each year with cereals and fruit.

Reports reached England of alarming conflagrations in the forests of the Ottawa, and the lands bordering on the Gatineau. I came up in time to witness the last minuet of the flame-dance. The heat of the ball was over. The “greenwood” was gone. Kings and queens of woodland glory were stripped of their grandeur and lay stricken by the way-side. Flames still played languidly about blackened stumps, or sullenly smouldered among charcoal embers. We naturally ask how it is that forests full of living sap will burn It is accounted for by the preponderance of trees of the pine species, each one loaded to tips of leaf and twig, with pitch and resin. Then again the dry heats of summer scorch the underwood into the condition of tinder. A spark from hunter's pipe or lumberers' camp-fire may kindle a mighty conflagration when all is so ready for the flames. Much mischief follows in some cases, as for instance, when farm boundary-fences are obliterated.

Then comes angry wrangling and trials in the law-courts. In 1825 a terrible fire occurred in New Brunswick. On the Miramichi river 200 square miles of woods were destroyed; by this awful burning 500 people lost their lives, and 2,000 more were ruined.

“It is an ill-wind that blows no good," says an old proverb. The burnt forest is loss to the lumberer, but it is gain to the farmer. He will dibble his maize and wheat grains between the black stumps ; vermin and brushwood are cleared away without his labours. In a



little while these spots of black desolation, will, as in a hundred clearings, smile gladly with harvest. Scotch settlers push up the country, winning such triumphs over swamp and tangle, that the saying of old comes true literally, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, the desert shall blossom as the rose.”

I have described the “ hanging gardens” of the South, and “Indian summer in Maryland. The North has also great glories of leaf and fern, of vine and flower. The Ottawa has also its own autumn crown. A loving interpreter of nature has portrayed in glowing language, the aspects of life in a northern and southern zone. In that inimitable picture of word-painting, Ruskin carries us at once from a burning to a frozen land. Let us travel in fancy, with his swallow and stork, from the flowered pavements which are forecourts of the cypress-morass in Carolina, to the bumbler jardinet, embossed amidst & northern cedar-swamp. We call this a wintry region, yet we are in the latitude of the Garonne. The green pines are festooned with wild vines. It has been said that the blistering grape-vines of the dismal swamp are poisonous. Not so those of Canada. Their leaves form garlands for the pillars of forest-aisles, and in autnmn, clusters of black and purple fruit are set as symbols of teeming plenty. Nature's bountiful vineyard can never be gathered by man, so birds and wild animals luxuriate therein. Cartier's companions found them growing about Cape Diamond, and round the gloomy Saguenay. Coming to an island rock laden with them, they called it “Isle of Bacchus.” Wild vine is worthy of a royal place in the Dominion cornucopia.

In lake-shallows, grows the folle avoine of the Jesuits—the wild rice of the English. Taller than a man, spring feathered stalks, laden with graceful drooping ears of grain, black on the outside and pearly white within. When shaken by wind, much of the cereal treasure falls into the silt below. These rice-grounds are favorite feeding-haunts of wild-fowl :-ducks, turkeys and geese. They are sometimes charged with other billets. Flocks of migrating pigeons pause on their flight to enjoy the tempting dinner of ripe and ready food. From the stalks of folle avoine the ingenious people of Maine are now manufacturing paper.

Wild plums bending over lake-coves, may be gathered in bushels. Black bilberries or huckleberries, rasps, strawberries and white speckled dewberries, real blueberries, and rosy whortleberries (often miscalled cranberries,) are found in like abundance. Indians eat the latter raw and boil them with their meats; the settlers' wives boil them with maple sugar, into a delicious preserve for winter use. What Indian and white-men spare, squirrels and brown bears devour, sometimes even forestalling them at the banquet.

I often think of the heaven-given law of compensation. In Canada you find no “rosiers des Alps," you never sight a rhododendron in the wilds, but in their place the bilberry ranges northward even to “Greenland's icy mountains." High bush or low bush, always hardy and fruitful; the berry delicately hidden under green leaves. The humble bilberry is the free gift, the “gather and come again," of Canada. I prefer its simple wholesome fruit to the banana. It is a fairy sight when the orchards of Hereford are pink with blossom, yet it is perhaps a still more goodly vision, when in Canada, Indian summer brings round the season of fruits.

The turn of the leaf comes early in the north. After a frosty night the maples appear next morning in scarlet. The climbing creepers also change their colors, and

gleam with crimson and vermilion, among the spiny leaves of evergreen pines and cedars. The pyrola, or winter-green glows like a rose-bed round the roots of alder and poplar, and the ferns are dyed in cinnamon tints. After a very dry summer, the coloring of the foliage is not so brilliant as when the season has been wet. During Indian summer all nature seems folded into repose. On a day of the famous “pink mist,” the heavens glow from morn to night with a rosy sunset's glory. Earth and sky are twin pictures for once-a crimson-tinted forest-a crimson-tinted firmament. No one knows why this season is called Indian summer, except it has some reference to the tradition, that the haze in which the earth is shrouded, arose from the burning of the grass prairies in the West by the Indians. The change of color in the foliage is caused by sudden frost striking the sap; on the canvas thus prepared, the sun-beams have power to paint in wondrous tints.

There is also a summer glory of the swamps, which may be seen to perfection about the middle of July. Thirty 'miles from Quebec there is a spot seldom looked upon by English people, where nature dons her brightest livery. Round St. Anne's there are scenes of exquisite beauty. An erudite naturalist was my companion on an excursion that I made to them. We saw the silvery stems of birches flashing through vistas of green, like the spangles on Indian dancing girls. We found pipeplants couched by gnarled roots, and blue anthers cf wild iris or “fleur-de-luce" set-off with green relief of maidenhair ferns. Raspberries are ripening amid garlands of crimson rose-like flowers. Swamp-strawberries are more acid than cultivated varieties, but make nevertheless delicious confiture. Evening-primroses take as kindly to the northern swamps as to their native banks in Virginia, yet all the time florists were buying seeds in

« 上一頁繼續 »