blog photo 193 DragonflyWHAT IT IS


It reoccurred with the regularity and accuracy of a Citizen Caliber 0100 quartz watch. Every Sunday night at 2 am Flagstaff would awake, turn on the 2 watt lamp on her bedside table, drop a couple sleeping pills then fall back to sleep. She did this in the hopes that the dream she was about to have would somehow resolve itself.

It was cold, fresh snow that covered the ground and she shivered in the summer dress she wore, the same dress she wore when she met No. 1 months ago. The inside of the barn smelt like straw, old straw, and not even the wind rushing through the many broken boards could diminish the smell. The barn door was missing, but when she tried to walk through the opening to the outside, an impenetrable force kept her inside the barn. She attempted to pry away loose boards without success, then started digging a tunnel under the barn’s wall but hit solid rock. Finally, in desperation, she set the barn on fire and as the flames grew larger and the heat intensified, a dragonfly emerged from the flames and Flagstaff woke up.

Monday morning saw a pale and anxious Justine Flagstaff slouched in the threadbare, upholstered armchair beside the assignment desk, waiting for her boss to confirm she was on her way to Northern Ontario to chase down some stories about three chipmunks, precious metals, some real life crime drama and anything else she could dig up during the ten day assignment.

Flagstaff found herself a few kilometers from the Moose Lodge, white knuckled on the steering wheel trying to navigate the worse washboards she’d ever driven on, when she slammed on the brakes, pulled over to the side of the road and starred at the barn she’d been dreaming about.


To drown the noise of twenty teenagers doing calisthenics, Jared Deakins would slap on some headphones, slip into a beer buzz and meditate the night away or at least ruminate as meditation did not jive with his way of thinking. He hated camp life, the structured activities, the buddy-buddy complexions, the one size fits all modules…but here he was. What of the truck driver who hates to drive or the introvert who leads the “team”, the doctor, trained for seven plus years, then becomes a bureaucrat? The world is full of people doing something they shouldn’t and it’s a damn good thing,  Jared thought as he cracked open his last beer.

As for Jared, he remembered clearly when his love for all things mother nature came to a halt. He was a young boy of ten, walking with his parents near Pine Creek Gorge trying to net butterflies and dragonflies on a Sunday afternoon when he got separated from the adults and came face to face with a black bear. As the bear reared up on its hind legs a man appeared out of nowhere and attacked the bear with his white cane. Leo Barnard fought off the bear and received numerous bites, cuts and scrapes but in the end was more than alright, as the unexpected encounter saw the return of his sight.


blog photo 192 lupinsWHAT IT IS

Mary Sampson wanted to see the lupins, wanted to see Plot 82 and wanted to breath in as much of this beautiful world as she could because of an unexplainable feeling that she would soon die. So, early on a Wednesday morning Jaden put Mary on the back of her Harley and off they went toward Illinois where Jaden had it on good authority that the lupins were aplenty.

Jones and Brown drove through the sleepy little town of Mount Pulaski at 8 AM on a Wednesday morning on their way to meet with Graham and Smith at Lake Springfield. With Brown at the wheel, the monotonous uneventful trip was starting to weigh heavily on him to the point of asking Jones if he’d like to drive.

It was not unusual for the translucent man to wake up alone. His small horse and obnoxious duck were always up before him, on the road before him and getting into all manner of trouble despite him. But on this bright Wednesday morning, the sun was up and it warmed him into pleasantness, a state of being he remembered as the Berlin Wall fell, when men and women of substance at least tried to right the wrongs of the past. There was even hope in failure and hope could sustain the translucent man on most days. Shaking off these grim thoughts, he rolled up his bedroll, looked to the southwest and started walking across the highway.

Jones hit the brakes hard and Jaden put the bike into a controlled skid. The car passed right through the translucent man as he casually walked across the road, down into the lupin filled ditch and up the other side and into a corn field. Jaden, coming from the opposite direction of the car, clipped the translucent man as she slid along the gravel shoulder, coming to a stop in the colorful ditch. While everyone checked everyone else for injuries, the translucent man approached Mary with a large bouquet of lupins and told her she had been ‘chosen’.


Myrtle was one of those people who didn’t need another person to carry on a riveting conversation, she just required someone in the general vicinity and the way she’d go. You know he’s a lot like you Basil, a veterinarian, of course he went to Cornell, he’s coming to UPEI in the fall to lecture for a whole week, all the way from New Orleans, imagine that…

Basil McCormik was standing inside the Hunter River Post Office looking out the large window at a colorful mob of lupins,  ‘imagining’ how long it was going to take Myrtle to find the parcel Mutt Jefferson sent him. Through their mutual friend, Frank James, Mutt was given Basil’s name as a person who might be able to analyze the junco blood now somewhere in the possession of Canada Post.

Between serving customers at the front counter and rummaging through recently arrived sacs of parcels, Myrtle continued to convey the virtues of her New Orleans nephew when finally, she shouted, “I found it.”



blog photo 191 birds in a treeWHAT IT IS

They are said to be responsible for destroying a miniscule amount of land compared to the habitats destroyed by humans and it has also been stated by some that they eat enormous amounts of fish, fish rightly destined for the palates of sports fishermen and other hungry fish lovers. Although they are not out in their boats casting gill nets, studying fish finders or dazzling the prey with shiny lures and scrumptious bait, cormorants are the new No. 1 enemy wildlife that we’re determined to “manage”.

Making a strong comeback after being decimated by DDT in the 1960’s, the newest method of cormorant control appears to be a fifty kill per day cull to keep these pesky little bastards in their place. To that end, INSECT agent and avid duck hunter, Sid Foster, readied his gear on the shores of Lake Erie and wouldn’t you know it, left sixty-one cormorants floating in the choppy waters by sundown.


It was supposed to be a quick detour but dragged out to be a long afternoon, a life saving experience and an odd little photograph that Sapphire became quite fond of. Driving down an old logging road north west of Temagami, Cricket spotted something out of place down a rocky overgrown road and decided to investigate. The deviation saw the driver’s side front wheel collapse a fragile piece of rock sending the truck sliding off solid ground into a mud filled pool of peat moss. Cricket pulled at his chin whiskers and declared he’d have the truck out within the hour and suggested Sapphire go for a walkabout to see what she could photograph.

Sapphire followed the sounds of running water, spotting and photographing several cormorants sitting awkwardly in a tree. Deciding to give her mechanically challenged brother a couple of hours to complete his task, she wandered along the stream coming to a bailey bridge where the water moved fast beneath the steel girders. While sitting on a rock below the bridge, Sapphire caught a glimpse of  a women running along the roadway then disappearing into the forest.  As she got to her feet for a better look she heard the sounds of someone splashing around into the swift moving current. Instinctively, Sapphire looked for a long branch, ran to where she could reach the person, then hauled her to safety. A thankful police officer, Jessica Potts, stretched out on the shoreline and regained her composure before both women headed back to find Cricket.

Cricket’s one hour assignment turned into four, and just as he  righted the truck back on to the road, the two water soaked women arrived.


blog photo 190 sunsetWHAT IT IS

Williams sat on the park bench, somewhat puzzled, even bewildered at the ability of a sandhill crane having the wherewithal to grab a sack of munks and fly away. His perplexing trance was abruptly shattered by Clive Clifford who arrived panting profusely as he had run some two miles to see Williams.

INSECT had poorly paid and seriously untrained ‘associates’ in most every state and Clive was one of three in Pennsylvania. Originally from Missouri, Clive was recruited by INSECT after his world fell apart when his hot air balloon business was shut down due to a tragic mid air accident that claimed the lives of several army veterans. Between deep breaths, Clive  explained to Williams he heard on the INSECT radio frequency about the munks and that he saw the crane landing near the township reservoir and they must hurry if they wanted the munks recaptured. Johnson showed up with the van and all three were off to find the munks.

Those black trees that look into the very last whispers of light shooting from the setting sun are not the same trees that stand in the rain, that bake in the hot noon sun, that get struck and broken from the lightning. The secretive transformation rides on the winds that rustle through the branches and when the winds don’t blow it is the almighty hand of the unknown that completes what must be done. Those sunset trees are the story tellers of the forest, they spin tales of the cicada, of raging fires, of woodcutters and they tell their stories during the dying seconds of the disappearing sun. That is when Williams thought he heard the three munks made good their escape.


Cinder Willoughby and Mutt Jefferson got what they came for, a smidgen of junco blood, a handful of junco feathers and some leg scrapings from four different birds. The task now was to get the samples analyzed and see why these Plot 82 refugees  survived.

Mutt dropped off Cinder at the St. Louis airport for a flight to Pennsylvania and he took the big rig to Michigan and his eventual destination of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Somewhere outside of Fort Wayne with the sun pushing down into the St. Mary’s river, Mutt first noticed a black SUV following him at a discrete distance. Within a half hour a fleet of Escalades and Explorers, green lights flashing and sirens whaling, gave notice to Mutt to pull over to the shoulder of the highway. INSECT agents in white hazmat suites and breathing apparatuses combed through his rig, cab and personal belongings looking for his junco samples.

Cinder Willoughby enjoyed the early morning walk past the modest houses with their well kept lawns and flower gardens. The morning air was fresh, the symphony of aromas from the lilacs filled his nostrils as he approached the small one story post office in Beaver Falls. He quickly glanced at the parcel he was carrying, destined for Hunter River he thought.



blog photo 189 Fox pupWHAT IT IS

This is how Hammer tells the story. His pet Polaca was born and raised on the tundra, a vast flat and treeless biome on Ellesmere Island. The cold, wind swept climate and the marvellous immensity of the land did not prepare the Polaca for the forests and confines of the south.

The results were predictable when the creature wandered into a campsite of five families enjoying a leisurely evening around the campfire. First twisting himself into a clothesline, the Polaca ran amok through tents, knocking over tables and chairs while being forever spooked by the underwear and t-shirts that followed him everywhere. He did a couple of passes around the campsite as campers dove for cover under cars, into trailers and anywhere that resembled reasonable shelter. For a moment all was quiet, the Polaca looked like a flea market as he wondered what to do next but the silence was quickly shattered by Missy, a rambunctious Shetland Sheepdog that barked incessantly at the intruder. Beyond irritated by the yapping, the Polaca walked deliberately toward the reversing dog, picked it up and placed it high in a tree.

The campers all agree it was the tranquil demeanor of the red fox pup that brought the conflict to a successful resolution. Showing up on the edge of the campsite, the pup lowered himself on to his front legs and made a soft murmuring sound that caught the attention of the Polaca. Both animals greeted one another with some caution, then walked off down the road.


It was Jessica Potts’ first day at her new detachment and the plan was to play it cool, don’t stand out, do a good job and make it home after the shift was complete. And that was what, more or less, happened on her inaugural day.

The sheer amount of thoughts that raced through her head in the few minutes that Melena Schulz pointed her Glock at her would forever astonish her. She was consumed with the idea of distraction. Once when cooking breakfast, she forgot to turn on the frypan and the eggs never quite survived. What of the index finger, too close to the nail head when the hammer arrives or looking absentmindedly into the spray can nozzle to see why it’s not working? Then there’s wearing a black shoe and a blue shoe complimented by the white sock and pink sock. Standing on top of a bailey bridge straddling the Bison River with a serious weapon pointing at you only a few feet away gave Jessica incentive to ponder the current need for a distraction

In retrospect, Jessica figured it was her open eyed reaction of seeing the fox pup near the bridge that caused Schulz to briefly turn around, but it was enough time for Jessica to jump into the swift moving water below.


blog photo 188 dancing craneWHAT IT IS

There was only one person she knew of that still writes in longhand. Jaden studied the white envelope, smiling at the large looping J’s, the exact forty-five degree slant of the letters and the tape measure placement of the dots above the i’s. She had not heard from her cousin Jack Sampson in many years but now it seemed he was reaching out for some reason.

The letter explained how Jack’s sister Mary regained her sight after a fall but was now losing her ability to speak as she became more and more reclusive, withdrawing into the natural world of wild flowers and birds and animals that inhabited the area around his farm. Jack was at the end of his rope: could Jaden take some time off work and come out to the farm.

Jaden fired up her Harley at 5AM and left New Orleans in the driving rain, arriving at Jack’s place that evening. She didn’t know why, she just cruised past the farmhouse, down a tractor trail to the large pond on the back forty. Mary stood watching a sandhill crane dance at the water’s edge and for a moment they seemed to dance together before the bird flew off.


Johnson and Williams had a two hour wait that could easily stretch into three hours and most likely turn into four hours as they waited for Miller and Davis to arrive at the Amtrak station in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Johnson was content to lay out in the back of the van, but a restless Williams decided the three munks would eventually chew through the burlap bag that was their prison, so he decided to go for a walk, find a pet store and buy a cage to house the little critters.

Williams grabbed the sack of munks and started walking in a random direction, not really sure where he was going or if he’d find what he was looking for. Friendly folks on the street pointed him in the direction of Lucy’s Pet Village and assured him she had a fine selection of Havahart cages. As random as his walk was, what happened next was equally random. Having finally decided on a cage, Williams walked up to the cashier to pay when a middle aged man in front of him pulled out a water pistol and demanded money from the register. It was all over in seconds, the robber was tackled by an off duty officer who identified himself as state patrolman Ned Doucet, but Ned was conked over the head with a large can of dog food and the robber escaped on a small child’s tricycle.

Williams walked along the sidewalk reliving the events until he came across a small stream with a most unusual name…the Coal Tar Run. He sat down on a bench along the stream, put the sack of munks down beside his legs and started reading the labels on the Havahart cage box. It was at about this time when a really large sandhill crane swooped down on the unsuspecting agent, grabbed the sack of munks in his ambitious beak and took off for parts unknown.


Ellie's Story ContinuesGraham was strutting around the Lake Springfield cabin like he had just won an Oscar. He received a text from agents White and Moore explaining how they successfully captured three sentient teddy bears and had them inert and stashed among regular teddy bears in a Walmart in New Liskeard. White was experimenting with a slightly altered chickadee call, amplifying the sound then blasting it as an ELF radio wave through a device dangling from a helicopter. The net effect was to vibrate the teddy bears out of their black velvet sacs where they slept and render them disorientated. Ground crews would then follow the path of the helicopter and scoop up the bears.

Ellie locked herself into Slim’s vast library on the fourteenth floor, coming out only occasionally to smell a tuna fish sandwich or other such morsel Slim’s staff put out for her. The little bear’s brain was bursting with cosines, antecedents, certitudes, historical certainties, classical literature, all in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of three admissions academics that would decide Ellie’s fate…tomorrow!

But, of course, tomorrow never really comes and when Ellie got wind of the fate of the three teddy bears she enlisted help from Pickles and they immediately telekinesed to Northern Ontario. It hit Ellie like a sac of hammers! As she sat on the roof of the McDonalds, next to the exhaust vent, she remembered the fairy from Ellesmere Island telling her to always rely on the rule of thirds. Ellie didn’t pay much attention to the advice; frankly, she had no idea what it meant, but on this day Ellie realized the fairy was telling her to use three black velvet sacs for protection from this new and ominous threat.

Ellie gave Pickles three sacs, told her where the helicopter was surveying the following day and wished her well. Ellie’s next move was to liberate the three captured teddy bears inside the Walmart. While Ellie rummaged through shelves of teddy bears she quickly realized the people running INSECT where not the sharpest tools in the proverbial shed. It is common knowledge that once a teddy bear has been granted sentientism one of the first thing the bear does is tear off it’s tags and barcodes as an acknowledgement of the new found status. Of all the bears only three had no barcodes, so Ellie stuffed them into a triple black velvet bag and telekinesed to the McDonald’s rooftop.