Water Music

Immediately upon awakening this morning I cast my eyes toward the open bedroom windows. In an instant 10,000 dandelions saw I at a glance! Then afterwards, from the drawing room onto the balcony overlooking the river, I further profited by lounging for a moment in the  yellow sunshine upon one of our new fabric deck chairs.

The Water Music (German: Wassermusik) is a collection of orchestral movements, often published as three suites, composed by George Frideric Handel. It premiered on 17 July 1717, in response to King George I’s request for a concert on the River Thames.

The first performance of the Water Music is recorded in The Daily Courant, the first British daily newspaper. At about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 17 July 1717, King George I and several aristocrats boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace, for an excursion up the Thames toward Chelsea. The rising tide propelled the barge upstream without rowing. Another barge, provided by the City of London, transported about 50 musicians who performed Handel’s music. Many other Londoners also took to the river to hear the concert. According to The Courant, “the whole River in a manner was covered” with boats and barges. On arriving at Chelsea, the king left his barge, then returned to it at about 11 p.m. for the return trip. The king was so pleased with Water Music that he ordered it to be repeated at least three times, both on the trip upstream to Chelsea and on the return, until he landed again at Whitehall.

It is easy to be overtaken by poetic splendour when greeted by the twirling sounds of red winged blackbirds and various unidentified insects on a balmy springtime morn. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists club is a local “passport to nature in the Mississippi Valley and Lanark County”.


The import from Europe of the starling and the English house sparrow in the latter part of the nineteenth century saw these cavity dwellers take over much of the availability of nesting holes that the bluebirds needed. Man’s intervention with man-made bluebird nesting homes helped greatly to re-establish these beautiful songbirds into our area. Many of the Peterson Bluebird boxes constructed and sold by MVFN have gone to property owners who have space to establish a bluebird trail. Other rural applications are possible, including establishment within and around a series of apple trees, the birds’ favourite habitat.

Our domain is central on the river, looking upriver to the Village of Appleton and looking downriver to the Villages of Blakeney and Pakenham. With the Old Town Hall of Almonte marking the barrier between the two, it constitutes overall an ideal exposure one which is enjoyed by others – such as those residing upon the Island or along the banks of the river as it meanders throughout the county.

# 1 Appleton and Mississippi River

How to Get There: From Carleton Place, go north on County Rd. 29 towards Almonte. Turn on Wilson St. towards village of Appleton, go through village of Appleton, over the bridge, then go left on River St. to bay and boat launch.

Observation Points: River viewing all along Wilson St. past the golf course. Check out golf course. Viewing at bay. Reverse and follow River Rd. to County Rd.17 (Appleton Sideroad) to look along Mississippi River.

Watch For: Open field birds along golf course, River Road and Appleton Sideroad. River and migrating ducks, loons, grebe, herons. Occasional bald eagle over river in bay. Warbling vireo nests in willows at bay. Martin house to east of bay. Swallows and shorebirds.

Seasonal Information: Good all seasons. Some open water in winter.

The natural vista afforded us from our 2nd floor balcony onto the Mississippi River included not only the stunning riparian inhabitants with wings but also a huge variety of insects (most of which we take for granted or ignore entirely). If I were ten years old and able to walk, it would be but a moment before I trundled along the soggy shoreline to uncover nature’s mysteries.

Dragonflies and damselflies are beautiful and truly fascinating creatures! From the Ebony Jewelwing to the Stygian Shadowdragon, these insects are not only an important part of our ecosystem, they are also exciting to watch. Colin Jones will be presenting a talk, complete with photographs, on the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ontario during which he will highlight their fascinating life cycle, their conservation, the habitats they are found in and the various citizen-science initiatives that you can get involved in to report your own records of dragonflies (and other insects).


“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”
By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.