A walk on the quiet side…

Exhilarating though it is to be (safely, and from a distance) facing into the teeth of powerful storms, or pretending to do so just after they pass, it is also quite exhausting. Nature’s noise and frenzy is exciting for sure, but sometimes it’s nice to wander on the quiet side.

Still

This is what we did last week, heading out in a different direction for our morning walk, on an almost dry day, stepping away from the coastal trails and across town to the inlet side.

Inner harbour

It’s rarely entirely calm, being so maritime, but on the inlet side it can get close to almost quiet. The rain had stopped, and the wind was barely there, as reflected in the still water. We saw a few ducks – my eyesight and identification skills aren’t up to positive naming – but they were fun to spot. One flew below us, past where we stood overlooking the inlet, a long graceful swoop and glide along the top of the water, a slight skimming wake created before setting down. Nice landing!

Touches of colour!

Although the day was muted and grey, we enjoyed the pops of colour from the floats on boats and the bright paintwork on the wooden and metal harbour railings.

Almost calm

We’ll head back out on the wild side for sure, but it was very pleasant to have the option of a walk on the quiet side!

The quiet side

Thanks for reading, and we hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Winter light

We’re just past the solstice and enjoying the winter light and the promise of more daylight hours. Hello winter!

Low winter sun

We’ve had rainy days, snowy days, grey days and a few golden days the past little while, all pleasant enough, and illustrated here in the accompanying photographs.

Snowy days!
Morning light

I’ll keep it very brief this week, as we send warm wishes to you for the season if you choose to celebrate, and hope you have a great time with family and friends, perhaps close to a forest, lake, beach, mountain or other preferred natural environment!

Brisk on the beach
Green days

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Good morning? I think so…

Way back when…

…I was a schoolboy, aged 10, my teacher was Mr. Ross Laugher (pronounced law, not laugh-er if you valued your recess time) and he was, initial impressions and appearances to the contrary, a lovely man. Over the years, I’ve been taught by, learned alongside, learned from, and taught or mentored dozens and dozens of wonderful educators, and of them all it was Mr. Laugher who came to mind as I was walking with Scout this morning.

Damp

I suspect he popped into my head because I remember him as being so enthusiastic about the natural world. Scout, as ever, was being enthusiastic about the natural world. It was a brisk and barely above freezing outing, and we were checking in with our favourite trees and inhaling the invigorating air, damp and mossy after the overnight rains. I think Scout maps the world through her nose. Light or dark, wet or dry, she has an unerring instinct when finding her way. Scout scouting!

A favourite tree

Back to Mr. Laugher. If you didn’t know him, or were apprehensive about moving into his classroom for your final year in elementary school, you might have thought he was a slightly forbidding and imposing figure. Bearded, gold wire rim spectacles, collar and tie, corduroy slacks, an array of sweater vests, and a brisk and purposeful way with movement and words, he induced a nervousness amongst pupils who weren’t taught by him. You’ve probably had teachers like that? They have a bit of a reputation for being fierce, but if you’re lucky enough to be in their class, it turns out to be a case of bark worse than bite? Ross Laugher was like that to me. It wasn’t that he couldn’t be strict – he was – but he was fair, and you knew where the lines were.

Bark? No!

He encouraged questions, looking up answers, reading, using the library, map making, experimentation, responsibility, common sense and using your senses. I don’t remember seeing him laugh or having a sense of humour, at least not with students, but he praised enthusiasm and effort.

Bark? Yes!

Friday afternoons in the upper elementary school were devoted to clubs. You could choose from (or were assigned based on seniority and if you had previously attended or not) cookery, clay, puppets (yikes, too scary, no thanks), bird club, needlework, painting, drama, music, model making and likely many others I’ve forgotten. Mr. Laugher ran the bird club and grade 5 me did not want to be there. It was bad enough thinking about the 50:50 possibility of being in his class for grade 6, so why run into him any earlier? For the record, in grade 6 I wanted to be in Mr. Lemaire’s class. He taught music, had that early 1970s rock band hair, flared trousers and no scary gold glasses. Like, cool, man.

Another favourite

Anyway, the education gods knew best, and I got Mr. Laugher in grade 6 and bird club not puppets the back end of grade 5. Bird club? Nooooo, I thought, that’s too square, man…We would go on walks through the school grounds, peering in hedgerows and up at trees, trying to spot nests, scaring birds off before we could identify them, then sitting with binoculars hoping the scared birds would return. We also looked for tracks, put up bird houses and filled feeders. Back in class, we were encouraged to draw maps to include what we’d discovered, and use reference books to identify what we thought we’d seen, then draw and/or paint any bird that we liked. (I was always rather taken by the storm petrel. Yup, I’d also like to know why…) For homework, we were encouraged to keep a bird spotting diary. Homework? For a school club?! Like, no, man…

Bird club

I would never have chosen bird club – in my young and shallow world view, Mr. Laugher would not be mistaken for my real role models, you know, a rock god or footballer – but it turned out it was all a good fit. Superstar sports and music ambitions aside, I was already enthused by maps, and had that odd childhood love of identifying and categorizing anything from cars and planes, to tanks and trains, so bird club made a kind of sense.

I even did the homework, making maps of our backyard and noting tracks and bird sightings. Robins, thrushes and sparrows mostly. Nope, no storm petrel. As we’re all enjoying these tales from the distant past, shall we add a few more details as I remember them of childhood me?

“Is he still talking about himself? I can’t bear to watch or listen…”

Outside of school clubs, I collected football stickers, had a brief flirtation with stamp collecting, was far too keen on old WWII movies, loved Viking, Greek and Roman myths and legends, anything Arthurian (reading this now, how did I not end up some kind of swivel-eyed right leaning loon?), tales of Robin Hood (phew, looks like I also had a leaning to the left and concern for fair redistribution of wealth from the 1%) and also spent time frequently modifying and falling off modified bicycles. I never enjoyed train-spotting, because that was for nerds. Yes, I know what some of the sentences before that describe, but c’mon, there are degrees of nerd…(Oh, ok, I might have been train-spotting once or twice with friends, and I might have enjoyed it. But we’ll keep that quiet?)

Misty, slightly faded

And once again back to Mr. Laugher. He opened my eyes to the natural world in my own backyard, school yard and neighborhood. He helped me see the small natural wonders and start to understand how they are actually rather large. He wasn’t the first or only person to do this. Parents and grandparents also encouraged a love of learning and sense of curiosity, and any number of family, friends and colleagues have also done so since. But as I said at the top, it was Ross Laugher who popped into my head this morning. And here we are, many years later, me the bearded teacher, sometimes requiring glasses, and corduroys in the closet. Talk about teacher influence… Wait a minute! No no, it’s ok, I don’t have a sweater vest. How could I? There’s only one Ross Laugher – an excellent teacher and role model, and in my mind, no one will ever rock a sweater vest the way he did…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

It was Spring…

…until it wasn’t!

We took a quick trip to Victoria last weekend, and for the first time in a long cold spell, it felt like Spring. The wind was gusting, but we found a sheltered spot outside a coffee shop, and it was very pleasant to be sitting in warm sunshine contemplating the late turn in the season.

Spring!

The next morning was grey, with a hint of rain in the air. That hint was misleading, because by the time we were heading back on the Malahat Highway, the rain had turned to snow, and snow was our intermittent companion all the way home.

Spring?!

Monday promised a touch of Spring. Without knowing it, I captured a stunning image of a hummingbird – I think the image below speaks for itself, and certainly shows how attentive I can be to the local wildlife.

Hummingbird – or smudge on lens?

Did Spring stick around, with a slow yet steady increase in temperatures? No. More snow, rain, hail, sleet, and fifteen seconds of sunshine has been the week since Monday morning. Very happy we won’t have to worry about melting Easter eggs this coming weekend…

Spring arrivals

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Here’s to warmer, hoppier days ahead…

Green

And maybe a little blue – the colour, not my mood…

Early morning lake – a little blue

I was sat in my car the other day, enjoying the rain, having timed the top of the hour construction traffic opening to perfection. After waiting for thirty five minutes, I congratulated myself on being early and adjusted expectations accordingly.

Enjoying the rain

At least the views were good, and I found myself thinking about the survival show “Alone” I’ve been watching the last few weeks. As in most things, I’m about seven seasons behind, and knew nothing about the show, so imagine my pleasant surprise when I discovered that the first two seasons (possibly others, I’ve yet to find out) were filmed just up the island! Very exciting, and it added a little extra something to my viewing, being so familiar with the landscapes, if not the challenges, the participants faced.

“Straight ahead, then turn right, paddle a day or so, and after that you’re on your own!”

Not every participant enjoyed the density of the coastal forest they found themselves alone in. I’ve never been truly alone in the forest, or as deliberately lightly (for want of a better word) equipped as they were. I’ve always found the forest to be beautiful, slightly intimidating, but not downright frightening, although it is a dangerous place, as most places can be with or without proper preparation.

Green

Anyway, I was sitting in the car, staring (in a moody yet cinematic way) at the wall of green to my left and wondering how long I could survive alone in that particular forest? The answer? Not long enough to win. I think maybe a week or two, if I avoided injuries, and convinced myself to eat enough fish, crabs, and seaweed to supplement the squashed mouse diet. Even though I’m a confirmed introvert through and through, I could not be by myself for the fifty something days I think the first winner completed.

Fifty something days? No problem! Without beer, you say? Wait a minute…

As the top of the hour came and went, and the traffic didn’t move forward, I began to wonder, peering through the rain soaked windshield, “Is there anybody in the vehicle in front, and the ones behind?” “Am I alone out here?” “Is this the start of an elaborate reality TV show that Mrs PC signed me up for and she forgot to tell me?” “I’m getting hungry – is that a mouse?”

Green and blue

And then the lights on the car in front came on, and it inched forward, the gate having reopened at the same time the door closed on a budding reality TV career. Fifty something + days? Yeah, I could do that…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Cool

Why thank you, but no, this isn’t about me.

We find ourselves in the midst of another heatwave, perhaps not as hot as the one earlier this summer, but still pretty warm for this little corner of the PNW.

Pretty

As a soothing balm to counter the sultry heat, I thought I’d post a few pictures from last weekend, when we wandered down Long Beach, and wondered where the promised sunshine might be?

Just over there?

We set out early, aiming to avoid the later in the day crowds, and the beach was quiet. Cool. So was the temperature, and we were happy to have sweaters and a second cup of coffee to take the edge off.

Helpful

Scout enjoyed the wide stretch of sand, running in crazed circles and digging many holes. Yeah, she digs the beach. Cool.

Yup, I’m cool

From our log perch, we saw small flocks of sandpipers working their way along the shore, the sudden flashes of white in banked flight brightening the day. Seeing sandpipers always brightens our day. We think they’re cool.

Brighter? Different day, different location, still cool..

It probably isn’t too cool to keep repeating cool, so I’ll leave it here for this week, a brief post, playing it coo- oh. Oops. Not cool.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Ready meal

A dead seal has provided plenty of nutrition to any number of birds this week.

“When is it my turn?”

We heard a commotion when a gathering of eagles started to make some noise just outside our learning space last Friday. Looking out over the tidal zone, we could see they were doing a dance around the dead seal. Well, not so much a dance, more they were setting the ground rules – or the table? – about who was going to eat first. It seemed the answer to that was whichever eagle could get away with it.

“Nope. I can’t watch you eating that…”

Oddly, the carcass was still there the following Monday. A bit more chewed up, but it hadn’t been dragged off, floated off or disappeared. It seemed anchored, and when the tide was low, eagles flew in, landed nearby, and waddled over to grab a tasty morsel or two. All the while, other eagles were in the vicinity, as well as gulls and a pair of kingfishers. On Tuesday, I saw a kingfisher dive down, snag a chunk and fly away, chased by another kingfisher determined to steal the goods. They flew in and out of the dock pilings, and back and forth over the water, a fine spectacle of chase and evade until they flew out of sight. I don’t know who came out the winner in that game…

Hanging in, and not handing anything over

It was quite some sight watching an eagle balancing on the body as the tide came up. It kept on eating as long as possible, until the seal was virtually submerged. A latecomer observing the scene would have been forgiven for thinking the eagle could walk on water. The eagle didn’t stick around, flying off before it got wet feathers.

“Quick! It’s our turn!”

The children and youth have been fascinated by the whole show, enjoying the comings and goings down by the shore. I missed when a bear came through, but was surprised to hear it didn’t take any interest in the dead seal. I’d assumed it would? Better pickings elsewhere, a well fed bear, or maybe it didn’t fancy taking on the feathered competition…

“Move along, young ones – it’s my turn!”

Anyway, I’ll leave it there for this week. If there are enough leftovers in the next few days, and I manage to get a shot or two, I’ll serve up a small dessert next time. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Piling on! (Don’t panic, it’s a love fest…)

Uh oh, is this a rant?! It is primary season, and it does seem there has been plenty of political piling on, in New England, around DC, in post-Brexit Britain (where Brexit “got done!” – Really?! Oh please…) and elsewhere in the infernal news cycles. No, no rant, if I stop this paragraph now.

Love is in the air! How about a list of loves? Yes? OK!

Canada (a small corner – the piling on the right is a kingfisher hunting spot)

Friends and family, Canada, camping, the natural world, beer, camping with beer, coffee, camping with coffee, books, movies, Scout! I could go on, but we’d all grow tired.

Beer (good for camping)

This week, I have loved seeing a belted kingfisher ruling the inner harbour here. I spy him on gangway railings, perched on a hemlock bough, and best of all, up on a piling and ready to dive. He truly is a king fisher, an absolute champion, and a regular delight on recent harbour walks.

Kingfisher (old photo, but it’s the same bird – I can tell by the hair!)

I’ll keep it brief, only adding I love that you’ve taken the time to stop by and read this. That is always appreciated! Alright, it’s getting awkward now. All far too warm and fuzzy this week – I’ll aim for a tougher stance next time. Thanks, and have a wonderful weekend!

Scout! (Good and ready for any adventure!)

Shelter

In between work locations last Friday, I opted to take my coffee down to the lighthouse and check out the waves.

Wave check

It was a wild and windy day, with the rain blowing in sideways, and I had to shelter under a sturdy tree to steady myself and snap a few pictures before giving up and simply enjoying it all.

A good place

Above, two tough gulls were braving the elements. One swooped down below the rocks and out of sight, and the other seemed to be hanging still in the face of the wind. I think it was testing itself, like a kayaker riding a wave crest and appearing to be fixed in place. What a sight, what a gull!

We did finally get a dry day yesterday, and it was good to step outside and feel some sun on our faces. It was also nice to get home after a walk with Scout and not have to find a towel from our dwindling supply to dry her off. Looking ahead, it seems we’re in for a cold snap – cold for the coast, anyway – so we’ll be hoping for a dusting of snow on the hilltops, and to do some brisk hiking before heading home for a well deserved glass of something good…

Hoppy to see you

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!