Complaints? Not on a golden day!

I hear it has been a tad chilly across much of North America. I know this because my brother sent me an email the other day, asking if we could please take back the Canadian weather that has found its way into Maryland? Actually, he didn’t ask nicely, he wrote something along the lines of “take back this #*@%ing winter weather, my thermometer is reading -5F, I don’t know or care what that is in Celsius, but it is *#@%ing cold!” Well, I couldn’t believe that language from young brother PlaidCamper.

fullsizeoutput_502
Not cold, no wind chill
I do like snow, but I’ve been quite happy to miss the recent cold snap in Alberta, with the -25C (before factoring in windchill. Yikes!) Young brother PlaidCamper did once visit us in Alberta in midwinter, but I can’t repeat what he said on here. Oh, alright, just a snippet:

“#*^% $#@^ *&^% @#$% your winter!” Goodness me…

We were born in Britain, so talking and complaining about the weather is part of our genetic make up. Can’t possibly talk about emotions or feelings – perish the thought! – but we can say how the weather makes us feel. In dear old Blighty, that was generally miserable due to the cold and wet. Stereotype wildly? Me? Pish! Anyway, I knew I should help him out – I simply couldn’t bear the thought of him suffering and complaining about the cold. I sent him a few pictures taken on Wednesday this week, to add a precious ray of sunshine, show some brotherly understanding, try and thaw him out just a little (but mostly to annoy him and see if he believed I was in the True North!) Pretty sure his temperature went up.

DSCF6454
Not cold, helpful
I couldn’t quite believe it myself. Warm sunshine and sitting on a beach late afternoon and into the evening, watching the sun set over the Pacific. Outdoors in January, in Canada, and I had to remove my toque, haha! Normally at this time of year, I only remove the toque to wash my hair or put on a snowboard helmet. My locks were blowing free in the sea breeze. Or they would have been, but male pattern baldness has put a stop to that. Yup, no hat, it was too warm. It isn’t often I can say I’m in Canada and in one of the warmest places in North America in January. I made sure young brother PlaidCamper knew that, let him bask second hand in the warm glow I experienced. I’m always happy to help.

DSCF6472
Not cold, warm glow, slight breeze
Young brother PlaidCamper is planning a visit to Vancouver Island later in the year. We’re going to paddle and camp and sing songs around the fire. Hold on, what about that British reserve in our genetic make up? Quite right – we’re going to paddle and camp. I’ve said we’ll be camping in the woods. Best not tell him it is a rainforest. I haven’t mentioned the rain – I only send him photographs I’ve taken on sunny days – and I haven’t mentioned the rather low daytime highs in the summer. And I think I’ll keep quiet about the fog…

fullsizeoutput_501
Not cold, no fog
Thanks for reading – I hope you are keeping pleasantly warm wherever you are this weekend!

DSCF6451
Not cold, no rain in this forest…
PS It has started to rain and looks set to stay that way for the next few days – don’t tell my brother.

IMG_20171228_133950
The merest, barely discernible hint of rain (and slightly chilly?) Don’t say anything

Rushing out, rushing in

My goodness, time appears to be flying by – and as we are all busy, I’ll keep it brief this week! Having said that, let’s slow down a little…

IMG_20171223_152158
Farewell 2017

Can you hear it? Is that the sound of the year rushing to a close? The sun setting on 2017? If your watch is digital, and your clock doesn’t tick, does time have a sound? We’re at that point with the turn of the year when many like to look back and peer forward, a combination of reflection and anticipation. Tick and tock.

Clockwork and mechanical noises aside, how about enjoying the passage of time and measuring it differently – perhaps in the tides rising and falling on a beach? Forget about seconds and minutes, and human precision. Slow down a bit, and feel the flow of water to experience time passing. Time as a current, and as currency – it’ll pass and can be spent in different ways. I look forward to finding some time and space in a thawing lake, in the flow of a spring river, a light summer rain shower, those autumnal fog banks rolling in, or in a winter snowstorm or coastal downpour. The anticipation of time being well spent…

fullsizeoutput_4f0
Rushing in

Why all the water this week? We’re at the coast, and water is never far from where you are on the Ucluelet peninsula. Inlet or ocean, puddles and streams, rain or fog, we’ve experienced them all this week, and it is a water world for sure. We’ve also enjoyed some bright days too, striding along Long Beach, keeping warm with a brisk pace in temperatures nosing just a touch above freezing. There’s beauty out here in any weather!

fullsizeoutput_4f2
Frosty (yuletide and high tide) logs

We want to wish you good health, peace, lots of slow time and space to spend exploring and enjoying the natural world (rain or shine!) this coming year.

We also want to thank you for finding the time to read OldPlaidCamper – we really appreciate that you do, and enjoy all the stories and comments shared.

fullsizeoutput_4f1Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy New Year!

 

A little detour (waiting for winter)

I got all excited a few weeks ago because there was an early blast of winter at the start of November. Since then it has been somewhat disappointing (if you enjoy snow) with barely a flurry and higher than average temperatures. Several Chinooks have eaten what snow there was, and the forecast for the next couple of weeks doesn’t hold much promise. Still, being so close to the mountains, that could change…DSCF6034

Oh yes, the mountains, there’s snow out there! A few weeks ago we took a little detour in Mount Revelstoke National Park, and drove up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, wondering if there’d be snow up top in early October, and looking for a place to eat a picnic lunch. We didn’t see snow, but we did have expansive views and fall colours to enjoy, and there was a hint of snow on higher peaks all around.DSCF6026

The Parkway is a very pleasant drive. In summer there are meadows of wildflowers, but I’m told there are also large crowds, so go early or late in the day. Or go in the shoulder seasons, when flowers aren’t likely, but it’ll be quiet, as it was on the day we were there. DSCF6029At midday, there were only a few other cars sharing the winding switchback road to the top. There is a change from cedar rainforest on the low slopes to alpine fir and spruce, and at the top you’ll find fragile high alpine growth. There are a few short loops and there and back trails to explore. The summit trail was closed due to a bear in the area. It’s lovely up there, and home to a few happy bears, not that we saw any.DSCF6019

A quick trip back to earlier this fall, and a time when we were anticipating snow. Let’s hope December delivers – once the fall colour is gone, it’s best to put on some snow!DSCF6030

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Monstrous!

It’s time for something scary. What follows is terrifying and true. True-ish. It isn’t quite Hallowe’en, but near enough, so I thought I’d share an irrational fear of mine. That could be quite a long list, but no worries, I’ve chosen just the one. It’s not easy to confront a fear, but I think this post could be therapeutic.

DSCF6150
How is this scary, PlaidCamper?

That’s right! I don’t enjoy going in the water! Or to be more precise, I don’t like what comes out of the sea. Now, I’ve watched Jaws many times, and love the movie – but not the sequels, they are scary for all the wrong reasons – yet I don’t have a fear of sharks. I’m not afraid of sea lions, sea otters are beyond cute, whales are wonderful, and seals are just fine too. So what is the problem? It’s the tangling terror and sliminess of seaweed, the near-invisible wobbliness of jellyfish. Sea slugs? Eek! Don’t even get me started on the large staring eyes of a squid. I could go on, and I probably will…

Image 1
The stuff of nightmares

For me, a lot of underwater creatures are too alien, and not in a friendly E.T. way. It’s like they’re from another world, clearly because they’re almost from another world. A waterworld. (Kevin Costner’s gills were scary, weren’t they?) I do understand that many people love the other-worldly appearance of sea creatures, but it is a world too far for me. I like to be on the water but not in it.

DSCF6250
A beautiful water world

Mrs. PC knows I have issues with some forms of under-the-sea life. She encouraged me to visit the Ucluelet Aquarium with her. The aquarium is very well regarded by people who know about these sort of things. She went without me the first time (I was very busy that morning, with something very busy and important that needed my undivided attention) to see if it would be ok for me to go there. She came back very impressed, said I’d like it. Friends visited the aquarium (I was busy that morning, too) and came back very impressed, and couldn’t believe I’d not been there – they said I’d like it. I was beginning to suspect a plot, some sort of intervention or shock therapy treatment, but maybe that’s how fear gnaws at you, makes you paranoid. My mother visited the aquarium (yup, busy) and came back very impressed. Apparently, I’d like it.

DSCF6185
The Froth! My movie treatment is scarier than The Fog, and I don’t understand why Hollywood hasn’t called me back

I caved. I visited the aquarium, and was very impressed. A catch and release aquarium full of exotic looking sea monsters – I mean creatures. The young marine biologists working there are notably enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their marine charges. Some of the specimens are housed in touch tanks (no chance) and all are displayed quite brilliantly. On my visit, small children darted here and there (rather like the small fish in some tanks) going from tank to tank, clearly excited about each exhibit. The adults seemed pretty thrilled too, but I was beginning to struggle. I lasted about twenty minutes, and then had to leave, sweaty of palm, light of head, and needing the cool air. It was the octopus that did it, clambering and tentacling (that’s a word, now) menacingly along the glass towards me. Even now, I shudder. Mrs. PC is talking about a seasonal aquarium membership, and I’m lining up a rewards card for the nearby coffee shop.

I love monster movies, and a particular favourite is John Carpenter’s version of The Thing. The special effects were very special for this nerdy young PlaidCamper back in the day. All those spidery legs and oozing intestinal items. Gross and cool when you’re a teen. The thing is, haha, whenever I see twisted piles of bull kelp washed up on the shore, I can’t help but think of The Thing. No, going back to the aquarium won’t help…

Image 2
The Thing? Look, if it scared Kurt Russell, then it’s ok to be afraid…

I don’t know where the problem started. Are the issues rooted in childhood? I do remember not enjoying rock-pooling with my grandfather on Sheringham beach when I was very young. Yes, what an ungrateful young PlaidCamper. And I hated taking the short cut through “smelly alley” in Reading, preferring the long way round rather than having to inhale the aromas coming from several fishmongers. Then there was the time I was really, really thirsty at the beach, probably after several hours of rock-pooling fun. I was so thirsty, I gulped a couple of huge – huge! – mouthfuls of clear water from a lovely looking pool (I didn’t know it was salt water until I threw up mere seconds later – experiential learning…) Oh, and I have a memory of one of my brothers eating a tadpole. That could mess with your mind, couldn’t it?

No doubt the complicated causes of my sea terrors are beyond the scope of science and modern medicine to explain. I like to think so! As if I’d exaggerate a slight dislike for the way seaweed can get tangled in your legs. A fear of sea monsters? Me? C’mon! Actually, sea monsters would be cool, because they’re not real, unlike seaweed and squid…I’m not going back to the aquarium.

Image
Facing my fears

Let’s leave it there, as I’m starting to feel slightly lightheaded. If Hallowe’en is your thing, then do enjoy it. I’ll be cowering indoors – what if one of the local children comes knocking, and they’re dressed as The Little Mermaid?

Thanks for reading, feel free to share an irrational/slightly made up fear for Hallowe’en, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Logging some beach time…

A very brief post this week, looking back at what might have been the last warm days for a while.

As I write this, the rain is heavy and winds are high, reminding me it is well into fall now, and storm season is upon us. Big waves and high tides with large surges, best observed from a distance. Anyway, back to those warmer days…DSCF6139

Yes, those first few early October days were pleasantly bright and sunny, so we made the most of them by visiting Long Beach several times. Easy walking on long stretches of sand, with a fine choice of logs inviting us to sit and watch the surf.DSCF6163

I love being on this beach, with the dunes, then the trees facing the ocean, and the distant mountains to the north. It’s so unlike anywhere else we know and, rain or shine, is always a delight to visit. Each time we stay a little longer than we planned, surprised at how much time has passed when we pick ourselves up to leave. DSCF6155My theory is the wave action is slightly hypnotic, at least on a calmer day, and you end up forgetting to check the time. Soothing sounds, and I’ve been known to drop off, nodding and drooling. That’ll be the old in OldPlaidCamper. Nothing wrong with that, and with beaches this empty, no witnesses!

DSCF6167
“Is that the drooling guy again?”

Changing tack, I wanted to note a sad day we all knew was coming happened earlier this week, with the passing of Gord Downie. Musician, activist, actor, poet, Gord Downie chronicled Canada in words and music.  For the good, the bad, or the bizarre, he loved Canada, and sang from the heart in his quavering, growling, and sometimes slightly fragile voice.DSCF6161

We were lucky enough to catch The Tragically Hip in Calgary on their “We Are the Same” tour. Sometimes, it seemed they were always touring, and there would always be another time if you missed them. You had to see it to believe it watching the band perform – they gave everything. I’ll miss his “requisite strangeness” although he’s left a fine catalogue of work to remember him by, and his mission that Canada should aim high for all Canadians. I’ll leave you this week with one of their songs – and it was so difficult to settle on just one – Wheat Kings – The Tragically Hip

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

A big little bird

A little ball of feathers that sure was a fun shore bird to watch. This week, a short post about a tiny bird (one of Mrs. PC’s favourites – we have framed prints and tea towels to prove it!)

We were wandering along Terrace Beach, Ucluelet, enjoying the day, and keeping an eye out for a pair of bald eagles we’d seen earlier that week. Spotting a bald eagle is always a thrill, and if you’re out on the west coast of Vancouver Island, you’ll often see one or more most days if you’re looking. Or even if you’re not.DSCF5855

We sat down on a log – we seem to do a lot of that – to listen to the waves wash up onto the shore, and eat a small snack. We seem to do a lot of that, too. He was well camouflaged on this particular part of the shore, but we eventually spied a little Western Sandpiper – he had probably been there quite a while before we saw him. Well, once he was in our sights, what fun he was to observe.

DSCF5728
Sat on this one
He scurried on busy little legs just ahead of and across each set of waves, foraging for food in the sand and seaweed. Unperturbed by our presence, he worked the shoreline mere metres from where we were sitting, back and forth with admirable intent, stocking up for a lengthy flight to come. Tiny in size, but huge in heart! (I know, an overactive imagination and anthropomorphism, but I can’t help it…)

DSCF5856
Irresistible!
On previous days, we had most often seen these sandpipers in small flocks. I like the flash of white as they speed along the beach, making fast turns and flying in short bursts. For the time we saw this one, he appeared to be a solitary bird. Maybe it needed some down time away from the hustle and bustle of flock life? Maybe we simply missed the other birds or they arrived later? No, he was the lone ‘piper, out on a purposeful mission. There I go again…DSCF5855

We arrived searching for big birds, but left happy (a particularly happy Mrs. PC) having seen this big-hearted and beautiful little bird!

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Mud and silver – treasure!

A few weeks ago we wandered onto the edge of some Tofino tidal mudflats, wondering what we might see. Taking care not to disturb habitat, and squelching about, we uncovered riches in the mud – we discovered silver. An incredible trove right under our noses. We hit the mother lode! (I’d best come clean here, although you’ve probably already guessed…)

Faces in the mud?

What wealth was found? Silver? Yes and no. Not the fill your pockets and consider yourself materially wealthy kind of silver. The treasure was finer than solid silver – if your mind works that way.

What a world of wonder!

The early morning mist had cleared, and the tide receded. The sun shone down on the flats and they glittered and sparkled. The mud was dazzling! A silvery sheen and shine, and what was a beautiful sight became even more so. It almost hurt to look at it.

It is so quiet on the inlet side, a marked contrast to the constant surf sounds of the Pacific not so far away. You can hear the movement of water, the mud oozing and shifting. The air is rich, earthy and salty, full of life. The water rises, the water falls, and the landscape changes constantly. It is a fragile environment, one that sustains an astonishing diversity of life. It is Planet Food. Creatures wriggle, burrow, scuttle and buzz in, on, over, and under the mud.

Look down, and it is delicate and intricate immediately under your feet. Look up, and it is vast and seemingly unending as you stare into the distance. What a place to be!

The silver disappeared as the sun moved through the sky, changing angle. It became less silver, but no less of a treasure. Two children were exploring the flats, perfectly immersed in their tasks and surroundings, unplugged yet completely connected. Imagine seeing such finery and it isn’t artificial, superficial, gaudy or brash. A huge treasure you can’t (or shouldn’t) keep and covet, or own in an acquisitive way. It isn’t for that.

Still treasure

Natural treasures large and small are all over the planet and never that far away for most of us. They have a value and importance beyond financial numbers. They aren’t possessions, but responsibility for them belongs to all of us. Imagine if we changed our thinking about what value means, what wealth means. Is it possible we could already be rich, living on this giant ball of amazing value? It’s there if you choose to see it.

Treasure hunters at play – can you see them?

Treasure beyond measure! I know, I know – there are harsh economic and political realities for billions on the planet – but allow me some out of touch tree-hugger wishful thinking. It doesn’t have to be this way. Must’ve inhaled something leaking from that mud…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!