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!)

Log? Dog? Soup?

Check, check, and check!

Other than a brief snowy interlude, the past two months have seen rain, rain, and rain. So much rain! Then, the other day, there was a hint of sun, a short glimpse of spring, so we made the most of a lunchtime trip to the beach.

Logs

Although the temperature was actually colder than the norm – according to the reading on the Jeep, it was 2C – it felt warm as we drove off, sun streaming in through the windows. I had to blow dust and cobwebs off the sunglasses. This was sunshine!

Dog!

Scout was very happy, nose at the small gap in the rear window, enjoying the warmed up damp scents wafting in as we headed to the beach.

Soup and log

The beach! It looked like a water colour painting, where an enthusiastic artist had loaded the brush and said “this is going to look wet!” It did, with the sun slightly hidden behind an offshore haze and the tide in retreat. The blue skies were behind us and above the trees as we sat on just the right log, and enjoyed just the right soup. Homemade tomato and lentil, if you were wondering. Not Scout’s favourite, so perfect for a beach outing, where the dog can dig under the log, and you enjoy your soup dog nose free…

Water colour

What a break, what a delight, and how it seems a distant memory already. As I write this, the rain has returned, but the promise of a few sunnier days is in the two week forecast. We have our checklist – log, dog, and soup! I’d best start cooking…

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

Apocalyptic!

An attention-grabbing heading, even if the reality was somewhat less exciting.

How about Ukeepocalypse? Or the UkeeVeggieFamine? We survived both, you know…

If you’ve read along for the past couple of years, you might remember that just up the road from us a road construction project is ongoing. A small project in many other places perhaps, but actually quite a big deal here, and quite an impactful one at that.

Rainfall? Here?

The twisting highway really narrows at Kennedy Lake, and in poor weather with low visibility, it is a dangerous spot for drivers. Sadly, there have been fatalities in the past. The Kennedy Hill project will eventually result in a wider and safer road. For almost two years, construction has caused many planned and unplanned highway closures. Rock blasting has sometimes taken out the power lines to the coast, rainfall has caused mudslides, and just over a week ago, blasting caused a fall that took too much rock and ended with a part of the road collapsing and falling into the lake below. Oops.

Questions started to fly. Will the road reopen today? Tomorrow? Before the weekend? After the weekend? Ever? What about emergency services if needed? Deliveries of food and gas to the stores? That essential gadget from Amazon? Will we be abandoned? Cut off from civilization? (One can hope…) Wasn’t the snow last week enough? Was that an earthquake? Yes it was. What next? Locusts?

Snowmageddon?! Hardly

Locusts? Some did get a little overexcited, and shopped like it really was the apocalypse. Although, if it really is the apocalypse, isn’t the deal one goes looting, rather than lining up to pay for dwindling goods and services? So not completely out of control then.

Living out here, there is an expectation households can manage for themselves for 72 hours should there be a tsunami evacuation or power outage. This allows emergency services to focus on priorities. The local store really was emptied out of fresh produce rather too quickly. Why panic buy? Do you love broccoli that much? Really? Maybe events will have prompted some to be a bit better prepared for the future…

There were some amusing posts on the community pages

In the end, a temporary bridge was put in place over the yawning chasm, and I’m looking forward to driving over it once some heavier vehicles have made it through safely. The road reopened – as much as it has ever been open in recent times – before the end of the weekend, and what passes for normal service has been resumed. Broccoli is once more in store, and the local deer population looks much relieved. Yawning chasm?! Dramatic, just like the apocalypse should be.

Yawning chasm? Well, I wouldn’t get too close to the edge – and there is not much underneath

I survived the Ukeepocalypse…phew! I hope there’s a t shirt coming.

Calmer days ahead?

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend.

“I want it to snow and snow…”

“It’s snowing! It’s snowing!”

Really? I waited for a few seconds, and looked very, very carefully. There! On my sleeve, was that a snowflake? Yes! And then another and another. Snowing? Maybe.

“See? It’s snowing! It’s snowing!”

“Well, there are some flakes falling from the sky, so, yes, it’s snowing!”

“Yes! Can we build a snowman?”

“Erm, let’s wait, see how much snow falls…”

“I want it to snow and snow and snow!”

Several hours later.

“When will it actually begin to, you know, pile up?”

“Maybe overnight. We’ll check it out tomorrow, ok?”

“And build a snowman?”

“And build a snowman!”

It snowed and snowed! A bit.

The following day.

We built snow caves for our toy wolves. We re-enacted the plane crash from “Hatchet” (yes, the story takes place in high summer, but if you’re pretending to be a small bush plane crashing in the northern wilderness, snow is ideal for a soft landing – I mean, crash) and we built a snowman.

We also created a scene showing Brian being bitten by a swarm of mosquitoes, and this seemed a very strange thing to be doing in swirling snow. The results looked like something from a Nordic noir crime scene:

A boy covered in mosquitoes? If you squint…

The next day.

“Can we go inside now? I’m cold. We could stay indoors, read some more of the book. I don’t like snow that much. Is it going to rain tomorrow? I like the rain!”

“Would you like it to rain and rain and rain?”

“I like the snow!”

It has rained. Rain. Rainy-sleet. Sleety-rain. Snow. Snow-rain. Rain-snow. Back to rain. Then more rain. Brian washed away.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Sunshine and snow

Fifteen minutes…

…of fame? Goodness, no – the very thought makes me shudder.

No, fifteen minutes is about the amount of sunshine we’ve seen here in the last few weeks. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not by much!

I can’t stop, it’s going to rain in fifteen minutes!

We went for a wander on New Year’s Day, somewhat surprised, and pleasantly so, that the rain had stopped for the afternoon. Well, for an hour or two. We threw on raincoats and Wellington boots, and took a turn about Ucluelet.

Is that blue sky over there?

By the time this is posted, the rain will have returned – as much as another 200mm since Wednesday, so we will be looking back at this brief walk and remembering our fifteen minutes!

Rain in those clouds? Surely not…

A speedy piece this week, but not as speedy as our dashing out and about through the showers will be the next few days, weeks and months, if the forecast is to be believed! Indoor time, beer and books it is.

If I must

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.

Fog

Fog. A very brief post this week, written mere minutes after seeing the exit poll prediction following the close of voting back in the UK. People there are waking up on Friday the 13th, and it’s like it is Friday the 13th. Hmm. So, does this result show a nation seeking to be kinder, caring and more compassionate after the last ten years? Seems like a turkey really would vote for Christmas…

I have a few photographs from last weekend, when we went for a foggy and calm stroll along the coastal paths. It was quiet out and about, muffled, with most noise coming from the lighthouse siren, and it was pleasant to have the trails pretty much to ourselves. Wandering along, mind bouncing around from topic to topic, and continually coming back to asking would UK voters really vote in large numbers for a party that inflicted a decade of austerity? No, surely not…

Looks like they did, and I feel for for all the citizens not fooled by Brexit lies and promises of unicorns frolicking in the sunny uplands of a bright Brexity British future. With apologies to genuine circus clowns, the apparent electoral “success” of various political clowns in many places around the globe leaves me bemused, and quite convinced that some clowns are scarier than even Stephen King’s imaginings.

“Unicorns? Really? No, you’re just messing – right?”

Solace will be taken in remembering we’re so very fortunate to be living in western Canada – acknowledging the faults and all to be found here – and we will be setting out on our coming weekend hikes feeling slightly despondent, but sending good vibes to friends and families back in Blighty who were hoping for something better. Fog. Fog it. Fogging unbelievable.

A glimmer of light on a very (very) distant horizon…

Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend!

Light and dark

Day and night, morning and evening, good and bad, lager and stout.

I could almost leave it there (I know, but I won’t!) as this about describes our trip to Victoria last weekend.

Distant (somewhat hidden) mountains

If you’re going to spend some time in a city, then Victoria is a pretty good one. Much is made of the relatively warm and dry climate, and we were lucky enough to have a mostly dry weekend. Not sunny, but dry. Other Victoria plus points? Waterside location, distant mountains, not too big, a mostly walkable downtown, many coffee shops and microbreweries, and the rather lovely Royal BC Museum.

BC Parliament building, Victoria

We stayed at Spinnakers over in Esquimault because it is only a short waterside walk from the downtown. At night, the lights reflecting on the water was a sparkly sight, and by day there’s always a floatplane taking off or landing, as well as various marine craft large and small. Spinnakers claims to be the oldest craft brewery in Canada, producing decent beer since 1984. I believe Mrs PC suggested we stay there, and after much protest, I agreed.

Oh alright, if I have to…(but not the cider or sours)

The beer menu is quite substantial, although once I’d ruled out sours and ciders, it all became manageable. Mrs PC enjoyed their Pilsner, I preferred the Original Pale Ale. And the Scottish ale. And the PNW ale. And the imperial stout. And the nut brown. Anyway, enough about breakfast.

Really?! Looks chilly.

Should you find yourself in Victoria, can I recommend the First Peoples gallery at the museum? Excellent displays depicting life pre and post European contact, with thoughtful and thought-provoking exhibits. Many items included original language as well as English explanations, and it was a joy to hear the language out loud. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but the connection to – and respect for – land and sea came over as common sense time and again. We’ve lost so much, yet could still look back to find a model to help us move forward, environmentally speaking. Oh, and while we’re using common sense, let’s include total respect for ancestors and elders. Who’d have thought?

Taxi!

Enough of the preaching, because you’re probably desperate to know which beer was my favourite? Being a decisive sort, and after much consideration, I think it was the Original Pale Ale. No, the PNW ale. No, the stout, or was it the nut brown? The Scottish? My memory is failing me here, so I’ll have to go back for another visit, put in some proper research time. I think Mrs PC will insist on staying there again. Oh well…

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

Royal BC Museum

Spinnakers

Canadian Thanksgiving

A brief post this week as we head into a very welcome long weekend.

Lighthouse after sunset

So much to be thankful for! Living in western Canada is something we appreciate every single day. A remarkable location, an exciting diversity of people, and it rarely rains or snows out this way. Two out of three isn’t bad, and actually, the rain and snow make the landscapes what they are.

Whiskey Landing fire water

We always enjoy celebrating this holiday. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but that won’t stop me writing it again – we first arrived in Canada just before the Thanksgiving weekend, and were completely unfamiliar with this holiday. We ventured out from our Calgary hotel into the downtown, and couldn’t understand why it was so quiet everywhere. A city of one million, but it didn’t seem anything like it. Where was everybody? At home with friends and family, giving thanks for being in Canada? Perhaps.

“Didn’t you say that last Thanksgiving?!”

Back at the hotel, our room was upgraded, because the person who showed us to the room had thought we couldn’t possibly spend any amount of time in such a small space. Small? It was bigger than some apartments we’ve lived in! A wonderful introduction to Canadian hospitality, we were made to feel welcome over and over.

Ucluelet – derived from Nuu-Chah-Nulth for “safe harbour”

Canada has a poor history when it comes to indigenous peoples, but it is working to acknowledge past wrongs and create a better future for all – old and new Canadians alike. There’s a long, long road to travel, but we’re very happy to share at least a part of that journey. So much to be thankful for!

Pretty bright ahead

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Digging it

Really digging it. And no stone left unturned. A little more detail this week to follow up on last week. This one is a bit preachy – that’s a heads up, not an apology…

Digging it

The students I was with were really digging being scientists. From a plankton tow, to measuring sea salinity and water temperatures, to searching for intertidal wildlife, the young ones showed they really, really care about the place they live, even if some of the creatures they were looking for can’t easily be seen with the naked eye.

Sooo cute?! I think so…

Plankton! Phytoplankton! Zooplankton! These little plants and critters are sooo cute (not my words, but I understand the sentiment) and utterly astonishing when viewed under a microscope. We all – quite rightly – get alarmed by the rate at which forests are clear cut, slashed and burned, and generally mistreated in the name of resource extraction, worried that these acts of destruction are steadily ruining the “lungs” of the planet. Last week, students learned from their instructors that forests contribute approximately one third of the Earth’s oxygen. The other two thirds? Yup, you guessed it, from marine plants, and particularly or significantly from phytoplankton. The larger lung of the planet, absorbing carbon and producing oxygen, the all important base of the aquatic food chain, these tiny plants perform a mighty task. Good thing we’re being so kind to the oceans…

On the ocean, in the ocean

Students enjoyed seeing aquatic life through microscopes, in laboratory touch tanks, and even better, out on and in the ocean waters. By exploring, seeing, touching, drawing, identifying and naming a variety of marine life, the students came to care (more) about their local environment, and see how what is local and necessary for them is also local and necessary for everywhere else and everything else.

Think green, go on, dive right in

These young ones, they see the connections, can follow a line from the smallest creatures to the largest, from the bottom of the ocean floor to the high edge of our atmospheric envelope. Lofty stuff, and here’s hoping their caring example is enough to maintain, restore and protect our precious planet. Forget about the childish adults denying a climate crisis and belittling those (young and old) who care to hear the truth of science and dare to suggest solutions. Instead, aim to support the next generation of scientists and activists, the young people inheriting our woeful environmental legacy, and hope for them that they have enough time to act to secure a sustainable future.

Passing through, like we all are…

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

Wizard Island

This isn’t a post about elves or unicorns (or hobbits) – phew – but how about some magic? I will, due to being rather tired, be very brief this week, and I promise to write something a bit more detailed next week.

Leaving Bamfield, and we’re off to Wizard Island

I was on Wizard Island – yes, really – earlier this week, learning alongside a small group of students, splashing about in the intertidal zone, slipping on seaweed and scraping hands and knees on barnacles. We were being scientists, uncovering then sharing our discoveries, beaming our explorations live to students at UVic, and generally having a fine old time in the middle of Barkley Sound.

As far as these students were concerned, we were in (on?) the best possible classroom, transported there in a small aluminum boat, past bald eagles, basking seals, foraging bears, and with the prospect of a humpback whale sighting. We were lucky enough to spot three humpbacks spouting on our trip back, and I wish you could have seen the students when this happened! Such excitement, because we were relatively close, and this excitement from young ones quite used to spotting whales from the shore.

Barkley brilliance

All this and their first ever media appearance before 10 o’clock in the morning. Not that I couldn’t keep up – I did, just about – but I am mighty tired in the best possible way after three full days of marine activity. I will sign off this week with a few more photographs from Wizard Island. I don’t know about magic, but I do believe there are magical places…

More to follow. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

“We’re media stars!”