Chilling

Short and chilled this week! Yes, chilling, because that’s what you do on the laid back West Coast. That, and it’s been very, very cold out here for the start of December. Not Alberta cold, but certainly chilly.C8CA636E-9E3C-4E72-A33B-38D9036F5EC9

I was on a field trip with a wrapped up and excited grade 5/6 class yesterday, out on the trail searching for mushrooms. Students had enjoyed a presentation about fungi, listening to a local scientist enthuse about the (for most mushrooms) symbiotic relationship mushrooms have with trees, and the wonderful array of mushrooms that can be found in the immediate rainforest area. Puffball, jelly, truffle – no luck, wrong season – bracket, gilled, veined, morel, bird nest, orange peel, blue chanterelle, we looked high and low (mostly low) for many amazing mushrooms. Students were so engrossed in the search, they forgot just how cold it was. Maybe because they were engrossed in the very best classroom…

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Is this the right way up? I’m really not too sure…

It’s not all mushroom mayhem for this fun guy. Earlier in the week I had to drive over to Port Alberni for a committee, and this time I messed up the timing and got caught in a long construction delay. How did I get this wrong? I realized parts of the Ucluelet Small Craft Harbour had a thin layer of ice and couldn’t help myself stopping, barely 30 seconds after setting off, to snap a shot or two on the phone. Yes, I mistimed the traffic, but when I made it through, thinking I’d be the last to arrive, I was the first person there. The morel (oh no) of this story? There isn’t one, just an excuse for a bad pun.

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A good place to chill 

The photos this week are from the early morning stop. The anchor and bench picture is of one of my favourite places to sit and drink coffee, but it’ll be a while before we’re sat back there in warmer weather, chilling.85B1282B-FC07-4D7B-8237-F2C6F5DA11E9

A short post – trying to keep it cool – thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

PS Is it fungi or funghi?

Sunny spells, sunny spells…

I’ve been trying a new mantra, and with the power of positive thought, it’s going to work. Of course, it’ll have to be brief.D4225C4B-854F-4C3F-B956-43FB7509EA98

After a few days this week where the rain was heavy, we’ve been promised sunny spells for the coming weekend. I’ve quite enjoyed the rain, and the fog rolling in late afternoons after the deluge. Very atmospheric, apart from when I left my rain jacket in the car yesterday, and I got absolutely soaked in the thirty seconds it took to dash out and get my jacket because I didn’t want to get wet. Won’t be making that mistake again. It’s hard to look credible advising students that yes, they absolutely must have their rain coats on before heading out, because it is sensible to do so, when you’re dripping rainwater on the floor…

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“I always remember my coat!”

Sunny spells, sunny spells. As usual, I haven’t much enjoyed following the news. We’ve family in the US and UK, and the combined leadership deficits displayed by government in each place has left us quite despondent. All that noise and self serving nonsense. It’s exhausting to read about, and must be so much worse to experience. Throw in the recent dreadful antics on display from the nationalist visitor to France, and all I can say is what a relief it has been to get outdoors and take a few – many – deep breaths. Sunny spells, sunny spells.

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A sunny Indignant Cove

It was mostly dry and fairly warm last weekend, so we wandered out and about, including a pleasant couple of hours at Indignant Cove soaking up some sun. Sunshine and shirtsleeves in November? Very welcome, and we’re making the most of these days with sunny spells, because the rains are coming…but please, not before Monday! Actually, I’ll take time outside, including with heavy rain, because even if you’ve forgotten your coat, or you catch a chill (however that works) it’s still a sunnier prospect than catching the latest headlines.

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Casting a sunny spell

Sunny spells, sunny spells, even in the rain.

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Rain, later…

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of sunny spells, sunny spells!

A lake coffee break (LCB)

Taken early, on the way to a meeting yesterday morning.

I found myself on the road between Ucluelet and Port Alberni, heading to a committee meeting scheduled for a 10:00 start. The round trip is three hours on a good day, but those days are rare due to a large construction project on Kennedy Lake Hill.6CD30665-7293-49FF-8F20-A103D2AE1C39 The road is being made safer, widening it to prevent larger and taller vehicles on the cliff side moving across the dividing line and scaring oncoming traffic into a choice between a lakeside plunge or a head on collision. Currently, the road is often closed for a number of hours each day, and when it is open, it is single lane and flag controlled, potentially adding quite a delay to your journey.

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Coverage

All this is a long winded way of saying I’d left plenty of time to make my meeting, and the traffic gods were beaming down on me as I experienced the briefest of stoppages. This left me time to make a stop before Alberni at Sproat Lake, take a short wander under the trees and along the shore, sip my travel coffee (prepared in anticipation of a long flag stop!) and gather my thoughts, such as they were.

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Productive

I could tell you about the dozens of new education acronyms I’ve encountered but as yet have failed to decipher, or about some of the policy initiatives to be discussed, but I won’t. Was there cell coverage to check work messages? Nope! Instead, I’ll share that the parking lot was empty, as were the trails and shore. Rain was trying and failing to fall, with barely a patter to be heard on the turning leaves. The chattering squirrels and angry-sounding crows had the place to themselves, or they did once I finished my coffee and remembered I should be working, or at least on the way.

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Work stoppage

I made it to the meeting fashionably early, left with a head full of new and exciting information, and some more acronyms. I’m happy to report there were no chattering squirrels or angry crows on this committee, so that went well.

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The woods and the trees – an LCB stop

Best of all, I was back in time to join a homework zone and hear from a confident young man sharing his experience about becoming an outdoor leader to his peers. He was eloquent in his expression of how he wanted to further his outdoor leadership skills and continue to mentor younger students in wilderness and traditional activities.

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Stumped

The success he was sharing reminded me that a lengthy round trip, coffee stops (LCB) and all, is a worthwhile use of time. It is heartening to witness new policies being shaped by representatives from the communities searching for better ways to educate and engage their youth. As I wrote last week, and hope to write again and again, young people can and want to be engaged in their communities and in their natural surroundings. That’s pretty good news (and it’s real!)

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

Thanksgiving!

There is so much to be thankful for (and you might be thankful I’m keeping this one brief…)

I had an enjoyable evening earlier this week, foraging for chanterelles with a group of young people learning from an elder about traditional harvesting. Once one mushroom had been found, they all seemed pretty handy at knowing where to look, and there was no stopping them. Excited shouts cut through the trees, signalling each discovery. This was going to be easy…0B56EEE2-A7E6-4A94-AD0C-E715D21EC61D

On an overcast and muggy evening, the light was fading fast in the dusk, and mosquitos were beginning to find me with rather more success than I was having finding chanterelles. They are distinctive, but this OldPlaidCamper was not very adept at unearthing chanterelles, and almost every other type of mushroom I found was a poisonous variety.FE15B0D1-766E-47CE-832B-D50F59E19089

A trait being taught was persistence, so I stuck with it, hoping old eyes might fall upon elusive prey. After nearly 45 minutes of hot and humid searching, I did find two lovely chanterelles. Excellent – my status as an almost outdoorsman remained intact! As I was about to call it in, a young man I’d been guiding through the dense forest slipped on the mossy log he was climbing over and landed on his butt right next to my find. “Found some!” he cried, clambering to his feet with a wide smile.DC0D26ED-8975-4E33-9270-FB1EE452DA07

The forest was becoming very dark, and time was called on the search. Light from the channel shone through the trees and up the slope, so we (I) tripped down the hill towards the water and out onto the shore, escaping the worst of the biting insects.

The chanterelles were to be shared with the community, and you could see how happy the foragers were at making their contribution. As we made our way back along the shore, it became clear that every member of the party had found some chanterelles – well, almost everyone. I did get a couple of consolation pats on the back, and some words about maybe next time.170A9F91-8A78-4F57-AC16-9F75804E8129

So much to be thankful for, and I’m particularly thankful for the fine young people I’m working and learning with. Times are troubled in the wider world, but there are reasons to be hopeful about better times ahead, especially when you see young people expressing enthusiasm for their natural surroundings.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend. If you are celebrating Canadian thanksgiving, I hope it’s a good one!

Branches…

…of government? What a couple of weeks in the news it has been! The OldPlaidCamper post this week is sponsored by the power of nature. He’d like to thank nature for being there, and quite understands how she might be a tad annoyed by certain executive branches…

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A branch reaches out, offers support and shelter – it isn’t a bully stick
In all seriousness, I hope you are safe and secure in the face of a looming and/or happening hurricane. At least you know any federal emergency response will be awarded a chief executive A+, if not higher.

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A bit fuzzy, a bit woolly – like a PlaidCamper thought process…
My goodness, some days, the news does not ever seem to get any better, or any more believable, and leadership responses that are thin-skinned and narcissist leave me slackjawed. Yes, this is where the healing power of nature is just the thing in our very strange and complicated socially constructed world. I’ve written it before, and I’ll write it again: If more people went outside (and hugged a tree) then the world would be a happier place. More of us might care for the land that is our mothership…

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Complex, but not so complicated
Being back in a working environment is fine, particularly when I can stop, take a walk during a break and find myself by the water or in the trees. Sometimes both! Then, at the end of day, or on the weekend, it is back outside we go, sometimes in need of a lift because I was foolish enough to scan the headlines, and even read on. When will I learn?!

Deep breath in, slow release out, and repeat until equilibrium is reestablished, or a bored Scout drags me off to explore more.

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“I welcome my imbeachment!”
Thank goodness for energetic dogs, understanding partners, and space to unwind. The other title I was thinking about for this piece was “Imbeachment or Impeachment?” but I thought better of it, mostly because imbeachment isn’t really a word, and because impeachment, fun though it might be to watch, isn’t really the answer. Do the right thing, midterm eligible people!

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“Don’t worry, Scout, you won’t face imbeachment alone!” “Yeah, ok, but promise me you’ll shut up about that stuff now…”
Time to stop – past time in fact – thanks for reading, have a wonderful and safe weekend, and if you find yourself imbeached, or imforested etc. then that’s a good weekend!

Back to school!

A very short post this week, mostly because for the first time in a year I’m doing a proper job, and consequently feeling rather more tired than usual. I can take a nap at almost any given moment, work or not, but this week I’ve been dropping off (after work, not in work!) very easily. I close my eyes at the end of a chapter, and then wake with a start much later. A normal readjustment to employment, not old age…

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The fog is lifting…

The last day of my shortlived attempt at early retirement was spent on Long Beach, a Labour Day Monday where the early morning grey of low cloud and fog – might as well get a job, summer is over – lifted, and the sun shone and skies were blue – should have tried harder at being retired.

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…let’s go to the beach!

I’ll miss the lazy days, like the ones spent waiting for a plumber to come and fix my renovations, but I’m looking forward to being a bit more purposeful, and Mrs. PC is looking forward to seeing me head out the door, leaving her in peace to get on with her research. Apparently, we can always get someone in to complete any unfinished works. Are there any?

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A lazy Labour Day

Why is the back to school week always warm and sunny? No matter where I’ve lived, or what age I am, it is always sunny in early September. The universe can sometimes be tough on those involved in education. Parents always seem happier than usual this time of year…

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The early retirement ship has sailed

Anyway, I hope you have had a pleasant week, whether you’re back to school or not, and I hope you 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!