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!

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“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!

Safe Harbour

Don’t we all need a safe harbour? It’s ok, nothing ranty after my recent incoherence last week (still, I felt better after, and it was preferable to signing up for a twitter account – just imagine…)

IMG_20170731_203441We’ve been spending a few days in Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Entire mornings seem to drift by as we sit or wander around the harbour. It’s an easy habit to fall into, and the warm and sunny weather is an encouragement to sit just that little longer. So we did. A belted kingfisher has been zooming back and forth, busy as ever. We’ve seen fewer bald eagles around the harbour. They’ve headed north to feed on the salmon. I hope they get a good meal.

Loosely translated from a local First Nations word, Ucluelet means “safe harbour” – a sheltered place for canoes and fishing boats. For paddling, we tend to avoid the wilder Pacific side, opting for the safer and calmer waters on the harbour side. We’re not the only ones this time of year:

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Calm waters
We could hear the barking and traced the source round to the Ucluelet boat and kayak launch. What a splendid sight! The barking is loud and pretty constant, and perhaps an explanation for the empty campsites nearby?!

Sadly, this float has been spiked in an attempt to keep the sea lions from basking. Cruel, and it isn’t working. You can read more about this particular situation at the following link (our buddy Wayne, a photographer, took sharper pictures and spotted the problem: Welcome to Tofino Photography – Sea Lions Being Injured). Fingers crossed for a solution, and then the sea lions will be able to enjoy their safe harbour.

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Yeah, we’re barking
Back in August, I was sitting on a bench (that’s a shocker) overlooking the harbour when a gleaming black SUV stopped behind me. The driver rolled down his window and called out to an older gentleman crossing the road, where would he find the Starbucks or Tim Horton’s? The guy in the road, dressed like he was heading out fishing, stopped, a look of disbelief on his face. “Huh? You want a Starbucks? Where d’you think you are? You won’t get that here! You want that, you need the big city. This ain’t the city!” He shook his head and finished shuffling across the road. (The SUV was stopped right in front of a fishing gear store that also happens to make a very good – according to Mrs. PC – cappuccino. There is even a large sign, Cap’n Hook, Cappuccino and Fishing Gear. It ain’t Starbucks…)

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Did you say coffee?
Blue skies, green trees, shining water, sea lions, birds and fish. Oh, and decent coffee. Some of the sights and sounds of a busy working harbour on the west coast, and a welcome change of pace. Spending time in quieter places – it ain’t the big city!

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Safe harbour
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Finding Thanksgiving

It is Canadian Thanksgiving this coming Monday, and we’ve plenty, personally, to be thankful for. Oh, Canada! Far from perfect, a work in progress, and thank goodness we are trying. Having said that, recent events in the news leave one feeling a touch guilty about feeling thankful. Honestly, you don’t have to look too hard for evidence to encourage the belief that the world is on a slippery slope right now.

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Thankful for places like this

Do you find yourself mentally exhausted each time you read about the latest crisis? The events themselves are terrible, and awful for the innocent people caught up in them. I know I lead a privileged and comfortable existence compared with many, so my complaining here is trivial. Here I go anyway. I’m dejected and appalled by the other noise that follows, or masquerades as, the news.

DSCF5968The disillusion and despair is felt most particularly when “leadership” responses appear to be all about changing (ignoring) the facts or focus of discussion. To be this disingenuous about serving in government is a disgrace. When they did this, it really means that! I’m right, and don’t anybody ask what this is actually about! You must agree with me. If you dare to express otherwise, then it proves you are that! 

DSCF5956There are statements (speeches, or rather, rants, and tweets – tweets?! – how is that “statesmanlike” or seemly?!) appealing to base notions, or simplifying complicated issues so that pointing fingers and assigning blame overshadows the issue instead of finding solutions. Let’s just control or falsify the narrative to ensure we look good. Any humility? An admission mistakes can be/have been made? Can we allow for another point of view? Nope! Noise, shouting, more noise, and more shouting. I’m in charge and I know best. Oh dear. Common decency and common sense appear to be more and more uncommon these days. Calm things down? No, that won’t make me look strong! Let me threaten instead! It’s so much easier to spread fear and blame than it is to provide hope and help, especially if the needy aren’t your narrow-minded supporters…

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I should try to focus…

I’d better stop writing this. I’m not going to stop reading the news, or cease having an opinion – if we all did, no doubt that would make certain parties only too happy. I will aim for being positive, and that personal positivity will be found most readily in natural settings. I do understand that nature, or the environment, is social/economic/political, but when you’re on the trail, or under canvas, or splashing about in the water, the immediacy of what you’re doing takes over, energizes you, and some of the other concerns fall away, if only for a while.

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Enjoy the bigger picture

Well, we might be at the bottom of the barrel – it can’t get any worse, can it? – but you’ve got to try and be glass half full. I’ve a feeling we’re all going to need as much energy as possible as we attempt to look forward. Has it really been less than a year? Aiming for the positive, I’m thankful for all the voices that acknowledge and value our wonderful diversity and common humanity. I’m thankful for all the beautiful places still left on our amazing planet. I’m thankful it’s still possible to agree to disagree and not raise fists.

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Glass half full

Hmm. Struggling for coherence here. I think I’ve vented enough – thanks for your patience, and maybe your understanding – and have a wonderful weekend!

The photographs were taken late September at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, AB

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.

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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…)

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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!

Green, gold and red

Last week was silver, this week, gold. (Might be time to stop with the treasure titles…) Anyway, for this week, a few fall thoughts and pictures, and not much structure.

DSCF5943I’ve never really had the time before to wander around Sunnyside during the week, when most are at work or school. It feels slightly illicit. I strolled around the neighbourhood the other day on a beautiful autumnal morning. Ah, what an excellent day it was for displacement activity! I like to have a short list of tasks to do each day, so that at the end of the day I can beat myself up about not achieving them. (I don’t actually feel bad about it – I use unfinished or untackled tasks to make the list for the next day – now isn’t that productive?)

DSCF5925Fall has arrived, and in the foothills and the city, temperatures have been anywhere between early summer and early winter. As I sit and write this, (ooh, check that off the list for today) cold rain is falling and we’ll be in single digits with a slight chance of snow the next couple of days. Then warm sunshine once more. I love weather forecasts and the fall seesaw.

DSCF5929I was breaking in a new pair of boots (check), readying them for a hike we’ve got planned for the coming weekend. The new boots were long overdue. It is time for new ones when the old ones are held together with mud, and they walk by themselves to the nearest garbage can, begging to be put out of their misery. The aroma was distinct, but surely not unpleasant? I thought they had a few more miles left in them, but the refusal of friends and family to walk with me said otherwise.

DSCF5949Sunnyside and the Bow river looked splendid in the bright sunshine. Determined joggers, vigorous dog walkers, wagging dogs, slightly frazzled parents with babies and toddlers, speedy cyclists, and a late middle-aged time-waster were using the pathways along the river, enjoying themselves and the day.

DSCF5934Autumn is one time of year when I think about our old life back in Europe. I think it is the colours and the smells of fallen leaves, the faint scent of decay. It seems to prompt nostalgia and reflection. Calgary is a lively and well-resourced city if you need to be in an urban area, lacking little, but it doesn’t have a wide variety of deciduous trees providing fall colour. I think of the London oaks, planes and chestnuts, and the sweet chestnuts, walnuts, and alders of Bordeaux and Perigueux. We lived near the Foret de la Double, and it was a fine place to wander in the fall. But that was back then, and in the here and now we can enjoy the green and gold.

DSCF5918Walt, over at Rivertop Rambles (Rivertop Rambles – Double Focus), recently wrote about being home after a period away, and the slightly schizophrenic nature of our thoughts as we exist in one physical place and think about another. I often find myself doing that, even when I’m happy enough where we are. Aren’t we complicated creatures, sometimes? 

Bringing myself into the present, my main thought in all this written meandering and on those pleasant riverside paths, is that I’m grateful to have lived in and visited so many places, and currently very happy to find myself in Western Canada. Looking back is good, living in the present is good, and looking forward is good. It’s all good – aren’t we fortunate?

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!

 

Tough little grey guy

We had so many wonderful bird encounters over the past couple of months. I enjoyed them all, whether the birds were big or small. So, how about an occasional series? Alright then!

Distinctive!
Here is a well built bird, the Belted Kingfisher. I can’t remember exactly what it was we were meant to be doing – popping to the store for some milk? – but we ended up watching this little fellow.

He stopped on a nearby branch of a tree, took one glance at us, and then poured all his attention into finding fish. Or ignoring that guy staring at him. I was delighted to see him at quite close range. I’d spotted him zooming across the harbour on previous mornings,  flying away from us each time.

Zoom about here? Lucky little guy…
Since he was sat facing away, I rummaged for my camera – maybe we weren’t going to the store for milk, I can’t recall wanting to photograph that – and sidled a little closer. He didn’t fly off, or even look over, so I sidled some more. I snapped away, hoping he’d turn towards the camera. I couldn’t change my angle without wading out into the harbour, and I couldn’t be sure Mrs. PC would let me accompany her to the store in wet trousers. (That’s me in the wet trousers. Obviously, I’d go with Mrs. PC to the store if her trousers were wet, not that that would happen. This is why I avoid stores. And wet trousers…)

I can see you sidling…
The tough little blue-grey guy didn’t shift position on his perch, so the photographs I took were the best I could get. I’m happy he wasn’t bothered by my presence, and pleased I’d met a rugged, silvery, and outdoorsy type. Unbothered by rumpled hair, completely focused, in his element – and then Mrs. PC called me back so we could go fetch the milk. I’m sure he fetched his fish!

Not looking at you, you’re not a fish
What a lovely bird! So distinctive, with the large bill, the beautiful colour, the shock of “hair” and such a sturdy profile. I’ll have to go to the store more often if it will lead to these encounters!

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