The rough with the smooth

A short and textured piece for a week where all went pretty well, whether it was rough or smooth.

Rrruff!

Our spring weather has jumped about, with some rain, some sun, some wind, plenty of grey, green and blue, and mostly feeling pretty warm, even under the grey skies.

We went to the black rock and shell beach below the Black Rock buildings – how did they come up with that name? – and if you scramble along a bit, there are many quiet little corners to sit and survey the sea. It was calm the day we went, with warm sun, blue skies and the gentle sound of waves over rocks. Soporific but not boring, and maybe my head nodded once or twice…

Why is the nearby hotel called the Black Rock?

Yesterday morning was a west coast special – misty, almost foggy, and through it you could feel the warmth of the sun, a hint of a sunny afternoon ahead. Sometimes, the mist and fog lingers, but yesterday it cleared, and it felt like a promise kept.

Learning is often better outdoors, or at the very least, indoors with doors and windows thrown open – and if we had to anchor wind blown paper-based assignments with a few rocks after chasing around the room, well, that’s okay. Smoothed them out…

7:30 smooth

Scout has a set Saturday afternoon routine I have to follow when we’re out. She’s persuaded Mrs. PC to visit a small pocket park that has a series of different height walls, and she (Scout, not Mrs. PC) has to leap up each step of wall and balance to the end before jumping off to great applause. This means now, when Scout is out with me, there’s no avoiding the left turn to the little park, and we have to visit and go through the same performance. My balance isn’t all that, but I’ve almost nailed the landing.

Same day, midday, still pretty smooth

After the park, Scout insists we head to a small section of the Wild Pacific Trail, where we check on what is currently our favourite tree, a tall beauty with a textured trunk that demands our admiration. So we do.

Rough – our current favourite

Enough for this week, keeping it brief, as promised. We’re hoping for more warm sunshine this weekend, and a longer beach hike or two. We’ll head out there, and rough or smooth, expect it’ll be great fun either way.

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

Fringe elements

The lunatic fringe. Used to be, you could tell where that was located, politically speaking, but these days? It’s a little harder to avoid the fringe elements…

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post-Brexit, post-Tr*mp, post-truth piece. It’s a piece touching on fringes, elements, edges, and transitions. But not hair. A fringe? If I had one, it would be a high fringe. Possibly monkish. Moving on.

High green fringes

We were walking through the rainforest fringe last weekend, descending through layers of green down to the shore, and emerging onto a wind-blasted beach. We knew it was a blustery day, and had wrapped up accordingly. The first part of our walk was in the shelter of the trees, and we thought it was all pretty pleasant. So when we stepped out and into the hard gnashing teeth of the wind, goodness, it was biting.

Colder than it looks…

We trotted up and down the beach at a very brisk pace. Down to the water’s edge and back, and enduring, I mean, enjoying the bracing air. For what was probably the first time ever, Scout was not interested in examining every single washed up log. She had her ears pinned back – streamlining, sensible dog – and attempted to guide her lunatic companions back to the fringe. Yes, at least one of us was thinking clearly.

The sheltered edge

We did find a suitable log to stop and sit on for a short while, mercifully out of the clutches of the wind. The sun almost appeared, and with it a steady trickle of hopeful beach walkers. It was fun to watch them hit the wind zone and then see them scurry back. So it wasn’t just us…

Cool green

A short piece this week from the western fringe as we transition into proper spring. Or hope to. A recent long range forecast was predicting a cool start to the season. Haven’t we just enjoyed that? We’ll continue to head out, whatever the weather, ears pinned back and making the most of it.

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

Positives?

Well, wasn’t that quite the week?! As I write this, late in the day Thursday, it would appear that by January, there’ll be a change in White House occupancy – phew! Even if a blue wave didn’t quite appear, I’ll settle for being able to listen to a presidential press conference without wincing. That’s a positive.

A blue ripple

Bigger picture? More to be done, but please let’s enjoy the hope that steps are being taken towards repair, and an opportunity to build, not tear down. The restoration of a more civil political discourse? Maybe? That’s a positive. Instead of denial, working as a collective to arrest the worst of a looming climate disaster? You have to hope…

Things are looking up

I’m keeping it very brief this time. I’m exhausted, but enjoying the notion we can breathe a little easier, politically speaking, if only due to the reduction in noise that ought to happen as a result of the tight result. We can welcome a greater reliance on accepted facts and shared understandings, instead of alternate facts and divisive lies. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Space

The photographs this time are all from our wilderness trip a couple of weeks back, and they were chosen for their sense of space, scale, and a pleasant bigger picture. Of course, given the way this year has offered up too many unwelcome surprises, maybe next week I’ll be writing about how the results all went the wrong way after Thursday evening, and the White House occupant remains the same after January 2021. No, surely not? Let’s stay positive!

Bigger

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

The forest

The past week has been the most enjoyable for quite some time. I’ve got bruises and scratches, I ache almost everywhere, and I’m writing this at the second attempt, having dozed off previously. Hmm. I’m awake now, drool wiped from chin, so let’s share a little of the last few days.

A group of youth and young adults have been learning from two trail-building teachers. They were so good, teaching us that how a trail is built is its own story, then trails are used to retell old stories and create new ones. Walking in places where the spirit of ancestors reside, and where predecessors walked in times past, certainly fired up the youth. They’re excited about creating community paths to allow easier access to the local lake. Improving and replacing sections of an old boardwalk, as well as building a couple of new trails is what they’ll be doing over the course of the summer.

A shovel didn’t go into the ground for the first day and a half. The time was spent bushwhacking, searching for likely routes and places to see, using the terrain and marking out possibilities. This was fun stuff, and somewhat harder for one or two of the older folks accompanying the young crew. Yup, me.

Old boardwalk, new tools

It turns out I’m not as nimble as I thought when it comes to jumping up on to (or off) a log. And gaps in dense thickets get smaller when I’m in them. At one point I got stuck pushing up and over an old log, completely caught in the tangle of smaller branches. Couldn’t go forward, couldn’t go back, and couldn’t lose (any more) face. I ended up using my COVID kilos, and simply let myself “fall” forward, counting on gravity and a heavy backpack (or those COVID kilos) to pull me through. It sort of worked. Probably not in any training manual…

Digging it

Anyway, older folks were recovered, plausible routes were marked out, and we’ve spent three sweat and mosquito filled days breaking new trail. The young ones are so strong, and so ready to learn. After months of mostly indoor time, the hours in the forest are wonderful. Purposeful activity, great company, lots of learning, kilos to lose, and all under the watchful eye of bears, spirits, leaders, and spirited leaders-in-making.

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

Distractions

I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been looking for distractions. How is it possible to follow the daily news and not need them? So here are a few of my current distractions, ones that help pleasantly while away a few shutdown hours.

Navajo mug rug (and time ticking on)

The Tony Hillerman Navajo tribal police series. I’m halfway through the first book, The Blessing Way, and I’m really enjoying it. I get a kick out of recognizing some of the places where the story is set, and I like the dialogue of the Navajo characters – it is full of respect between generations, even when there is disagreement. The details about ceremony and song are a plus. I think there are quite a few books in this series, so I’m looking forward to spending more time down in the desert Southwest.

SW desert visit – one day?

The Adrian McKinty series about a Northern Irish Catholic policeman, Sean Duffy, serving in the RUC during the 1980s. I think I’ve now read all the books so far, and given I remember many of the events used as a backdrop for the crime stories, it’s like a strange trip down teenage memory lane. McKinty uses musical references from the time pretty frequently – I often have to follow up a musical lead after reading, see if the tunes were as good, or bad, as the musical snob policeman thinks. It’s a matter of (poor?!) taste. The dialogue is often witty, black humour in dark times, and the frenemy relationships across the divide are interesting.

Alright, away from the book reports. How about my exercise regime? That’s a scary distraction! I’ve been doing some very heavy lifting in the garden, or what is better described as my orchard. Yes, I have an orchard. I was eating an apple and one of the seeds fell on the floor. I picked it up before Scout could snag it, and decided I’d plant the seed. This is what boredom does. I planted it in an empty egg container. Daily watering and conversations worked, as I now have an apple tree. See picture below. Yes it is a tree. Let’s not argue.

The orchard. My apple tree. Yes, it is.

It’s important to have long term and realistic plans, to think beyond the crisis, and the plan here is to make an apple pie using my home grown apples. If you’re free that day, it’ll be baked on 15 September 2030. Please do drop by for a slice of pie. Oh, c’mon, that’s realistic. I have an orchard now. Let’s not argue.

Distancing

I get the sense that these distractions aren’t really holding your attention? Are you looking for a distraction to get away from here? I get it. I’ll stop now – I have to tend to the orchard anyway, you understand how it takes quite a chunk of my time and physical energy – and perhaps I’ll post some more handy distractions next week? I have dozens…

Another handy distraction

Thanks for reading, stay safe, and enjoy your weekend!

Singing the winter greens and blues

For the past decade and more, we have been used to (and very much enjoyed) a snowy December and beyond, sometimes in a blanketed city, and often in the mountains. Still, change is good, and contrast is good. Winter on the coast is very different!

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Vibrant

There are so many colours and moods – vibrant green on the trails, but also blue and grey. It can be dry, grey and cold, or gold, warm and sunny, or blue, cold and sunny, or windy and rainy, just rainy, and very, very rainy.  Every now and then it can be extremely stormy. Exhilarating stuff, and always with so much green. (PlaidCamper, you do know you live in a coastal rainforest, don’t you?)

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Energy

Being by the ocean, it always feels fresh, and there’s usually a breeze. Last weekend, we met up with Wayne and took a wander along Chesterman’s Beach. Fresh? Yup! A breeze? And then some! We took shelter in the lee of some rocks overlooking Lennard Island lighthouse (for shots of the lighthouse taken by Wayne over the years, look on his website here) and tucked into delicious soup and cornbread – thanks, Wayne – and a mince pie. We didn’t know Scout was such a fan of soup and mince pies, but perhaps that’s no surprise…

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Not the Lennard Island lighthouse – Amphitrite Point lighthouse, Ucluelet

The ocean wasn’t calm – we saw the coastguard zodiac and cutter both riding some pretty big waves, and it looked as though they were searching the coastline. It would be nice to think it was an exercise and all was well, but the search looked quite intense.

The grey skies gave way slightly, and there was a hint of warmth from a few weak rays, but eventually we had to head back. Scout chased Wayne, or Wayne chased Scout along the beach, and it was a good game to play, because the breeze had a bite to it. We had a great time, and Scout wanted to go home with Wayne, but eventually she relented and came home with us, even though we can’t promise daily soup and mince pies.

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Colour

Winter blues? We’re not singing that song, not yet. And I’m sure at some point we’ll find some time for a visit to snowy and wintry mountains – blow the dust off the snowboard and snowshoes – but until we do, I’m loving the winter greens.

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Last weekend – a colourful winter warmer

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

 

 

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!

 

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!

Cedar view

A little earlier this week we found ourselves sitting under a cedar tree and enjoying the view. The day was warmer than we’d had for a while, and the morning fog had burned off, leaving blue skies and a touch of breeze. Driving out of Ucluelet, we made a last minute change of plans, and decided to skip the beach and find a different quiet place. The wild spontaneity of early middle age and having time on your hands!

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Sticks, stones, and a log for old bones

We were on the inlet side in the Tofino botanical gardens, away from the rush and roar of the Pacific, and enjoying the sheltered calm of the mud flats. The tide was high, so no mud, but shallow water ruffled into ripples by the breeze, or the wake of distant passing boats.DSCF7603

Every now and then we could hear the faint roar of floatplanes taking off and landing further down the shore and just around the bend. Our shaded spot was bug free, and the air was a mix of cedar, salt and drying sea weed, punctuated with an extra waft of whatever Scout happened to be chewing – usually the largest deadfall branch she could manage. She’s yet to concede that some logs are too much for her…

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Too much branch? Never!

A pair of herons flew past at one point, and a single bald eagle flapped over the island in front of us and disappeared from view. Behind us, the voices of other garden visitors exploring the trails could be heard from time to time, and we would sit quietly, hoping they wouldn’t discover “our” place on the shore. I know, not very friendly, or very mature, but then the spell would have been broken. Early middle-aged, not grown up.

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“Our” hiding place

The distant view was fine, the close up details were pretty, and we were in no hurry to leave, so we didn’t.

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Details

However, an energetic dog, and pins and needles from sitting on a log too long eventually had us up and moving on. We headed back to Ucluelet, and yes, we stopped at a beach to give Scout the run around she always needs. Or she gave us the runaround and we tried to keep pace.

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A longer view

Is summer almost over already? Here’s hoping for a warm and dry September! Maybe we will be sitting under the same cedar soon enough, perhaps sheltering from the autumnal rain…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful (long) weekend!

Woodland walks and Sunnyside strolls

After a couple of busy and beery town and city weekends, fun ones and all, it was good to get back to something a little quieter with a weekend walk in the woods. Other days spent in the city meant sidewalk strolls, and with all the lilacs and late spring tree blossoming and blooming, pounding the city pavements hasn’t been too bad.IMG_20180522_090552

Fresh greens, soft pinks, clean whites, and the strong scent of lilac. All the sights and smells laundry detergent makers want you to think about when purchasing their products. They should make one called Sunnyside Streets. Tide, Persil, or (preferably) biodegradable detergent manufacturers, I’m available for further excellent advertising ideas…IMG_20180522_090515

Last weekend, it felt like spring was leaning heavily into summer. The usual Alberta transition from winter to spring seems to have been as speedy as ever, with temperatures accelerating past expected averages, and spring almost in the rearview.DSCF7036

Walking in the semi-shade of newly leafy aspens and poplars out at Glenbow Ranch was very pleasant, and the snow kept us cool. Snow? Oh, ok, it wasn’t real snow, but the cottony fluff of seeds floating in the air and gathering in little banks on the sides of the trail. It was funny watching Scout snap at the breeze-blown seeds, but she tired of that game pretty quickly – deadfall sticks and branches are easier prey, especially on a hot day.DSCF7054

Exiting the patches of wood, we spotted a pair of red tailed hawks high above, riding the thermals in lazy circles. When we stopped at the top of a small hill to admire the view, two flashes of blue indicated what might have been mountain bluebirds, but we couldn’t be absolutely sure. Returning to the parking lot, we heard the call of a white-crowned sparrow, one of the few bird calls I can readily identify, coming from a nearby stand of aspens. I like to think it was calling us back, saying it wasn’t time to leave just yet.DSCF7051

No worries, we’ll be back, although we’ll be waiting for a cooler day or for when the calendar turns over to fall. In the meantime, there is more shade, scent, and evening cool to be found in those Sunnyside Streets ™.

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“Please, no more fluffy stuff!”

A little aside, for those interested in our research from last week – we might have found a store selling Half Hitch beer within walking distance. It’s going to take the edge off watching the Stanley Cup final without a Canadian team once again. We should thank the Winnipeg Jets because they kept Canadian hockey hopes up for a little longer than usual…

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!