Location:Miller Rd,Bowen Island,Canada
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
John Matsen, who is the voice of the Howe Sound Herring Recovery project writes to all of us in the Sound about the threat to the thriving herring stock in our inlet:
I’m writing to inform you that all of these weak or recently returning runs are in serious jeopardy of being exterminated this year. Their enemy? You might have guessed it-the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. They regulate Georgia Strait herring as one biomass and in their minds herring stocks in Georgia Strait are in great shape. Last year they allowed a 238 ton food fishery. This year the commercial fishing industry asked for an increase. Likely they wanted an increase to 600 tons of herring but asked for 6000 tons, likely expecting that to be reduced to 600 tons. Unfortunately the Fisheries regulators bit hook, line and sinker and Okayed a 6000 ton food herring. This is not 6000 herring, nor is this 6000 pounds of herring; they’ve Okayed 6000 TONS of “surplus” herring to be taken out of Georgia Strait.
Are 6000 tons of “surplus” herring swimming aimlessly around in Georgia Strait? Hundreds of tons of these herring have now been scooped up and sold on the docks for 20 cents each. The Howe Sound herring run we’ve been struggling to bring back for 5 years spawns mainly in March. That means those fish are now swimming around in Georgia Strait ripening. Or were they the first 600 tons to be dumped onto the dock? Or were those first fish caught the False Creek run, or Powell River, or Pender Harbour, or Burrard Inlet? Nobody knows.The work of the recovery project has been immense and has resulted in something like 250 tons of herring returning to Howe Sound over the past few years. This has been followed by the pods of dolphins who have been gracing our inlet with their presence.
All of this is in danger of being wiped out by the commercial fishery, who wiped the herring out in the first place and who have done nothing to contribute to the restoration of the herring in Howe Sound. If you care, please follow the link above and send your thoughts to John and DFO. The Georgia Strait and Howe Sound needs more protection of these animals and ecosystems, not more economic exploitation for a few bucks.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
N. Scott Momaday
Once in his life a man ought to concentrate his mind upon
the remembered earth, I believe. He ought to give himself up
to a particular landscape in his experience, to look at it from
as many angles as he can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon
He ought to imagine that he touches it with his hands at
every season and listens to the sounds that are made upon
it. He ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest
motions of the wind. He ought to recollect the glare of noon and
all the colors of the dawn and dusk.
For we are held by more than the force of gravity to the earth.
It is the entity from which we are sprung, and that into which
we are dissolved in time. The blood of the whole human race
is invested in it. We are moored there, rooted as surely, as
deeply as are the ancient redwoods and bristlecones.
I was just over at the gallery this afternoon having a peek at Tiffanee Scorer's show "Dissolved in Time.". Its last day is tomorrow, so you ought to get over there if you can.
Tiffanee's work is really stunning. The show is a collection of landscapes, all of which are imaginary, all of which are characterized by big sky, still clouds and serene meadows. There is a stillness to the work that is haunting. These landscapes are both real and not real. They are places that exist within us, in the memories and desires we hold about place, in the longing we feel to be cradled in the arms of earth. They emerge from Tiffannee's own experience as a human being living on this earth; they are in fact the earth itself coming through the artist. And for me, an observer, they are an invitation to find connection with the planet that gives us life, from which we are sprung, and to which we will return, dissolved in time.
As you walk through this show you will come at the end to a beautifully illustrated version of the above poem, and upon reading it I was struck by how well Tiff had caught the sentiment in the work. Her paintings are still life invitations to remember who we are and where we come from and they are also invitations to remember what comes from us, and to remember how deeply rooted we are to the earth and how deeply rooted it is within us.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I have also heard people invoke my friend David Smith's defense of the old general store as the kind of activism that opposing the park seeks to become. But I was thinking that at the end of the day we have that gorgeous building to look at and say "we did that."
If we vote this park process away we won't have anything to point at. And if, God forbid, something profoundly negative happens to the Crown Lands will we look back on a no vote with pride?
"At one time we could have had a national park here on Bowen, but we put a stop to that!" Not a sentiment to be proud of in my books.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
No Straight Roads from aaron may on Vimeo.
A short film made by and featuring many friends of mine, and filmed on Bowen Island. The film says something about Bowen too, especially the Bowen of the early spring time, all grey mist and green and horizontal sunshine coming through the clouds and striking us at reflective angles.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
In the sun today, a real taste of the spring that we have been missing, the violet-green swallows are swooping around eating the freshly hatched insects that have taken the wing in the warm afternoon. They are nesting nearby, although I can't see where, perhaps even on tope of our dormers on our house. Regardless, these birds are one of the indicators of deep spring. Once the Swainson's thrushes show up, we'll know that the natural world's summer has begun.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Roasted Asparagus quesadilla with asiago cheese and spinachServe and eat immediately.
1 pound local asparagus, ends trimmed
4Tbs fresh local rosemary
4Tbs olive oil
salt to taste
4 oz shaved asiago cheese
cup of fresh baby spinach, cleaned
1/2 cup of local chive and hazelnut pesto (see last week's recipe)
4 8" whole wheat tortillas.
1. Roast the asparagus with the olive oil, rosemary and salt for 10 minutes at 400 F, or until the tips are browned and the stalks are soft.
2. Spread a quarter of the pesto on half of a tortilla.
3. Lay a quarter of the asparagus, the cheese and the spinach on top of the pesto on each tortilla.
4. Fold the tortillas in half and bake for 5 minutes until the cheese is melted and the pesto is bubbling.
That was an incredible dinner actually. The trick with ultra-fresh local produce is to cook it as little as possible. If this whole dinner take you more than 30 minutes, you're doing it wrong! All the produce we are eating is available at the Ruddy Potato as well, so get some and get cookin'!
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
This year we signed up as one of ten families piloting a community shared agriculture initiative here on Bowen Island. Tonight our first box arrived with asparagus, chives, rhubarb, rosemary and tender baby salad greens. Here's what I made.
Rotini with roasted asparagus, fiddleheads and chive pesto
Prepared the asparagus by drizzling with olive oil and placing under the broiler for ten minutes, then tossing with salt and pepper. Fiddleheads were picked yesterday, washed and thrown in with the pasta to cook in the pasta pot. The chive pesto followed this made up recipe:
Two cups of chopped Bowen chives
two garlic cloves
a quarter cup of chopped Fraser Valley hazelnuts
three quarters of a cup of olive oil
a quarter cup parmesan cheese
Throw it all in the blender and hit it for a minute.
For salad we had the Ruddy Garden tender baby greens tossed with a vineagrette I made using yet more of the local stuff:
A quarter cup white wine vineager
Three quarters of a cup of olive oil
1 Tbs mustard
Sea salt and pepper
3 Tbs Bowen chives
1 tsp Bowen rosemary
Same deal. Chuck it in the blender and hit "play."
Eaten gratefully out of a bowl crafted on Bowen by Catherine Epps with juice out of a Vonigo mug made by Sue Ritchie.
Friday, May 6, 2011
The other day I went out on the water with my friend Dave. We headed over to Vancouver in his boat, doing a little fishing and watching dolphins around Point Atkinson in English Bay. While I was waiting for him to arrive I watched this river otter eating a big Dungeness crab at the Union Steamship marina. The otter is eating next to a fresh water stream, and it keeps stopping to take big gulps of water, before ripping another leg of the still living crab.
This is the food chain in action. The otter had two long cuts in his back to that looked like it had run into something higher up the food chain. Incredible to watch from five meters away.
I can't tell you that these are facts, concrete proposals or certainties - but these are things I'm willing to work towards. I can see how elements of a park proposal give me starting places to pursue these ideas, and I can see that it is up to us to make those happen. So if we vote yes, much of what I have written will require the active participation of loads of Bowen Islanders to make it all work and to take advantage of the opportunity. Our engagement begins now and continues for all time, should we choose it.
Here's some more information on lady ferns, and a recipe. I've been eating them with pasta, risotto or on a curry plate for a couple of weeks now.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
The weather is cold for late April. The snow is low and fresh on the mountains and rain squalls are sometimes hail. It is not the weather for picking fiddleheads - seems the wrong season to do so. Thriving life of spring contrasts with fall winds and winter snows.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Things are on the move.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
There’s a change in Howe Sound.
Residents in Lions Bay have spotted them. People in West Vancouver and on Bowen Island are talking about them. Then there’s the boaters who have watched them play out in the waves.
Scientists are trying to figure out why the Pacific white-sided dolphins are back. But there’s speculation it can be partly contributed to a small group of marine enthusiasts and a fish.
This fish story starts in the early spring of 2006. West Vancouver resident John Matsen had been told herring were spotted around the Squamish Terminals. Historically, herring are no stranger to Squamish’s shoreline. In the mid-60s, 2,000 tonnes of the silver-coloured fish came up Howe Sound to spawn. But runoff from the community’s former wood preservative plant killed hundreds of thousands of them and by the 70s the herring had all but disappeared.
So when the co-ordinator of Squamish Streamkeepers got the call that they were back, he was pretty excited. But when they went in search of the herring, what they found instead was a mysterious orange slime covering the pilings under the Squamish Terminals.
“We questioned whether it was fungus,” Matsen says.
Matsen turned to the Internet to find out what the slime was. He found his answer in a report about San Francisco’s subtidal habitat. The document, written by several marine biologists, highlighted the need for the removal of creosote pilings from the bay. In it were notes on how creosote kills herring eggs and how, when the eggs are dead, they turn into an apricot-coloured goo.
That's when Matsen realized that what they'd seen on the pilings were millions of dead herring eggs. The herring had returned, laid their eggs on the pilings but the eggs had been killed by the creosote.
The Streamkeepers set about changing this. The next year, with the permission of Squamish Terminals, the Streamkeepers wrapped 60 of the east dock’s creosote-covered pilings with various materials. In March, when they returned, the organization discovered the eggs on the black landscaping fabric had successfully hatched; the eggs laid on plastic material didn’t boast the same survival rate.
“Each year [since 2006] we have doubled the amount of wrapping we have done,” Matsen says.
Last year, the herring switched their spawning location to the large concrete pilings under the west dock. Concrete has also proven to kill herring eggs. Fortunately, the Streamkeepers had wrapped 30 of these piles the year before. Between February and mid-April, the piles were spawned on four times. This year Matsen expects three spawnings.
What’s even better news is that the herring that spawned in 2007 have returned.
“We had great expectations when we started this, but we didn’t quite expect this would happen so dramatically,” Matsen says.
Other than the herring eggs covering pilings, a big indicator that the Streamkeepers initiative is working are the dolphins.
“We originally had the idea to bring herring back for the salmon,” Matsen says. “We had no idea it would bring back the dolphins.”
During much of the 20th century, Pacific white-sided dolphins were thought to be an open-water species, says Andrew Trites, UBC’s director of the Marine Mammal Research Unit in the university’s Fisheries Centre. Before 1984, they had not been reported in the Strait of Georgia, but were common along the outer coast. However, scientists did know that they once called the inner waters their home since archaeologists had discovered Pacific white-sided dolphin bones in First Nation middens – domestic waste dumps – along the strait.
In recent years, there have been a growing number of dolphin sightings. This year three pods were reported in the strait. Whether they are all members of the original pod or different groups that have ventured in from the Pacific is unknown, Trites says. There is some speculation that the main group of approximately 100 dolphins is a residential pod based around Nanaimo, but scientists don’t know for sure. Nor do they know why they returned or what they are eating. Herring would be a good guess, Trites says.
“We have more questions than answers,” he says. “They haven’t had a lot of people studying them.”
Erin Rechsteiner is one of the few people in B.C. trying to find answers. It’s speculated that the Pacific white-sided dolphin population along B.C.’s coast sits at 24,000, but without enough information it is difficult to back that figure, she says, adding that estimates range from 12,000 to 50,000. What is known is that the survival rates among the young are low, Rechsteiner notes.
Last summer and early this year, the UBC student started a report on the diet, distribution and food requirement of the Pacific white-sided dolphins. By looking at the mammal’s dinner plate and how many calories it needs to function, Rechsteiner hopes to find clues to their lifestyles and possibly figure out if the dolphins are following specific prey types along the coast.
Dolphins need four to five times more calories per day than humans, Rechsteiner says. Herring are high in calories and lipids, such as Omega-3 fatty acids. Before they spawn, the fish’s fat count is at its highest, Rechsteiner says.
“I am learning a lot about fish,” she jokes.
For five weeks last summer, Rechsteiner spent 12 hours a day trawling the sea on the hunt for feeding dolphins. When spotted, she would drag nets behind the boat which would pick up the scraps from the dolphins' meal, allowing her to figure out their menu. Rechsteiner is the first person to ever collect fish scale samples from dolphins feeding in the Strait of Georgia. It is the same technique adopted by zoologist Kathy Heise, who studied Pacific white-sided dolphins for years after they caught her attention in 1986 while working as a lighthouse keeper.
Some of Rechsteiner’s most successful sightings occurred after her pilot field work project. On Jan. 28, around the same time that the herring were spawning in Squamish, Rechsteiner was out on a boat in Howe Sound surrounded by more than 150 dolphins. While no one can say for sure that the dolphins are back because of the growth in herring runs, it’s certainly a good guess.
“The dolphins are a good indicator of ecologic health,” she says. “My guess is if there are a lot of dolphin around there is a lot of herring around.”
By learning more about the dolphins we could learn more about the health of our local environment, but without funding Rechsteiner is not sure if she will be able to continue her field work. She is currently on the hunt for grants.
“There is just so little known about them,” Rechsteiner says of her flippered friends.
As for the group behind the possible the surge of life in local waters, Matsen is now one of the world experts in herring spawning material, he jokes. Jokes aside, the Streamkeepers' work has caught the attention of the Department of Fisheries, among other organizations. A group of residents in Lions Bay is also interested in wrapping creosote pilings and Matsen has been in discussions with the Rotary Club in Pender Harbour. The creosote piles are a problem, but a problem that can be fixed, Matsen says.
“The best part of this fish tale is now we know the dynamics in the ocean are there,” Matsen says. “We are just help nature do its job.”
You can help Rechsteiner and other scientist in their studies on all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises). The B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network, a conservation and research program of the Vancouver Aquarium, in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) have set up a Wild Whales website where anyone can report a sighting. The organization collects reports on all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and sea turtles from British Columbia and surrounding waters. Visit the site at www.wildwhales.org or call 1-866-I-SAW-ONE.
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I have learned that I can live with both futures. One that has a park and one that doesn't. I am not afraid of either option. I am not swayed by emotional pleas for and against. I have heard good cases for both futures and I have heard plenty of nonsense too.
So I am strongly considering the possibility of NOT voting on this non-binding referendum. It doesn't make sense fir me to say one future is better than the other when I can honestly live happily with both. Plus such a stance - positive and FOR whatever happens means I don't feel at all victimized or pilloried for being a naysayer on any count.
Whatever the result friends, you can count on me to continue to do what I can to make this place a lovely place to be.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Prompted by my friend Corbin Keep, we held a small gathering in the cold and snow today to remember the swan. David Cameron brought an ornamental swan head, pictured above, Corbin played The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens. We shared some stories of Gus the swan and then and I led the group in a song I composed called "The Swan" also. You can hear us singing that here.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
I've been trying hard to keep us away from getting into yes or no kinds of debates, because frankly, the decision that we will make with respect to the Park in my mind is not served by a strict yes/no vote. It's really reductionist. I personally can see different options in a park proposal that would work from my perspective, and some that wouldn't. I can see a parkless future that is equally exciting under certain conditions, and a parkless future that sucks under other conditions.
I have run other public processes which have required decisions where we didn't vote. When I was helping establish an Aboriginal choice school from an existing elementary school in Prince George a couple of years ago, we needed to ask the parents and students of four different schools whether they thought their school should be converted. The committee initially wanted each school to make a yes/no vote. Turns out that that wouldn't have worked because every community was opposed to it. Instead we used a large scale decision making process using gradients of agreement. Basically, we ran a series of dialogues and then asked the participants to rate, on a scale of 1-7, their preference for their school to be converted. We drew a big scale up on a wall, gave everyone a post it note and they marked their preference and wrote on the note why they were voting that way. That was incredibly useful, because we could see what the issues were. Turns out the school that eventually was converted had lots of no votes but only because the school needed lots of renovations. When the school board said they were going to renovate the school, everyone was cool. Without that process, we would have had four no votes, no information and no way to move forward.
The problem with the current process is that much of the work of creating a proposal rests with Parks Canada and there are significant numbers of Islanders who are waiting in the wings to shoot the thing down. That is the easiest route. A harder route is to dive into the complexity of it and co-create a Parks proposal that is community based. And in doing that we may discover that it isn't what the community wants, and that would be fine by me because it WOULD give us some incredible information about what we DO want for our future.
The most useful conversations to me have been the ones where we kick around ideas, blue sky, dream a little, roll our sleeves up and try and figure out numbers or options. Not because we need to make a park work but because we need to make the FUTURE work, and the best way to do that is to be engaged in the present.
Done well, this whole process could be a launch for a new way of engaging and making decisions about our island, but we have to be able to think more broadly than reacting to one option with a stark, flat and uninformative yes/no reduction that is not really helpful. If we're not careful we'll end up with a yes/no vote without understanding anything about what a yes or a no means to people. The REASONS and the ideas behind voting yes or no are really, really important. If we don't make them visible leading up to the vote then we will argue forever about what the yes side meant or what the no side meant. That is useless chatter.
And that isn't to say that folks who are wholeheartedly opposed to a park in any way shape and form are not community builders, nor are they not valuable and important in the community. They hold a view of the future that is really interesting and one we haven't really heard much in the past ten years. As someone definitely on the fence, it has been interesting this week teasing it out of people. I've learned a lot. It makes us a much better place in general, because now I can see that we have creative and positive ideas on both sides of a yes/no vote on the park. We can't lose with that kind of community capacity, no matter what the result.
Friday, February 18, 2011
"Residents of British Columbia’s Bowen Island are in “lockdown” as a marauding wolf-dog hybrid that has killed at least one dog continues to be spotted across the island, leading fearful residents to keep children and pets indoors."Don't worry. We're not in "lockdown." And one of our "prized" swans was found dead, but no one has established it's cause of death much less from the marauding wolf-dog. My kids play out of doors, although they are being careful around the learning centre near the golf course where the wolf-dog is on the prowl.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
That mute swan has attacked three members of my own family and so I had a mixed relationship with that bird. It was always based on wary mutual respect.
But now he is gone and the title of the most feared predator on Bowen can now pass to the hybrid wolf-dog currently patrolling the golf course. Once he is gone we will finally have a normal landscape again, where humans do most of the damage.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Above Carter Pond, terminal Creek flows in a steep canyon from Grafton Lake until it tumbles over the side of the Killarney Creek valley just below Carter Road. The forest back here is jumbled and rough, cedars and hemlocks and leggy salmonberries all trying to find the sun. There are lots of snags and old logging stumps and the ground is covered in ferns and braided feeder streams. Even though it's close to two rias the sound of flowing water drowns out all but the loudest ambient traffic.