Wednesday, April 27, 2005

More movie people coming to Bowen... although this man is arriving temporarily. John Mark Huckabee, the son of the Governor of Arkansas is coming up to our fair shores to work on a screenplay about a movie full of political intrigue. He'll be here during our own municipal political season next fall, so maybe he'll pick up a few north-of-the-border ticks for the film...

Welcome aboard!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Lots of firsts in the last few days. Yesterday walking down at Cape Roger Curtis we experienced a number of firsts, including the first shorts day for me and the first swim of the year by my cold-resistant kids.

On a subtler level, there were a number of other firsts this weekend:

  • First sighting of Mourning Cloak and Spring Azure butterflies
  • First sighting of an Audubon's Warbler in the alders at Cape Roger Curtis
  • First sighting of a pair of Common Loons on that water at CRC
  • First sighting of frisky behaviour among the several thousand Black Scoters that are hanging out off the Cape.
  • First salmonberries forming deep with a cup of the flowers that have been pollinated by the Rufous Hummingbirds, the bumble bees and the first Yellowjackets of the spring.
It seems this year that we took a quantum leap into summer. I've been munching sword fern fiddleheads, peeled salmonberry shoots (not dipped in sugar like my Kwagiutl and Nuu-Chah-Nulth friends like them!) and eyeing the nettle patches. I'll have to go harvest some nettles soon, while they're still young and tender.

Walking home late Friday night off the water taxi, I could feel a strong cool wind in the Cove and in Horseshoe Bay. As we live about 100 meters above sea level, I had to climb up the hill to get home, and at the 5o meter level or so, I went through an inversion layer and the air seemed at least 6 or 7 degrees warmer. I realized that the cool breeze was in fact the result of cooler air sinking beneath the inversion.

These tiny katabatic winds are a sign of summer, when the energy of the air isn't driven by the large storm systems that slam into us from the North Pacific, but are rather small zephyrs inspired and driven by the local topography.

Sort of like someone I know...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The past month has been mostly lovely but there has been a persistent chill in the air. Anywhere there was wind, or in the shade, I could feel the cold in my bones. The snow level has been hovering around 1000 meters which seems low for this time of year.

However, since Monday spring has arrived. It's warm (breaking 20 degress in places) and even standing in the wind on a dock as I was waiting for a float plane to take me from Nanaimo to Vancouver today, the air was warm. It feels summery now, and the promise of spring seems set to come due.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I set out into the forest behind the house yesterday to do some sketching of the sword fern fiddleheads and came upon a winter wren hopping about around a patch of salal. I "pished," which is where you make all kinds of squeaky sounds to attract the attention of a passerine, and the little bird hopped up to an exposed branch, stared me straight in the eye, and warbled the call I had been trying to identify for years every spring, the one common trilling birdsong that had stumped me.

And to boot, this little wren WHISPERED it, lightly, almost just for me. He (I assume it was a he) then dropped down into the thicket chipping and whistling as he went about his work of presumably collecting nest materials. I stood watching him for about a half an hour, lifting my attention once and a while to engage with a couple of fawns passing through and a pilleated woodpecker who was working on an old nurse log a few meters away.

So finally...face to face with a singing winter wren. For me, these songs are the true call of spring, just as the spiralling trill of the Swainson Thrush marks summer and the low croak of ravens mixed with the weak wheeze of flocking chickadees fills the foggy days of winter. Each season has a sound tag that seeps into one's awareness leading one to unconsciously remove layers of clothes, switch from rain hats to ball caps, move from Gore-tex to wool. Bringing these markers to one's awareness brings us closer with the changes and more in line with the ways in which we are held by this little island.

Friday, April 8, 2005

On Wednesday, Finn and I went out bird watching. Here's what we saw:
  • 60 Common Goldeneyes rafting at Hood Point
  • 4 Pigeon Guillemots at the same location
  • Song Sparrows, robins, Towhees, Stellar Jays, Ravens, Crows, a wren I can't place and White-crowned Sparrows making merry with mating calls and nest materials.
  • Red-shafted Flickers and Hairy Woodpeckers calling and wood pecking.
  • Mallards, Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Harlequins and Least Scaups being ducks
  • Canada Geese and the resident Mute Swan in Mannion Bay.
  • Gulls, both Mew and Glaucous-winged.
  • Redwinged Blackbirds Brewer's Blackbirds and Starlings being dark.
  • An immature Bald Eagle soaring above the Channel.
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Redbreasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins feeding at the feeder.
  • Rufous Hummingbirds looking BEAUTIFUL and danincing their elegant loops in the air, between sips at salmonberry blossoms.
  • Warblers...darting and being elusive and being highly unidentifiable in the alders by the ball field in the Cove.
That's a good day of wandering. It gets more interesting when you actually start looking for these birds!

Thursday, April 7, 2005

We have a choice to make on April 30. The residents of Bowen will be voting in a referendum to purchase the GVRD surplus lands around Snug Cove. This is an important vote, because owning those lands will mean that the community will control their development. That might include preserving some of them as parkland, constructing a community centre for performing arts and building our own municipal hall. If we don't buy these lands, it's likely that private developers will buy them, subdivide them and sell them and Bowen will have lost a chance to develop civic amenities in a prime location in the Cove.

There is a good set of reasons for voting YES at Bowen Online.

Now I don't generally publish rumours here, but this time I will, only to tease out some more information. A Bluewater resident today tells me that an off-island developer is building 37 new houses in Bluewater using off-island labour and generally being quiet about it. This is the area of the island that has the least water, and faces extremely severe shortages every summer. Thirty seven single dwellings is a huge increase to that neighbourhood. Unless the houses have their own water collection systems and very large cisterns, they are going to have a major negative effect on the surrounding water sources.

I have a lot of questions about this development, not the least of which is the sustainability of this new construction and whether or not prospective homebuyers know that they are buying into a virtually guaranteed suspension of water service in the summer. If you have info, or can clarify these speculations, leave a comment below.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Home late last night coming of the 12:30 water taxi, the wind was howling. It was choppy in the Channel, but we were in the big boat - the Apodaca - skimming the wave tops so it seemed. I dozed off to the rhythm of the boat and the white noise of the engine so that when we arrive in Snug Cove it was like still being in a dream. There was a high high tide, and the gangplank off the government dock was nearly horizontal. Walking over the weir which separates the Lagoon from Mannion Bay waves were breaking over the top which is very rare and salt water was flooding up into the fresh water lagoon. Once I had walked through Deep Bay and was heading along Miller Road, the trees were shedding boughs and branches and at one point, inside the Park a little a whole alder cam crashing down.

It was surreal, beautiful and awesome to be confronted with the raw and wild power of this early spring storm.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

Great April Fool's article in the Undercurrent it here.