Monday, May 29, 2006

Heart Cockle

For me the first sign of true summer arriving around here isn't the deceptive burst of hot weather we get in May. Rather it is the first song of the Swainson's Thrush, and this year I heard that call today for the first time.

Aine and I were down at Deep Bay (or Mannion Bay it was known in the past) during a super low tide today (1.2 feet) and we saw a number of interesting things. Of course, we recorded a podcast for you so if you find yourself at the beach, have a look for the things we found.

In no particular order we saw:

  • A chiton
  • Japanese and native oysters
  • Herons, Glaucous-winged gulls, mallard ducks, crows, Canada geese and a family of common mergansers
  • A closed green sea anemone
  • The cockle pictured above
We also talked about seeing ghost shrimp and gunnels which are eveident if you search around the foreshore in front of the CNIB camp on Snug Point.

Deep Bay walk podcast

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Says in the news that the chinook are starting to show up off the south shore of the island, just as the salmonberries ripen. This is when the old people say that the fish begin to return and so they are here right on schedule.

But I wasn't out fishing today. Today I was playing at Watson and Bell, in a scene reminiscent of the first telephone call. I was present at the birth of Radio Bowen.

Seems David Chamberlain, tinkerer, record collector and radio fan, got it in his head that he would start up a radio station on Bowen. Having community radio here has been a dream for people for many years now, but the cost and complexity of getting licensed is overwhelming. Dave on the other hand is undaunted.

With time on his hands and a strong will to get started, he has moved into a space in Artisan Square with the aim of running a bookstore and a small radio station. I visited him there today and heard, gloriously, the first test of the transmitter.

The bookstore is nothing yet: papered over windows and shelves laid out with masking tape on the floor. In the back room, in front of a picture window that looks out over Mount Collins, is a computer, an audio processor and small, 1 micro watt transmitter which falls well within in the standards for an unlicensed radio operation. With no audio compression, and the transmitter operating right out of the box, Dave was playing Louis Prima on the computer and transmitting a perfectly clear mono FM signal not 20 feet to an old radio in the bookstore part of the space. To the untrained eye, it was nothing, not even the range of the wireless router I am using to compose this post. But to a radio fan like me, it was like watching a child being born - a glorious, stunning achievement that means much.

Dave is broadcasting on 88.5mHz on the FM dial and as I drove by the outside of the shop, I couldn't get the signal. But with some good compression and a higher mount for the transmitter, he hopes that the Cove will be in range and that's about 1km away. But of course, in this day in age, the hope for real broadcasting will lie on the internet, so get ready for a streaming feed as soon as he can get the server set up and some programming in place. I've already suggested to him that we broadcast Evensong and the Irish music session at The Snug. It would be great to do the kitchen junket too and live broadcasts from the Bowen Island Fastpitch League. And how about Bowfest and concerts and lectures and the affordable housing forum...and that's before we even put mind to regular programming of local music, classic jazz and homemade radio plays.

Having worked in community radio for years in Peterborough, I can say that there is nothing like having a broadcast outlet for the creativity, inspiration and zaniness that all communities possess. I wish Dave the best of luck with the enterprise, and having been present for the birth of Bowen Radio, I'll be first in line to help stuff the airwaves full of goodness.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The sword ferns are almost finished unfurling their beautiful fiddleheads so Finn and I took a walk down to the Cove this afternoon to see if the salmonberries were ripe yet and we were in for a surprise. There were lots of ripe ones already, having turned golden yellow, orange or ruby red in the sun and heat of the last week. We picked a load and ate them on the fly and managed to save a cup or so which we turned into muffins when we got back home.

So here is a podcast of the first day of the annual salmonberry harvest. For the record we were picking berries in Crippen Park, along the Alder Trail beside the lagoon (centre of this map). The other bushes Finn talks about are along Miller Road west of where we were standing, near the entrance to the park. We have other places to get berries, but we're not telling where!

Anyway, enjoy the podcast.

Finn and Chris harvesting salmonberries (mp3)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My daughter Aine and I recorded a podcast today for your listening pleasure. As part of our Learning Centre program some of the kids, including Aine, help look after the salmon at the Bowen Island Fish Hatchery.

In this podcast we talk about the status of the fish at the hatchery, some rogue coho fry that have escaped to live in the creek and the Coho Bon Voyage event, coming up on June 4th at the hatchery.

I love the fact that our kids have hands on experience with the fish of our ocean. There is nothing to match the learning that comes from working to help make a difference in the world.

Listen to the podcast (mp3)

Monday, May 1, 2006

Last night the kids and I slept out on the porch. The air was incredibly fresh, borne on northwesterly winds that bring it down the coast from the Gulf of Alaska in the wake of the rain we had on Friday. I find these winds to be cleansing and relaxing, even as they blow fiercely down the Strait. Today, with much free time and a rare day on the island, I simply sank into a deeply happy state. It must be infectious, because I took a wrong call on my office phone and the woman at the other end said, out of the blue "well I'm sorry to have bothered you. I've lived on Bowen for 21 years and I love it anew everyday!" I assured her that, despite only five years on the rock, I shared her sentiment.

This morning we awoke to the strong sounds of the dawn chorus and I drove Finn across the island for a play date, stopping at Bowen Bay beach to pick a few smooth black pieces of siltstone and admire the wind and waves. I am dreaming of snorkelling the rock walls there in a couple of months.

The robins are all paired up, and we are beseiged with flocks of mergansers heading north. The flowers on the salal are coming out now and it looks to be a good year for these as well.

We have removed two ungainly and chewed up ornamental cedar trees from our small garden and replaced them with a lilac tree and a previously potted camillia. These two newcomers are surrounded by fence at the moment and it's anyone's guess if they will survive the curiosity of deer. But we are optimists when it comes to planting things. One has to be if one prefers not to garden amid a gulag in this place.