Friday, June 30, 2006

Aine and I went for an after dinner swim in Deep Bay tonight at Sandy Beach. The red tide was thick and the water even smelled a little weedy. This is the biggest red tide bloom in resent memory on the west coast and it has closed the shellfishery. Not at all dangerous to swim in, but startling to see the murky purple water.
We have just past our fifth anniversary of living on Bowen Island. Five winters, five springs five summers, five falls.

In that time, I think this blog has been all or partly responsible for attracting five great families to Bowen too. I like to think that this is part of the human voice of island living out there in world, documenting the trials and joys of dwelling on this lovely rock.

Thanks for being with us!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Google has finally updated the satelite photos of Bowen Island and they are much better resolution. You can see my house in this shot, just to the northwest of the green arrow which is pointing at the southeastern edge of my lot.

Huckleberry season is in full swing. I pick about a cup every time I walk to the Cove these days. I'm freezing them to see if I can get enough to make some jam this year.

And I've been swimming for a week, in Deep Bay. The water has ranged in temperature and salinity. Today was nice, Friday was freezing.

Happy solstice!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The transformation of Cape Roger Curtis has begun. The owners have punched a road into the lot from the end of Whitesails, officially making it a subdivision and changing all of the options at the same time. Once there is work on the land, a comprehensive plan becomes a difficult thing to do.

Islanders will be out there tomorrow for a rally. I'm not sure what the options are at this point but I know they are substantially limited by the fact that the road is being built.

It's a sad day. I wrote a song about this in the style of an Irish Aisling which has been sung around the island for a few months now. Seems like a good place to post it.

One stormy spring day
As I rambled at the Cape
And gazed out to the ocean
Where the seals sport and play.
From the sea foam and spray
There arose a fair maid
As she stepped on the rocky shore
To me she did say:

Oh the old world is dying, and the new is yet to come.
Oh the old world is dying, and the new is yet to come.

Her gaze met my eye
And she began to cry
And her keening stilled the south wind
In the far distant sky
Said she "Sir, you stand
Firmly rooted on this land
I appeal to your true heart
Will you give me your hand?"

For the old world is dying, and the new is yet to come
For the old world is dying, and the new is yet to come

The wind died away
And the sea foam and the spray
Took back the fair maiden
At the end of the day
In a grove of old fir
I felt my heart a-stir
To respond to her calling
And devote my life to her

For the old world is dying, and the new is yet to come
For the old world is dying, and the new is yet to come

I suspect next spring, we will be unable to harvest nettles down there. This is a big change for the island in many ways. I am certain we will look back on the building of that road as a turning point.

If you can make it to the rally, it's at 10:30 tomorrow morning at the end of Whitesails in Tunstall Bay, the new access road to Cape Roger Curtis.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

An update from David Chamberlain about the radio station:

Hey Chris. Just read your blog about the radio station and thought I'd correct something - we're test broadcasting on 88.7 FM, not 88.5. Could be why you couldn't get it.

As an update, we now have audio processing and a few tag lines - we're going to be recording more tag lines now that I also have a voice processor up and running (they sound somewhat hollow at this point).

Testing has indicated that it's all about line of sight. If you can see the antenna (still in the back room of the bookstore at Artisan Square, on the north side of te square), you can receive the signal (within reason, of course, considering the power output). That means that right now, it's strong at the United Church on Miller, and all along Miller up to about Scarborough Road. You can also receive it reasonably along Lenora and Melmore in Deep Bay. It starts to fade out past Miller/Dorman in the Cove, but I hope that once the antenna is raised a good 30 feet or so (I'm aiming for sometime in July, have all the equipment, just need to arrange to get it up there), we'll top the hill blocking Cove access and get into there as well. And luckily for me, the signal is strong along the Mount Gardiner valley - I hope to be able to receive it at my home on Smith Road (at the far end of Killarney Lake) once I get the transmitter antenna up and I put up a long wire antenna on the receiving end (coupled with a high end, sensitive home stereo, of course).

The bookstore now has built-in bookshelves along one wall, and one free-standing, double-sided shelf. We will be building one more free standing shelf for the opening July 1, with more to come as we get going. And once the bookstore opens, I'm really going to start the push for programming at the radio station. Expect to hear a lot of buzz over the summer as I put things into gear. And I'm working on 'live' ferry updates to go into effect when we finally launch. I have my Internet connection finally up and going and should have audio streaming within the next month. Exciting.

So 88.7 it is, and soon to be streamed to the rest of the world as well. You can see the range of the station, roughly speaking, in this Google Map. And of course, as soon as the station is live on the Internet, you'll have the link on the side bar here.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Ate my first huckleberry today.

In reviewing some posts from past years, it seems like this year is much like last year with respect to the weather and subsequent spring berry harvest. The hot spell followed by cool weather and lots of rain this week is plumping up the huckleberries. Some bushes are already producing, and others are well on their way.

Salmonberries are hanging on too, and there seems to be more this year than last year even, and they are lasting longer. Some bushes are just coming into their primes now, while in previous years, they're near done by now.

I might get a chance to check the raspberry patches this weekend. Weather is supposed to be sunny and hot, so that will bring the berries along even more.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Tuesday, June 6, 2006


Last weekend, as the rain began to abate, we headed down to the fish hatchery to release the coho into Terminal Creek. This is an annual ritual for us now, and this year we joined the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Society with the intention of participating the Streamkeepers program. Steamkeepers is a program designed to get more volunteers working on habitat monitoring and restoration. The program is pretty comprehensive and also consists of training on many aspects of stream care and fisheries monitoring.

Since I have lived on the west coast (coming on 12 years now) I have had an affinity for salmon. I am in awe of these fish, not only for their epic journeys but also for the way in which they bring nutrients from the ocean deep into the interior of British Columbia. It is true to say that without the salmon, BC would be a very different physical place than it is now. Joining the Streamkeepers and helping get that program up and running on Bowen again is one way for me to actually work with these fish, to become connected in a deeper way to the land and streams around me and to help preserve one of the great food sources in our ocean, a source which I feel we will need to rely on more and more on the local level over the next several decades and a source which will be increasingly under threat from everything from global warming to local development.

Over the weekend some Streamkeepers from Squamish came down to visit our operations at the hatchery and we were all speculating on why there were so few coho coming back this year. One theory was that the Pacific White-Sided Dolphin has changed its feeding habits and range since the ocean has warmed a little and is now intercepting coho around Haida Gwaii which is far north of its traditional range. That is simply one consequence of global warming.

And so these little fish that Finn is releasing into Terminal Creek will perhaps become dolphin food, or maybe they will end up on your plate, or perhaps they will survive all the odds, get a taste of their home stream from way out in the ocean and find their way back home, to climb the ladder up Bridal Veil Falls and spawn and die on the spot where it was hatched and released.

Who wouldn't want to have a close relationship with these animals?

Thursday, June 1, 2006

June has rolled in as usual with its mix of sun and rain. The temperature has been very warm the last few days and the rain has felt like summer rain when it has fallen. This marks the first real break between the colder rains of winter and spring and the summer. It is an annual pattern here on the coast that the first warm burst of nice weather in the spring is always followed by an interregnum of mixed weather before the summer arrives. I think this unstable pattern happens as the annual summer high pressure cell forms over the Gulf of Alaska. Once that is in place, the northeast Pacific becomes quite stable, less windy and warm. There is very little rain typically from the middle of July to the end of September, until the high collapses with the waning sunlight and lessening solar energy.

We're clearly about a month or so away from the stable summer weather, but the rise in air temperature and the warmth of the rain indicates that the cold air has disappeared for now from the lower layers of the atmosphere. We might yet get some cool and wet days, but it feels to me like the burning season is well and truly behind us now. My last fire was last weekend during a cool evening rain storm.

Some kids have already been swimming on the island, although I haven't yet gotten around to it. Soon though. I have a great desire to do so though, perhaps this week.