Friday, June 29, 2007

We've been at the mercy of rain showers, the odd thunderclap and sunny stretches in between. What is decidedly mixed weather. It's clear that the summer high is trying to build, but it's not coming in very strong.

A nice full day on the island today, out an about. Finn and I went berry picking by Grafton Lake and harvested another batch of salmonberries. We have more than enough for another full case of jam, and this time I'm going to try making it mostly yellow and see what happens. The huckleberries are starting to ripen and we picked a few of those, experimenting with a scraper, to try to harvest them more efficiently. They aren't exactly dripping off the bushes this year, and the best patches were still just a touch underripe.

We returned to the Cove for some lunch: a veggie burger at Paradise Grill and some tacos at Nancy's taco stand on the pier. Then, to top it off, up to Artisan Square for an espresso and a "perfect marriage" (milk chocolate with cranberries) at Cocoa West. And to my surprise, owner Carlos invited me to look around the corner at a space they have been renovating, and low and behold I stuck my head into Canada's first ever boutique Bed and Breakfast suite focusing on the finest chocolate imaginable. The suite is right at artisan square, is fully appointed, and comes with very fine chocolates and all the hospitality that Joanne and Carlos can muster. And it's a beautiful little space, all done up in chocolate tones. It opens this weekend, and is yet another creative offering from these two.

After we were amazed by that, Finn and I took off across the island again to beachcomb for campfire firewood at Bowen Bay beach and to pick up our weekly dose of pyrogy from Ruta Yawney. I think we must be faithful regulars of hers, as we have been consuming this Ukranian soul food every Friday night for the past several months, since she started offering it. If you're on island, head down to the market this weekend where she will be selling some Saturday and Sunday.

And here's a perfect way to spend a decadent car free weekend on Bowen Island: book into Carlos and Joanne's Bed and Chocolate suite on Friday night, call George and get him to pick up and order of Ruta's food for you, kick back with a movie, brunch at Tuscany, spend Saturday hiking the island by day and kayaking with Martin in the evening, and retire to Blue Eyed Mary's for supper. One more night at the suite, book a massage with on Sunday with Jackie at Artisan Square, brunch at The Galley and tootle around the Cove during the early afternoon. Grab a latte to go and catch an afternoon ferry home.

By the way, yesterday marked six years we've been on this rock. The blog turns six on July 2. Thanks for reading along.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It poured rain last night, bringing some beautiful fresh green to the world this morning. We had a bunch of guys scheduled to come help lift the hot tub in place but it was still pissing at 9:30 so we cancelled. At 10:00 however, the sky cleared and we called everyone back. They all returned and in less than 20 minutes we had the beast lifted and skidded on improvised 2x8 rails up the stairs and into place. We are just awaiting the electrician to hook it up and we're soaking.

We've moved out on to the deck to sleep full time now. It's so beautiful out there. Last night the barred owls we're hooting their "who-cooks-for-you" call through the sounds of falling rain

Friday, June 22, 2007

Claudia Schaefer has just posted a lovely set of photos from last weekend's nature dive led by Adam Taylor. Every year during the low tides in June, Adam leads a dive at Mount Gardiner to bring up the sea life that lives around our island so kids and adults alike can have a peek at it all. In the slide show, you'll see a variety of sea stars (vermillion, ochre, sunflower among others), different crabs, sea cucumbers and a bay pipefish which is an elusive relation of the seahorse. I've been lucky enough to see one of these in the wild at Bowen Bay last summer while I was snorkelling.

What you don't see in the slide show is an octopus, but there are many living in the area where these animals were found. North Pacific giant octopii grow to huge proportions (up to 14 feet across) and are both common and gentle creatures and highly intelligent. I can't wait to get the snorkel gear out. Won't be long now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer solstice came and went at 6:00am this morning. Up at Rivendell, Marks McAvity reports that the labyrinth is officially done and was opened at that moment.

The weather is changeable, very humid, but mostly sunny with the odd rain shower precipitating when the air gets too soggy. Mornings are cloudy, evenings are clear and the ballgame last night (in which the Celtics achieved a huge triumph over the Firemen) had players trying to hit pitches that were coming right out of the midsummer sun.

Last night, at 3:00am a big wind came up and blew for the next three hours. I was out of the house at 6am and off to catch a ferry to town and floatplane to Victoria. I've left the family dealing with a bevy of helpers: Jeremy, who is rebuilding the front deck and building a much needed support wall and foundation on the open side of the house; the Bowen Freight guys who are delivering a hot tub; and an Israeli electrician from town who is wiring it up for us. We've been in the house six years now and it's time for some big upgrades. Our friend Julie has also been at the garden and has brought it back to life as well.

The supporting wall has to do with the fact that, despite having survived for 15 years, the pilings supporting our house are not as strong as they coupld be. We have a huge open space under the south side of the house where we store our wood and it could use more support. So instead of putting in more piles, we are building a foundation along the south side and two supporting walls to rest on it. This will substantially cut down the sway in the house when the wind blows or the dryer turns, or the kids come stomping in. It will also make the place a little more earthquake proof.

Once Jeremy finishes that, he's going to reattach the front deck, or more precisely, rebuild it. We are going to change it around as well and put in some more garden space at the front of the house. This will open up the front of our property which could be lovely if it were a little more accessible.

As for the hot tub...that's just gravy. Once we manhandle it to the top deck that is. Bowen Frieght will only deliver it to the top of our driveway. That is seventeen steps and twenty meters of distance away from where it needs to go. Anyone showing up on Sunday to help us move it gets the first soak in it once the electrician hooks us up.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's a beautiful morning, clearing and still cool, but today will be hot. I walked to the Cove to catch an early morning ferry, smothered in birdsong. The Townsend Solitaire's are carving the air with their spiralling song. My breakfast was a handful of salmonberries and a shot of espresso at The Snug.

Boats are on my mind this morning. There is a day tripper ketch moored at the government dock, and my friend Markus and I were speculating about it. The masts look older than the hull. Markus himself discovered a video of the boat he is salvaging on the CBC archives. Apparently it was owned by Greenpeace founder Bob Hunter, who died in 2005. If you watch the video, you can see a full shot of the boat at the :29 second mark. That's quite a find for Markus.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The final product

The final product.

It has been raining for the past could days, and cold like autumn. It happens like this every year, and every year people wonder what happened to summer. We always get a taste of summer in May and every June we get the rainy season's last gasp. I've been sleeping out on the porch for the last couple of nights, mostly due to Caitlin having a terrible throat infection, but I would be out there's beautiful at night in the cool air with the rain falling and no wind. And to awake in the full light at 5:30 am with the towhees madly trying to attract mates is a beautiful alarm clock.

I was thinking today how much Bowen has changed in the nearly six years I have been here. I'm in that spot now where people start to say "the Island isn't what it used to be." Of course that's true, it's always true, but there is a time in seeing change when you become aware that the change that is happening has changed the way you see things too. What is lamented is the fact that we don't see things the way we used to. So I am conscious, having spent so much of this year away from Bowen, of my new eyes, curious to see how things will be in the summer when I sink into the rhythm of this place.

Friday, June 15, 2007

2007 Salmonberry harvest

The salmonberries are ripe and the harvest has begun. On Wednesday the family went out picking and we loaded u. There are tons of berries around, huge in size and the bushes are just dripping with them. These ones are destined for jam and whatever else we harvest will get frozen to use in smoothies, on yogurt or in breads and muffins.