Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A sweet day

First salmonberry blossom

Such a sweet day on the island yesterday. Finished work around 2 and together the four of us walked down to the Cove. We did it my favourite way, along the foreshore, starting at the north end of Pebbly Beach where a trail from Miller Road leads down to the water. The air was clear and still and there was much life in Mannion Bay. Saw the first seal I have seen in ages, a grey harbour seal that was drifting around looking at what was happening. Lots of birds down there as well, including migrating common goldeneys, scaups, buffleheads and a lone merganser. Pelagic cormorants, and flocks of white-winged scoters zipped around the mouth of the bay. Mew gulls and oystercatchers patrolled the beach with the crows, herons, geese and mallards.

At the Cove, we stopped for a bit at The Snug and had a game of chess on Bob Bates`big chess board. Noticed that VONIGO had closed up and announced a move, although I'm not sure to where. Ai, at The Snug said they were thinking about expanding into the VONIGO space somehow for the summer.

Walking up Trunk Road to Village Square, we stopped in a Phoenix for books and some collectibles that the kids are acquiring with their allowance. Picked up fixings for dinner and then walked home again along the foreshore, the beds of barnacles and mussels with ochre sea stars scattered about, and the first salmonberry blossoms opening.

Made a fire in the fire pit when we got home and the kids explored various kinds of tinder and kindling, from dry bracken to dead salal to small twigs of pitchy Douglas-fir. Barbecued some veggie burgers and sat around the fire as the sun went down and the stars came out. Finished the evening by pointing the telescope at Saturn and noting the side on view of the rings, different this year than it was two years ago, when we saw so much more of the rings.

Our gate is finished in the garden and all is well here. I'm heading off island for a spell now, and cannot think of a sweeter way to leave than the spring day we lived yesterday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The rhythm of the morning

Another beautiful morning here: clear and still.  In the dawn chorus, there are a pair of chickadees nesting across the road from us that are the champion singers.  They are doing their little call which is a two note descending tweet-tweet.  One chickadee does it and the other follows on with the same song, but sung a note lower.  Their rhythm is steady, and when they get out of synch, they stop and start again.  

In the meantime, the crows and ravens are cawing, the flickers are drumming, towhees wheezing in the undergrowth.  The nature of spring means that everyone is repeating their various sounds on a regular interval, and the forest is full of rhythm.  Once in a while, warblers and wrens let loose with solos over top of the whole thing.  It's as if someone has sampled all of these birds and put them into a bed track.  You could rhyme over top of it easily.  The rhythm shifts and changes subtly but it is so engaging that I lay in my sleeping bag for a full hour listening raptly to the chorus, and feeling all of these beats beneath it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where did David's bench go?

QUite a while ago, David Cameron designed and built a bench at the Causeway that was the best bench in the world. The other day as I was walking along the Causeway I noticed that the bench had gone. I posted a thread on the forum to see what had happened to it and we're investigating. When the GVRD offices open up on Tuesday I'll make some inquiries.

That is/was a great bench...a comfortable and beautiful bench. a bench unlike all of the uncomfortable memorial monstrosities that no one sits in because they don't HOLD you like yours did/does. I've sat in that bench facing the lagoon while a vicious southeasterly gale was blowing and I was warm and sheltered from the driving wind and rain. The thing didn't NEED a was built aerodynamically enough that it was impossible to get wet on it!

When I die, I hope someone will build a bench like that to remember me by, with the option to look forward or back, as the weather or mood warrants.

David has offered to recreate it if it has gone missing for nefarious purposes. Let's see what we can do to get it back.

UPDATE: Good news! Kevin Huskison called from GVRD Parks to let me know that the bench is being refurbished and will be back on the Causeway in 2- 3 weeks.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Old haunts

The first summer we moved to Bowen Island, Aine was four and Finn was just a nine month old baby. When he went to sleep at night, Aine and I would take a drive up to our very favourite spot on the whole island, at Smuggler's Cove. We would sit on the rocks and watch the ferries come and go to Langdale, while seals played in the water.

We returned there today, on a day when one of our budgies died, and walked quietly among the bladderwrack and mussels remembering life when Aine was smaller. We didn;t see any seals, but we did see a pelagic cormorant and hundreds of white-winged scoters doing circuits around the island. Also, the young alder saplings were full of warblers and kinglets and robins.

Friday, April 10, 2009

New birds, quiet beaches and coffeehouses.

Yesterday was sweet. Warm again in the afternoon after a cool and rainy start to the day. I was in town yesterday and I walked back through Deep Bay and along Pebbly Beach and then up to Miller Road. I stopped for a while on Pebbly Beach to stand by the ocean and drink it in. Standing right on the place where Wolfgang Duntz, one of our neighbours wants to put a big concrete and steel pier for the docking of his boat. Resolved more than ever that that is a bad idea.

Whilst standing in a state of rapt meditation, a loon called out from water. Always a surprise to hear these birds on the ocean, so strongly are they identified in my mind with my younger years spent on the lakes and rivers of Ontario and Quebec. A common loon warbling in the calm of a spring afternoon was perfect medicine: it made me ache to get our canoe on the water.

After getting home, I wolfed down some dinner and headed out to The Happy Isle Cafe where an open mic night was in progress. A number of musicians and poets had gathered to lay out some good stuff, poems about our place in the cosmos and our place in the family, songs about the soft places inside hard men, and the things we cling to. Aine and I sang together, which is something I love. She has The Gypsy Rover nailed, and she sang beautifully. Then she joined me on a couple of other songs.

A nice way to ease into the long weekend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Stormy weather

This morning the temperature is dropping and the clouds are building into Howe Sound. A complex of mini lows and a deteriorating front are moving into the coast this morning, and in advance of all of that. the winds have swung southeast and come up. Probably blowing abou 30km/h now, from dead calm an hour ago.

A flock of black scoters just flew by low over the water and there are other birds around too. The last couple of mornings, a yellow warbler has joined the dawn chorus and yesterday, in Horseshoe Bay, I spotted my first violet-green swallow of the year.
George Zawadski recorded me singing my Song for the Cape last week:


Monday, April 6, 2009

Home again and a loss

Returned home from a trip to the States by sailing over smooth waters on a pictre perfect day - the nicest of the year so far. It's warm out even tonight and this evening we had dinner on the front porch for the first time this year.

Got home to find out that Ken Seed died a couple of weeks ago. Ken was a great character, and a purveyor of fish. I always bought my sides of salmon from him, smoked or just fresh frozen. I recently traded a side of smoked salmon I had with an Elder from Northern Ontario for five pounds of wild rice.

I have always enjoyed visiting Ken and Marguerite's house on Woods Road. It is an old cottage with a vaulted ceiling and an eclectic collection of wild animal skins, excellent kitchen ware (Ken loved to cook) and interesting knick knacks. You could never just go over there for a few minutes; there was bound to be a story or an invitation to try whatever was simmering on the stove. You couldn't help but ask about the skins on the walls. Ken would happily chat about his hunting trips and Marguerite never stopped praising his cooking. I once backed into a ditch getting out of their impossible driveway and Ken just dropped what he was doing, rolled up his sleeves and got a chain together to drag us out again. You always remember the folks that have you out of ditches.

So on this beautiful day, my condolences go out to Marguerite on her loss, a loss which is shared by many Islanders today. On to your reward Ken!

Bowen Juggles worldwide

A great report from Paul Stewart on the Bowen Island Juggling Club World Domination Excursion to the Victoria Juggling Festival. Next weekend, Paul and Calder head down to Santa Barbara, taking our little club's imperial plans to the international stage!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Bridge to Bowen now official

Here is the artists rendering of the design for the new bridge to Bowen Island.  The bridge is being called the Union Bridge in honour of the historical legacy Union Steamship Company and the union of Bowen with the mainland.

Looks like our ferry woes will be finally resolved!

Thanks to Nat for breaking the news.