Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Burrard Bridge, Folk Festival, Colony Farm

I'm not on the Burrard Bridge, but I am on a bike, even if it is almost a year ago, and on Vancouver Island.  That's the best I can do, to come up with an image to go with my thoughts about the first day of the experimental cycling routes across the bridge.
So, what are my thoughts?  I'm almost afraid to say this.  In fact, I was afraid to say anything at the Vancouver Cycling Coalition site, where they are begging cyclists to post their positive thoughts (only).  I was also too chicken to say anything on the CBC comment pages.  Part of the reason for that was the sheer number of comments there - 
way too many to read, although I made a valiant effort.  My thoughts?  Here goes....I didn't like it very much.    
Okay, don't yell at me.  I do appreciate the effort, but the cost really bothers me, as do the exacerbated hard feelings between motorists and cyclists.  Going North over the bridge this morning, I was really happy.  The barrier may not be beautiful, but I feel it addresses the problem of safety, which was the only complaint I've had, after more than four years crossing the bridge.  Yes, the bike part was narrower than before, but it was wide enough, and it left lots of room for pedestrians to my right.  Yes, it might have meant a little more time to get across, if a slower cyclist were in front of me, or it might have irritated a faster cyclist behind me, but the bridge just isn't that long, and the few minutes delay that could be caused by a slower cyclist is just not that big a deal.  Why couldn't they have done the same thing on the other side for my trip home?  That huge lane allowed lots of space for speed-demon cyclists to fly past, thrilled to have a faster route.  They reminded me of the drivers who compulsively pass everyone in their path to get their shot of one-up-man-ship for the day.  I felt in more danger from cyclists than drivers.  The old way, with just a barrier added to keep me from being pushed into traffic, would have been cheaper, better PR and just fine with me.  They're, I've said it.

And now, for rant #2 - the Folk Festival at Jericho Park.  As with rant #1, it comes from someone who loves the very thing they are about to not support.  I'm a music teacher for Pete's sake.  I love all kinds of music, including folk, but why does it have to be in one of the most beautiful and delicate nature areas in the city.  Why couldn't it be on city streets, like the Jazz Festival?  I don't get it.  The trauma to the green space has barely begun...  
But already, even though it still looks quite beautiful in many spots, the absence of bird songs and wildlife sightings are noticeable.  Just wait until thousands of loud and littering people try to compete with a kazillion amplifiers to make themselves heard.  They don't really listen to the music, it seems to me.  They yell over it.  I imagine the trauma to birds and beasts, and my heart aches for them.
Ten days to set up, at least a week to take down, and maybe four days of the festival itself.  I'll be honest.  I hate it.

End of rants.  Promise.

Below, a very poor picture, but the first that gives a definite view of a little mouth in the Osprey nest at the foot of Fell Street in North Vancouver.  The parents are working like crazy to keep it fed.  It's humbling to watch them.  

These next five pictures are all of neighborhood blooms taken yesterday and today during my walks with Black Jack.  It amazes me how the gardens change from day to day.  Lately, orange and yellow seem to be everywhere.
Check out the bumble bee.

On Sunday, Bill and I went to Colony Farm.  It is a birder's and photographer's paradise, although my pictures for the day were not very impressive.  My first feeling about the place was mixed.  The long grasses, elderberry  bushes (at least that's what I think they may have been), bird songs and Black Jack's enthusiasm were  all encouraging, but those houses in the background seemed incongruous, to say the least. 
It didn't take long, though, before I knew I would want to return to this spot again and again.

Is this wheat?  I found it beautiful, and Black Jack was fascinated with whatever she thought was hiding in its midst.  I took a lot of pictures of her, but her tail end has never been her more flattering half, so I'll spare you the vision.
My photograph did not do this tree and its surroundings justice, but maybe you can imagine.  
There were all kinds of new birds to discover, but they mostly were heard and not found by me on Sunday.  The best shots I managed to get were these two.

The trip, however, was made very memorable by our encounter with a man I will call "Ship".  He is an extremely talented photographer and even better than that, he cares deeply about his subjects.  He told us the story of this Pied-billed Grebe mother.  I'm sorry the picture is so poor, but I have to show it, because it goes with the story.  
To the left, is a nest in the middle of the river.  Two young grebes sit in that nest, and although they are old enough to swim, they seem, so far, not to have left their home.  To the right is a mother, with two younger children that hatched later.  Her original brood consisted of seven babies, but five of them, along with her husband, were killed by an otter.  She deposited the other two on that nest, and must have told them to stay there.  Her younger two stay in a nest closer to the water's edge, and swim with her when she goes to feed the older ones.  Ship believes her strategy is to keep the two older ones separate, in the hopes of at least being able to save one set, if the otter goes after the other.  It's a tragic story, and again, I am humbled.  I was also touched by the fact that Ship is so aware of the drama and courage and hope in it.  He didn't say that he had given the birds names, as I have been known to do with the herons, but I can't help but suspect he knows those birds more intimately than any I've talked about previously in this blog.   

Here, if you can manage to see her, is the mother feeding one of the younger children.  I hope to go back and do a little better with the picture taking, and I really hope that this family will still be there.  In the mean time, check out Ship's photographs on Flikr.  You will be stunned, I promise.
And finally, to conclude the post, some pictures of Bill with Black Jack.  Here, she is taking advantage of her vantage point to case the area.

...and on the other side...
...nothing so exciting that she can't take a minute to tell Bill she loves him.  This was my favorite shot on Sunday.
Thank you, Bill, for another great day!


  1. Hello,

    I just can't imagine what will happen to all those birds, trees, flowers when the festival takes over, not really a good venue to hold a song festival. Birds don't need music they can sing for themselves.

    You've travelled so far with your bike and Scott, did you always give Scott a ride?

    Pictures of flowers are amazing especially the red one.


  2. Carol, I hear your frustration with the "system," as far as bridge crossings and folk festivals. The only thoughts I have are these:
    **bureaucrats often give us the things they think we want, without knowing anything about what they're giving. My hope for the bridge is that they did the two different approaches to see which one was better received--and they may adjust at a later date (not knowing exactly what they have done, past your description).
    **though the festival may be disruptive for the short term, I'm assuming that it has happened before, and the habitat at Jericho is none the worse for wear in the long run--after all, you've been able to enjoy it all year.
    As for the photos--Love the lilies! And, no, that's not wheat--looks like it may be orchard grass or some similar--we have some farmers that grow orchard here in the valley (it's a nice in-between protein for horse consumption, between "hot" alfalfa and timothy).

  3. Or, looking again, it may be "canary grass" which thrives in damp soil, and can be quite invasive, though not really noxious.

  4. Thanks for your comments, Al and EvenSong. I really appreciate them!

    Al, Black Jack, my new little dog, travels in that frontpack when I have time to take her biking with me. Scott was much bigger, and when I had him, we walked and jogged together, but never biked.

    EvenSong, you are right that the mayor is doing his best to accommodate cyclists. I just feel it could have been done just as safely, without frustrating the motorists, and with much less expense. I'm hoping you are also right that there may be an adjustment after the trial period.

    And again, you are right that the wildlife seems to recover at Jericho, although the grass is usually finished until the following Spring. I am happy to share the riches of Jericho with other nature lovers and dog walkers who are amazingly respectful, but the folk music crowd is not there for nature. I feel they could enjoy the music just as much, or possibly even more, in a similar location to the Jazz Festival. The last time I saw the festival was more than 8 years ago, and hopefully, things have changed, but at that time, there were mounds of garbage left all over the grounds and along the beach. It really was sad to see it. At best, the wildlife is disturbed; at worst, I can't help but suspect some birds and beasts do not survive.

  5. I have never understood the mounds of garbage Vancouverites and visitors leave all over the place after any public event in the city. The images post-fireworks competition is enough to make me ill. Okay, I guess I shouldn't just point fingers at the city -I know it happens in rural settings too (certainly the Merritt festival site is left in a disgusting mess). What is the matter with people???

    I was thinking of you as I watched the news footage of the Burrard Bridge Bike lane, and wondering what your opinion would be. Thanks for sharing.

    Love the last picture of Bill and Black Jack - there is something so special about photos of the love between human and animal.

  6. Thanks for the link to "Ship Stone" on Flickr. His slideshow is also worth watching.

    It seems the disruption on the Burrard Bridge was not as bad as feared. I hope for your sake it continues; we don't need any incidences of bike or car rage. Can't we all just get along?

    I am wondering about those reddish berry-laden trees in Colony Park. These images of elderberries show a much darker berry.

  7. Thanks, Jean. Yes, there are some things about human nature that mystify me. It seems it would be so simple for each person to clean up his/her own garbage.

    Thanks for those links, Bill. Ship Stone's work is incredible!! And yes, I was wondering if those bushes might be Sumac, although I did notice one bright red out of the many dark berry images you found in the elderberry link.