Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rain breaks

It rained all day today. Black Jack is not a fan of wet weather, but once we made it as far as the rabbit bushes in Jericho park, she finally became enthused about her outdoor time. No pictures at the park, though. It was just too wet. She was shivering by the time we arrived home, but agreed to pose once she was curled up, warm and happy in her bed.

You might remember my early morning post on Wednesday, begging for one more dry ride. That request was granted, but perhaps it came at a cost. A flat tire, just as I turned the corner onto 1st Avenue in North Vancouver that morning meant a fairly lengthy walk to school. A few hours after that, I found out that my debit card was compromised, and by then, the rain was coming down full force. Bill came to the rescue, picking me up after school, driving me to the bank, from there to Ride on Again for a new tire, then to Duffy's Books to pick up two new photography books (kindly recommended by Iputts), and after all that, we stopped at Capers for some delicious soup and a salad. He turned a frustrating day into a very good one. Thank you, thank you, Bill!

On Thursday, my new temporary debit card wasn't working, and I had to stop at the bank (different branch this time) on the way home. Sitting with the teller for another hour, bedraggled and soaked after another wet ride, could have been much worse. She was a nice lady, and we did eventually sort out the problem. Friday morning, the rain stopped just as I arrived at school. I decided to take my students for a walk along the waterfront, and that turned out to be the perfect decision. They were tired of rain too, and getting outdoors without rain gear made us all giddy with excitement. The light was poor, and whatever new photography information that I'm gaining from my reading is at this point just about enough to establish how far I have to go. Still, with only one picture today (Saturday), they are all I have to show for the latter part of the week.

One of my students was the first to see this bird. I managed a quick picture before it flew off, and am guessing that it was some type of finch.
The next picture needed a lot of help from iphoto to lighten it, but I rather like it. I'll say finch again. Purple or House Finch? I'm really not sure.
One of my students tasted a berry like this. Sumac, I believe. He, to my relief, spit it out, although I know the birds eat them, so I guess there wasn't too much to worry about.
The rain held off, but the sky was very grey. I really wanted a better picture of this cormorant. (Double Crested, I think.) It looked like a teacher, lecturing to a line-up of shorebirds and seagulls.
Shortly after we watched the cormorant, a fireboat came along, and spent considerable time spewing water into the ocean. I guess it was a test exercise of some sort. What I don't understand is why they had to spray the water so close to the only log where birds could rest. The birds flew off. I'm hoping they were none the worse for wear.
I loved this little bird. It stayed in one spot for a minute or so. Long enough to get a little better quality picture than the others, but still, I haven't been able to positively identify it. Song Sparrow, maybe?
Some Canada Geese came by, but I was standing on a rock. By the time I was able to get them in my viewfinder, they were over the masts in the marina.
The weather really wasn't all that great, but for some reason, everything seemed to fall into place to make it a great walk. My students stopped to pat a dog, and that led to a new and wonderful connection. The dog was with its human, Wade Baker. He introduced himself, and told us that his dog's name translated to mean "Little Bear." Mr. Baker is an artist, and is responsible for the entrance to the Spirit Trail in North Vancouver. His design was also chosen for a millennium coin, and he has created many other beautiful and symbolic native works. He walked along with us, and by the turnaround point, had established a bond with my students. He had a book in his car, showing photos of some of his work, history, and recent introduction to Prince Charles and Princess Camilla. My students posed for pictures with him, and I thought a bit how sometimes, spur of the moment decisions like that class walk can lead to completely unexpected pleasures. The picture below shows the centre of the Spirit Trail carving being lifted into place.
As we headed back to school, I watched this cormorant (Double Crested, I think) take a bath.
Then it rose up, flapped its wings,
and began to skim over the water in a low altitude flight pattern.
I have read that cormorants cannot fly very well when wet, and that is why we so often see them with wings spread, trying to dry off. It seems a strange characteristic for a bird that dives for its food, but I do love watching them pose in various ballet positions when they are drying.
During the last few minutes of our walk, the light in the sky was quite lovely.
This poodle came bounding by, absolutely full of playful energy. I thought it might be trimmed like this because it was a movie star, or had some obligation that required a "classic" cut.
In fact, I learned that this cut is known as the Continental, and I guess its human had good reasons for wanting her dog to be clipped in the traditional cut. She was very nice to let me take pictures, and there was no question the dog was very, very happy, but I couldn't help but wonder if it wouldn't be more comfortable (and warmer) with more covering around its hind quarters.
I was glad that the walk had been so much fun, because the ride home was quite stressful. Thunder and lightening, just before I reached the Lions Gate Bridge, forced me to load the bike on a city bus. The poor driver had to brave the rain to help me do that, as I wasn't quite sure how the bike rack worked. I also wasn't prepared with the correct change, but again, the driver's kindness turned a stressful few moments into a good memory. He told me just to give him what I could find in my pockets, and although that was only a small portion of the fare, he was fine with that. He also helped me unload the bike once we were over the bridge. Thanks, dear bus driver. You are a kind soul indeed.
Tomorrow, the rain is supposed to let up a little, just for the one day. I'm happy about that. Bill and I will be going to Maple Ridge. Janice, of Hearts on Noses rescue, is moving down the road to a new home. I'm really looking forward to meeting her, as well as her pigs, horses, cats, dog and turtle. Jean, whose wonderful blog, My life with the critters, has given me food for thought for more than a year, will be there as well. She fostered ten of the pot-bellied pigs and remains loyal to them and to Janice, even though she now lives on The Island . How neat to finally meet people whose blogs I have been reading. I'm hoping to get some pictures, so stay tuned, and please send good thoughts for a stress-free transfer for all the critters to their new home.


  1. Thanks, William. Great to hear from you! Must check Facebook more often. Hope you are doing well!

  2. CORRECTION: It's Duthie Books, NOT Duffy's Books! Where did I get that wrong name into my head?? So sorry. Same link though. It's a lovely book store, with excellent selections and very friendly/efficient service.