Saturday, January 30, 2010

The cherry blossoms are just beginning to bloom

Last Tuesday, I saw my first cherry blossoms of the season. They were blooming vigorously on a small tree on the north side of 5th Avenue in Kitsilano, as I cycled to school, early in the morning. It was a bit rainy, and a bit dark and I was just a tad pressed for time, so I didn't stop, but they brightened the day, and I thought I might return soon for a photo. The next cherry blossom sighting was a day later, near my school in North Vancouver, and once more, there was no time to stop. On Friday, I saw the 5th Avenue tree again, on yet another day when there was no time to stop. I was on the way to keep an appointment at the license bureau, hopefully to get an enhanced driver's license.

*This next paragraph is a bit of a rant, and you may want to skip it.

That appointment was one of the few times when I was sadly reminded that I do have a mostly hidden, but occasionally surfacing, temper. It seems, the combination of bureaucracy and my own time management challenges will do it. I had brought four versions of my Quebec birth certificate (one handwritten with ink from the year 1947, dated five weeks after I was born, and certified by the minister of the church where I was baptized to be an "exact copy from the church register", another dated in 1962, and one more "official seal" document dated 1968, that one also fortified with a plastic card issued by the government. As the, I'm sorry to say it, very prissy young lady at the license bureau reminded me, if I had only read the instructions more carefully, I would have known that I needed the special new form of certificate issued in 1994. I had read the paper instructions included with my driver's license application, but had not gone to the web site, as suggested, for the complete version. The paper stated, "original birth certificate" required, and I truly thought I couldn't go wrong. I had underestimated the lengths officials will go, to make sure this ten-year resident of BC, with two police checks under her belt to get her teacher's certificate, a current license with photo in hand, a medical card, social insurance number, and several other id's, is exactly who she says she is. To those of you who work in bureaucratic positions, a word of advice. Just because you are right, and understand all the regulations perfectly, is no reason why you shouldn't restrain yourself from reminding someone less inclined to such regulatory perfection, that she lacks reading skills. Although you can't possibly know that the old-enough-to-be-your-grandmother lady has mistakenly biked all the way up the very, very steep hill of MacDonald Street to the corner of 42nd Street, which unkindly turned into Larch Street without much warning, has finally asked directions, turned around and biked back down to 24th, and is standing in front of you now, quite proud to have still kept her appointment on time, and certain that she has all the necessary documents to acquire the coveted EDL (enhanced driver's license). No, you can't possibly know this, but the sweat pouring from her brow might be reason to, at the very least, offer a word of understanding rather than sanctimonious reminders. To my credit, I didn't call that young lady any of the words that first came to mind, but I know my eyes bulged, the sweat streamed even more profusely, and a swear word (beginning with "d" so it could admittedly be worse) escaped my lips as I slammed my papers down on her desk. I regret this. It is frightening and horrible to be truly angry, and it achieves exactly nothing. Thank you to the more human young lady at the second desk who offered me an un-enhanced license, and reminded me to take my helmet and glasses off, and not to smile for the picture. That was my first, and very much needed laugh of the license bureau encounter, and although I can only imagine what that picture will reflect of my personality, and though I still slunk out of the office wishing for invisibility, I at least have that shared chuckle to soften an otherwise absolutely awful start to the day. *End of rant.

You will be glad to know that my day did get better. With about an hour to spare before classes, I decided to do a small stop-off in Stanley Park, on the way to school.

My first bird sighting was along English Bay. I think this may have been the same gentleman that I saw with swans digging in his pockets a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure why he was reaching behind him, but I know it wasn't to shoo the pigeons away. He may have been trying to stop an argument, perhaps just petting his friends, maybe giving food, or even possibly protecting his head from sharp pigeon toes.

When the food was gone, most of the pigeons left, but this one seemed to know the supply was not quite exhausted.

As the man headed away, he slipped a little food to that one persistent bird, and it took only seconds before the others noticed, and he was bombarded again. I enjoyed watching the encounter. The day was looking up.

Still along English Bay, I watched a pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes. They dove so often, it was tricky to catch them above water.

Here, the female..

and here, her mate.

I walked the bike along Beach Avenue, then crossed over the street, and up the path of the Parks Board Office. I had never noticed this beautiful old tree before. No time to change my long lens, so I satisfied myself with just a small portion of the tree and its beautifully twisting branches.
These yellow flowers are growing in front of the Parks Board Office. Although I can't name them, they added to a sunny feel the day was beginning to take on.

I continued on to spend a few moments at Lost Lagoon. The swans were as beautiful as ever.

And, finally, a cherry blossom! Another of those pictures when a 150-500mm lens is ridiculous overkill, but I had no time to change it, so this is just one tiny little part of a lovely tree.

There were lots of Mallards, with the occasional surprise among them. I am guessing this to be a female Lesser Scaup.

This heron seemed to change colours, depending on the sun's reflections on the pond. Here, the golden look.

And here, a more blue look. I loved the way it marched forward to check out..

that splash of water in front of the rocks.

I thought it would come up with a small fish, but instead,

a stick. I had checked out the heronry, thinking it is just about time for the herons to begin reconstructing their nests. I wonder if this one was just beginning to build up a stock of branches.

Just time for a few more duck observations, before I left to cross the Lions Gate. I had trouble identifying this one. Maybe, a young, female Wigeon - possibly a hybrid American-Eurasian?

Maybe this was the mate to the Lesser Scaup above?

This American Coot was perturbed, I thought.

It followed this one, and although my book shows no way to differentiate males and females, I thought her coy posture possibly indicated that she was the object of his desires.

Thanks for reading my rather lengthy account of Friday morning's adventures.

As I post early in the afternoon on Saturday, the rain has yet to let up. Poor Black Jack has a tenuous relationship at best with rain, so we'll play some ball in the apartment, and hope for a few dry moments to get outside later. Happy weekend to you!


  1. I don't visit blogger that often but whenever I have the chance, I always drop by yours because it's such a pleasure to just simply looking at those amazing pictures. Thank you so much Carol! Especially that cherry blossom one, it really warms me up while the snow is still falling heavily where I am now.

  2. I loved your rant... it sounds as if you handled it rather well considering the obstacles. I would just apply for a passport and forget the enhanced driver's license!

    I think the bird man is remarkable... I wonder if he ever has lice in his hair?


  3. Sometimes a good rant cleanses the soul! :))

  4. Thanks, for the comments, everyone.

    Diem. It is good to hear from you, and nice that you were able to find the pictures after that long rant:)

    Phyllis, glad you enjoyed it:) I hadn't thought of lice, but your question triggered my curiosity, so I did a search. Apparently, bird lice will occasionally bite humans, but they cannot live more than a few hours away from their avian hosts. Maybe that's why he wears the hat:)

    Yes, Penelope, there was something cleansing about ranting, especially since the more humorous aspects struck me in retrospect. It still makes me smile every time I think about the second person telling me not to smile for the photo. I am thinking now, though, that I may have achieved the same cathartic benefit by writing and immediately deleting that paragraph. Hopefully, no more rants for a very, very long time:)

  5. OMG... soooo jealous. Flowers are blooming already? I dont remember it happening so soon...
    Its just snow and ice here... I have to wait till April to see any sign of life coming back. Sigh.

  6. Doesn't it seem ironic that we must prove we are who we say we are by obtaining a "new and improved" birth certificate?? How in the world could it be more secure than the assortment of evidence you had in hand?

    I laughed out loud at the picture of the man with the pigeons on his head. I have a similar photo of my brother and I, at ages 4 and 5, standing in Trafalgar Square in London England, our heads covered with pigeons. We had been feeding them the little sacks of birdseed you could buy way back then (early 1950s), and my brother had the bright idea of sprinkling the seed on the top of our heads! And no,we weren't wearing hats!

  7. Nice to hear from you Nev! Yeah, I was born in the East, and spent many, many winters there, so the early flowers here never fail to amaze me.

    Your comment made me laugh, Jean. Maybe, one day you will post that picture of you and your brother. I would love to see it!

  8. lovely post! will be checking your blog for updates on cherry blossoms (:

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