Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vancouver lately, and Sunshine Coast - Day 1

When birds fledge, I breath a sigh of relief, but I'm not so sure they see it that way.  The food deliveries taper off and then comes the shock of having to find their own nourishment.  All across town at this time of year, heartrending cries remind me of just how tough it is for wildlife to make the transition to adulthood.  Oh Thursday, September 8th, this young seagull was on the brink of an impressive temper tantrum.  Its entire body bounced each time it cried.
I don't know how the parent resisted,
but resist he or she did.
In fact, the adult finally exploded in a tantrum of its own.  I thought it might be saying, "Go get your own food!  Your free meal ticket has expired."
We had gone to Granville Island on a school night, because sometimes, Black Jack's insistence on taking the False Creek Ferry is impossible to ignore.  She drags me down to the landing and can barely wait for the captain to pull up so that we can board.  I love these boats too.  For $1.75 (senior rate) we can be on the other side of False Creek after a very enjoyable ten-minute ride on the water.  
We stood looking over the little bridge by the docks where the fishing boats come in, the light fading fast, but with just enough to capture a few of the reflections.  
A heron stood on one of the boats, intently staring into the water.
Then, a small nose appeared over the edge of the wood, and a dark body followed.
I have learned since that the fishermen are not too impressed when otters lose their shyness.  Apparently, they get on the boats and make a terrible mess.
The heron wasn't impressed either.  In fact, right after this shot, it squawked loudly, and flew at the otter before taking off in a huff.  My picture was just a blur of scurrying brown fur, splashing water droplets, and angry wings, so you will have to imagine the scene.
The heron did not return for the rest of our stay, but the otter was back seconds later.  Here, I think, a parent checks it over.
Aw, Ma, I'm fine.  Only a tiny bit traumatized..
That was the last time for an otter-sighting this month.  
I took one more reflection picture,
as well as one of the almost-full moon, before heading home.
My last post described the weekend to follow, and our greatly enjoyed trip to Fort Langley, so I'll jump to my Monday evening commute home from school.  I stopped on the Lions Gate Bridge, and noticed this lone, white rose.  There was no name or message, so I was left to my imaginings as to the story behind the tribute. 
Looking across the road to the other side, there was just enough of a break between the steady stream of cars, to catch a shot of Jassy's picture and the yearly tribute of red roses.
I took this shot a day or two later, and learned that it has been eight years since Jassy died.  I first spotted the memorial three years ago, and it reminded me that I have now been blogging for just over three years.  Never quite able to articulate why I seem not to be an anniversary sort of person, I nevertheless have a deep respect for people who keep certain days and memories in their hearts.  Someone walks or bikes (or perhaps drives after midnight) to the bridge each year to place a hand-written message on Jassy's photo and and some red roses to honour his life.  I will always wonder about the circumstances of his death and about the family who continues to miss him "like it was the first day."   
But, back to that Monday evening, when the sunset over English Bay brought me to another stop.
It was hard to choose my favourite view of it.  Bill pointed out the sun's path in the water in this one, 
and I thought the fanned flames over the boats were quite beautiful.
This past weekend, there was rain early Saturday morning, and we decided not to "do" an adventure day.  However, Black Jack still had to be walked, and she again strongly encouraged a Granville Island trip.  Happily, by the time we were there, the rain had stopped, and we found the same spot by the fishing dock to be very entertaining.  This time, there were no otters in sight, but two seals were supervising the fishermen who were preparing their catch for buyers.  This was the larger of the two, and the one more easily able to climb onto the dock.
The smaller one stared longingly..
and then in annoyance (I thought) as it watched the larger one take to the water with a nice chunk of salmon.
My apologies for the blurry pictures, but there was a bit of a story in the sequence.  The smaller one is thinking something like, "Hm..  what do I have to do to get some food?"
"Should I stare intently?"
"Maybe if I lie on my back and look really cute.."
"This is a lot of effort, but worth it in the end."
"Yup.  Definitely worth it."
Here, the larger seal came back, and seemed to enjoy this fish head.  I have come a long way to be able to look a dead fish in the eye.  I still feel sad for it, but at least nothing goes to waste,
and there was no mistaking the seal's pleasure. 
There was a bit of a scuffle when this seagull arrived,
but there were enough scraps to go around, although it swallowed its handout before I could show it in a photo.
Seals' eyes just melt my heart. Sometimes, they seem very closely related to dogs.
Bill and I enjoyed a trip to The Wicked Cafe after the seal-watching adventure.  Our favourite cafe has changed ownership, and the link given above refers to the previous owners, as I haven't found an updated web site. Our initial worries that the quality of the lattes had deteriorated have now been dispelled.  They've gone back to using Black Cat Intelligentsia beans, and by the notes left on their wall, we are not their only customers to appreciate that.
No picture of their house-brand oatmeal, but that is our other favourite, and we are happy to report that it continues to be as fruit, seed and nut-filled as ever.  It makes a great, nutritious breakfast, but again, the draw at The Wicked, in my opinion, will always be its uniquely flavoured coffee.
On Saturday evening, we saw the play, Hay Fever, by Noel Coward.  It is still showing at Jericho Arts Centre until the 25th, and if you get a chance to go, it will be well worth your time.  I laughed out loud many times during the evening, and left with a warm sense of appreciation for Vancouver's cultural scene.  We are fortunate to have such high quality entertainment in this city, but it is not to be taken for granted. The best way, I think, to encourage the many talented performers, and the city's support, is to buy tickets.  
I recognized Rebecca Husain (shown at the left in this picture that I found on-line) from Marion Bridge, another wonderful play that we had seen.  She was, as described in the review, the funniest of a very funny crew. To watch her in action is really a treat.
Sunday morning, Black Jack and I again returned to Granville.  This time, a fisherman was feeding the same two seals from his mouth.  Don't try this at home, folks!
As we watched, another fisherman came along, and stood next to me on the bridge.  He told me that the smaller seal (shown here) is the offspring of Bubbles (in the water).  Bubbles has been around for seven years.  The baby's name is not yet certain, but one suggestion being tried out is Mordechai. I quite like the sound of that.
The fisherman told me that this salmon is a Chinook.  I was using my small lens, but perhaps you can see the squarish tail and the speckles.  Maybe there is more of my grandfather in me than I suspected.  I am surprised that I, for the first time, was able to watch the cleaning of a fish without turning away.  Not to say that I liked it, but I felt drawn,
along with Black Jack(!), to spend quite some time on the weekend observing a little of the life of these hardworking Granville Island fishermen. 
We managed to drag ourselves away for a bit, and walked around the bend beside the bridge.  Although some flowers are past their prime, others seem to be magnificent right now.
We returned by the same path, and I caught a few more shots of the seals,  
this time with my big lens,
before heading past one of my favourite fishermen, and back across False Creek.
On Sunday evening, we biked along the seawall to see the movie, The Guard. With four-letter words generously punctuating the dialogue, this violent story of an Irish policeman may not be for every taste, but the humour was clever and beautifully subtle.  I strained to catch the Irish-brogue lines, knowing that I was probably missing at least as many as I caught.

On the way home, Bill suggested a stop to photograph the Stadium roof from a night perspective.
Science World reflections..
also caught my eye, and I loved that Bill always thinks of things that he knows I'll enjoy.  Although he doesn't take many pictures, he has a keen photographer's eye.  One blue-light reflection was catching his attention, but I wasn't able to successfully capture that one.  Instead, I give you an under-exposed, but for me, very happy memory, of Bill waiting and pointing out his view of the night scene. 
Last evening, I stopped just after the Lions Gate Bridge, as the lions were dressed in Autumn finery. 
I thought their tailor did a particularly successful job of showing their splendour.
This last photo was taken a short while later, when Black Jack and I walked in David Lam Park.  Most of the trees in the park are still quite green, but this one was striking.
Only half of the tree has changed colour so far, perhaps because that side faces the water.

That concludes some recent thoughts and events.  The rest of this post describes the first day (August 16th) of a four-day trip to the Sunshine Coast. It began in Gibson's Landing.
The sky was a brilliant blue, and this "Sunshine Girl" added cheer to an already perfect day.
As we were admiring the boats, a lady came by, and we struck up a conversation. She liked my earrings, or should I say, earring.  Apparently, in my effort to pack quickly that morning, I had managed to leave home with only one earring.  It was a favourite blue one, with a rather shiny appearance, and it turned out that she was very much drawn to shiny objects.  She invited us into this small study in her houseboat, and I was mesmerized by what I saw. 
Her name was Liz, and we learned that she had bought the houseboat several years earlier.  I'm not sure what caused the boat to sink only days after her purchase, but a man named Ray, who was living on a restored tugboat, had helped her to haul her boat to the surface, and to do the extensive repairs needed to make it habitable.  She maintained a friendship with Ray, and each of them live happily in their respective boats, with no phone, no internet, and no television.  A radio seemed to be their only electronic device.  Liz's study was unforgettable, and she was happy for me to take as many photos as I liked.  

She was okay with this photo, since it showed only her silhouette, although she will never see the post, since internet holds no interest for her at all.  She did love Black Jack, and she enjoyed conversation with Bill as well.
Her flowers were as impressive as her shiny crystals and beads, and she was happy to give us a guided tour.
This was one of her favourites.
Here, you can see her home, with flowers cascading over the walls.  The office with the crystals is in the lower left corner of the picture.
This gives a view of the entire home. At the end, on the right side, is Ray's tugboat.  
Ray pointed out these geese and made sure that I took a photo.
He also pointed out the heron looking in the boat window, and both Liz and Ray told us about a family of otters who visit fairly regularly, though not on that particular day.  I have thought often of Liz and Ray since our visit, and of their contentment with their chosen lifestyle. They are living their dream and that was wonderful to see.
After our visit, since I was only wearing one earring, we decided to stop by a nearby store, and Bill bought me a new pair that I love.  Unfortunately, blogger is refusing to load the picture I took of them, so that will have to wait for another day, but thank you, Bill.  New earrings are beginning to be a tradition for our trips away, and each pair provides a cherished memory.  After a delicious breakfast at Molly's Reach, the same one of Beachcombers' fame, we decided to do a hike at Smuggler Cove.  I was most taken with the reflections..
and the dragonflies.
Catching them in motion was a challenge that I'm still working on.
Bill was interested in the stand-up lily pads, and I remembered a blog on Penelope's site called Stardust English Talk.  She had mentioned a particular kind of lily pad that stands up in the water, and I was excited to see them for the first time.   I've just checked out Stardust's blog, and can't find that post, but her photos and philosophy are inspiring, and I hope to spend more time at her blog fairly soon.
More reflections,
an osprey,
and even more dragonflies,
and lovely blooms kept my camera and I busy.
As you can see, Black Jack was very, very keen..
but Bill did an admirable job of keeping up with her.
It was Black Jack who first discovered this little snake,
and I enjoyed trying to capture some of its colours and a closer shot of its face.
We were wondering about these berries, and I think, after reading Island Nature's blog, that it is called Cascara.
I promise this is my last dragonfly shot for this post.
We saw many ravens, and I now can recognize their call well enough to realize that there is at least one pair nesting near Granville Island as well.
We could also hear lots of Kingfishers, and I was happy to finally spot one of them.
There were lots of signs with stories and explanations about the area.
Bill finally convinced (well, sort of) Black Jack to take a small rest, as we arrived at..
Smuggler Cove.
This family had a wonderful time bathing in one of the pools of water. 
more reflections, 
more signs,
and this lovely moth,
kept all of us fascinated.
I took one shot of the winding trail on the way back to the truck,
and one of this branch tendril with delicate spider web.
That's it for today.  Hopefully, days 2, 3 and 4 of our trip will follow soon.  Happy Tuesday and a huge thank you to those of you have found the time to read all the way to the end of yet another way too long post!


  1. This post is full of so many wonderful stories and images. The pictures of the heron and the otters are great and I really enjoyed the seal series. The moon shots and sunsets are spectacular.
    The pictures of the houseboat in Gibsons are a visual treat, inside shining objects and outside an abundance of flowers. Thanks for taking us along on your adventures.

  2. The dialogue for the various series of wildlife was very entertaining, Carol, and the photographs stunning! The little otter IS adorable and reminds me of a puppy. The white rose peaked my imagination, too, as did the 7-year dedication of red roses to an obviously much-loved man. It was fascinating to look inside Liz’s world in Gibson. She certainly created a sparkling floral paradise for herself. I wonder what happens when the blooms are gone. I have a feeling her houseboat is entirely decked out with lights. Glad you discovered the delightful blogger from Japan, by the way. Her sensibilities remind me of you in many ways and she is uniquely eye opening about her corner of the globe. Thanks as always for sharing your journey. :)

  3. I love the picture of the dragon fly which you captured so well...wings almost stopped! Thanks for the pictures of brother Bill!! Phyllis

  4. My favourite story and accompanying pictures centred around the angry young seagull and its frustrated parent. Somehow, I could see myself as that youngster! You may correct my imperfect memory if you like. :)

  5. My goodness! I absolutely love the various series of your wildlife, all the details of your trip and no it was not too long. I do love that yellow boat. Feeling creative just looking at that boat. Is it possible for me to have a copy of that photo. I would give credit in your name whenever I get around to painting it. You can email me through a comment at my blog.

  6. Oh my! I don't know where to start - so many great photos and stories! I think I like the ones of the fledgling gull, the otters and the seals best, but Liz's place is AMAZING and the sunset simply stunning .... oh and the dragonflies, and the one of Black Jack in the straw/grass, and and and....
    (and I'm sorry to be so late commenting - for some reason you got deleted from my notifications ....I have fixed that now!!!)