Sunday, October 9, 2011

Present, Past, (Final Sunshine Coast Day) and More Past (Bill's Birthday)

On Thursday, I took time for a short walk near the school at lunch time.  The Sumac trees were in Autumn mode, 
 with leaves hung out to display
Darn, I've forgotten the name of these berries... again.  But, the textures and colours make a great addition to Fall's colour show.
There were some Northern Shovellers on the river.  I've only seen them a few times, and never before on that little river.  
I love that their bills "shovel" in perfect symmetry with their names.
The lions have a new wardrobe in honour of Cancer prevention. Nicole, a young mother of two, represents one of way too many stories that haunt me.  Our school had very successful fund-raising events.  Several brave students and teachers had their heads shaved, including one young girl and a female teacher, both with gorgeous hair that will go to someone facing chemotherapy.  All of the students took part in aTerry Fox run,  and the Cops for Cancer, bless
Photo from web site of Cancer Society 
their hearts, walked through our halls, taking time to stop by each classroom. We have to continue to do what we can to combat this awful disease, and I silently thanked the lion-dresser for bringing that thought home.  
On Friday, I stopped by the Fell Street lookout to see the seals.  This one stuck out its tongue, perhaps at my camera?
  Seals and driftwood in harmony.
  How could this one look so comfortable?  There was one seal contemplating that question.
It decided to find out for itself.  I'm not sure that the others were impressed.
Is it just the perspective, or was the newcomer given some encouragement..
  to leave.
As far as I can tell, all ospreys have left the area.  Lawrence and Olivia enjoyed each other's company all summer long, but didn't raise any offspring.  Jewel and Jonny successfully raised two chicks.  I have a few pictures, taken at a distance, and will do a slightly more detailed post soon.  This was the remains of Lawrence and Olivia's nest on Friday.
One Common Merganser swam by, the first I've seen in quite a while.
Friday evening, Bill and I walked in David Lam Park after supper.  When we began walking, I didn't take my camera out.  The sky seemed bleak, and the light dim.  I saw a fellow taking pictures, and wondered what his eye was seeing.  I looked in the direction his camera faced and saw that these trees were gathering whatever light they could into themselves, and decided to let the camera out of the bag - just in case:)
As we watched, the light began to filter through the dark sky, catching the glass in the buildings.  The windows, in turn, reflected shimmering images back to the clouds.
Park benches and railing seemed to say, "Stay awhile. You can view the show from here."
Blue blotches appeared in the sky, perhaps pulling their energy from the window reflections. 
We rounded a corner and found a huge patch of bright, blue sky.
Almost home again, and  the buildings seemed to lean in to each other.  It's not that far a stretch for me to imagine them commenting on the many skies they've witnessed.
A last shot, practically on my doorstep.

This was "make our way homeward" day, but first, a good breakfast of blueberries, bananas and oatmeal at Molly's Reach.  Just four days, and already, a firmly established routine.  Then we were off to Pender Harbour. The concert was free, but we knew we had to get there early to get a seat.  I was obsessed with sitting close enough to hear the musicians breathe and to see the expressions on their faces, so we arrived several hours early.  We had time, first, to go  for a boat ride on this Slocat.  Very affordable and calming, with friendly descriptions of the sights. Bill, Black Jack and I were the only passengers.  We didn't see a lot of wildlife, but we enjoyed the water and coastline from a perspective that would have been impossible by car or foot.
One seal,
one blue heron..
that allowed only a fleeting glance,
and one seagull that agreed to pose for a second or two, were about it for wildlife sightings.
But, abandoned hide-a-ways,
and still-lived-in ones like Tranquility Isle, built and hopefully enjoyed by someone..
who perhaps wanted to get away from it all, kept us entertained and intrigued.
I loved this house, built around a tree. 
The tree, after all, was there first.
Boat tour over, we were still a couple of hours early for the concert, but sitting outside the hall, we were happy to know our first spot in line would give us great seats.  Bill and I took turns walking Black Jack.  It was just a bit up the hill from the concert hall that I spotted three fawns.  
I posted a couple of pictures of them before, but here are a few more.  I can't repeat on this family blog the name used by locals to describe resident deer, but for me, seeing them was a highlight.  This little one lay down under the boat, but stood up when I approached.   
It didn't seem the least bit shy. 
And finally, the concert!  I want to avoid gushing but..  that's really, really difficult!  I have just found a slideshow of pictures on line that you can see at this site.  In one of the pictures near the end, you can just make us out as we clap enthusiastically for the members of the Borealis Quartet.  (We are 3rd and 4th seats from the right, in the front row.)  There were many wonderful musicians in the concert, but, several months later, the most lasting image in my mind is of Patricia Shih's bow flying as she manages to play brilliantly while dancing from an almost seated position.  I say "almost" because her derriere rarely touched the seat of the chair.  Bill described it as hovering.  She gives new meaning to the word dynamic - it was honestly difficult to take my eyes off her.  And, I must quickly add that the three other musicians of the Borealis Quartet gave her a run for her money in the energy department.  Go see them, if ever you get the chance, and do check out next summer's Pender Harbour Music festival. What a great way to mix nature, culture and fun.
Photo of The Borealis Quartet at Melvin Kaplan's web site
As we entered Vancouver, crossed the Lions Gate, and approached the turnoff to Stanley Park, there was one last memory to cherish.  A huge owl flew over the truck, dangerously close to the windshield, but there was no time to worry about its safety.  Just a moment's thrill, and then it was gone.  We parked the truck, hoping to catch another glimpse of it, and I returned a few other times in the following days, but never again saw that owl.  When I read the postscript of Jean's most recent post, the memory came tumbling back.  You may want to check out that post.  If you have ever tried to be your own "handiwoman" or even if you just want a smile or two to make your day, it's a great read.

Bill's birthday was June 12th, so if you haven't noticed how far I've fallen behind, that will give you a good idea.  We returned to a restaurant that we've come to enjoy called Ethical Kitchen.  I love that they always accommodate us by helping to set up a place on their deck where Black Jack can be with us.  
Our friends, Dianne and Dorin joined us.  Don't you love Dianne's cap and wonderful smile?
Jock, another great friend, also joined us.  He had this veggie burger.  In truth, the buns, as delicious as they look, didn't go over all that well, but that's about as close to a negative as I could come for that restaurant.  It's a unique place with down home friendly service and great food. I especially recommend their yogurt with maple syrup and homemade granola.  Dianne and Dorin also declared their crepes, one savoury and the other sweet, to be delicious. 
This was probably the only moment of seriousness during the meal.  For some reason, my camera caught it, and it makes me smile.  Do you think we were having fun?
This child loved Black Jack, and gave us at least as much fun watching her, 
as she had when Black Jack licked her hand.
All around the restaurant were beautiful things to see and smell.
Lavender!  Love it!
Dorin teased me about my photo-taking obsession.  "Here, take the metre," he said, so I did, and caught a birdhouse in the background too.
The small garden by the deck was full of.. 
all kinds of delights.
Dorin was still teasing me as we said good-bye.  "How about this road sign?" he joked.  I obliged and got a shot of him that I like a lot.
On the way home, Jock, Bill, Black Jack and I stopped in Stanley Park by The Hollow Tree.  Over 800 years old, it is a landmark in Vancouver, but after the windstorm of 2006, it leaned so precariously that many felt it was time to bid it good-bye.  Finally, a restoration plan was put in place, to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.  This picture shows the inside bracing, not exactly attractive, but I guess, more importantly, functional and safe.
Jock prepared to ride the rest of the way home.  I like this shot of him,
and this one in front of the tree.  
After Jock left, Bill and I spent a little longer playing with Black Jack in the field by the tree.  
There she goes,
a happy dog.  Writing this on Thanksgiving weekend, it seems a good time to record Bill's birthday, because Black Jack and I are sure happy to have him in our lives.
Going back just a bit further in time, I took this picture on June 10th, during an outdoor outing with the students at my school.  They were blowing bubbles and I was having fun trying to capture them.  This was my only success.  I not sure if I may have posted it before, but it really is one of my favourite pictures, so perhaps it will be okay if it appears on the blog twice.  
On June 9th, the overpass behind my school opened.  Every weekday morning and afternoon, I am grateful for the difference it makes.  My commute is now greener, quieter, and safer.
That same day, I stopped by the heronry on the way home.  It wasn't a happy sight that I came across, but the idea of survival of the fittest is finally one that I'm learning to accept.  It seems important to me to record what I saw, but you may want to skip this last bit of the post.  

Down in the right hand corner of the picture is a young heron surveying in terror the ground far below.  Its older and stronger sibling is trying hard to push it over the edge.  This is common, especially if there's a shortage of food, or perhaps, when younger siblings show weakness.
Similar to a strategy I saw eagles adopt, an intelligent younger sibling will go limp, showing no interest when the parent delivers food, and in fact, playing dead.  This heron tried that.  I believed at that point that it might indeed be dead, since I know herons' bills can be lethal.
Taking the photos of this was painful, and I put down the camera.  A white-crowned sparrow had been watching as well, and I could have sworn it was saying something like, "Can you believe what's going on up there?"
While checking out the sparrow, I heard another terrible shriek/squawk, and saw that the younger heron's strategy was no longer working.  The older one was at it again.  I left at this point.  I didn't want to know the outcome.
By way of a Stella update (I had chosen her nest to follow this season), I'm fairly certain that she had at least two batches of eggs, but as far as I could tell, was not able to keep any of them long enough to hatch.  My suspicion is that the bald eagles got them.  It was a rough year for her.  One morning when I passed by on my way to school, her nest was empty.  I didn't see her again after that.  My last Stella sighting was on June 27th.  She appeared to be inspecting her nest.
However, the end count of successfully fledged heron chicks was about 58%, according to this August update written by Maria Morlin. That was apparently about the same as last year, so my impression that the herons were being totally devastated was clearly wrong.  Good!  

That concludes this post.  I hope to do another one before this holiday is over to catch up with Saturday's visit to New Brighton Park and today's entertaining walk through Gastown.  But, just in case I'm not able to follow through with that goal, my very best Thanksgiving greetings to all of you.  I am so very grateful for your presence at my blog.   


  1. As your captures show so beautifully, Carol, the Sumac trees create some of the most brilliant reds ever seen in autumn. And those adorable Shovellers have beaks that remind me of paddles as well as shovels. Also, it looks like Lawrence and Olivia will have their work cut out for them next year … their nest looks like a remnant of a party gone wild and it will likely get much worse over winter. I did skip the last bit with the bird’s struggling. Survival of the fittest is nature’s way but a difficult one to accept at times. Amid the entrenched suffering of existence, we thankfully encounter many joyful moments. The bubble is an exquisite fragile example. Wishing you, Bill and Black Jack many happy Thanksgiving moments! :)

  2. Looking at your series near David Lam Park, it never fails to amaze me how quickly a scene can go from 'bleak and dim" to absolutely beautiful as the clouds and sun shift around. Many is the time I've headed for a quick walk without the camera, and regretted it by the time I reached the beach at the end of the block!

    Thanks for the referral to my blog, and a very, very, very, very belated Happy Birthday to Bill!

    I hope you are having a great thanksgiving weekend.

  3. Oh t wonderful wild life photos. And I always love the brilliant colours of the sumac trees, although here they're only ornamentals and don't grow wild. I also loved the photosof the little girl! What a nice birthday... it all looks perfect.

  4. So many wonderful images, Carol, I love the fall colour and the seal shots. That fawn has impossibly large ears but is so cute.
    Hope your Thanksgiving was a happy one.

  5. Happy (late) Thanksgiving! You're enjoying your share of beautiful autumn colours too, aren't you? I love your visual records of bird behaviour ... even when its disturbing! Cheers,