Thursday, May 31, 2012

Skywatch Friday - Episode 47

*Just a note to let you know that all photos were taken in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where I live.

Last Friday evening, the 25th of May, the sky was not what could be called spectacular, but just before the sun slipped below the horizon, it struck a building on the other side of False Creek.  I must try to figure out that building's address and take a good look at it, but for now, all I can tell you is that the wall face must be made of a reflective material.  In the photo below, it looks as though it is on fire.
In this next picture, the building is almost hidden behind the trees on the right side of the photo.  However, the light was still so intense that it struck the three park benches all the way across the water.  I shot these first two photos from above the park, standing on Pacific Street, and pointing my camera between the bushes.  I was surprised that the golden light showed at all, but my favourite light here is coming from the benches. 
I walked down to the water and did a closer shot, trying to show the building and its reflection across the water.
The next day, I was walking along English Bay.  There were many, many people celebrating the long weekend, and several stared in the direction of the wispy clouds that rested against  a copper background.  
I zoomed in on that section and enjoyed the close-up view.  Mountains, copper tones, cloud wisps and boats all seemed to take on a touch of magic.
I am learning that it does not require an amazing sunrise or sunset to make an interesting sky.   As I look out my window on this last day of May, there is a fine rain falling, but there is light and there are clouds, and the sky changes depending on the direction of my gaze.  In fact, it seems to me that it changes from minute to minute.
As described in the previous post, I spent an enjoyable couple of hours on Tuesday with musician, Daeyong Ra.  
 We moved to several different spots along the water, and the clouds and light seemed to shift with us.
 Daeyong was worried that people would object to his "noise pollution", but I guessed correctly that his beautiful tone would have the opposite affect.   These kayakers gave us a huge smile as they went by, and many passers-by stopped to marvel at his talent.
The last few pictures do not officially fall into "skywatch" material, but I include them just because.  Although the skies were grey for all of the pictures, there was a kind of white light that brought out the detail in these Rhododendrons.
 A new "batch" of Cormorants have recently taken to the water of False Creek.  I know they are young because of their white breasts.  They are still working on their flying skills and I found them most entertaining.  This one was revelling in bath time.
This one plopped into the water, and I imagined it must have felt something like an inexperienced swimmer doing a belly flop.  What a splash and what a cracking noise as it hit the water.
 I was a bit worried, but it recovered its composure fairly quickly, 
and landed safely on the sculpture that sits in False Creek.  It flapped for a long time, I think trying to dry off and maybe hoping to recover a bit of dignity too.
This seagull swooped over, the epitome of grace, and I could almost hear its "pffttt" of scorn and thoughts along the line of, "Look here, youngun'.. pay attention..  this is how its done."
This plastic (?) roof rests over the lookout that faces the statuewhere all the cormorants like to rest and dry their wings.  (Only the tiniest bit of the statue is shown but it is called "Brush with Illumination" and you can learn about it here.)  The roof gives me a place where I can take pictures and still keep my camera dry.  I have appreciated it for some time, and think it deserves a place in this Skywatch post.  For other skies around the world, take a few minutes to check out some of the wonderful blog posts and photos at Skywatch Friday
 Thanks for reading, everyone.  The weekend is almost here.  I hope you have a good one!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tides and T-Shapes

Living so close to the ocean, my thoughts immediately turned to the tide when I contemplated the letter T for ABC Wednesday.  The other interesting phenomena that has not happened before is that I saw the shape of the letter T all around me.  

This sculpture is in front of David Lam Park, about a 2-minute walk from my apartment.  I noticed it when I moved in and see it now as a treasure. This is how it looks at low tide.
At the highest tide, all of the steps are under water.  It is getting close in the photo below.
The words on it are beautiful in their simplicity and truth.  
It takes two photos to show them.
My musician friend, Daeyeong Ra, kindly agreed to humour my tide theme, while also..
displaying his awesome trumpet-playing talent for passers-by to admire. 
At low tide, there is a feeling of tenderness and fragility in the exposed life.
Artfully arranged, it may seem that it will rest forever in that frozen state.
but the test of time has proven that the sea will flow back to nourish and transform. 
Black Jack loves to run across the rocks at low tide.  Unlike the shells and sea creatures, they appear strong and tough.
Recently, looking at the rocks, I was thrilled by the variety of colours.  
And against the side of the seawall, there were art exhibits thriving in the sun.
The terrain by the water puts me in a trance, no matter what stage the tide is in its daily travels.

I'm going to skip the commentary for this portion of the post, and let my most tolerant readers find the (sometimes a bit obscure) T-shapes that popped into my week.

Just a word about this one.  When I came across these people, they kindly agreed to allow me to take and post photos.  I didn't say a word about T-shapes.  True tale!

Okay, I admit this one's a stretch, but they toiled so hard to achieve this, I couldn't resist including it.  (The girl was being coached by the fellow, and doing these moves for the first time.
Okay.  No t-shape, but the number three is good.  Right?

Topsy-turvey T-shape.
Two mid-tide shots to conclude the post,
and a poem by Longfellow that expresses the "tumult of delight" in the tide's ability to lift the spirit.

The Tides
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I saw the long line of the vacant shore,
  The sea-weed and the shells upon the sand,
  And the brown rocks left bare on every hand,
  As if the ebbing tide would flow no more.
Then heard I, more distinctly than before,
  The ocean breathe and its great breast expand,
  And hurrying came on the defenceless land
  The insurgent waters with tumultuous roar.
All thought and feeling and desire, I said,
  Love, laughter, and the exultant joy of song
  Have ebbed from me forever!  Suddenly o'er me
They swept again from their deep ocean bed,
  And in a tumult of delight, and strong
  As youth, and beautiful as youth, upbore me.

Thank you so much for taking time to read my thoughts about tide.  For more "T" posts, do spend some time at the tantalizing ABC Wednesday web site.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Of Bridges, Beaches, Birds and a Library in My World

With many days of sunshine, Vancouver has been buzzing with activity this past week.  Black Jack and I have mostly gone for slow strolls along False Creek, between David Lam Park and Stanley Park.  I often give her the choice of direction, and this week, she chose to "go west" for every walk.  Here is a map of False Creek showing the three bridges that cross it and David Lam Park, where all of our walks have begun.  We walk under the Granville and the Burrard Bridges to get to English Bay and from there, we sometimes walk along the beach to Stanley Park.
I noticed some reflections in False Creek a few days ago, and snapped the photo below.  Meandering  twists and turns formed images in palest-blue-white, pink-grey, charcoal and black shades.  I saw maps with rivers and lakes, a dog, a whale, a pig, some birds and some laughing open mouths.  I wonder what you see. 
Some small white fish, or maybe eels, were jumping high out of the water a few days ago.  It was almost impossible to catch a photo.  By the time the camera focused, they were gone.  Trying to anticipate where they might pop up was amusing.  Below is a very poor photo of the only one I was able to capture.  
These flowers were swaying in the breeze by English Bay.  
I thought this might be a Prairie Dog but the man walking it by English Bay was so busy talking to curious onlookers, I didn't wait to talk with him.  After a bit of googling, I have learned that Prairie Dogs weigh between 1 and 3 pounds.  This animal was definitely bigger that that, more likely between 12 and 15 pounds.  Maybe a groundhog or a woodchuck?  He tried several times to bite the fellow holding him.  
When he put the animal down, it strained to get away and its behaviour indicated that it is not very happy in captivity.  I can't help but wonder why people decide to own exotic pets.  Googling burrowing animals, I learned that there are many drawbacks to domesticating them.  Buying one without thinking it through means that many go into rescue. Perhaps, that was the case here.
This lone baby goose appeared to be the only one left of a family of five that I saw last week in Stanley Park.  Here, it was hurrying to follow its parents into the water.
The parents appear to be doing their best to take care of it.  Although I know many people do do not like Canada Geese, I have great respect for their parenting skills.
The geese often make me smile.  This one appeared to be sunbathing along with the people in David Lam Park on Saturday.
Or, perhaps it was meditating.
One day, standing on the beach of English Bay, I looked homeward and, through the bushes, took this photo of the Burrard Bridge with the criss-cross steel structure of the Granville Bridge behind it.  They are close together, but both are very busy bridges.
Here is a look at one of the beautiful pillars of the Burrard Bridge, 
This was taken looking back after we had passed under it, with the light almost gone.
The Granville Bridge is less attractive (in my view) but walking under it so often (and once over it), I think it has its own beauty.  On the right, you can see the yellow of Bridges Restaurant, and just a hint of Granville Island, where many people love to shop and explore.
Here is one of the pillars holding the section of the bridge directly over Granville Island.  I love that there always seems to be healthy greenery around it.
I often admire the girders as we pass under it, on the way back to David Lam Park.
Here, it is reflected in False Creek just after sunset.
We often walk by these boats, and I always love the reflections. 
There are many points to stop and look at boats as we walk along False Creek.
One day, we took the False Creek Ferry to Granville Island.  It is a ride that takes less than ten minutes and sometimes, I go just because Black Jack leads me to the dock.  We almost never shop, but rather explore the waterside.  However, this week, on a whim I stopped in a shop and bought this very inexpensive pendant ($8).  I may never wear it, but it makes me smile.
With so many visitors to the area, the sights are sometimes quite amusing.
This busker was giving a show on the beach and the crowds loved him.
He noticed my camera and gave me the peace (or Victory?) sign, making a humorous comment about paparazzi that made everyone laugh.  I have noticed that all of the successful buskers show great intelligence and quickness in their repartee with the people around them.    
One afternoon, we sat in David Lam Park.  There is a section that grows almost like a wild garden, and I love it for the changes that occur every few days.  Lately, the roses.. 
have popped out between the tiny blue flowers.
The unopened buds hold such promise.
I stood back for this look at the "wild" garden that borders a very busy street.  I am so thankful for Vancouver's attention to green space.  It makes all the difference.
Many birds enjoy this part of the park.  Yesterday, I enjoyed watching this White-crowned Sparrow.
It moved to a spot under some bushes, but my camera managed to catch a close-up of its pretty face.  As you can see it was enjoying a small snack.
Here it is looking in the opposite direction.  It went about its business, not even bothering to look at me or my camera.
Black Jack loves to lie in the grass on sunny days.  Here, she is getting ready to roll over on her back.
First, her head goes down, 

and then, she gives herself a wonderful back rub.
One day this week, I spent some time in the Central Library downtown.  
This shot was taken from the basement level.  The architecture has a very open style, so that one can see through to the top of the building.  I find the lines and images compelling.
It made me laugh, however, when, even in this downtown area,
nature seemed to follow me.  These seagulls were indulging in some "hanky-panky" on the roof of the building and moved across the open glass.  It was a long way up, but I couldn't..
resist changing to my big lens.  One of the seagulls walked along the glass, and although I missed the tip of its bill, I loved the upside down view of its wonderful orange feet.
The roof glass is naturally very dirty, and I was amazed that my camera managed any image at all.  Considering how many seagulls there are in the city, it is surprising to me that this was the first time I had ever witnessed a mating.  Perhaps, they always use rooftops.   
But, back to some nature shots to conclude this post.  We have visited the Stanley Park heronry quite often, and I knew from the "chick-chick" sounds that there were young in the nests.  However, it seemed impossible to get even the slightest evidence of their existence until Saturday.  Finally, a few have begun to appear over the edge.  Here, it is difficult to see, but  there is a chick peering through the twigs at the left of the parent. 
I was amazed to see this one in another nest, 
already grown quite large.
It was quite unsteady on its feet, 
and appeared to be just starting to get used to its wings.
I think it was attempting to "poop" in this shot, but it fell over on its face.
This male (I'm guessing) arrived, and here, appeared to be contemplating the best route to the nest. 
I have saved some of my photos for tomorrow's ABC post, and a few others for Friday Skywatch, so will conclude with a few..
tranquil images of flowers..
and the setting sun over English Bay.
To read about other people and their worlds, I hope you will check out the amazing Our World Tuesday web site.  Thanks for reading about my world.  I hope the week ahead will be a fulfilling and peaceful one for you.