wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Good or Bad?

When I found this beetle sitting on the underside of our deck railing, I decided to catch him in a glass. Now what? Having captured him, I felt responsible for him.

Do I let him go? Is he a good bug or a bad one? What if he’s harmful to the trees, as I’d heard  on the news just the other day? Do I have to kill this bug and save the forests of the world?  I had heard about Asian longhorn beetles. Was this one of them?

But who put me in charge of the insect world?  What conceit for me to assume I had the right to make a life and death decision for this insect.

I looked up information on this beetle and discovered that this was a banded alder borer (rosalia funebris) of the longhorn beetle family.

As adults, they eat flowers (well, I didn’t like to hear about that so much, but it was better than eating a tree), and the larvae of the beetle eat the decayed wood in which the eggs were laid. Not much of a threat at all.

The banded alder borer is not prolific here, and is not going to kill the trees around my house.

He had spent enough time as my prisoner. I lifted the paper cover from the glass. The beetle seemed eager to fly away, and yes, you guessed it. He flew right onto a flower bed I had planted this spring, where I’m sure he had a good lunch.


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Over, Under, Upside Down

I wanted to show you the water lily, but I ended up studying the photo and seeing all kinds of crazy things.

I’m in the boat (you see the edge of the aluminium skiff at the bottom of the photo), and over the water. The lily is over, on, under, and above the water.  But what is that big hill doing, hanging upside down from the top of the photo?

Once I started looking at the way the lily was growing, I was quite fascinated by the roots on the lake floor, the stems reaching for the surface of the water (some unsuccessfully, so far), and the leaves floating on the surface, some of them half sunk, others lifting up, yet others lying flat on the bottom of the lake.

And then there are the two flowers that are really only one plus a reflection.

The longer I looked the more I could see.

And to think that at first glance I thought it was just a boring weed in bloom.


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Late Bloomer

I’m hoping this little guy will be lucky and not get picked up by the crows. Robins in our area have very bad luck with their hatches, so they nest two or three times, starting in March. Probably this chick is from a second or third hatch.

He is nearly through the worst of it. He’s getting his grown up colours and his wing feathers are growing quickly.

He still has plenty of camouflage colouring though. He sat so still in the grass that at first I didn’t realize it was a bird.

As I took his picture, I heard his mother call very quietly. He immediately turned to look for her, but she didn’t come right down to him.

As I tried to get closer, he got smart and started to hop away. At first I thought he might have a hurt wing, but he was able to get around quite well.

I find it amazing how the parents know when it’s time to back off, just hovering nearby, but letting the chicks start fending for themselves.

He’s hopping around on the ground, very uncertain of the big world around him. Probably he can make short feeble flights. I hope he makes it, now that he’s come this far.


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I’d Rather be a Grasshopper

In Aesop’s fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” the ant works hard all summer preparing for winter, while the grasshopper chirps and plays and sings.

 

 

When winter comes, the ant is prepared but the grasshopper suffers.

The ant tells him he shouldn’t have idled his time away. He doesn’t offer to help; only admonishes him. It’s a hard lesson and a rather cruel, heartless response from the ant, but that’s reality.

 

“Idleness brings want”, “To work today is to eat tomorrow”, “Beware of winter before it comes.”

These are some of the lines used as the moral for this fable.

Take your pick of these old sayings. The end result is the same. They warn us to prepare for hard times and not be caught out.

In the heat of summer, we have been working like ants, preparing for winter. We have a big load of firewood to deal with. Usually we prefer fir, but the maple was a bonus.

Some of the logs are quite big and the rounds are still too big to handle.

See the yellow-handled splitting mall and the wedge  lying on the ground beside it at the end of one of the maple logs? When the rounds are split in half they are more manageable for placing onto the track of the hydraulic wood splitter.

One piece is ready to be split.

When the motor is started you just engage the lever and the steel plate is pushed against the wood, until it is squeezed against the wedge at the end of the splitter. The wood splits in two, and is then more of a size that’s right for the woodstove or fireplace.

But of course it still has to be stacked. That’s where Mrs. Ant comes in.  I should change my name from Anneli to Anteli. What’s one letter? (A lot of work!)


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The Black Bear

We were not looking for bears. More like looking OUT for them, but not really expecting to see any.

What are YOU lookin’ at?

We surprised this fellow, as he was coming down to the beach for a sip of water on a hot morning.

We were in the skiff, using the more powerful gas motor to get from our campsite to the favourite fishing spot at the other end of the lake (after which we would use the small electric motor), when the black shape appeared on the beach to our left.

The Captain reined in the speed and headed towards the bear so I could get a picture, but with the change in speed and the wake catching up  behind us, the photos I snapped were not great. Again I apologize. These pics were rush jobs, trying to compensate for the rocking boat, but if I had taken even another second to focus better, the bear would have been gone. As it was, after two quick clicks, he melted into the woodwork.

Looks like we interrupted his plans for a sunny morning on the beach.

Sheesh! Happens to me all the time!

I looked for bears all the rest of the day. When we stepped onto the beach for a swim, I was Mrs. Rubberneck, constantly checking the bushes behind me.

Later, when I told the campsite host that we’d seen a bear on the beach, he looked like he’d seen a ghost. After a moment, I realized how it sounded. I laughed and said, “No! Not here on the beach. Way over, halfway down the lake.”

I guess he had thought he had a nuisance bear wandering through the campsites and he’d have to deal with it.  Whew! Was he relieved!

 


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Gold River

From 1967 to 1998, the town of Gold River on the west coast of Vancouver Island bustled with activity. Then the pulp and paper mill shut down and it became almost a ghost town.

It’s a tidy town, clean and organized, but there are not even enough people left to support a large grocery store. Two small general stores provide the basics and not much more. The civic centre and police station and two schools are all modern and neat, as if they came right out of a picture book.

Several miles out of town, we found much more activity. A mermaid welcomed us to the wharf area.

Although the mill was shut down, in the remote forests around the Gold River area, logging is still going on. It leaves ugly scars for a while, but the regenerated forests do have their positive effects, providing more sunlight for smaller shrubs and trees which make better food and hiding places for small animals. You can see the new growth in sections that were cut in previous years.

Logging trucks bring the cut logs to a sorting yard near the wharf outside of Gold River.

They are then rolled down the embankment into the salt water, to be put into sections according to type and possibly by size by the dozer boats you see in the photo. They push the logs into the appropriate partitions, ready for loading onto ocean-going ships.

Without the pulp and paper mill, the logs are sent out to other countries to be processed further.

It’s sad to see the mill in ruins. Eventually it will be dismantled.

Meanwhile, the town and the coastal inlets are  destinations for eco tours and sightseeing trips by boat or by plane.

A small float plane company has set up shop near the wharf. It serves those who want a tour by air, and provides transportation for loggers flying to jobs in even more remote areas of the coast.  As well, air freight is a quick way to bring in supplies and parts for machinery that may have broken down.

Here is the grand office of the seaplane service.

Book your ticket and fly on this float plane.

We had our truck so we made our way back by land this time.


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The Flying Stick

The campsite is just in the trees near the bottom of the photo, at this end of the lake. We thought it would be good to get some firewood from the logging slash piles behind the camp. If we didn’t need it, we could leave it for the next campers.

In the sweltering heat on the hillside, we cut and loaded a few bits of wood.

“We must be completely nuts to even think of making a fire. It has to be 30 degrees C,” I said, wanting to get back to the shade of the campsite.

But the evenings can cool off, so we persevered.

On the way back, at the bottom of the hill, I saw something.

“Stop! There! Is that a bird … or … is it a … stick? Or a rock?”

From inside the truck and at this distance I couldn’t tell what it was. I had been fooled many, many times by rocks or sticks that looked like a grouse at the side of the road.

“I’ll zoom it and take a picture. Then I might be able to see what it is…. It’s probably just a stick.”

Through the truck window the blurry photo really looked like a grouse, but the … thing … hadn’t moved an inch in the two minutes we had been sitting there in the truck.

“Just wait,” I said. “I know it’s just a log or something, but I want to go over to it and take a picture of the stick that fooled me.”

I got out of the truck. It still didn’t move. With my camera ready, I was about to snap a picture of the stick, when it flew away.

But sticks never fly away with tail feathers spread out in a glorious rusty brown colour. It was a ruffed grouse.

At home I put the picture in my photoshop app and lightened the dark shape. Now, even in the fuzzy picture, I could see the rusty colour and other features like an eye and a beak and a tuft of a topknot.

He was very good at hiding in the twisted roots of a fallen giant tree nearby. Although I looked for him, I didn’t see him again. Just lots of sticks and rocks.