Get in Line

The commercial salmon troller (not to be mistaken for a trawler) is shown here in early June, all tiddled up, ready to leave for the summer fishing season in the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii). But now that the season has ended, the boat is a bit tired and ready for some TLC. Like every summer, it has taken a beating, pounding into the waves in bad weather. Rigging, fishing lines, gear,  equipment, and even other boats have rubbed on its hull.

The question friends and acquaintances most often ask after it’s all over, is “How was your season?”

The main thing is to survive the elements, stay safe from the many hazards that can befall a fisherman. Beyond that, it’s a case of trying to be in the right place at the right time and hook some salmon that happen to be swimming by.

Commercial fishermen work hard to supply us with fish to eat. Turns out though, that we humans have to get in line. No, I don’t mean the line in the grocery store. I mean get in line behind the more aggressive predators. Here’s how it comes to be that way.

This year, the Captain tells me, it has been an exercise in frustration. Yes, there were good days, but there were extra obstacles besides the ongoing bad weather. The blue shark below is one example. Often they are quick to take advantage of the salmon’s inability to escape the hook. This one was unlucky and bit the lure himself.

Sometimes the Captain might hook a salmon and before he can get it into the boat, a shark has helped himself to a meal.  Here is what’s left of the fish after the shark has taken a bite. I’ve blurred out the deckhand’s face for the sake of his anonymity.

And then there are the pyrosomes, a new phenomenon in northern waters this year. They are not really a jellyfish although they could easily be mistaken for them. They are really small creatures (zooids)  held together in a colony by a gelatinous substance. If they break apart, they just multiply and grow again. Soon we could be overrun … er .. overswum?? with them.

The deckhand holds the hoochie (a lure meant to simulate a squid), which has the hook hidden inside its rubbery, synthetic tentacles. Some pyrosomes are snagged on the steel cable and slide down to where the monfilament line is attached, while others are snagged on the monofilament line itself and slide down to the flasher or the hoochie beyond it.   A hook that is covered with pyrosomes won’t attract a fish, so the lines have to be cleaned off constantly.And then we have the same old deadly predators, the sea lions, who often follow a boat, lazily waiting for a salmon to be caught so they can snatch it off the line for their own easy meal.

With a lot of stress and frustration, the fisherman does his best to catch enough fish to sell to the buyers who will supply the stores to feed humans. Looks like we have  to get in line behind these more aggressive feeders and take what they leave us.

Town Deer

The smoke from the wildfires in the BC interior is still thick in the air way down here on Vancouver Island. I keep trying to get the redness of the sun to show but it doesn’t come out in the finished photo. I must be doing something wrong or maybe I need a filter to get the red colour to show. I tried taking a picture of a red geranium and it was bright red, but the sun? No dice.

That smoky day, I was driving along in downtown Comox and noticed a doe and her fawn at the edge of the golf course parking lot. I’m always a sucker for baby animals so I took this picture of the deer. I had mixed feelings about them being in town. It’s a modern day phenomenon that many deer now live in town, but they do have a hard time avoiding dogs, finding food, avoiding traffic, and even avoiding people who might do them harm (yes, they are out there too).

I didn’t notice until I uploaded this photo that the doe has a lump in front of her shoulder. It could be an injury from a pellet gun, or she may have been poked by a branch.  Any number of other mishaps may have befallen her. I think it will heal eventually, but in the meantime she will have to live with that discomfort.

Don’t stray too far, my little one,

I’m keeping watch for you.

Most people in this town are kind,

But some have mean streaks too.

 

Stay by my side and eat your greens,

They’re hard enough to find.

Most gardeners get annoyed with us,

But others do not mind.

 

Watch out for dogs who like to chase,

Be careful of the cars.

If neither of them injure us,

We’ll thank our lucky stars.

 

Look sweet and mild into the lens,

The lady sure can gawk.

But then she’ll put us on her blog, 

And folks will say we rock.

 

 

 

A Dog’s Breakfast

It is morning. Ruby is lying low while I get my coffee going.  I can almost hear her thinking, “See? I’m being good.”

Emma takes her cue from the older dog and lies low too. They both know there’s a good chance they’ll get a treat before breakfast, just so I won’t feel so guilty about eating mine before going to feed them.

The tiny Melmac dishes have been part of our household since they belonged to our cats 40 years ago. They are the dogs’ snack dishes now.

I usually crumble half a slice of bread into each dish, add a bit of whatever tasty morsel might be around – a sprinkle of parmesan, a tiny dash of half and half, whatever is handy – and add some warm water. I walk over to the hallway with Emma and Ruby right behind me. Without being told, they each sit in their usual spots, Emma to the right, Ruby to the left. I place the dishes on the floor and as always, Emma looks up at me while Ruby stares at her dish. When I say, “Okay,” they lap up the goodies.

Afterwards, like the good girls they are, they bring me the dishes to put in the sink.

Here is Ruby with her brown dish.

And here is Emma with her cream dish. (Her pictures are often  blurry because she is always in motion.)

Then, partially satisfied, they lie at my feet until I’ve had my coffee and toast, knowing that afterwards we’ll go downstairs and they’ll have a real “dog’s breakfast.”

“Manners matter,” Ruby says.

Emma says, “I’m cute.”

“That’s not enough,” the old dog warns.

“And you should follow suit.

 

Just lie down flat, and roll your eyes

To watch what’s going on.

Pretty soon we’ll get our snack

And breakfast won’t be long.

 

Sit there patiently and wait.

Never whine or jump.

If you do, we’ll miss our snack

So sit down on your rump.

 

When the mistress says, ‘Okay!’

We can begin to eat.

You’d better not start in too soon,

She doesn’t like a cheat.

 

“Oh yeah, but Ruby,” Emma says,

“You always watch your food.

I watch, adoringly, her face,

And capture her good mood.”

 

Hazards of the Job

My phone has been cutting out in the middle of conversations. Today the phone man was coming to check it out. I remembered then  that the yew tree we had planted to hide the phone wiring box had become rather overgrown and the poor phone man would need a machete to get in there. The picture below was taken AFTER I did a fast trimming job on the yew. It’s still about a foot higher than it should be.

But behind it, on the wall, you can see the phone connection box,and a surprise!

Just look at all the work some poor bird did to make a nest. So many trips carrying mouthfuls of leaves, grass, twigs, and soil. The location was perfect. Hidden, out of direct sun and wind, and up off the ground, this nest was safe and dry. I have no idea what kind of bird nested here, but it had to be something smaller than a robin.

If you look carefully at the bottom of the phone box just under the black wire, you will see why I could never be a phone repair person. I’m glad I didn’t see this eight-legged fellow, even though he’s dead and dried out, until after I had done the trimming of the yew tree.

Having to push your way to a phone box, through all kinds of brush and dead critters, is just one of the hazards of the job. My phone repairman was good about having to fight a few cobwebs today. Very brave of him to come out still smiling.

A Party, You Say?

Yes, wake up Mr.Raccoon. It’s Canada’s 150th birthday party. Imagine! 150 years!

But I’m so cozy up in the crook of this big tree. Will I have to come down to join the party? I saw a dog down there on the ground.

C’mon down, Rocky. We can play party games.

Don’t worry about Emma. She can’t climb. You can watch the celebrations from the safety of your tree. Just enjoy the wonders of living in this great country. Smile, be happy, be grateful.

Well, if you put it that way, of course. I can have my own little party up here in the tree. Plenty of room on this raccoon tree rest. So let’s get the party rolling. Sorry, Emma. I don’t like playing tag with dogs, but would ya bring me a beer, eh? And Happy Canada Day!

 

Lincoln the Delinquent

 

Linc! Lincoln! Where are you? … Folks, have you seen my baby?

 

Shh! Don’t move!

Lincoln, you little rascal. Is that you?

Uh-oh…. Busted!

DSCN8596

Heh-heh, I think I can outrun the old lady.

 

Searchin’ for my baby squirrel,

Lookin’ o’er de whole wide worl’.

Lincoln! Lincoln! Where are you?

See the trials you put me through.

Askin’ every dame and gent,

“Do y’all know where delinquent?”

Complete Trust and Friendship

This Protection Island tabby came out to greet us as we explored the neighbourhood.

The display of friendship was obvious when Kitty approached us even though I, at least, was a stranger.

“Can you come in and have a saucer of milk with me? Perhaps a snack of tenderized mouse tidbits?”

“Thanks for the kind offer,” I told her, “but we’re going to have lunch after our walk. Perhaps you’d like to join us instead. It’s tender slices of another of your favourites – a bird.” I thought of the chicken that would dress up our salad.

“Neeow thanks,” Kitty said. “I think I’m too fat to walk that far.”

“It’s easier just to have my belly rubbed.”

Kitty must have had a good home for many years to be so trusting. She does not expect anyone to hurt her or she would never lie down (making a fast getaway more difficult) and expose her ample belly, leaving her most tender parts unprotected. That takes complete trust.

“My life is in your hands,” she purrs. “Just rub my tummy gently and I’ll be your friend forever.”

To see such trust got me thinking. People could learn a lot from animals (and I don’t mean “how to get your belly rubbed”).