Hard Times

The ferry route from Quadra Island to Vancouver Island can get quite sloppy during tide change. No problem for the ferry, but I sure wouldn’t have wanted to be out there in a small boat.

Heading home from the quilting retreat, I was surprised to see more and more snow, the farther south I got.

When I arrived in Comox, the field near the estuary was covered in snow … and geese. I counted about 230 geese in this field. I pulled over and quickly snapped a few pictures without even getting out of the truck. Sorry they are blurry. When taking pictures, “Hurry makes blurry.”

I noticed as I drove away, that there were a few trumpeter swans  with the Canada geese, but the photo doesn’t show them, as they were at the far end of the flock. But there were several other geese among the Canadas, too.

Do you see the white blobs in the front of the photo?

Five snow geese were foraging for food along with the Canada geese. They didn’t seem to mind each other. All were concentrating on digging under the snow for grass roots. Their usual dinner plate, the grain field, was mostly covered with snow, and they needed to find something to keep up their strength in this cold weather.

This photo is especially blurry but it shows how desperately the geese are foraging, searching under the snow to get at the grass and roots for any nourishment they can find. Only the goose in the front of the photo is not feeding at the moment, but she probably had to stop to warm up her bill after having it in the icy ground for so long. Hard times for the animals.

 

Wild Winds

For days and days and days and days we lived in an atmosphere as thick as pea soup.

And then the wind picked up. It blew the fog away and delivered some hefty, hefty rain clouds. My house is near the end of that spit of land on the left, in that gap between the trees, but looking out the other way towards Comox Bay.  The beach in these photos is not far away but it gets hammered much harder by the wind.

See the foam that has piled up on the beach like whipping cream that has blown off the frothing tops of the waves.

Anyone for a little boat ride today? Surfing might be okay except for the many rocks on this beach.

This lonely seagull probably can’t decide where he wants to go but it doesn’t matter because it’s unlikely he’ll get there today anyway. He will go where the winds take him.

More foam collects on the beach. At night those fish who have legs come ashore and gather this whipping cream to put on their “sponge” cake for dessert.

“Careful,” hollers the Captain. “Stay off those logs. They’re “slicker’n snot on a doorknob,” he announces crudely.

“Aye, aye, Cap’n! Aaarrrh haaarrrh.

Brisk and wild and wonderful

The sea spray soaks my face

I gasp for air that whooshes past

With giant strength and pace.

I lift the camera in the wind

Don’t want to lose my grip

I brace myself against the sway

As if I’m on a ship.

The lens is spattered, droplets run,

No way to keep it dry.

I click the pictures anyway

And whoop and gasp and cry.

The wind is strong,  I need to hold 

The car door safely tight.

I ease inside and yell out, “Wow!

I thought I might take flight.”

 

 

Let Me Tell You!

 

I’m a red-shafted northern flicker. I happened to flick through the pages of Anneli’s latest book, “Marlie.” It took me back to a time when I made a return flight up to the northern coast of BC. I flew across to the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), but the weather up there is something else, let me tell you! I nearly blew all the way to China in that windstorm.

On Graham Island near the fishing village of Masset, I ended up gripping a hemlock branch. In one wind gust, a lovely lady on the cover of Anneli’s book flew by and got hung up on the branches too. Since I was already gripping the branch, I grabbed it and thought, “How fitting!”  I’d read it before and it was  a gripping story.

When I read it, did I ever have my eyes opened. Let me tell you! Here’s Marlie, this lovely lady, newly arrived on the islands just like me, trying to make her way all by herself, just like me, and she ends up struggling not to give up on living in the new place, just like me.

I flickered through some more pages. Well! This smarmy artist fellow (I’d seen him around town looking like a charming beach boy – can’t stand the type myself), came onto Marlie. She’s a looker, let me tell you! But she’s too kind for her own good. Finds it hard to say no. And when she finally does say no – screams it, in fact (I heard her all the way to my tree in the woods near the beach) –  it doesn’t do her any good.

Now what?! She’s so much like me. She can’t go home  and admit she’s a failure. Like me, she just got here. We have to stick together. So when I found out what happened, I flew over to the dumpy trailer she was renting and imagined that I whispered in her ear, “Never mind. There are other people in the world besides those beach boy types. No one else knows what happened in the woods. Just do like me. Fly away and mend for a while. Maybe you’ll meet a friend. I know a fisherman. Handsome fellow and very capable. Good person.”

But, to be honest, I wasn’t sure they were suited. Marlie’s politics are a bit left-wing (government job, you know) and this fisherman, Brent, I’m sure is far right, being in business for himself. You never know, though. They say opposites attract.

“I’ll fly over to his fishboat in the Masset harbour,” I imagined telling Marlie, “and sit on the crossbar of his mast. I’ll get his attention, doing what birds do  in the rigging. I’ll drop some ‘e-mail’ down to him and when he looks up, I’ll tell him about you. Maybe I’ll drop the book cover image down to him so he can see how pretty you are.

“I’ll put a bug in his ear,” (Ha ha, I have some real juicy ones, let me tell you), “and then the rest is up to you.”

By the way, you lovely followers of Anneli’s blog, if you need a book to read during Christmas break (or any time) you can find Marlie on amazon (just type in the title) and on smashwords.com if you have an e-reader other than Kindle.

You will love it, let me tell you!  And so inexpensive. Less than the price of a hamburger, but fifty times as good, it lasts a long time and not on your thighs either.

*****

Thank  you all for indulging me. My book is just out and I’m a bit excited about it. I won’t hit you up about it all the time. I think I’ve got that out of my system now – for a while anyway.

I wish all of you a very happy Christmas season and hope 2018 is good to you.

See you in the next year or maybe sooner.

 

Tree Talk

Did you know that trees talk to each other? Just look at these two firs on the far right. They definitely have their heads together, whispering secrets to each other.

“Are you there, Conan? The fog is so thick, I can hardly see my limbs in front of my face.”

“Of course I’m here, Firginia. It’s not like I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. My feet are firmly planted on the ground.You might say I’ve put down roots here.”

“Well, it’s not like you’d get a better view  if you went anywhere else.”

“Oh, heavens, no. I knew a fellow tree, not sure fir how long, fir years anyway, he was leaning towards another  location. But it ended up all his plans went up in smoke. Some guy with a chainsaw promised him a nice cozy woodshed to live in, but the odds were stacked against him. He met some of our old friends there in the woodshed, but it wasn’t enough to save him. I’m sure from up here, I saw the other  blockheads in the shed. That girl Ashley, made a real ash of herself. Should have stayed on her mountain.  And there was some burly fellow just lying there. He thought he’d be turned into a tabletop but it ended up the tables were turned on him. He got fired, just like the rest of them.”

“That’s sounds like what happened to our friend Cy. He said, ‘Naw, they won’t burn me. They don’t like cypress. Too pitchy.’ But they piled him into the woodshed too, along with his cousin, Cedric. If only he hadn’t drawn attention to him, he might have survived. But Cy kept saying, ‘Ce-dar he is, over dar….Ce-dar, right dar,’ and he kept waving his flat, feathery fingers to point out the cedar. And just when Cedric was kindling a relationship. Now he’s just kindling.”

“I wood think about a move but I’m quite happy here, with all my cones,” Conan said. “I have a fantastic view from up here. Eagle’s eye view, Baldy told me so yesterday when he landed on one of my arms. Little pest was bouncing up and down,  though, trying to break my arm.”

“I know!” said Firginia. “He’s done that to me too. I think it’s the nesting instinct. They try to break off arms fir building their nests. I don’t mind if they break off the deadwood, but not my good arms, fir heaven’s sake.”

“I pre-fir the owls. Fowler just drifts in silently and I don’t even know he’s sitting on my arms until he calls his wife.”

“Yeah, I know. She’s always sitting on my arms, watching fir him to notice her, but he really doesn’t give a hoot.”

“Oh but he does.  Every 15 seconds, he’s hooting and ‘owling fir her. Drives me crazy some nights.”

“Well, why don’t you leave then, if you don’t like it?”

“I told you, I’ve put down roots here. Fir heaven’s sake, weren’t you listening?”

“Yes, yes. All right if you’re not going anywhere, the least you can do is hold my limbs when I reach out for you. There’s another storm coming and we have to hold on to each other, or we’ll end up in the woodshed together.”

“That woodn’t be too bad,” said Conan, twitching his fir cones. “I hear some interesting things go on behind the woodshed. Yew don’t know what yew’re missing. A hot time!”

“I said, IN the woodshed, not BEHIND it. And then you’d soon be in the wheelbarrow and heading for a hot time in the woodstove,” said Firginia.

“Well, c’est la vie. At least I’d be doing a good thing warming up the house for Anneli. I hear she’s always cold.”

“Now don’t pick on Anneli. She’s been very busy with publishing her new book, Marlie. I hear it’s a good one. Our cousins on the Queen Charlotte Islands are in it.”

“What I really like about Anneli’s books, she doesn’t insist on cutting down trees for her books. You can get the Kindle version,” Conan added.

“Oh HOT stuff! Kindle, get it? Kindle a fire under her words? I hear they’re that good!”

“But what if I don’t need to Kindle anything?”

“Then you go to smashwords.com.”

“Smashwoods?”

“Not smashWOODS! SmashWORDS. It’s smashwords.com Honestly, sometimes I think you have a wooden head.”

“Well … I do.” (Sigh!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regal Eagle at the Deli

Sometimes when I drive by this tree at the side of the estuary, it is loaded with bald eagles, decorating it like so many Christmas tree ornaments.

Today there was only one eagle — an immature one at that. The rest were busy foraging below the tree  and up the river mouth at the Regal Eagle Deli. The last putrefied chum salmon lie like wet paper towels on the banks, exposed by the dropping tide.

Perhaps this one had eaten his fill and couldn’t stomach one more mouthful of rotten fish.

“Oh rats!” he says. “Another bird watcher.”

“I’ll give her my Exorcist pose – body facing one way, head looking the other. That’ll confuse her so she won’t know which is front or back.”



“Now, where was I? Oh yeah … urp … trying to digest that disgusting fermenting fish.”

Regal eagle looks for food, 

Fish again? Not in the mood.

Chilly air, he shivers high

In the tree so he can spy

Rotten fish washed up below.

Better eat in case of snow.

Leaner times around the bend,

Need to eat or life could end.

Though he’d like fish still alive

Choosy eagles don’t survive.

Large Flakes?

Looking out the window this afternoon, I saw huge snowflakes. Or were they leaves? But they were floating so easily, like snow. More and more flakes came down, and yet, not enough to say, “It’s snowing,” and besides, it was just a tad too warm. Something didn’t feel right. I went to investigate.

I picked up some of the “snowflakes” and saw that they were feathers. They kept falling from the sky. I thought of the German folk tale about Frau Holle who shakes the featherbeds (goosedown duvets, in our modern western world) in the sky and makes it snow.

I traced the path of the feathers to their origin and strained my eyes to study the top reaches of a fir tree. For a few minutes I saw nothing, but at last I made the culprit nervous.

A huge eagle took off from the tree with its dinner in its talons.

I knew from the feathers that the eagle’s meal was a duck. The harsh reality of  life and death in the animal food chain always leaves me with mixed feelings. Both are beautiful birds, but why does one have to eat the other? Couldn’t they just eat pancakes instead?

 

 

The Suet Block is Always Tastier on the Other Side

“So glad I got here first. That pushy Steller’s jay would be hogging both suet blocks if he could.”

DSCN9210

“Darn it all. That flicker got the best suet block. If I’d only been a few seconds faster, it would have been all mine, for me, myself, and I.

I’ll have to take the left over one. I’m sure it’s not as good as the one  Mr. Polka-dot is nibbling at. If he were a tad smaller, I’d scare him off, like I do the little runts that come here looking for a free handout.”

“Good, he’s gone. I’ll give that other suet block a try. Hope it doesn’t stick to my beak like that other block does.”

“Let’s see…. One big leap and a quick turn in the air and I’ll be up there. Can’t wait to get my beak into that treat.”

“Now for a taste of the good stuff.

Blech! Yech. Blech. He sure didn’t let on it tasted that bad. Yuck! Where can I spit?”

“Oh well … I’ll do without. The missus says I’m getting a bit of a belly anyway.”

***Please don’t forget to check on my other blog. Right now I have an interesting guest author with a beautiful children’s book for you, just in time for Christmas. Why not click to follow https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/