wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Aching Bones

The cold snap has hit us. The suddenness of the bitter cold was a shock to us west coasters. We’re tough when it comes to wild winds and torrents of  rain, even crashing trees and power outages, but drop the mercury a tiny bit and most of us coasties are wimps. We don’t like the cold.

That wind is supposed to be southeast. Every day, every day, all through the winter, it’s southeast. What a shock when it switched to northwest. I swear I could smell polar bear fur in the wind.

Ruby, our 13-year-old springer spaniel has done some retrieving while duck hunting in the last couple of weeks, using joints and muscles she hasn’t used in a long time. Now, old age is catching up to her. She’s been having trouble with the stairs, not wanting to put weight on her left shoulder.

Just now she is soaking up the warmth of the tiles in front of the woodstove in our family room.

She does have a nice soft dog bed, but the tiles have been warmed by the fire and it’s just what her shoulder needs, while she dreams of duck hunts of the past.

 


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Hors d’oeuvres, anyone?

Near the mouth of the Campbell River, the Canada geese were having a wine and cheese party, mingling, gossiping, and chatting,  and looking for the hors d’oeuvre platter to come around.

Not far away was a flock of mergansers. When they saw the camera, they got upset. I thought I heard them squawk, “No pictures!” as they fled. But soon I saw that I had misread what was going on. It was the hors d’oeuvre platter going by and they all wanted some salmon fry canapés.

It was a team effort, rushing the waiter who fled with the tray of food. The head merganser called to the others of his team, “Get in a line, quick! Pretend you’re a fishnet and let’s rush the salmon canapés. Surround them if you can.”

“But they’re just small fry,” Alec, the smart one, quacked.

“Silly boy,” Mergan scoffed. “Don’t you know these tidbits are the best?”

“Duh! I guess…. I’ve heard that good things come in small packages.”

“Well, don’t just sit there bobbing on the waves. Swim like you’ve never swum before. If you want to eat, that is.”

*****

Watch this short video, and while you may not see Mergan and her friends rushing the waiter while that smart Alec misses out by being the last – all talk and no action – you will see the water boiling from the onslaught of munching mergansers. The blood and carnage have been censored. I made sure it was all out of sight, under the water. It will help to have the video on full screen so you can see the water on the left, stirred up by the ducks.

 

 

Not that much to see, but under that boiling water, the body count will never be known. The mergansers are very good at hiding the evidence.


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Trout Time

Sitting in a skiff with the Captain, I dangled a fly line in the clear waters of a local lake trying to keep my mind on fishing.  As long as there wasn’t a breath of wind, the surface of the water was a mirror.   The reflections kept me reaching for my camera to document the beauty of the day times two.

Oops! I had to interrupt my ooh-ing and aah-ing to take the dip net and bring in this trout for supper.

Back to my trance over the gorgeous scenes around me. These ducks might be scaup – not sure. They were at the far shore of the lake, happy to chat and exchange gossip, until we came too close for their comfort.

Time to go! But in a short while they were back again.

What a fine day it was. The fish were biting and the mosquitoes were not. It doesn’t get much better than this.


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The Dreaded Post-Christmas Pounds

People are not the only ones who put on a pound or two over the holidays. It happens to our pets, too.
This morning the Captain took Emma, our field cocker spaniel, to a nearby farm to hunt for ducks. This photo is from yesterday, when we were just out for a walk. Ducks were everywhere.
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Ruby, the springer spaniel, was upset that she didn’t get to go. Nearly 12 years old, she’s almost completely deaf now, but she still knew she was being left behind. She felt better after I gave her a little treat and pulled  her doggie bed right beside me by the laptop.
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Last night when the Captain was getting things ready for this morning’s outing, he hauled out the little neoprene vest I made for Emma a couple of years ago.
“You’d better try it on her,” I said. “She’s put on a couple of pounds.” (After all, it’s just after Christmas).
Sure enough, it was VERY snug.
“You can’t have her wear that. She won’t be able to breathe.”
I looked high and low and luckily found a piece of left over neoprene  (from the old wet suit that I had used to make the vest).
I cut a 1 1/2 inch strip the length of Emma’s suit. It didn’t take long to cut the suit and sew in the strip. With a zigzag stitch and the piece butted up to the edges it was easy to insert a strip. No need to overlap neoprene to make a seam. Just laying the edges snugly side by side and zigzagging them together works fine.
You can see the post I did about the original vest a couple of years
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Here she is in the original vest.
I was going to take a picture of Emma in her expanded vest to put at the end of this post, but I was shocked to learn that she came home without it.
It’s lost! Somewhere out there in the brambles it got hooked up, the velcro parted, and there the vest stayed.
In the next day or so we’ll have to launch a search party for it.


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Wind and Rain

Yesterday, on a rare sunny day I was coming home from town when I had to make a quick photo stop. The mist and cloud formations across the bay were ominous, warning of the next weather system coming in.

*Warning* Wet camera lens was an ongoing problem.

I turned the camera back towards town. The spread of the clouds stretched along the far hills. In the water is a long row of posts that has been there ever since I can remember. Not sure what purpose they once served, unless it was a  navigation guide. The posts still stick out at high tide and warn boaters of the bar.

As you can see below, some posts still show in places where the bar is farther below the surface, and the trunk of a long-dead tree is hung up on the gravel. This is not where you want your boat to end up. Seagulls and a heron sit on the log like sentinels warning of hazards to navigation.

After a slightly deeper stretch of water, the bar comes up again and continues into the bay. A river flows along the side of the bar that is closest to us (at the bottom of the photo), while the water beyond is a shallow bay that is a mudflat at very low tide. If you want to bring a boat up the river, you need to know where the channel is or end up with seagulls sitting on your hull.

The sandbar is a popular place for birds to dabble and sun themselves. Sometimes you’ll find ducks and geese there; sometimes, like this day, seagulls.

The sun came blasting through the clouds for one last look at me. I clicked the camera as I looked back into its blinding light, knowing I might not see this light for days ahead.

This morning I see that I was right. Looking out my living room window, I saw what was behind those first clouds I saw yesterday – a blast of southeast duck weather.

It’s a good day to stay home while the Captain goes duck hunting.

*****

Winter on the coast is wet,

Wind and rain is all you get,

Sometimes there’s a glimpse of sun,

Just five minutes, then it’s done,

Back we go to wind and rain,

Hope by spring I’m not insane.

 


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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?