Where There’s Smoke….

They say where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but I’m learning that even where there’s no fire, there’s smoke.

The rising sun glowed red through the smoke haze that drifted in and settled over the lower mainland of British Columbia. Wildfires continue to burn  hundreds of miles away, in the BC interior, but the smoke has arrived in Vancouver and also across the water on Vancouver Island. I’ve heard reports of it spreading south past Seattle.

My usual view of the bay and the hills on the farther side is now screened with a smoky veil. I took some pictures of the Comox Glacier today and could barely see it.

First I’d like to show you  photos of the glacier taken quite a long time ago on a normal day, even with a few clouds. Now, below, are today’s photos, taken on a cloudless day, but with smoke drifting through the region from the wildfires.

 

“Where is the glacier?” you may well ask. If you look hard, you will see it there behind the smokescreen.

The air smells like a campfire minus the hot dogs and marshmallows. It’s hard to find a refreshing lungful of clean air. Eyes, nose, mouth, and throat are dry, dry, dry. Add to this the extreme heat and drought, and it is a miserable state of affairs.

Here is the view of the estuary. If it were winter, you might think it’s a normal misty winter day on the coast, but it’s the beginning of August. That sky should be blue, and so should the water. That haze is not mist, but smoke.

Summer is supposed to be a time for camping, tenting, swimming, fishing, barbecuing, and sitting around a campfire at night. The extreme fire hazard puts the idea of summer camping fun in a different light. The simple act of striking a match has the potential to destroy whole communities. Hundreds of little animals (and this year, even many large animals) have died trying in vain to escape the fires.

Please be careful when you are camping or even just out walking. If you are a smoker, please be mindful of what you do with your cigarette butts, or even the ashes that fall from the cigarette. The vegetation is tinder dry.

This past spring when it continued to be wet and cold, I wished for warm, dry weather and I remember saying that when it finally happens we’ll wish for rain. And here we are!

I am now wishing for rain.

Community Garden

On Protection Island, near Nanaimo, BC, my visit continued with my friend acting as tour guide. Here is a community garden where residents can maintain a raised bed or contribute in other ways to the island’s garden project.

Can you see the glimpse of ocean through the trees? Now imagine that fresh sea air warmed by the sun. The garden is surrounded by trees that keep the humidity  hovering over the fruit and vegetables grown here.

Two special things got my attention:

  1. The potato plants in the two boxes at the front of the picture. In the ample loose soil in those boxes, the roots of the plants are able to produce more potatoes.
  2. The huge cage to the left is like a bird cage in reverse. It it meant to keep the birds out and the raspberries and strawberries in. What a great idea! So much better than netting that can tangle the birds’ feet.
    The garden is well looked after and is producing abundantly already. Outside the garden is a “Help Yourself” table where gardeners can share produce. Sometimes a person can only eat so many tomatoes or whatever vegetable has suddenly become prolific. It’s great to share.

Oh Canada!

Canada

“I love this country.”

I’ve said that many times and sometimes people ask me, “What do you mean? You love the country? The land? The government? What?”

“Everything!” I say. “It was a struggle to adjust at first, but I would never wish to live anywhere else.”

When I was six years old, my parents immigrated to Canada from Germany. I was just starting grade one. I was still pretty naive and thought everyone in the world spoke the same language, so at school, when I babbled away in German, the kids laughed and the teacher rolled her eyes discreetly. I tried again, but they didn’t understand me. I didn’t understand them either, so you’d think that made us even, but the thing is they understood each other. I had a few tough days ahead, but my parents were very supportive and encouraging.

I soon clued in that I had to figure out this new language. “Yes,” “no,” and “thank you,” became the first words I learned. I remember that in my first report card I had a “U” in Language. “U” stood for “unsatisfactory” in those days. My parents were not pleased but they were understanding. By June of that grade one year I had made my parents proud with an “O” for “outstanding.”  Kids learn quickly and much of it is learned on the playground.

I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to grow up in Canada. Germany has an excellent school system, but in Canada, it seems that the spirit of education is freer. “You can achieve whatever you put your mind to.” If I had stayed in Germany, I would have had an excellent education too, but the mindset would have been different. In those days it would have been more like, “This is what you are suited for, so this is what you should do.” Subtle differences, but the freedom to think and create and choose are fundamental here.

I love this country, not only for its nature that seems to be everywhere because of the vastness of the land and the relative sparseness of population, but for the kind of people who live here. When you live in a harsh environment such as Dawson Creek was with its clay gumbo mud and its bitter cold -40 winters, you are thankful for the help of neighbours, friends, and even strangers.

The first time our car got stuck in that deep gumbo, everyone got out and pushed, but it wasn’t enough. The next car that came along, stopped and the people jumped out to help push us out of the mud.  Most of us were splattered in mud, but everyone was smiling. After we thanked our rescuers, my mother said, “This would never have happened in Germany,” and she didn’t mean that they would have had the roads plastered instead of leaving them to get so muddy. “People would have driven past and not helped.” It’s not that German people are unkind or unsympathetic. Far from it. But in a small country with a large population, you become wary of strangers. She might just as well have said, “This would never have happened in New York, or Chicago, or LA.”  But in a pioneer situation, and in harsh conditions, people help each other.

I may not always agree with what our government is doing, but I love that freedom to disagree without persecution. It’s having the freedom to think and speak for myself (while abiding by the laws of the country) that makes this a wonderful place to live.

If I had one thing to say to young Canadians of today it would be, “Be proud of your country and grateful for the privilege of being a Canadian.”

Goats on the Roof Again

I wrote about the Coombs Market in a previous post. Please have another look at that blog if you can spare the time. It’s a wonderful place to visit. The attraction is that there are goats living on the roof. Here is the link:

https://wordsfromanneli.com/2014/06/29/goats-on-the-roof/

On this visit, the young fellow, Billy, had been naughty.014a

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But it was lovely to see him anyway, and we shopped till we dropped underneath that roof he’s standing on.

Going Squirrelly

Shhh! He thinks I don’t know he’s behind me. Do you see him there? He’s doing some funny kind of moves to impress me, throwing one leg in the air, like “Let’s dance!” Honestly! In my condition!001a

But wait. I didn’t hear you knock. Did you just want a few photos?005a

I’m afraid this isn’t a good time. My tummy’s a bit upset. Or maybe it’s baby Perry, kicking.

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I’m getting tired of waiting for the big day.

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Just not sure what’s going on back there.009a

And I don’t like how their father said I was getting as wide as the broad side of a barn door.

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I’m outta here. What a time to have a photo shoot. No appointment or anything.

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Do you think you could come back another time? Maybe Sunday afternoon? I’d have a chance to pick the pitch out of my fur.

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The Deluge

Two nights ago at 2:50 a.m. the loudest crack of thunder I have ever heard split the sky outside our house. The dogs leaped off their beds, barking at the weather gods. Huge volumes of water poured down in a short time. After a week of  hot weather, the change was dramatic. The next day again, we had buckets of rain in short cloudbursts.

Today I thought I lived in Panama, the way the rain came down in streams.

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Our soil is sandy, so any water that comes down soaks away quickly, but so much water came down in such a short time that part of the yard looked like the Great Lakes.

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Remember my garden being built in April?

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Just look at it now. All it needed was for the weather gods to do their thing.003 004

That, and a little bit of (back-breaking) work.

PS

Pit, from Texas, sent links to the “deluges” that came his way earlier this year.

http://tinyurl.com/n84nvmv

http://tinyurl.com/konvtno

http://tinyurl.com/k5n6d47

Fanny Bay Sea Lions

A while back, I posted another sea lion article. It was closer to herring time, early spring. March 4, 2015. In that post, I talked about the kinds of sea lions we have and why they are here. If you would like to have another look at it, click here.

So today I was driving by the same location, but there were fewer sea lions. Only a dozen of them this time. Still, it was a photo op and I couldn’t resist. Here they are lying on the big floating tanks that serve as a breakwater just out from the fishermen’s wharf at Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island.

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The one on the far left has an itch he’s trying to scratch.

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The same fellow is sitting up tall and is about to do an amazing back bend

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Can you do that? Lean back and give your fanny a kiss?

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The old bull with the white face is deep asleep, drooling, and dreaming of salmon he’ll steal right off the hooks of the commercial fishermen. If he only knew that his buddies  up north in Haida Gwaii were already having a smorgasbord orgy, he might get up and start making his way up there. Reports are that the fishing guides are frustrated because their customers can’t land a fish. The sea lions are there to take the spring salmon off the fishing lines as soon as the sporties hook one.

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But maybe ignorance is bliss.

What is contentment, you ask? You’re looking at it!