wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Herring, and Egg on Your Face

So much fuss over a little fish.

But it is a very popular fish, especially on the tables of the UK and Germany. You can have it smoked or fried, or fried and served in tomato sauce, or pickled and rolled up into Rollmops. If you like fish, you probably love herring.

My mother told me that back in the days before WWII, a fishmonger was selling herring in the street, and he called out to the customers, “Herring! Herring! So fett wie der Goering.” (“Herring! Herring! As fat as Goering” [the commander-in-chief of the Nazi air force]). Since Goering’s name rhymed with the name of the fish, it caused a chuckle among the townspeople who came out of their houses to buy his fish.

But the Nazi bigwigs didn’t like to be made fun of so they arrested the fishmonger and put him in jail for two weeks.

When he was released, the fishmonger went back out onto the streets to sell his herring, calling out, “Herring! Herring! … As fat as … they were two weeks ago.”

*****

Right now the local herring fishery is winding up and the cleanup begins.

Here is a photo of the beach area below our house where you can see the herring spawn turning the water close to shore a turquoise blue colour.

The seiners have caught their allowed quotas of herring and most have gone home.  There is still a lot of herring spawn (eggs) in the water, a lot of it stuck to seaweed and being washed up on the beach.

This is what the seagulls gorge themselves on.

The one on the bottom left has “egg on his face” but doesn’t seem to mind it. See the herring roe sitting on his beak?

*****

In my other blog, you might be interested in a post about what turns readers off.

https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/2021/03/20/what-turns-readers-off/


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Leftovers?

Same tree. Different bird. Same watchful eyes.

This is a good perch. I see this from my window as I look out towards the bay. I can’t resist trying to get a photo, even though it’s quite far away. I zoom in and try not to shake the camera as I press the shutter. It’s not perfect, but he (or she) is recognizable.  He’s got a great view of the beach and any activity that may signal food.

“Any leftovers?” he asks.

The herring fishery is as good as over, most boats having caught their allowed quota, but the feast for the scavengers is just beginning. Dead herring litter the beaches here and there, and strands of kelp and other seaweed have skeins of herring roe stuck to them. It all makes a tasty and healthy snack for seagulls and eagles.

I thought I’d try some of the herring myself. A friend working on a seiner gave us a few herring mainly for bait, since it isn’t the ideal food fishery time. The fatter herring are fished for food in November. But since these were so fresh, I fried a few fillets in the pan. They have a lot of little bones, but it’s so worth it to pick them out as you eat. They were delicious.

Of course they had to be cleaned up a bit first.

I feel a bit guilty about eating them. See how they are looking at me with reproach?


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Herring Provides for All

The seiners wait in the harbour for the signal that the herring are fat enough, with a high enough roe count, to allow the roe herring fishery to proceed.

Rafts of sea lions are waiting too. They will take advantage of the herring being “rounded up” in the purse seines of the big boats. Many herring “escape,” right into the waiting jaws of these huge mammals.

Some of them like the fishy smell coming from small power boats and are trying to investigate up close.

Seagulls wheel around the seiners trying to grab any herring that swims too close to the surface.

This immature eagle is about to find out that the beach will be full of bounty as roe and herring and bycatch float ashore. These foods provide much-needed calories for the eagles especially at their nesting time, which happens very soon after the herring fishery. Healthy eagles will have healthy chicks.

And let’s not forget that as much as we scoff at seagulls and their shrieking habits, they are the janitors of the beaches, cleaning up every bit of mess.

Once the carnage has been cleaned up, the animals have to scrounge what food they can until next year’s feast.


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Spider Hideouts

Spider Hideouts

With all the bad weather we’re having, I took a mental trip back to sunnier days when we were in Mexico for the winter about twenty years ago.

Camped at Chacala, 360 kms south of Mazatlan, we often bought our fruit and vegetables from the produce truck.  One day, I lugged home three big bags of fresh vegetables.

“Coming to the beach?” the Captain asked.

“You go ahead. I’ll be down right after I clean these veggies,” I grumbled, slapping at the tiny biting flies. I soon gave up trying to work at the table I had set up outside and brought the vegetables into the bug-free trailer to clean in my little kitchenette.

Done at last! Now for the beach and a cool swim. I hurried outside to bring in my bathing suit from the clothesline we had strung between two coconut palms. I was about to step into it, when I let out a shriek. A furry eight-legged critter about the size of a wolf spider was eyeing me from inside the bathing suit bra.

Anyone passing by must have gawked at the bathing suit flying out the doorway.

I was late getting to the beach that day, and although the water was refreshing, I couldn’t relax. Other swimmers must have wondered at the woman who kept pulling away the top of her bathing suit to look at her boobs.

That evening, we sat at the kitchen table in the trailer, playing cards and relaxing with an Oso Negro gin and peach juice. I tidied up the last few things before getting into bed.

The Captain had just finished brushing his teeth and as he came out of the bathroom he heard me GASP! His eyes followed my arm as I pointed to the corner of the trailer. There, clinging to the ceiling, sat the biggest spider I’d ever seen. The hairy dark brown visitor had a body the size of my thumb, and his legs could easily straddle a saucer. If I had been a screamer they would have heard me all the way to Mazatlan.

“And I’ve been sitting there playing cards all evening with that thing poised right above my head,” I wailed.

I handed the Captain the fly swatter, and, in a shaky voice, told him, “If it gets away, I’m not sleeping in here tonight and I’ll be on the plane tomorrow.”

“It must have come in with the vegetables,” he said, as he tossed its crumpled body outside.

And where had it been while I sat there cleaning them? I wondered. Hiding in the cauliflower leaves? How close had I come to touching it? Shivers ran down my back.

It seems spider experiences run in three’s.

The next day we visited an open air market in a nearby town. I admired the handmade wooden cutting boards and picked one up to study the grain. Something ran over my hand. I threw the board into the air and squealed, “Una araña!” The vendor laughed and seemed unperturbed as I pointed to the gigantic spider running in his direction.

I was having serious thoughts of home. But imagine missing all this fun.


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Apples – A to Z

Apple time is nearly over and each type of apple has its season. Our transparent apples, tart cooking apples, are the first to ripen, followed by the Gravenstein, a delicious eating apple. Then comes the MacIntosh, thinner skinned, but also a good eating apple, and finally the best winter apple I’ve ever tasted, the Wilmuta.

The apple trees were loaded this year, probably to make up for last year’s almost non-existent crop.

I’m guilty of not pruning the trees well (or at all) last winter and the trees were so weighed down with apples that a major branch threatened to break. I stuck a piece of wood under it to prop it up. I promise to prune the trees for next year.

I had never heard of Wilmuta until I bought this one, almost 30 years ago. My favourite apple is probably the Gravenstein, but Jonagold comes a close second. Wilmuta is a cross between these two varieties. The goal of apple biologists was to produce a large apple like Jonagold, but with the rosy colour of a Gravenstein. The result was a huge mouth-watering late season apple that is as sweet as it is hardy, well into late October.

October is nearly over and these apples are still on the tree, but I think it’s time to bring them in out of the cold soon. They are really good keepers, except for getting eaten eagerly once they are ripe.

If I were to buy another apple tree, Wilmuta would be my first choice.

*****

Apples keep the doctor away. Sorry, Doc.

Baking with apples

Crunchy fruit

Delicious, dripping sweetness

Eve tempts Adam

Festive

Gravenstein

Hardy

I love apples

Juicy Jonagold

Keepers

Lovely

MacIntosh

Nutritious

Over the top

Pippins

Quantities – never enough

Ripe

Sweet apple sauce

Tart transparents

Unbelievably good

Varieties abound

Wonderful Wilmuta

X-tra good

Yes, they’re the best

Zero calories … almost.


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Finicky Finch

This female house finch has just had a bath and is now looking for a snack on my brussels sprouts plants.

These tasty sprouts are still so small,

That’s not much food for me at all,

To peck them isn’t worth the work,

I’ll have to find some other perk.

So many pairs of pears I see,

Too many hanging in one tree,

Too big for tiny little finches,

I’d get fat and put on inches.

The sunflower seeds will soon be ripe

And then I’ll have no cause to gripe,

They are my favourite snacking food,

To nibble them improves my mood.


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Slime Mold

No, it isn’t what the dog threw up, but it sure looks like it could be. It was growing in the bark mulch in my backyard. First time I’ve seen it.

Back in April, Pit from pitsfritztownnews posted a photo of slime mold (also called dog vomit slime mold), and I said that we don’t have it here. He’s in Texas; I’m on Vancouver Island. I’ve added a link to his post at the bottom of the page.

This slime mold is about the size of an adult hand with fingers spread out.

Apparently this fungus frequently comes in bark mulch and grows when the weather is humid. Hot dry weather usually dries it up and it dies. Meanwhile, although it is not meant to be eaten, it won’t kill you and it’s not toxic to pets. It is just to be tolerated and possibly admired for its uniqueness.

 

Here is Pit’s link:

https://pitsfritztownnews.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/this-here/

 


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Birds at Vernon Lake

We parked our trailer and unloaded the skiff to have it ready for use at the edge of Vernon Lake.

The campsite was visited by many birds. Here are only a few of them. Many stayed hidden though they sang their hearts out all day.

This is a hairy woodpecker. I thought at first it was a downy, which looks very similar, but the hairy woodpecker has a much heavier and longer beak than the downy.

One of the birds I heard a lot, was Swainson’s thrush. I love the song he sings, “You’re pretty, you’re pretty, oh really.” But he is very elusive and I couldn’t get a photo of him.

He’s a very plain version of an immature robin but without any hint of black or red. If you click on this link you’ll see a photo on the bird site: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Swainsons_Thrush/id

Next to visit, was a Steller’s jay, but I almost mistook him for something else. He is a bit pale and scruffy, and this has me wondering if it is an immature bird.

Below, we have the red-breasted sapsucker, probably the very one I took pictures of for a previous post. He was hanging around the campsite the whole time we were there.

And no wonder! He has already made quite an investment in this tree, sipping sap and nabbing insects.

But do you see what I see? Circling the tree just below the chipped bark is a nasty looking petrified snake. I think he’s guarding the dinner table for the sapsucker.

You won’t see me trying to get near him. He looks mean. Is that blood on his lips?


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Fish or Beans

Vernon Lake on northern Vancouver Island is a good-sized piece of water. Expect lots of gray days, with misty clouds, some moving around the lake, some hanging onto the hilltops nearby.

If you are in a small boat, watch for the many partially submerged logs, especially near the shores. The area around the lake was logged long ago, probably more than once, by the look of the different sizes of trees.

 

Some of the trees have been in the water for so long that the exposed stumps have decayed and supported new plant growth. Sorry for the blurry photo of that one. It was a quick afterthought photo on a drive-by in the skiff.

Some stumps had not had time to develop growth yet. Instead they took on the role of sea monsters guarding the passageway to the far end of the lake.

At that end where the river flows out, the lake narrows like a funnel. Along the sides of the ever narrowing passageway, stand snags of trees that were probably drowned years ago by the rise in the lake’s water level in the rainy season. It looked to me like Snag Alley.

 

The water was so clear you wondered if it was really there, except that it reflected the greenery from the shore.

 

The Captain did his best to catch a fish after scrambling to get all his ducks in a row.

Either our timing wasn’t right, or the Captain was hampered by having to set up the Admiral with her fishing rod, but by the time he was able to dabble, it was not a fishy time for him just then and there.

Or possibly the fish didn’t take him seriously because he wasn’t wearing all his top-of-the-line brand name fishing paraphernalia. (The Admiral didn’t care about that stuff as long as he had the bear spray along.)

Anyway, supper that day was not going to be fresh gourmet fish.

More like sausages and a can of beans.

It was time for one of my favourite sayings: Tomorrow is another day.

 


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The Chinwag

Sometimes it takes only a simple thing to feel like you’ve just had a shot of Vitamin B12.

Yesterday I sat on a bench looking at this scene. I took a picture and thought, “Somewhere over there is my house. If I didn’t know there was a river on the far side of this mud flat, I might try walking across Comox Bay.” When I got home and uploaded the photo, I zoomed in and could almost see my house. I could see the workshop in the backyard and the tree that is in the farthest corner of the yard. I drew an arrow in the photo to show where that tree is, right in a gap between the treed area.

Having a sandwich and a chinwag with a friend was a simple way to pass some time but it was great medicine after not seeing friends for a long time, and not having much of a social life except for calling to people at a distance. We sat on opposite ends of a bench and caught up on news of the past weeks. Then we both went home refreshed, having had a change of scene.

I realized then how much I had missed seeing my friends, and how much I still miss seeing some who can’t get out for a while like I did.

The effects of the pandemic are the same for all of us in some ways, but different for others.  What changes do you find most difficult at this time? How do you cope?