wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


23 Comments

Lying Around

On the beach, I found some things that have been lying around for a long, long time.

This tree, for example, has been clinging to life for decades, possibly waiting to change into a lizard and join its friend farther up the beach. Something happened to the tree, perhaps as it fell over with its roots still in the ground. Maybe at that time it was much smaller and the huge boulder injured it, or prevented it from growing straight.

This may have been when the gnarly knot that we call a burl was formed. These twisted lumps have an interesting grain, and markings that make them special. Artists love to take burls to their woodworking shops to make clocks and coffee tables out of the slices they can cut from the burl.

Just look at the size of this burl. I’m sure the rock had something to do with its formation over many years.

Under this tree, the sandy soil contains countless clamshells. The shells are not in all parts of the higher beach, making me wonder why they are all together in one place.

One guess is that it might have been a midden – a place where early peoples camped and ate clams, leaving the shells  in their “dining room.”

I found a similar midden in Baja California, where the native people from decades gone by brought their shellfish from the beach to a small cave where they ate the seafood and left the shells behind.

Here is another example of the parts of the beach with and without shells, higher up on the bank.

There could be other possible explanations, but for now, I like to think it was a midden – the lunch table where no one cleared away the dishes.


26 Comments

Rocky Times

This part of the beach is very much to Emma’s liking. Sand is easier to run on than rocks.

Farther along, some giant hurled a handful of rocks onto the beach, to the north …

and to the south.

A closer look at some of them make me suspect that over thousands (maybe millions?) of years, some clumps of sand hardened into rocks like the one below. It’s a temporary resting place for the baby rock on its back, or maybe it’s on his face….

Do you see the face in this rock? A big slash for a mouth above the chin; a smooshed up nose; two puffy eyes; a scar that goes from his left eye to the right corner of his mouth; and a wart on his left cheek.

Yes, the maple leaf tells us we are in Canada. I’ll let you speculate what it means that the leaf is upside down just now. ( I didn’t touch it! That’s just the way it is.)

I must learn to be more like the old barnacles on the rock by the end of the maple leaf stem, and hang in there. Time marches on and things change. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. Maybe the next tide will flip the leaf over.

 


38 Comments

The Islands

Vancouver Island is surrounded by many other smaller islands. It’s an easy boat ride to go for an overnight picnic on one of them. With our troller and the sporty boat of our friends, we did just that. Here we are snuggled up together.

The aluminum skiff is handy for ferrying us to shore for some exploring and picture taking.

So many plants and shells are different from those on most beaches of Vancouver Island.

Our friends’ dog may have been a bit nervous at first, but he proved to have sailor’s blood running in his veins. He had a great time and was as good as gold.

Dogs and people all got along fabulously and had a good time.

More on this outing next time.

*** Again – a reminder that all my novels are half price until the end of July. The Wind Weeps remains FREE. See my webpage for more info: www.anneli-purchase.com

 


28 Comments

The Wild Winds Weep

The wild winds weep

And the night is a-cold

Come hither, Sleep,

And my griefs unfold.

I wish I could claim this poem as my own creation, but I can’t. It is from a poem called “Mad Song,” by William Blake.

I was quite taken by this poem when I wrote my first novel of a coastal drama in which the wild weather played a significant role. That is why I used “The Wind Weeps” as my title.

I’m not trying to persuade you to click on the book cover image at the side for the free download of that book, but if you do, remember book two, “Reckoning Tide.”

It’s just that today the weather is so wild. The wind is crying out there,  whipping up the waves, just as it is in parts of my book.

Driving past Point Holmes on my way home from shopping, I stopped to take a few pictures. I had to hang onto the car door tightly so it wouldn’t rip off. A torn rotator cuff on a person is painful, but on a car door it would be  expensive  – so, also painful in a way.

It takes  a good stiff wind to give these waves foaming, frothy tops. In the photo below you can see a smooth line near the bottom of the picture. That is the paved boat launch ramp. No one is using it today for obvious reasons. No way I’d want to be tossing around in a small boat out there.

Even the little songbirds were looking for shelter. They swarmed in small clouds to and from the beach. Some flew in to land on the rocks and logs, but my photo doesn’t show the tiny birds well. I enlarged the photo to have a look (as you may be able to do by clicking on it), and I counted at least twelve small birds. It’s a tough time for them.

Those mountains in the distance should be clear and sharp. It is only around noon, but the sky is dark and full of raindrops flying sideways so the far shore is fuzzy and the mountains just a haze.

It’s too stormy out there for me. I think Emma has the right idea.

DSCN9323


50 Comments

What Good is a Crow?

Sometimes in the winter, the extra high tides peak just when extreme winds blow the waves towards the beach and up over the edge of the road. Sand  churned up in the shallow water of the beach is deposited on the pavement as the waves retreat. At its most furious, the storm makes the road impassable due to waves carrying logs and sand, crashing on the pavement.

Something had to be done.  Why not use the logs that keep washing up on the shore to build a breakwater?

The only drawback was that access  was limited for people wanting to  spend time on the beach. Only a few pass-throughs allow access, but this is a small price to pay for keeping the beach material off the road. On the left foreground of the photo below, you can see the root system of a tree used in making the breakwater.

It makes a great perch for this crow to survey the beach and assess the possibility of nabbing a bite to eat.

Closer to the bluffs where the spit begins, people are enjoying the sunshine in spite of the cold brisk breeze.

Apparently they have brought some picnic food, and our crow is on the alert. See him in the foreground (below), keeping an eye on the people?

Those pebbles can twist a crow’s ankle. He hops up onto a better stand while he talks to us.

My name is Corby, I’m a crow,

A useful bird, I’ll have you know.

I clean up beaches, parks, and schools,

‘Cause people are such messy fools.

“A scavenger,” they say and sneer,

But really I’m an engineer.

A sanitation engineer,

Patrolling beaches without fear.

I’m much despised for baby theft

Of eggs and fledglings, moms bereft,

But on the beach and in the park,

With my intentions not so dark,

I use my observation perch

And beady eyes to scan and search

For chip bags, Ding Dongs, peanut shells.

I simply follow kiddies’ yells

For fast food wrappers, greasy hits

Of french fries, ketchup, burger bits.

I hop-skip over, spear a fry,

And poke some Cheezies with a sigh.

I fly up high, and watch, and call,

My cawing soon assembles all.

The local corbies cruising by,

Spy the garbage as they fly.

They’ve come to lend a helping hand

To clean the litter off the land.

They caw, “We are the cleanup crew,

Don’t look at us with eyes askew.

Don’t throw those rocks to chase us off,

You need us still,  you silly toff.

As long as you mess up the land,

Be thankful for the crows at hand.”

 


29 Comments

Sea Lions

The tiny community of Fanny Bay on Vancouver Island has a very small population (something over 800 people) but I think it would be half as large again if you could count the sea lions that have taken up temporary residence there. At first it was only a stopping place for the Steller sea lions but in recent years their smaller cousins, the California sea lions, have traveled farther up the coast following the food source.

At this time of year when the herring arrive to spawn near the beaches of Vancouver Island, the sea lions have decided they like the sheltered east coast of the island. Later, many of them will move farther north and also onto the west coast of the island open to the Pacific to chase the salmon in the summer, much to the annoyance of the commercial fishermen. The last thing they want to see is a sea lion following their trolling lines, eating every fish they are lucky enough to hook before they can even think about bringing it aboard.??????????

The photo above shows only a small fraction of the clusters of sea lions of both types that are now living here, quite close to people and boats. Some even try to get aboard.

??????????

Let’s go fishing!

I’m not sure I’d want to have my sailboat anchored so close to these guys. I suppose the side of the hull is high enough so they can’t climb aboard, but I wouldn’t be dangling that crab pot on the stern. Sea lions can leap up from the water high enough to make me nervous if I were aboard.

If you click to enlarge some of the photos, you may see that many of the sea lions have battle scars. The stories they could tell.

??????????

Sea lions don’t sound much like lions, but rather more like dogs — huge ferocious dogs with over a thousand pounds of weight pushing the deep vibrations out of their fat throat. “OW! OW! OW! OW!” they bark in their baritone voice. I couldn’t help wondering what they were saying.

??????????

The size difference is not always immediately apparent, but when you see the California sea lion (on the left, below) next to a Steller sea lion (the paler one on the right, below) you can easily believe that there is a difference of more than a thousand pounds between them (about 660 lbs. for the adult male California sea lion and 2200 lbs. for the adult male Steller sea lion).

053

They don’t seem to mind lying side by side on the breakwater, although none of them is giving up his spot, real estate being at a premium.

One thing I wondered about, is why they sit with their head thrown back. Several theories occurred to me:

  • they’re just enjoying the sunshine
  • they’re letting their last meal digest (since they swallow their food without much chewing)
  • their head is so heavy that by putting it back over their shoulders, they don’t have to hold up the weight and strain their neck.
  • they’re being snobbish
  • they’re trying to escape the smell

If anyone knows the real reason, I’d love to know.

??????????

The ones who are not lucky enough to get a place on the breakwater simply raft up together nearby. They seem to be relaxed enough, floating on their backs, noses in the air for easier breathing as they doze.

Their main enemies are humans, sharks, and killer whales. Safety in numbers.??????????

Another raft of sea lions. They seem to be everywhere.
016

A Steller sea lion in the photo below is quite content to rest his chin on the California’s backside. Cal doesn’t seem to mind. “Oh, Stella, Do that again. Yes, right there. Scratch harder. Feels so-o-o-o good!”

??????????

??????????

After a while, the uninterrupted clamour was enough to have me digging frantically in my purse for a couple of Advils. I suppose I could have done what this fellow did – book an island retreat and go for a soothing swim all alone, far from the madding crowd.