Category Archives: Trees

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So that’s what corn on the cob looks like when it’s growing. A child might think that’s what it is.

You may remember my recent post about the Colorado blue spruce. In that one, I compared the cones to candles standing on a Christmas tree. With our recent sun and rain, the cones on this spruce have grown quickly and are having trouble supporting their own weight.

I wonder if they will eventually hang down the way  cones on so many other evergreens do. I can see that I’ll have to do a followup post whenever that happens.

All Spruced Up

Did you know that the Colorado Blue Spruce is the state tree of Colorado? I did not know that, but it doesn’t surprise me one bit. This tree is amazing on so many levels. It is tough and prickly, and in the plant world, that spells survival.

Have you ever tried to touch one, or pull on it? Ouch! The Latin name “Picea pungens,” means a spruce (or type of pine) that is prickly, puncturing, or stinging. Just touch one and you’ll see what I mean.

They make a great wind break when planted as a hedge and they tolerate cold temperatures. They are listed as a Zone 2 plant, which allows for very cold weather. No wonder Colorado likes it.

The Colorado spruce in this photo is actually in my neighbours’ yard. I zoomed in on it when I noticed its beautiful cones standing tall like  candles on an old-fashioned Christmas tree, or many levels of lights on a chandelier.

Just slightly off topic is the background of the photo. You are looking at the sandy bottom of Comox Bay at low tide. Only a small streak of blue crosses it and that is the river coming out into the bay. A few hours later, that whole sandy area will be covered with water when the tide comes in. If not for the river, the tide, and the gooey sand a person might be tempted to walk across to the other side.

Wear a bathing suit, as you might have to swim back.

More “Snow”

As one of our bloggers mentioned in the last post, there is another kind of snow lying around these days. I found some just down the street. I believe this huge tree is a cottonwood or its relative, a grey poplar. Its  fuzz-covered seeds now fill the air and lie on the sides of the road, looking like real snow.

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The black cottonwood that I’ve seen in Montana has darker bark, and leaves that are more rounded than those of this tree. This is why I wondered about it being a grey poplar instead, although they are still related.

The fluffy bits are like cotton balls, and maybe this is where the cottonwood got its name.

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I’m so glad this snow will eventually blow away and that we don’t have to shovel it. Quite possibly it makes good fluff for lining a bird’s nest.

Do you have any fake snow where you live?

The Dogwood

For some reason, this is a good year for the dogwood. Local dogwoods are in fine form. Even the little one in our yard is blooming prolifically.

It is the provincial floral emblem of British Columbia.

The Dogwood Speaks Out

 

One day I could be forty-five,

That’s feet in height, I mean.

My flowers are a velvet white

With just a hint of green.

 

Their petals number four to six,

But never all the same, 

And now I’m sure you’re wondering,

“How did it get that name?”

 

In Sanskrit, I am named for “dag,”

Which happens to be “skewer,”

But changing “dag” to “dog” makes sense,

And questions asked are fewer.

 

The berries on my flowers feed

An awful lot of birds,

And deer who want to browse my twigs

Keep munching them in herds.

 

The bears and beavers eat my leaves,

Perhaps they think I’m salad.

Then satisfied, they amble on, 

They burp and sing a ballad.

 

For tanning agents and for dyes,

My bark is useful too.

The Salish and the Thompsons somehow

Knew just what to do.

 

The Cowichans made knitting needles

From my solid wood.

They knitted sweaters with designs

As often as they could.

 

I’m useful and I’m beautiful,

I’m really quite a tree,

For B.C.’s floral emblem

They’ve officially chosen me.

 

Water on Three Sides

What are you looking at here? Let me help you get your bearings.

The hills in the distance, and beyond them the mountains you can’t see because of the low cloud cover, are on the mainland of British Columbia, just north of Vancouver. I am standing on Vancouver Island. You can deduce from that, that the city of Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island. In this photo we are looking to the east.

I’ve climbed up a hill a little way and am now looking to the south. You can see a spit of land that reaches out from the land’s end. The spit has been formed by a gazillion years of wave action swishing the sand along and dropping it to form a giant finger of sand. All the land you can see in this photo, including the mountains, is on Vancouver Island.

Looking to the west, you can see the sheltered water on the inside of the spit, and the harbour of Comox in the distance. Those toothpicks sticking up are the masts and trolling poles of fishing boats and sailboats in the marina. The two boats at anchor in the foreground are getting free moorage.

A few weeks ago, the Captain and I went for a walk that took us to the inside of the sheltered bay. You can see part of the spit in the distance on the far right horizon.

On the way to the trail we noticed the run-off from the excessive amount of rain we’d had. This is not a year-round creek, but a temporary run-off creek. I feel sorry for the large tree that has its feet in water, day and night. It may soon go the way of the broken off tree trunk in the photo below this one.

It may be broken off, but this tree is still serving a useful purpose. It is making many birds happy. Nuthatches and woodpeckers will make holes in the trees to nest in,  and the bugs they find in the trunk help give them strength to continue their work and to feed their babies.

Farther along, we came to the boardwalk. I love this scene. You see the run-off creek completing the water cycle as it brings the rainwater back to the sea. It’s great to have the boardwalk and not have to wade through the creek.

The trees along the water are mostly deciduous types. They are probably cottonwoods and a few poplar or alder types mixed in. My guess is they are cottonwoods because those grow taller than the others, and these are a good size.

Even in the cool weather, you can have a great day going for a walk around your neighbourhood.

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!)