Category Archives: Maple

Seize the Moment, Seize the Camera


I was lying in bed awake, thinking, “Five o’clock. Too early to get up. Still dark!”

But my mind was nagging me to make some changes to the manuscript of my latest novel (work in progress), so I sneaked over to my laptop and worked on those changes. I was so engrossed in the writing, I barely noticed that daylight had crept in. As I looked out the window, I saw what you see here below.  If I had hesitated I would have missed it.

My first thought when I saw this sudden light on the trees, was “Wham!” and then, “Morning has broken.”


Luckily the camera was handy and I seized the moment. Seconds later, the fir went back to its dark green colour and that’s how it stayed all day.

It got me thinking about how close I came to missing that photo, missing the sight completely. What if I’d stayed in bed like millions of normal people were doing? I would have missed this splendid light show.

Life is full of gems like this, that we might miss out on if we don’t seize the moment.

Spring Has Sprung

I’ve been impatiently awaiting signs of spring this year. I don’t have many daffodils in the yard, but this bunch always comes up in the same spot at the side of the driveway. Daffodils make me think of my mother because many years ago, as a new Canadian, she could never get the name right and always called them daffy-dolls. It still makes me smile today.


I find the narcissus prettier, but I don’t have many of these either. Just this one precious bunch.


The sun was out for a change, so I rushed around taking a few quick pictures. The azalea shrub I bought for $5 at Buckerfield’s Feed Store over twenty years ago is still going strong. Buckerfield’s, sadly, is not. They went out of business a long time ago.


The primroses are a gift from a friend who was getting rid of extras. They seem happy here. Thank you, friend.


I was about to put the camera away when I noticed that “the nice light” had come out. So I have to include a couple more photos with the evening sun shining on the trees. The maple is just getting its first leaves. This winter was cool, damp, and dark, and the moss on its bark grew rampantly.


The firs that strike terror into my chicken-heart when they sway and roar during storms look beautiful today with the warm setting sun on them.


I was about to come back into the house when I saw that I’d been watched – for quite some time, judging by the steamy glass pane on the screen door.

“What are you doing out there?” she asks. “Can anybody play?”


We Must Tell the King

The other day I was picking up hazelnuts that had fallen on the ground. My dogs have taken a liking to them and Ruby has taught Emma to crack them in her teeth. Not a good thing to do unless you want cracked teeth, too. So I’m trying to keep a step ahead by gathering the nuts as they fall. It’s a bit disheartening when, after I’ve shaken the trees to make the nuts fall, and cleaned the whole area under the trees, a breeze comes along and more nuts fall. Impossible to keep up with it all.


But as the nuts are falling, so are the apples. I’d picked up the ones on the ground and had gone back to raking up the area under the hazelnut trees, when a strong gust of wind knocked a beautiful, big apple out of the tree next to me. Thonk! It whacked me on the head and thudded to the ground.


How brainwashed we are! In that split second, I was six years old again, listening to stories on Uncle Leroy’s radio show, “Kiddies’ Corner,” on a Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. Uncle Leroy played the recorded stories,  and as clearly as if it had been only yesterday, I heard Chicken Little say, “Bockbockbock! The SKY is falling! And WE must tell the KING! BaBOCKbock!”

I shook off the memory and chuckled at how these stories, like  Pepsodent and Brylcreem jingles are imprinted into our brains by the media.

Then I glanced up from my nitpicking and nut picking, and looked towards the neighbours’ house. Our back driveway is only sometimes used, but for a day or two it wouldn’t be used at all. In the previous night’s huge windstorm that caused havoc all across southwestern British Columbia, a part of the huge maple tree that stands beside the driveway had broken off and landed across it.


Now if you’ll excuse me, BaBOCKbock! I really MUST go tell the king! (And ask him to bring his chain saw.)

The Nice Light

I know “nice” is a tired word and I try not to use it, but in this case, I have to. When the sun dips low in the sky, for a few minutes the rays pass through the lower atmosphere where, I presume it’s the dust particles that enhance its golden colour. Any objects this late evening sunshine rests on, are turned to gold. Where does “nice” come in? Whenever I see the trunks of the fir trees turn gold, I always say, “Oh look! There’s that nice light again.”

In this post I don’t have much of a story, but I wanted to share “the nice light” with you.

The big maple and the firs soak it up.??????????

The tall firs reach up to catch “the nice light.”??????????

Through the gaps in the trees, the trunks of the neighbour’s trees are dabbed with light.??????????

The green leaves in the foreground (left) are part of the same maple tree as the golden lime-coloured ones. The trees to the right are hollies.

??????????The show is nearly over as the sun sinks lower yet. Now it’s mostly the clouds that are touched by colour. The same cloud that spat twenty drops of rain on our parched grass, is painted pink by the sun as it says, “See you tomorrow.”


Sandy Island – Tree Island

It isn’t windy. That’s the important deciding factor. I’m a wuss when it comes to being seasick, so it doesn’t matter that the skies are overcast, as long as the sea is calm. The fishboat will go out on a day trip. A picnic on a nearby island will double as a test to see if the boat is running well after a winter of maintenance work. Before the commercial fishing season starts, the boat needs to be in good condition to lessen the chance of a breakdown and a loss of production in the middle of the season.

Aboard the Eden Lake, Ruby and I join Captain Gary for a mini-adventure to the island the locals call Tree Island and the non-locals call Sandy Island. Here we are looking back at Comox. The town looks very dreary in this muggy atmosphere, but it really is a very nice town.??????????

The aluminium skiff is tied onto the overhead boom. It will take us to shore on the island while Eden Lake stays anchored in deeper water.


Captain Gary adjusts the navigation program so he can watch out for the sandbar between Comox and the island.


The water is flat calm and my stomach is in heaven. No ups and downs. No nausea today! While we travel to the island, I put some potatoes in the oven. They’ll be perfect when we arrive. Sour cream and butter, salt and pepper on them, they’ll make a fine, hot lunch before we go ashore.

The photo below is actually a picture of a sea lion who dove before I could focus on it. I only captured a tiny ripple instead.036

We arrive at the island and anchor the fishboat. After lunch, the fun part comes when we try to get the skiff down from the boom. I’m sure two men could have the skiff in the water in no time but when I’m expected to reach, lift, and push the end of the skiff out over the water so it can then be lowered, I find that it would all be so much easier if I were just an inch taller. That way I could reach the bottom of the skiff rather than swipe at the air around it. But the captain does the work of two, and launches the skiff.

The shore looks a bit gooey but it’s not as bad as it looks. It’s just wet sand with a bit of sea lettuce, and as we hike up to higher ground the beach is lovely and sandy.  066

The island is a marine park and the whole blooming place is full of flowers. As you can see, Alberta’s provincial flower, the wild rose, looks great in British Columbia too.


This maple has been around for many years. Someone thought the trunk offered a good place to build a platform with driftwood to read a book or sleep on.


What can be more beautiful than nature’s own garden?


A walk around the island gives you a chance to fill up with pure sea air as you admire the many species of grasses and flowers. Looks like the tide is out. Hope Eden Lake hasn’t run aground!



Ruby is ready to go home, all tired out from investigating so many new smells.


My carriage awaits me, and home we go.


Ice and Fog

We may not have extreme cold conditions on the coast, for which I am ever so thankful, but we have a damp kind of cold weather that seems to seep right through to the marrow.

These past few days several weather changes have occurred. First, it was almost springlike as the perma-grayness of the sky cleared one day and we caught  glimpse of the sun so far south and low on the horizon that I knew it was still shining hard on Mexico. This glimpse brought several large flocks of robins to our area. They were busy turning over fallen maple leaves, and picking at the odd bug on the ground, but mostly they were after anything that looked like a red berry. Pyracantha, viburnum, mountain ash, cotoneaster, and holly–they didn’t care what it was as long as it was round and red.

Then the fog rolled in and the robins sat in the trees like ghosts.

Not quite a partridge in a pear tree, but robins in a plum tree.

Not quite a partridge in a pear tree, but robins in a plum tree.

The next day it was a bit chillier and still the fog covered the land like an ice blanket.

The following day, the fog was still here. Perfect setting for a spooky movie as darkness settled in. The temperature dropped another degree or two and the air was raw.

By morning the dampness had settled on every surface and frozen in place.

Fennel in the fog

Fennel in the fog

I leave my herb garden in a mess in the fall ever since I saw a few desperate songbirds picking at seeds  one winter. I thought it makes no difference to me if I cut plants back and tidy up in the fall or in the spring, but it makes a big difference to the birds. This fennel has only seeds left and those should be dark brown. If they look white here, it’s only because of the ice that has frozen on each seed.

Iced up fennel seeds

Iced up fennel seeds

A bird would find nothing to eat here as long as the frost covered the seeds.

When the small twigs of trees and shrubs freeze like this, it makes browsing very hard for the deer. Chewing on icicles is not very nourishing or warming.

Icy twigs

Icy twigs

These are not necessarily a deer’s favourite twigs to eat, but I hoped to show how they ice up when the fog has wet them and then the temperature drops. It’s hunger days for the animals. Time to put out the birdseed and cracked corn.

Blowing and Snowing

I’m caving in. I tried to put off winter, but I find that now I have no choice but to allow it in. Like an unwelcome guest, it pushed its way into our town. It has blown over my resistance and snowed me under. I didn’t go out this year and  take pictures of the blizzard but will post a view of one from a couple of years ago. I assure you the photo depicts  exactly the same weather that we had a couple of days ago when our first snowfall of the winter blew in, uninvited.

Our neighbours' rig is still there, a bit late going south.

Our neighbours’ rig is still there, a bit late going south.

Our Christmas lights are up, but who would be foolish enough to be out in this weather to go look at them. I didn’t even want to go out to plug them in.

Who will plug in the lights, and why?

Who will plug in the lights, and why?

One good thing about living on the west coast is that our snow usually doesn’t last very long. Soon it’s an icy mess, and a day or two after that, we’re back to the rain. Meanwhile, we need to clean up the damage that the howling wind did to snow-laden branches. After the storm, we inspected the driveway and found that pieces of  the old pin cherry tree finally came down.

We had to clean up the mess our tree made in the neighbours’ yard, as well as deal with our own mess and fragile fence. The pin cherry was rotten and has been for years. These trees don’t last very long compared to the maple to the right of it, for example.


As we cut and cleaned, a pileated woodpecker flew out of the woods, scolding us for taking away his dining room. We try to leave stumps of trees that fell long ago to attract and feed the flickers and pileated woodpeckers that live in the area, but the pin cherry had become a hazard. We only removed the parts that had already fallen but felt guilty taking even that much.

The tree was dead on its feet and ready to keel over any time. It was well advanced in decay as you can see from the three mushrooms that are growing in it. I’ve circled them so you can see where they are. You can click to make the pictures bigger.

Find the three mushrooms inside the black circles.

Find the three mushrooms inside the black circles.

Gives a whole new meaning to "mushroom picking."

Gives a whole new meaning to “mushroom picking.”

Much more mess to deal with later.

Much more mess to deal with later.

We had a good afternoon’s work to do clearing the driveway, and there is a lot more to do to clean up this tangle of dry limbs. Getting the tree dismantled is a little bit like the game of Pick Up Sticks, except it’s up in the air. You try to choose a branch to cut away without having all the rest of them crash down on you on the ladder.

We may have the natural solution to the problem coming up. Tonight it’s supposed to blow quite hard, so maybe we’ll be spared the job of cutting the rest of the branches down and tomorrow we can play Pick Up Sticks on the ground.