wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


41 Comments

Spring Ditties

It was a day of surprises. Yesterday, this plum tree had only tightly bunched up buds. Today the sun came out for a few minutes and the plum tree called out,

“Look at me! Look at me!

Every flower a plum will be!”

The next surprise lay at my feet as I stopped to admire the plum tree. It was just lucky I didn’t step on it.

Robin baby, where are you?

Found your shell that you picked through,

Lying by the blooming plum,

Just the size of someone’s thumb.

 

Morning, sparrow, golden crowned,

You don’t mind me being around,

Posing for me for so long,

Before bursting out in song.

 

 

 

Waxy petals calling out,

Any hummingbirds about?

We’re the colour that’s the best,

Not much sugar, that’s a test.

Try it putting out your two lips,

We are truly tasty tulips.

 

You rang?


18 Comments

The Fat Herring

“Junior! What are you looking at down there?”

 

“Nothing interesting, Ma. I’m just wondering who’s going to clean up all the mess those seagulls are making. After eating all those herring and the herring roe, I bet it’s pretty slick and hummy on that roof.”

“The squawking and shrieking is ear piercing. They have no pride. Slithering around on that roof as they digest their shreds of herring. But I guess they do a good job of cleaning up the beaches. If only they’d clean up the roof after they … you know ….  But wait! What’s that I hear the seagulls saying?”

 

I heard seagulls squawk a joke,

Hermann Goering was the bloke

That they picked on for his fat,

Not so nice, but that was that.

 

Herring seller in the town,

Cried his product all around,

“Herring, herring!” he would shout,

“Fat as that old Goering lout.”

 

Then police took him away,

Told him that’s not nice to say,

Off you go, two weeks in jail,

And you’ll stay there without bail.

 

Two weeks later he was out,

He was careful what to shout,

He had herring, don’t you know,

Fat as just two weeks ago.


41 Comments

Brant Migration

The black brant are back from the coast of Mexico and California. These small sea geese are on their northerly migration to their nesting grounds, mostly in the  coastal areas of the Canadian Arctic.

The long daylight hours of the far north allow plenty of time for the young to feed on plants and insects that are so prolific there.

But right now in the early spring of the year, as these adult black brant take a rest from their travels here on Vancouver Island, they are selectively foraging on marine vegetation. They especially like eel grass and bits of sea lettuce or other greens. Many of them have their beaks in the sand, rooting out plants, and small bits of grit. At this time of year, just after the herring have spawned, the brant might also get the odd mouthful of herring eggs stuck to the seaweed.  Caviar and green salad. Gourmet dining.

The brant have a long flight ahead of them and they need to recharge their strength and stamina for the next part of their northward journey.  This is why they spend so much of their time feeding. They are limited in the availability of the food by the tides. On high tides the grasses and seaweeds are underwater and not as easily accessible, so the brant prefer lower tides when the plants are uncovered. They eat during the day, so they have to make the most of the low tide and eat while the table is set. Low tides at night don’t do them much good.

By the way, do you see one bird who doesn’t seem to belong? It is being tolerated nicely though.

The snow geese are doing pretty much the same thing, heading north to nest, and eating as much as they can before the next leg of their flight. The difference is that they are not as particular about what they eat, and will happily enjoy some grass roots meals.

Our brant numbers seem to be down from past years. I don’t know why that is, but those that are left are a precious sight to see.

Coastal communities have put up many signs for visitors at the beach not to disturb the brant. While these birds are here, it is not helpful to them to let dogs run on the beach. It disturbs the birds,  who then use up energy in flying out of reach of the dogs, before they can then resettle to continue feeding.

While I watched from a distance, I saw a young father take his daughter down to the beach and walk right up to the brant, pointing at them, obviously showing his little girl what wonderful birds these are.

But here is the result of his naive, misguided good intentions.

While I was there, I saw two young fellows go down to the beach to play frisbee, right beside the brant, disturbing them yet again. They could just as easily have played frisbee on the grassy park area across from the beach.

A nearby kiteboarder had sense enough to go along the beach a little farther so he didn’t upset the geese.

The Captain and I drove on a few miles up the road to check out another beach that often had brant on it. Beautiful as the beach was, not a bird was to be seen. Perhaps the landscape here allows the tide to come right in  much faster and doesn’t leave as much “brant food” exposed.

We enjoyed the empty scene for a while before continuing on the road home, happy to have seen the brant earlier in the day.

 


43 Comments

The Squirrels’ Playhouse

I think I’ve found just the place where Della and I can have a little fun. 

But I tried the door…. It might be a squeeze to get in here.

Anybody home?

Come on out if you’re in there.

Nobody home. But if Della and I are going to have fun in this playhouse, I’ll have to do some renovations to the door first.

Here goes. Watch me work. I hear a neighbour doing renovations with his skill saw, so why not me?

That’s enough chewing.

Now to check it out. Woohoo!

I wonder what it’s like in there….

Oof! That was a bit of a tight squeeze.

But I’ll take it. It’s a fine playhouse. Now to find Della and get her to come and play house.


31 Comments

Reflections of Love

The other day I finally got around to cleaning some of the windows. I wondered if Quentin would be at the front door even more enthusiastically than before, talking to his reflection, hoping this “friend” would come out to play.

Sure enough, he appeared in a short time and had a conversation with himself at the window next to the front door.

Then he hopped onto the railing and sunned himself. (By the way, he does have two legs. Maybe he’s just warming one leg in his feathers.)

I told him he’s making a mess of the railing. What if someone wanted to hold onto it to steady themselves as they walked down the steps? But he just looked at me incredulously and said, “Well, I have to go somewhere!”

Just look at his beautifully designed head. So many different feather sizes, shapes, and colours, all in perfectly arranged sets of patterns.

Quentin Quail is beautiful,

Still his search is dutiful,

Hunting for his long lost mate,

Lonely living is his fate.

 

Yet he visits at the door,

His reflection to adore,

Thinking this is Queenie Quail,

Though he once again will fail.

 

Pondering his solitude,

He does nothing to intrude,

Quietly he soaks up sun,

Waiting for his only one.


25 Comments

A Different Drum

I’d been reading a book in my living room. The sun shone in through the window and I dozed off with its warmth on the back of my neck.

I woke to the sound of someone dragging a big metal appliance across the concrete outside the downstairs family room. Emma barked like crazy to tell me that someone was burgling the house.

I ran out onto the deck to see what was going on. I saw nothing, but I heard the noise again. Strange!

The metallic rattling came again and I looked up towards the sound.

A flicker was sitting on the top of the new flue to the gas fireplace.

 


Just listen to his drumming!


44 Comments

The Weather Wins

Evidence of winter damage can last for years in America’s prairie landscapes. Farmers did their best to put up strong buildings to withstand the elements in the days before modern building materials were available. Even so, the fierce storms often proved too much for the buildings. These roofs most likely had a huge dump of snow on them at one time.  The weight crushed the roofs as it crushed the farmer’s will to rebuild. In the dry climate, with little rainfall and lots of heat, crops could easily fail, discouraging even those who would have wished to rebuild.

Many buildings were left to their fate in the lonely landscape.

 

Even in more modern times, nature was more powerful than man. I hope the family who lived here wasn’t in the trailer when it blew over. If they were, they would have been rocking and rolling.

 

The tenants in these houses have moved out long ago. Most likely they, or the people they sold to, live nearby.

Somebody has to feed the horses.

Even the horses are hiding behind the house to get out of the blazing sun or the howling wind.

And yet, it’s a beautiful place to visit. Just very hard to live there, because the weather always wins.

 


14 Comments

Words like Gold Nuggets

I was reading “Fortune’s Rocks” by Anita Shreve and had a mixture of reactions throughout the experience.

First, I was dismayed at the use of such stuffy language, but I soon realized that it suited the 1899 New England setting perfectly. This was the way people in the wealthier class spoke and thought in those days.

In a short time I stopped noticing the stuffiness of the language, and felt immersed in that time and lifestyle.

So it was, that I scoffed only mildly when the mother who was hosting guests at her summer home did not want her photo taken. One of the guests had taken up photography and the hostess was not a fan of these new contraptions called cameras. The reaction of the hostess was not out of character, but had me chuckling about her overly sensitive personality.

When I read on, I was absolutely thrilled with Anita Shreve’s description of the photography session that followed.

This quote from the book tells how it played out as the other guests, one by one, sat to have their photos taken.

Even Olympia’s mother, in the end, relents and allows herself to be photographed, albeit behind a veil with eyes lowered, flinching each time she hears the shutter click, as though she might be shot.

This description had me laughing out loud, as I imagined the scene. It was then that I realized that much of the writing was so precisely worded that I was able to picture it clearly in my mind. Reading this book became like watching a movie.

I kept chuckling over the above quote for some time and finally decided I would write a short note to the author to tell her how much I was enjoying her book. I Googled her name to get a webpage contact, but immediately the search told me that Anita Shreve had died on March 29, 2018 at the young age of 71.  My happy mood was dashed and I felt shocked and saddened to find out this bad news.

Still, Anita has left a legacy of many fine books for us to enjoy.

Now I am wondering if you readers out there have had similar discoveries of passages that are nuggets of entertainment.

If you have, why not share them in your comments. Book title, author, and quote. We’d love to see what you’ve found.

I’m posting this on my anneli’s place blog as well, so you can comment on either one (or both).


32 Comments

Caviar, anyone?

This Vancouver Island beach is very popular at this time of year. The western gulls flock here literally by the thousands.

What’s the attraction?

It’s not exactly a pretty, touristy beach of white sand.

But the gulls know what they’re after.

Lunch is being served. The gull in the top left of the photo below has a beak full of caviar.

It’s herring time and the roe is all over the beach. Gourmet dining at its finest.

A word to the wise: if you are walking this stretch of beach at herring time, it might be a good idea to bring an umbrella even if it’s not raining. When the gulls get riled up and are wheeling overhead, some of them can’t always contain their excitement. Best to have that umbrella ready.


31 Comments

Introduced Species

The balance of nature has been out of kilter for hundreds of years – basically, since man has interfered to make things better. In many cases, some species have been introduced to an area where they are not indigenous to solve a problem “naturally,” without resorting to pesticides or culling of another species.

An example is the cane toad in Australia. It was brought into the country to deal with the cane beetle in the sugar cane fields. Unfortunately the cane toad is now the bigger problem.

Rabbits, too, were introduced there, and have multiplied as only rabbits can, making their population unmanageable.

The green crab has been transported in ships’ ballasts and has upset the marine ecosystems wherever it has established itself.

Zebra mussels are also an invasive species transported by ships.

Feral swine (also called wild pigs, Eurasian boar, or feral hogs) destroy agricultural fields and impact the regeneration of forests by eating the seeds, nuts, and cones of trees. The swine are omnivorous and so are a threat to young livestock. They can do tremendous damage to the agricultural industry. Feral swine carry at least 30 types of diseases and 40 types of parasites. They are really bad news!

Burmese pythons have been introduced to Florida’s Everglades through the pet trade and have upset the balance of nature there. They prey on rabbits, foxes, raccoons, and birds, to name a few. Many populations of smaller mammals have been decimated. The Burmese python has also brought a pentastome parasitic disease, infecting other reptiles. The parasite is now considered to be endemic in Florida.

 

So you see that introduced species can be quite detrimental to their new habitat.

While trout fishing on a local lake recently, the Captain encountered a new invasive species, the freshwater crocodile. It is pictured here, photo taken with the Captain’s little point-and-click Fuji camera. It is a bit blurry because he was shaking with fear, and paddling with one hand while he risked his life to take the photo with the other.

If you ever find yourself tempted to swim in a freshwater lake in British Columbia, be aware that these newly introduced crocodiles could appear from the depths to nibble on their favourite delicacy, swimmers’ toes.