wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Surf City Plus One

These Brewer’s blackbirds are enjoying their day at the beach.

Remember the Beach Boys’ song, “Surf City”? Two girls for every boy?

Well, at this beach, it’s three girls for every boy. You may have to look hard for the sixth “girl.”

Black Bart at the bottom right says, “Now listen here, gang. It’s all very fine to cavort around, playing ‘king of the castle’ on this boulder, and leaping off it like you’re an Acapulco cliff diver, but keep in mind these are dangerous times.

“We have to stay in our bubble. Anything up to 23 is fine, but never, never, never be part of a group of 24.”

“But that just doesn’t make any sense,” chirped Betsy Brewer. “If it’s okay to be in a group of 23, what’s one more?”

Black Bart puffed up his chest. “What’s one more?” He shook his head sadly. “Betsy, Betsy, Betsy. I’ll tell you what one more is. It’s blackbird pie!

“Good grief! Haven’t you heard of four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie? Here, I’ll recite it for you.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing—
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
To set before the king?

The king was in the counting-house
Counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey,

The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes.
Along came a blackbird
And snipped off her nose.

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing—
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
To set before the king?”

Betsy felt foolish at first, but she was not to be shamed so easily. “That’s okay,” she chirped. “When the pie is opened and the birds begin to sing, that will be me with my lovely voice, and I will please the king … and who knows? Maybe I’ll be rich.”

Black Bart rolled his eyes. “Yeah, that’s rich, all right. Rich, like a rich gravy is what you’ll be.”

*****

Please visit my other blog, anneli’s place, if you are interested in informal writing tips.

*****

If you need a good book to read, click on the cover images at the side of my blog posts. Romance, plus drama and adventure.


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Bluffing by the Bluffs

Who knew that below these bluffs, a bluffing contest would break out? Meet the harlequins, Harley and his girlfriend, Quinn.

Hey, wait up, Quinn! Want to go sit on this rock for a while? Catch a few rays?

Oh, Harley, this is so boring. And all you ever want to do is take a nap. I need more excitement in my life. Speaking of which, I think I see some arriving, over my shoulder. But three to one … I don’t know….

Back off, boys. She’s mine.

And you two can get off this rock and go join your buddy, or you’ll see what I’m capable of. I’m not bluffing.

Did you see that, Quinn? See how I put the run on them? Now come on. You stick with me.

Okay, Harley, so I was impressed … but just a little bit.

Harley! You’re such a brute. Don’t you know a lady doesn’t like to get splashed? You’ll ruin my feather track.

Sorry, ’bout that, Quinn. Here, I’ll make it up to you. I’ll find you a crustacean for an appetizer. They’re right under here in this shallow part. See them, there, on the bottom?

Well, if you want to get it for me, Harley, go for it, but I’ll have you know I am not a bottom feeder.

Harley loved his girlfriend, Quinn,

Stood by her through thick and thin,

But the bully boys came ’round

Asking where his Quinn was bound.

“Nowhere special, just these rocks,”

Up they scrambled, all these jocks,

Harley shivered and he shook,

Quinn gave him a frightened look.

“Fear not, Quinny,” Harley said,

“We’re just fine, I’ll use my head.”

And with that, he butted them

Off the rocks, to save his femme.

“Now my dear,” he said to Quinn,

“Let’s go swimming, jump right in,

I’ve a rock crab just for you,

Tender so you need not chew.”

“How delicious is this treat?

Little rock crabs can’t be beat,

Harley Baby, you’re my man,

I am now your biggest fan.”

Please visit my other blog for all things writing related. Anneli’s Place


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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.


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Bounty on the Beach

At first glance the beach looks somewhat empty of life, but if you take the time to look closer, you can see that it is like a giant grocery store filled with millions of small morsels of seafood.

If you’re not hungry, just go for a walk.

Tiny butter clams make a good snack later on. Be sure you have your saltwater licence though.

Here is one of the millions of clams that make such a delicious appetizer.

Steamed in a pot, the clamshells open and the little clams inside are ready to eat. Melted butter and lime juice adds a wonderful flavour, or if you prefer, you can eat them with garlic butter.

Oysters are also there for the picking, but be sure to shuck them on the spot so the shells with the bits of oyster are left behind to ensure their reproduction. And before you ask, NO, I don’t know how oysters make love. They seem to have “clammed up” and won’t talk about it.


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The Necessities

“Hey, Emma! Get a load of this! They even have a toilet on board.”

“Yeah, right, Ruby, but unless they lift up this board we’re standing on, and we can use the steps, there’s a three-foot drop to the lower level. I think I’ll just wait till the Captain takes us to the beach.”

“This is more like it!”

Many times I’ve wished the dogs would do their business on the deck of the boat and we could hose it off, but no, they will suffer until they are brought to the beach. And you know what they say about old dogs and new tricks.


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Shorebirds

Down at our local beach the other morning, these godwits were pecking in the soft shore mud. They look similar to sandpipers, but the speckled feathers and the slightly upward curve of the extra long bill say “godwit.”

The long bills are designed to probe the mud and sand for worms, molluscs, and all sorts of aquatic life.

There are several subspecies of godwits. I think these are marbled godwits.  I’m not a bird expert, so if anyone can provide more info, I’m happy to hear it.

There is nothing religious about the name “godwit.” Supposedly, the bird was named for the sound it makes.

Did you know that godwits can sleep standing up?

They tuck their head behind the shoulder and stand on one leg and have a little nap.  Sometimes I feel tired enough to sleep standing up.  I understand resting my head, but standing on one leg? That’s asking for trouble.

There are many more kinds of shorebirds that look like these. It is a whole science in itself to learn to identify them. I heard one of the godwits talking:

***

I love to dabble on the beach,

Poke at worms within my reach,

A tiny shrimp, a mini clam.

I am a godwit, yes I am.

*

 I stand on one leg for a nap,

I tell my friends, “Give me a tap.”

I’ll rest my head upon my shoulder.

Being with friends will make me bolder.

*

Then off we go to wade some more

All along the briny shore.

It’s a right fine restaurant,

Serving all the food I want.

*

Do come see me on the beach,

Don’t mind if I keep out of reach.

It’s safer for me keeping clear,

But visiting will bring us cheer.

 


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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.