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.”

 

Waterworks on the Beach

I borrowed these first two images from the Internet. I hope the owners won’t mind. I couldn’t find a name to give credit to.

These are horse clams. I’ve heard they make a tasty chowder, but they can be very chewy if not prepared properly. I think the idea is that after a lot of work to clean them of grit and sand, and taking the stomach contents out, you can either grind the meat or  pound the dickens out of it and cut it small before frying the pieces – quick and hot –  like you would octopus or abalone.

My only experience with trying to cook horse clams happened many years ago,  before I knew how tough they could be. I gave up after several minutes of not being able to chew through the first piece. Horse clams are probably named for their large size (see the ruler under the photo of the clams), but I’ve heard that even the smallest of that family will give your jaws a good workout.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I might try again, doing it the right way (but I’d have to be desperately hungry).

The diagram below shows the foot of the clam (on the left). The clam uses this for digging down into the sand. The siphon (on the right) has intake and outflow tubes. When the clam is digging down into the wet sand, the siphon helps it move along with its “water jets.” In the photo below, taken by the Captain, right into the sun, he has nevertheless captured the horse clam action. If you look closely you can see the water squirting about two feet into the air as the horse clams frantically dig to hide from him.  Actually, the tide has been going out and the clams don’t want to be left “high and dry.” (Now you can see where that expression came from.)Do you see the squirts of water going into the air all along the beach? It’s almost as tricky as running through a sprinkler to walk along this beach. Be prepared to get your legs wet.

Pools and Palms

I was invited to join friends on a holiday, but sadly couldn’t make it. Now they are taunting me with photos to make sure I don’t say “no” next time.

In a setting that makes me think of my novel Orion’s Gift (see cover image at the side), they played at being tourists for a week. My character, Sylvia, didn’t get quite as far south as Cabo, but the general landscape is very similar.

334But let’s leave Sylvia for now. She missed out on Cabo, just as I did.

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Ah … to be lying on one of those lounge chairs until it got too warm and then being forced to jump into one of many pools.

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The Hotel Riu provided all these opportunities for relaxation without the vacationers having to go far afield.

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Breakfast must have been hard to endure in this outdoor setting.

IMG_0001They had a bit of fun reading the sign. In spite of the mistakes, I bet the ice cream hit the spot.

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Looks like I missed a good time in the pools under the palms.

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Composition isn’t Everything

Many years ago when my husband and I lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands, my parents came from Vancouver Island to visit us. We took them to the beach one day, and  my mother and I decided to take pictures of each other for posterity. Because it was one of those rare times when it wasn’t raining and the sand was relatively dry, she sat on the sand and pointed her Brownie camera at me and I lay on a log, posing as I prepared to take a picture of her. We laughed when we realized that with the cameras in front of our faces we wouldn’t get much of a picture so we had to take turns. In the photo you see I’ve lowered my camera while she took my picture, and then it was my turn to take hers. We had the giggles and I think that’s why she couldn’t hold the camera steady and ended up taking a picture of her own boots.

Later she sent me the photo and I laughed all over again. Not the greatest composition, but it was unique.

My mother died thirty years ago, and this bad photo of her gumboots is one of my special treasures because of the happy memories it evokes.

Posing with our gumboots