Cougar Kittens

Thanks to Rhonda Hanuse for sharing this photo and her story with us.

A couple of weeks ago,  Rhonda and her daughter Cheyenne were driving home near Port Hardy on northern Vancouver Island.   As they rounded a corner,  in the distance they saw what looked like a deer but wasn’t.

“What was that?”

Rhonda reached for her camera and clicked away but was too late and she only got pictures of trees. She braked and slowly pulled over to the side of the road. She turned off the ignition and opened the two front windows a crack.

Cheyenne tapped her on the shoulder. “Mom look.” She pointed to the tall grass on the side of the road. The grass swayed in a straight line. The movement stopped a short distance away.

Two cougar kittens peeked out. Rhonda took pictures through the car window.  One kitten looked toward the bushes where the mama had crossed.  The mama cougar chirped to them from the other side of the highway;  the kittens chirped back to their mom.   After a while the more confident  kitten crossed the highway.   The second kitten kept an eye on Rhonda and her daughter. It started to cross only a few steps behind the first kitten, but had to turn back quickly because of an oncoming truck.  Moments later, with mama-cougar chirps and no more traffic, the second kitten tried again and crossed safely.

For Rhonda and her daughter Cheyenne, this experience was priceless.

I’m so pleased that Rhonda agreed to share this photo and her story with us.

 

Royston Wrecks

The little song sparrow provides music on this quiet morning. “Come along, Anneli. This is the way to the path beside the beach.”

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The trees are blooming. I don’t know what kind they are, but they’re always the earliest ones. They grow wild everywhere.

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I step down from the beachside path to walk towards the water. Several little stone men are already on the beach. Some very patient person has been here. Have you ever tried to build one of these stone guys? It’s not as easy as it looks. I’m told they’re only cairns, but my imagination took off for a second there.

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Across the bay from where I live on Vancouver Island, is the tiny community of Royston. In trying to find out more about the history of the wrecks that are piled up to function as a breakwater for logging, I came across a very interesting article about it in the Vancouver Sun. Here is the link: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=3c998dce-5853-4a6c-ab97-d3d20fb8255a

I couldn’t find the author’s name, but at the end I saw that it had an email address and a copyright: lpynn@vancouversun.com  © (c) CanWest MediaWorks Publications Inc.

According to the article, at least 14 vessels have been purposely sunk here “as breakwaters for log-booming operations exposed to the southeast winds blowing down the Strait of Georgia.”

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The log booms are no longer active, but at certain times of the year, fish like to come into the shallows here to tease fly fishermen. The wrecks are still doing their job of protecting the shore from the worst weather, and probably they are providing places for fish and other sea life to hide.

The misty haze hangs over the Gulf Islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island – very typical of this region.

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Looking from the beach on the Royston side you can see the Town of Comox on the farther shore. Beyond that, you see the snow-capped mountains of the Coast Range on the mainland of British Columbia. These are not to be confused with the Rockies which are on the eastern border of British Columbia.

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“That’s it for today’s tour, Anneli,” says the song sparrow. “We don’t want to bore people. Gotta fly!”

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Dog Days of Summer

We all know it is a hot and dry summer this year. My usually green backyard is yellow and brown. The grass breaks off as I walk on it and big patches of bare dirt are showing through. It will all come back in the fall with the first rains, but until then, there is no water to spare for an acre of grass. It’s more important to keep the trees, shrubs, and garden alive.

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Definitely the dogs days of summer.

This morning I looked out expecting yet another bluebird scorcher of a day to develop. Wow! I’ts foggy. Maybe we’ll get some rain at last! But then I saw the sun. It was blood red and easy to look at. I reminded myself not to do that, just as in an eclipse we shouldn’t look directly at the sun, lest we damage our vision. I tried to take a photo of the sun but the red colour wouldn’t come out right. Being an amateur photographer I still don’t know how to get the red  sky colours or the photos of eclipses to come out right. Here is the best I could do, but imagine the whole sun as red as the line around it.

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As it rose higher in the sky, it was just as red but that colour was even more difficult to capture with the camera.

005Then I realized that the last time I saw the sun looking like a red ball of fire was a few years ago when the smoke from a fire hundreds of miles north of us had covered our skies. Sure enough, I have learned that there are several large fires burning on Vancouver Island. Right now I feel as if I’m sitting on a bonfire ready to go up in flames at any time. I’m surrounded by tall trees that haven’t seen a drop of water for over two months and the dry grass around me is the best kindling you’ll ever find for starting a fire.

If I see a smoker walking through the nearby trails (and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen hikers going for a healthy walk while puffing on a cigarette),  I’m not sure how I’ll contain my fear and outrage.

The town of Port Hardy to the north of us is threatened by a wildfire as I write, while another fire is burning to the west of us near Port Alberni. It seems the whole province of British Columbia has fires burning. Saskatchewan has plenty of fires as well, and of course, we’ve been hearing of the fires in the States for weeks. It’s just too dry!

Yesterday, the view below was of bright blue sky and brighter blue sea with a few white caps puffed up from the breeze that brought us relief from the heat while, elsewhere, it fanned wildfire flames. Today everything is gray from the smoke of many fires.

007My garden has been getting water, but everything else, as you can see, is tinder dry.

008I’ve learned that “tinder” is a frightening word.