Deflated

One or two of my very early readers may remember this story. I’ve copied it here because it hasn’t seen much exposure and because right now I’m at a loss for what else to post. Not many photos this time, but a story of a day to remember from when I lived on the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Women! Listen to Your Man

“Don’t use the truck while I’m away,” he says.

“Why not?” I ask. “My back is a mess from pushing the Beetle to start it every time.”

“I’ll have a look at the Beetle when I get back, but meanwhile, don’t use the truck.”

After he leaves, I grumble. Fine for you to say ‘Don’t use the truck.’  Your back isn’t a wreck. I’m working too. To hell with this. I’m taking the truck to work.

The next day I get dressed for work. I have a 30-mile drive through uninhabited countryside to teach at an elementary school in the next town.  Ah, yes. It’s so fine driving the truck, even though it is an old beater. I don’t have to push it to start it, and the radio works. It even runs quietly because unlike the VW, it has a muffler.  Yes, I thought, I deserve this. I’m working and I deserve this.

But I don’t deserve what happens next.

As I round a slight curve in the highway, the truck wants to leave the road. I fight to hang onto the steering wheel to avoid careening into the ditch. I pump the brake and get the speed down to something manageable. Still holding the steering wheel in a death grip, I manage to come to a stop, just barely off the road, but safely on the shoulder. A quick inspection confirms a shredded right front tire.

Now what? I ‘m about ten miles from town and in the middle of nowhere. I take my school bag, lock the truck, and start walking.

It’s quiet out here on this sparsely used highway. At least it’s not raining for a change. I’ll be late for school. Nothing I can do about that. Maybe someone will come along and I’ll catch a ride. But at this time of the morning, why would anyone be driving this lonely road? I’m having guilty thoughts about using the truck when my husband specifically said not to. He hadn’t said why though. I thought he was just being chintzy, as the Beetle is much cheaper on gas.

But wait! Do I hear a vehicle? Will it stop for me? I get out on the middle of the road, hoping it won’t barrel right over me. It sounds like a big engine.

Glory be! What comes around the bend but the blessed school bus. The gods love me after all. I jump aboard explaining my near disaster and am delighted to be dropped off at the school steps. I’m not late after all. Everything will be okay.

I phone my brother-in-law, Vaughn, who works at the local garage. He says he’ll see what he can do.

After school, we drive out to the blowout site with a compressor in the back of the garage’s tow truck.

Vaughn pulls up to the back of the truck. “It’s the right front,” I say.

“Well…looks like you have a flat in the back too.”

Vaughn pumps up the back tire, removes the mashed front tire, and has to pump up the flat spare tire before putting it on. He gives me a hug and says good luck.

I drive home praying silently that nothing more will happen. I vaguely remember my husband once saying something about the truck tires only being cheap retreads. I guess I’ve learned my lesson. My day has been as bad as it can get, hasn’t it?

I pull into the driveway at home and blow out a long breath of relief. I get out of the truck and it seems there’s yet another tire doing the same thing.

S-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s!

It’s Just Lunch

The songbirds always let it be known when there’s a killer in their midst, be it a cat, a raccoon, a hawk, or a crow. Today, it seems that every bird in my little acre was shrieking with alarm — not just the usual robin whose nest was threatened, but the chickadees, nuthatches, and many others as well. When all the birds sing happy songs, it’s background music, but when they sound like several fire alarms going off, something is wrong. I went out onto the deck to have a look.

In the tall firs next to the house, many songbirds were divebombing a preditor who sat and watched from her perch on a dead broken branch. I ran back into the house for my camera. The merlin (a small falcon) didn’t seem to care about me being there. She was either a juvenile or brazen or both. However it was, she allowed me to take many pictures, even posing a bit.

She ruffled her feathers, being Mrs. Cool. I’m not afraid of you!

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The songbirds set up the alarm in the whole mini forest around my yard. A chickadee and a nuthatch, both tiny birds who are often chosen by the falcons as appetizers, bravely sat on the branch directly behind the merlin, scolding her.

The merlin merely gave them a look that said, “Who? Me?”

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Then she looked down at the ground to see if her lunch was still there. I suspected she had done something because she had blood on her hands…er…beak.

033Yes, it was me, she says. I’m not proud of myself.

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She shrugs her shoulders and says, “It’s just lunch.”

039My little puppy, Emma, found the falcon’s intended lunch, lying on the ground below the tree. A juvenile red-shafted northern flicker, one of my favourite birds in this area.

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I was choked. I don’t want to hear another person say a word about “Mother Nature.” There is nothing “motherly” about nature. As beautiful as nature is, it is also very cruel when we apply our human values to it. But that’s how it has to be.

And I do think the falcon was sorry.

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I waved my arms but the falcon didn’t want to fly away. It was only when I opened the big patio umbrella that she flew off. The songbirds settled down and silence hung in the air.

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When I picked up the flicker, a single tail feather fell to the ground and as I walked away, I heard one lonely bird calling. It had to be the mother giving one last quavery call to say an anguished goodbye to her baby.

Namu

About 60 miles southwest of Bella Coola on the coast of British Columbia lie the ruins of the very small fishing community of Namu. In the 1950s, BC Packers operated a fish cannery there, but as fishing methods changed, the cannery was closed. Namu was once a popular stopping point along the coast for fishing vessels, sailboats, and small yachts travelling the coastline anywhere from California to northern BC and Alaska.

The site of Namu is much older than we might think at first glance. Long before the cannery, store and fuel depot of the 1950s, fishermen, hunters, and gatherers took up temporary residence there. Tools made of antlers, bone, and rock have been found near the site, dating back over 8000 years. Evidence in a shell midden of a hunter/gatherer cemetery dates to about 3400 BCE.

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When the cannery closed, the buildings gradually fell apart, victims of the howling winter winds, lashing rain, moisture, decay, and vandalism. For several years caretakers lived there year-round.

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They helped slow down the deterioration of the place, but finally, they too have given up and moved away.

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A few flowers strategically planted take away some of the ugliness.

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Much of the machinery in the cannery and in the buildings that supplied water and generator power are seized and rusted.

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Nothing remains of any buildings from the days before recorded history, and sometime in the future, all evidence of the old fish canning community will also be gone. It is well on its way. Unfortunately some of the evidence left behind will not decay so easily.

But just look at the price of fuel back in the days when the plant was still operating. And that is the price per gallon, not  per liter!

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So only the wildlife remains, taking advantage of the kindness of the caretakers who provided housing for them.

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They’re heeeere!

At last the weather is warming up, and just when we are all set to enjoy it, the ten-lined June beetles rain on my parade.

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Remember that pudgy puppy from a few posts ago? Emma is now 12 weeks old and investigating everything. She told me she doesn’t like the flavour of June beetles, but they’re fun to pounce on and watch. They also make a very entertaining buzzing noise with their wings.

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It doesn’t want to play, it doesn’t taste good, but it crawls and that’s fun to watch. But it’s too slow. It’s like watching paint dry. So…when all else fails…roll on it.

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Bucket Head

 

Did you ever catch two fish with one hook? Sometimes these freak things happen. This greedy lingcod was not satisfied to eat a salmon but had to bite at the fisherman’s lure for dessert before he even took the time to finish his main meal. If I didn’t have the photo for proof  you might well say that this is just a fish story.img718This is Captain Gary’s first boat, from many years ago. It was old even then. Older than the “captain.” But the things that boat saw were interesting nonetheless.

The opposite scenario to this one, of “two fish for one,” also happened (more than once) but I don’t have a photo of it. A salmon is jerking the fishing line. The deckhand pulls it aboard and in the time between the salmon announcing his presence and when the deckhand pulls him aboard, only the front half of the fish is left. The rest has become breakfast for a sea lion or a shark. The tooth marks on the fish’s half body tell the story.

Take a look at Captain Gary’s cap and tell me if you think fishing is a bloody job. CSI would have fun with that blood spatter.

 

Goats on the Roof

On Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia, there is a unique restaurant/market in the small village of Coombs, near Parksville. The building has a sod roof that never needs mowing because the resident goats take care of that. They have their own goat house for shade or shelter from rainy or cold weather. They even have planks that go from one level to another in one part of the roof. To find out more about The Old Country Market at Coombs, click here.015

The building is built in the old-fashioned post and beam style. The sod roof is supposed to provide good insulation.

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Inside the main building, you will find delightful treats to please every palate. Deli items are everywhere. All the groceries have a “special treat” appeal. The mustard is the good kind; the crackers are the exotic kind, sauces and chutneys, and all the specialty items you can imagine fill the shelves. 020

Ice cream, fresh produce, art supplies, carvings, handicrafts, clothing, a nursery (plants, not children), candy, garden supplies, everything you can imagine is for sale here, but with a “funky edge” to it.

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People in these photos are no one I know. Just happy market customers.

The deli meats and bakery make a tempting combination. Nearby you can get Starbucks coffee to stay or go. We took advantage of these things and instead of staying to eat on the restaurant patio this time, we drove a short distance to the town of Qualicum, and had our picnic there at a table near the beach. A fine ending to a beautiful day.027

 

Birdbath Time

This female red-shafted northern flicker has heard about Anneli’s birdbath, but on checking it out, she doesn’t look that impressed.

“The little birdie that told me about this should have warned me. I thought he said it was nice and clean,” she wails. “What do you think? Should I risk it? Or will I catch something?”002a

 

“I don’t know…I have my suspicions. I think someone peed in the pool. Actually, I think they did more than that. Those aren’t  ALL fir husks from new growth.”

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