Rain, at Last

You may remember this same photo from the last post, except that the ocean and distant hills were visible in it. Today, it is totally blocked out by the huge mass of clouds that have moved in, bringing long-hoped-for rain to our parched plants.001

Below, you can barely see the streaks of rain between the bottom leaves of the hazelnut tree and the top of the last beans on the garden fencing. My garden is slurping up the rain faster than it can come down, and it’s coming down pretty hard. The grass is brown and in much of the yard it is broken off and areas of bare dirt are growing at an alarming rate. This rain will help repair that damage. The grass always comes back.

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See the streaks of rain as it dumps out of the sky? It almost looks like the hazelnut tree is crying, but if it is, those are tears of joy.

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I’m thrilled that it rained so much. The plants and our low water table need it desperately. The salmon, waiting at the mouths of dry creeks and rivers that are merely a trickle, will soon be happy  to shoot upstream to lay eggs and spawn.

We’re thankful for the rain. Now, I wonder how long it will take before we start complaining about that rain that just won’t let up.

The Name of the Rose

The sky had some unique striations in it last night just after the sun had set, and I ran to grab my camera.

Towards the west I took this photo.
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Towards the south, the moon was already trying to inch out from behind the fir trees. I wanted to get more pictures of the moon, but just as it came out of hiding, my luck changed. The camera battery went dead. Quickly, switch batteries. But the spare was dead too, so that marked the end of the evening’s photographic efforts.

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The next morning I managed to get more photos. The rudbeckia was irresistible.

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Then I noticed this very special rose. I’ve had it for about 26 years and never knew its true name. When I bought it, the label said “Tropicana.” Its photo showed an orangey-red flower, but when mine finally bloomed, it was more like the colour of coffee with cream.

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For years I thought the rose had been mislabeled but when I did a search for Tropicana, I saw that one or two of the roses were of this “coffee with cream” colour. The rest were the standard reddish orange. So maybe it wasn’t misnamed at all, but was just one of the few specimens with special colouring. And all these years I had wondered about the name of the rose.

Invermere Hotel

The Invermere Hotel was a landmark since 1900. Originally it was named Hotel Canterbury. Located on the main street of Invermere in southeastern British Columbia, the Invermere Hotel was the hub of the little town. Its main draw in later years was the beer parlour, but it was the center of the community’s events when the Paradise Mine was still active. Silver, lead, and zinc were mined there from the time these metals were discovered nearby in 1889 until the mine finally closed in 1964. During the mining heydays, the Invermere Hotel (Hotel Cranberry) was always bustling with community activities.

In August of 1973, the captain and I were in Invermere and decided that the way to get the flavour of the town was to visit its local drinking establishment. I don’t generally frequent beer parlours, but I’m glad I did that night. It was  entertaining, and I would never have the chance again, because that night, at  2 a.m. the two-storey frame building burned to the ground. Reports say the blaze appears to have started in an attic.

Only one guest, a permanent resident, and staff were in the building at the time. No one was hurt.

Firemen battled the blaze for more than two hours with the two available fire trucks, but there was really no hope of saving the historic landmark.

I felt quite sad when I took this photo the next morning. Another bit of history was gone.

By the way, do you see the phone booth (remember those?) where Clark Kent failed to get changed into his Superman outfit in time to save the hotel?

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Harvest Time

It seems that fall is sneaking up on us. The nights are fresh and there’s a hint of dew on the ground in the mornings. The mountain ash berries are ripening, ready for desperate robins who come back down from berry-filled hills after the harvest, looking for anything left to eat. 004

Walnuts tell us it’s fall, as they near full size. They’ll leave an awful mess of walnut stain when the outer shell breaks open to reveal the brown nut inside. Wear gloves when you pick them or you’ll have stained fingers worse than the heaviest smoker ever had.

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This apple must be the one Eve offered to Adam. It’s the sweetest and juiciest of apples, the Gravenstein.008

Smaller than the Italian prune plum are the damsons. They’re sweet and tarty, perfect for eating or making jam.

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Then there are the yellow plums (which actually still look quite greenish when they’re ripe). They are really juicy, they don’t keep long, and are best eaten right away or made into jam.  017

The red Anjou pear is delicious and looks great with the peel still on when sliced onto a dessert.016

The Wilmuta apple is a cross between Jonagold and Gravenstein. It ripens in October and keeps well. Sweet and juicy, it’s a perfect late season apple.

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And what is this weird-looking thing? Mini squashes on a shrub? It’s quince. The shrub has beautiful red-orange blooms in the spring and then bears this fruit about the size of crab apples. When they’re yellow the quinces are ripe. I don’t recommend trying to eat them but they make a good jam of the marmalade style.

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Let’s hear it for the old standby – MacIntosh apples. What’s not to like?
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The hazelnuts are nearly ripe too. I’ve learned not to get too excited about the first ones that fall off the tree when those fall winds start to blow. Usually they are the duds, so don’t waste you time husking and drying them. Later, there will still be plenty of good ones. If you’re not too impatient and don’t mind risking losing them to steller’s jays and raccoons, you can pick the nuts up without the husks which come off more easily as the nuts dry. 021

And of course there’s nature adding to my planted efforts, providing blackberries for free. It’s a huge crop this year. 023 I really would like some help with all this harvesting and so far I’ve had one volunteer. Ruby is doing her best to brave the prickles. Tells you how good these blackberries are!026

Competing for Fish

When you’re commercial fishing or even sport fishing, there’s always competition for the catch. These trollers are hoping to catch a few chinook (spring) salmon (King or Tyee to the Americans). The salmon have been given so many names in hopes of confusing those who would like to catch and eat them.

The trollers are anchored for the night and who comes along looking for supper, but a killer whale. Oh, sorry. For those of you who are easily offended, let’s call him a less harmful name – orca. He usually comes with the whole “wolf pack” for a more certain kill.

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Not only do they hang around the trollers to try to catch a salmon but they check out the sporties too.

Photo courtesy of Fern Handy, Haida Gwaii.

If the killer whales don’t get the salmon, there are always a few sea lions around looking for a free lunch. Looks like this one got it. That’s a nice fat spring salmon in its jaws.

Photo courtesy of Fern Handy, Haida Gwaii.

And only moments earlier you thought you’d be having salmon for supper.

Ups and Downs

The Eurasian collared dove brings out differing emotions in people. Some love them; others hate them. I happen to love them. They’re fun to watch and their call (the repetitiveness of which is mainly what drives some people nuts) reminds me of Mexico, so I feel like I’m on holidays without leaving home.

This fellow landed on my mildewy gutters the other day. (You’ll have to forgive the green stuff on the gutters because they’re too high to clean regularly.)  But on with what happened.

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Wow! What a view of the birdfeeder. But how to get down there, now that I’m up.

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Oh, who’s this? Company? Maybe it’s the fire department – here to help me get down off the roof. It is rather high up.

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You’re right! It IS a long way down.

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This requires some analytical thinking. Hmm….

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We could jump….

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“What do YOU think we should do?” “I think we should jump.” “Okay. Good idea. You first.”

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“Now where are you going?” “I’m going to look for another way down.”

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“No luck?” “Nope! Let’s just go for it.”

Proving once again that life has its “ups and downs.”

Fur Fashions

This gal didn’t mind wearing a fur coat in the heat.

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This sure isn’t as good a restaurant as Suzanne’s place, but it’s handy for now.

She scampered into my yard the other day and wasted no time finding the dinner table. Basically, all she wanted was some granola – a few millet seeds, some sunflower seeds, bits of cracked corn. What dainty fingers and pleasant table manners she has.

I know these red squirrels have a bad reputation for robbing birds’ nests, but they don’t have much of a lifespan themselves. The little guys are lucky if they make it through their first year. Seems they get smarter as their mortality rate drops after that. Still, eight years is about all they get. No wonder they scurry around so fast. With a life that short they have to pack as much living into it as they can.