Tuesday, September 30, 2014


 Last day of September.The season is winding down.  I get a present. Smokey is extremely clever. One of the few garter snakes left from the season. Most of them  have burrowed away . Garter snakes usually hang around where there is a water source, and lots of food, like slugs bugs and other things.

 The Stellar Jay ( Cyanocitta stellen) has been known to eat garter snakes. Jays will eat anything, basically, being omnivores. And spiders are basically food to snakes and jays.
                      Spiders  will eat anything that falls into its web.

  Garter snakes will eat the spider, and the Cat will catch the snake that lives in the garden . Young garter snakes are born LIVE around August. Sometimes 70-80 are born a season. This year I noticed there were many garter snakes in the garden, more than in previous years. Healthy garden  healthy snakes.
 Cats will also torment jay, and the jays will torment the cats. They see cats as a big nuisance.

      Jays come down from the forests where they live to eat seeds, nuts, berries, snakes, and torment cats. Snakes like to slither into buckets of apples. Buckets that sometimes have human hands rummaging inside . Snakes do NOT feel like apples, by the way.......

  Ahh yes, there's a water source. Not just cats drink out of the buckets. Snakes, racoons, cats, jays....
                   Sometimes keeping track of the snakes, jays, spiders and other things takes team effort.
 Spiders in the garden eliminate the need for common pest control substances.

 And if you want to control the bugs and spiders and things, encourage the garter snakes. During the winter, garter snakes will live in undeground dens, hibernating with other snakes. Garter snakes will live up to two years. If captured they will release a musky scent. They are not aggressive unless under attack. 
 On the last day of September the snakes are heading for their dens. Spencer still sits on his chair, once in a while, in the last warmth of the season. The sunsets are earlier, the sky a little mottled. And tomorrow will be October.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


 Probably one of the most beautiful Sundays down at the shore, Discovery Passage  expanding  itself in blue and diamonds, or at least  the glittering water looks like diamonds. Lots of blue. The tide is up.The people are out. The gulls are circling,always circling, watching and waiting . The Cormorants are trying to see how many of them can shove  onto their sunning rock.

 This is part of the Inside Passage between the Big Island of Vancouver and Discovery Islands. The shoreline bends  into sand and rocks. And toes. Many toes of beachcombers paddling in the ocean. Bringing kites, picnics, (yes, picnics still, even this last weekend in September). This calls for Ginger Water.
                                               "The sea can hypnotize...." (Henrik Ibsen) 

  GINGER WATER (1880-1910)                                                
 (Modern Ginger-ale has two ancestors. One is ginger beer, which was brewed and bottled at home like root beer. The other is “Ginger Water”, or “Switchel” as it was called. It was a non-alcoholic drink prepared  to enjoy on hot days,like today.)

 ½ cup to ¾ cup brown sugar
1 tsp powdered ginger
½ cup cider vinegar.
1 quart of cold ice water to fill pitcher.

 Dissolve everything in the cold water in the pitcher by stirring or shaking well.



I would like to say that Ginger Water is incredibly yummy.................it's an acquired taste.
 While Mitlenatch Island ( a provincial bird sanctuary), off in the distance,  is a no land zone  for humans......
 .............. the gulls  land in droves at the shoreline.Shrieking and wailing. Gathering to discuss how to take over the world. They will do a fine job as our leaders. Some day.  But not today. Today there is Ginger water, and toes in sand, and cormorants sliding off rocks, and mountains as misty and wonderful as they always are.

          "For whatever we lose, it's always ourselves we find in the sea." (E.E.Cummings)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Morning at Sea by Pierre Loti

 Pierre Loti, or I should say Julien Viaud ( his real name) 1850-1923, was a French descriptive writer who was also esteemed  naval officer. He travelled the world, writing about everything he experienced. His writings contained some of the best descriptive  narratives of the 19th century. His prose contains so much personal feeling and emotion that it called him to be called the most "Perfect French writer " of the times.
      With the days getting shorter and the sea greyer, I found  his "Morning at Sea"  amazed me over and over and over......

 "The morning light, the real light, had finally come, and as in Genesis, it was divided from the darkness, which seemed to be heaped up over the horizon.Now that one could see so clearly one could easily tell that night had been left far behind, and that the former radiance had been as strange and vague as the light of a dream...

 Here and there in the thick and overhanging sky there were rents like windows in a dome, through which great shafts of golden, rosy light shot down.
 The lower clouds lay in a band of deep shadow all about the horizon,infolding the ocean distances in dim obscurity, producing the illusion of enclosed space; they were like curtains drawn over the infinite, like veils let down to conceal mysteries too gigantic for the imagination of men......

 This morning, around the little craft.......
 the changing world had taken on the look of a vast cloister, a santuary, where the rays of light which came through the rifts in the temple's dome fell in long...............

                                 reflected rays upon the motionless water...................

                                       ...as on a pavement of marble......
                ....And then in the growing light........
                 ...another vision appeared from afar....................

                  ...a towering promontory of gloomy Iceland cut out like a rosy cameo........
                                  ..............against the dull grey sky." ( Pierrre Loti, 19tn century French writer)

Sunday, September 21, 2014


 Last day of summer. Time to rifle through the grapes, still ripening on the vines. Smokey is sure there must be some snacks up there. Lounging on the gate in the heat of the late afternoon. Spencer can't be bothered moving. Much too nice to bask in one of his favourite spots.
 Last day of summer on the Pier.  "Choose to have fun. Fun creates enjoyment. Enjoyment intites participation. Participation focuses attention.......
 Attention expands awareness. Awareness promotes insight. Insight generates knowledge.......

                   Knowledge facilitates action. Action yields results." (O. Shallow)
 Plus, it's still beautiful out. The ice will come, the rain will drench, the wind will blow.
 But right now there is ice cream to be had, and moments to savour.

             And chairs to be sat upon.  Still.                  And new water buckets to drink out of.

      The sun is setting a lot sooner. The colours are  crisper, cleaner, brighter."The sky is the daily bread of the eyes." (Ralph Waldo Emerson) I agree.
                   "Let your boat of life be light, packed only with what you need........
                     a homely home and simple pleasures,one or two friends, a few cats.....

 ..........a family who loves to make shadow puppets,and it will be enough."
                                                         (Adapted from Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)