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British Columbia

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The beautiful summer weather has finally arrived here in BC just in time for us to entertain long standing friends from the UK. I have seized the opportunity to take a short break to bring them up island for a visit to Tofino.

First – however – from Port Alberni a trip on the much loved ‘Frances Barkley’ down to Bamfield and back. The ‘Frances Barkley’ is a working ship and makes stops all down the Alberni inlet to deliver the post and all manner of other essentials to communities that have little or no road access.

Here be photographs…


Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

This is one cool way to collect a delivery…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

No fisherman’s tales here. This guy looks pretty proud of his catch…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…and here is the ‘Frances Barkley at Bamfield.

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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It occurs to me that regular readers (should any such be in attendance) might care for a progress report on the hummingbird that chose to nest on the string of festive lights that were left hanging immediately outside our front door. Any such adherents will doubtless be delighted to hear that the mother is finished her long stint of nest sitting and is now furiously feeding two rapidly growing chicks. The nest itself is starting to expand to keep pace with their increase.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn the above image you can just make out one chick’s fast growing beak poking out of the nest. Whilst in the egg the bill is tiny – no more than a bump – but it grows quickly once hatched. I must apologise, incidentally, for the grainy nature of these images, to which a certain amount of enlarging, cropping and processing was required for them to become at all clear. I really don’t want to impose myself any more than I have already done on these gorgeous but minute creatures.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn this image above (double-click to get it as large as your screen will allow) you might just be able to make out the mother delivering a regurgitated mixture of insect protein and nectar to one of the chicks. Yum!

Here below – one hopefully happy hummingbird family (sans father, naturally!)…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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I wonder if some kind soul out there might be able to assist me with the identification of some plants (whose images appear below) that seem to be all too prevalent in our garden (yard). I have endeavoured to ascertain their particulars but thus far without success.

Should the gentle reader be tempted to advise me simply that they are ‘weeds‘ – then my gratitude might seem somewhat muted. That much I already know!

Thanking you in anticipation…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Greater abundance?… Further abundance?…

Hey ho!

Pictures of flowers in the garden…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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“Sweet April showers do spring May flowers”

Thomas Tusser

Well – this winter has turned out to have been endowed with a drearily long tail here in British Columbia. Once the snows and ice had cleared and the winds had receded we all scampered each morning to our windows to gaze expectantly out at the big wide world without, hoping to welcome a glorious springtime. Instead the temperatures remained stubbornly low and the rain fronts continued to sweep in relentlessly from the Pacific.

There are at last – however – signs that the weather is about to pick up now that May is here. In any case the garden (yard!) has decided that it can wait no longer and is starting to burst out in all of its verdant glory. These vernal blooms – and many others – are greeted joyously…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Image from Wikimedia CommonsMy apologies to email digest readers for the circulation of yesterday’s post regarding the sad passing of Beau Dick – Kwakwaka’wakw master carver and hereditary chief.

I correctly calculated that the embedded videos that I had included would not appear in the automated email, endeavouring to counteract that omission by providing a link to the original posting. Sadly the link itself did not make the cut either!

An example of force majeure, mayhap!

Here it is again

 

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I was greatly saddened to hear yesterday of the death (at the grievously early age of 61) of Beau Dick – master carver and hereditary chief from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation.

Beau Dick was the subject of a posting on these pages back in January 2015 – composed before we had even moved to these shores. I make no apology for again referring the gentle reader to that item – which hopefully gives just the slightest hint as to the nature of the man and his craft. We were lucky also to have been able to see some of Beau’s work at the “Box of Treasures” exhibition at the Bill Reid gallery in Vancouver in the September of that year.

Of course, my words could be no substitute for viewing the works themselves, or – in Beau’s case – to hearing him speak of his art and culture. To that end I am including a couple of video clips that should enlighten and delight the novitiate.

(Note: Should you have received this post by email circulation you may not be able to see the embedded video clips. Should that be the case this link will take you to the original post, in which they should render correctly)

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Photo by Andy Dawson Reid“It’s kind of like doing surgery with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel. We had pieces and parts flying everywhere. It turned out in our favor. We’ve just got to clean it up the next time around.”

Mike Leach – football coach

I have made reference before in these reflections to the fact that in this part of the world our mains power arrives courtesy of cables strung between tall wooden poles. It is, in fact, not just the power that does so – phone lines, cable television and broadband data circuits are all delivered by the same means, using the same poles. As may be observed in the attached illustration this frequently results in an extensive cat’s-cradle of cables which runs the length of every rural thoroughfare.

The adoption of this delivery mechanism does, of course, make perfect sense. The distances concerned and the lumpy terrain mitigate against the burial of such services, on grounds of cost and practicality, and the ready availability on all sides of tall straight poles makes the chosen solution what is, I believe, oft referred to as a ‘no-brainer’.

The downside – as I have certainly mentioned before – is that the winter winds have a habit of bringing down the branches of neighbouring trees onto said power lines, resulting in outages at just the point that electricity and other cable-borne services would come in particularly handy – for heating, cooking, watching TV and surfing in the InterWebNet and suchlike.

By way of amelioration of this regular occurrence the provincial power company – BC Hydro – engages each spring a clutch of trouble-shooting tree specialists who are briefed to roam the byways looking for potential problems that might be averted by means of a little chainsaw butchery. Any tree branch that so much as glances in the direction of a power line is immediately whacked off and ground up into sawdust.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThus is was that – one day last week – a sizeable swarm of trucks, pickups, cherry pickers and suchlike descended locust-like onto the verge outside our residence. The sound of chainsaws and chippers being fired up rent what might otherwise have been a sleepy afternoon. Half an hour later they departed like a swarm of angry wasps looking for another target, having committed an act of savagery on our lovely Arbutus and left an integument of detritus beneath it.

On being appraised of this visit The Girl wondered (somewhat provocatively) whether our neighbours might have ‘shopped’ us to the power company. The Arbutus is a beautiful tree but has the unusual distinction of shedding its foliage in the summer months whilst remaining resolutely verdant throughout the winter. One afternoon last summer – as our dear friend from Saanichton was helping us to widen our driveway in anticipation of the arrival of the good ship ‘Dignity’ – the little old lady from next door sidled up to me and enquired hopefully as to whether we were having the tree chopped down.

When I told her that we were not she looked most disappointed!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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Woo hoo!

Today was the first day of the year on which the climactic conditions were conducive to getting down to a little ‘yard work’ – or ‘garden maintenance’ should you prefer. The temperature reached a balmy 9 degrees Celsius, the sun did its best to warm one’s weary shoulders, the breeze was persistently no more than playful and any precipitation that might have been lurked in the vicinity had a change of heart and took the afternoon off. As the forecast suggested that this would be the best day of the week I girded my loins (ooh-err!), pulled on my wellies and ventured forth.

The garden (for garden it shall be, ‘yard’ fans!) is in sore need of TLC, being as it is covered with a veritable layer of winter detritus. I am certainly not going to post any pictures of it at this stage, but will do so (weather permitting) in a couple of weeks when I have knocked things into shape.

Actually, I am posting one photo… that which appears at the top of this missive.

Living as we do in the wild northwest we are naturally accustomed to the indigenous wildlife apparently being of the opinion that it is we who are the interlopers. I regularly look out of the window to see two or three deer using the back garden as a thoroughfare, stopping for a chat and a snack en route. Canadians don’t really do boundaries (fences, hedges, walls and suchlike) in the way that the Brits do. This is probably a good thing because should a deer (or a bear or a cougar) decide that some barrier is blocking its preferred path it is most likely simply to demolish it.

Today, as I ventured outside, I came upon a big fat raccoon ambling across what passes (with a great deal of work) for my croquet lawn. I don’t know how the raccoons get to be so fat at this time of year, but ‘Googling’ “fat raccoon” shows that this particular one was not that exceptional.

As I worked away in the garden I heard an unusual bird call above my head. Looking up I saw that an eagle had alighted on a branch of one of the pines. A steady rain of downy fur-balls revealed that the bird had caught something and was in the process of preparing it for its lunch. I tiptoed inside get my camera and fired off the shot above, the which you will probably need to enlarge (by double-click thereon) if you are to make out any detail.

The eagle felt about being photographed whilst taking its repast much the same as would I and departed for a more secluded spot (with its lunch dangling from one talon) before I could get a better picture. I don’t blame it!

What you can’t see in the image above is the big black crow sitting just out of reach on a slightly higher branch. When the eagle flapped away the crow followed it. ‘Trickle down’ clearly does work in the animal kingdom!

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Way back when The Girl and I were still living in the UK and taking appropriate advantage of the cultural offerings that the capital had to offer, our thoughts would – every once in a while –  turn away from the high arts – the galleries, concert halls and the National Theatre and so forth – in the direction of a little light relief.

At such times we would go looking for some comedy!

On one such occasion we decided to eschew our favourite Irishman (what is it that makes pretty much every Irish comedian funny, even before they have truly gotten going? All it takes is an – “Ah, c’mon now…” – or a – “Jaysus, yer a feckin’ eejyut” – in the brogue and I am well on the way to cracking up) and went instead to see a certain Scottish funny man who was at the time highly visible on television.

It was an interesting evening. The Scot was disappointing. It wasn’t that he was unfunny, it was more that what had appeared on TV to be a rapier wit – firing off one-liners and acid put-downs on all sides – turned out to be wholly scripted, down to the last barbed repostes.

What did not disappoint – and not only because we had no expectations – was the warmup act – a Canadian comedian called Craig Campbell. His sharp-eyed observations on both Canadian and UK life and culture had us in stitches, practically slipping off our seats and into the isles.

I turns out that Mr Campbell is sufficient of an Anglophile that he has taken up permanent residence in the West Country and now tours regularly in the UK. I was surprised to discover that my brother had also become an enthusiast for the hairy Canadian’s humour and we subsequently all went together to see him on several further occasions before we left the UK.

A couple of weekends ago – on the eve of my birthday and after The Girl had retired for the night – I was searching our cable channel for a little late night viewing when I happened upon a recording from Nanaimo of a touring comedy show – compared by one Craig Campbell! Not having heard of the ‘Snowed In Comedy Tour’ at all I immediately went online to the InterWebNet. I discovered that, though the recording I had found was from last year’s tour, the 2017 version was not only already underway but was also coming very shortly to Victoria.

I had half a mind to quiz The Girl the next morning as to whether she was aware of the engagement (she being primarily in charge of our social calendar) but before I could so do she presented me with a birthday card containing… tickets for the show!

Isn’t she a darling?!

I can happily report that Craig and his fellow Canadian comedians were in fine fettle and a riotous evening of merriment was enjoyed all round.

If you get a chance – in Canada or in the UK – I do urge you to catch him!

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