Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

This space has been very quiet lately, and there is the happy reason why, as mid-September brought a rare chance to get away from work and the farm for a few weeks, and with that escape, a time away from the computer.

My husband and I are, as some of you already know, the proud possessors of a 1971 Triumph Spitfire (among a number of other vintage “project cars”, of which the less said perhaps the better, the old sports car interest being something of a joint secret life which we try to keep a low profile about, as it bemuses most of our friends) and once in a while we go all out and take her for a serious run.

Abandoning numerous pressing projects, we took part in a 3-day vintage sports car rally which started in Kelowna, progressed through southern interior B.C.’s Monashee Mountains, and ended southwest of Kamloops at the Quilchena Hotel on the Douglas Lake Ranch.

We had a well-timed breakdown on travel-to-the-rally-start day, and with the aid of a serendipitous series of exceedingly helpful old-British-car buffs and an early morning mechanical session in our hotel parking lot, we got Baby put back together again. That out of her system, she ran like a charm for the next 3 days, bringing us home again after better than 1000 miles of top-down driving under mostly sunny skies.

Sometimes things are better than anticipated. This trip was one of those. It was utterly perfect.

One of my favourite views - looking out over the Spitfire bonnet. The only better place is behind the wheel! Here we are heading towards Vernon, B.C., on Day 1 of a vintage car rally we participated in September 19-21.

One of my favourite views – looking out over the Spitfire bonnet. The only better place is behind the wheel. Here we are heading down the highway towards Vernon, B.C., on Day 1 of our 3-day rally. On the other side of Vernon we head off into the mountains, onto frequently narrow, highly scenic, beautifully curve-filled rural roads – perfect for our treasured cars to show off what they were really built for. Completely frivolous creations, but a whole lot of fun.

Day 3, with our Spit in the foreground as we all converge for a final meet-up and meal before going our separate ways.

Day 3, with our Spit in the foreground in the parking area of Douglas Lake Ranch’s historic Quilchena Hotel as we all begin to converge for a final meet-up and meal before going our separate ways, to points throughout B.C, with a few hardy souls heading home to Alberta and down into Washington State. (This is less than a third of the group – sadly I did not get a shot of all of us together – and it was a nicely eclectic group, with our working-class, 4-cylinder Spitfire on the lower end of the sports car hierarchy and a stunning 1955 Jaguar – red car, 5th in line – representing the posher end of the scale.)

We made it home, hastily parked the Spit without giving her the usual post-run wash-and-brush-up, and spent the next day frantically packing up our old camper in order to take our daughter on the trip to the ocean we’d promised her in the spring. “C’mon, let’s do this, it may be my last trip with you,” she kept saying, piling on a bit of the kids-all-grown-up angst on our parental heads, and though it was rather odd being a trio in the camper instead of a quartet – her older brother, now mostly moved out, came home and kindly farm-sat for us – it ended up being a very pleasant trip.

The weather had turned, bringing wind, cool weather, and rain, but we forged on regardless, and though we came home rather more exhausted than when we left, we’re glad we made the effort.

Beach walks, conversation, peaceful evenings, books. We then left the ocean more or less behind, and spent a day in Victoria, where we took in the Swedish History Museum’s touring Viking exhibit at the Royal B.C. Museum, and joined the tourist throng queuing for chocolates at the venerable Rogers Family confectionary store, before heading for the ferry line-up, and the long trek home.

It was great fun to get away, but it feels very good to be back. All of our projects are here still waiting for us – darn! – why couldn’t those have done themselves while we were gone?! – but we’re all the happier for our two weeks away.

And here are some photos from the trip, a very small sampling of where we went and what we saw.

The next post will be back to books – the pile of to-be-talked-about has grown to ridiculous proportions. I think a round-up post or two may be in order.

Pacific Ocean at Long Beach, western side of Vancouver Island. Next landfall, Japan.

Pacific Ocean at Long Beach, western side of Vancouver Island. Next landfall, Japan.

A storm just passed, and the setting sun appears briefly.

Same stretch of beach. A storm has just passed, and the setting sun appears briefly. The swell is immense; we are being very careful, as the day before another beach walker was almost swept away by a rogue wave.

Pink sea urchins, tide pool, upper Long Beach. No sea stars, though the rocks show grazed areas where they were abundant on all of our previous visits to this particular group of rocks and pools, a sad disappointment. Over 95% of the sea star population between Alaska and California has suddenly died off since late winter, 2014, due to a suspected viral disease thought to be exacerbated by warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures.

Pink sea anemones, tide pool, upper Long Beach. No sea stars, though the rocks show grazed areas where they were abundant on all of our previous visits to this particular group of rocks and pools, a sad disappointment. Over 95% of the sea star population between Alaska and California has suddenly died off since late winter, 2014, due to a suspected viral disease thought to be exacerbated by warmer-than-usual ocean temperatures.

Empty beaches, just us and the birds most days...a storm system out at sea has just passed, leaving the wave danger rating at extreme, and keeping the hardy wet-suited surfers who generally frequent these shores holed up in their various retreats.

More empty beaches, just us and the birds most days…a major storm system out at sea has just passed, leaving the wave danger rating at extreme, and keeping the hardy wet-suited surfers who generally frequent these shores holed up in their various retreats.

Finally the waves subside enough for some surfer action. This brave soul was up a few times, but never for long. Hard work for a few moments of catching the wave!

Finally, several days after the highest storm surges of the year to date, the waves subside enough for some surfer action. This brave soul was up a few times, but never for long. Awfully hard work for a few moments of catching the wave!

Misty morning sunrise.

Misty morning sunrise.

Blue heron, low tide.

Blue heron, low tide.

As inland dwellers, this sort of thing leaves us thrilled to the core: what an incredibly rich thing is the sea!

As inland dwellers, this sort of thing leaves us thrilled to the core: what an incredibly rich thing is the sea!

And then there's wonderful stuff like this: urchins and anemones at Ucluelet.

And then there’s wonderful stuff like this: urchins and anemones at Ucluelet.

Sea isles off Ucluelet, seen from a viewpoint on the Wild Pacific Walking Trail.

Sea isles off Ucluelet. Rather makes one dream of setting up a hermitage on one of those to escape the woes of the human world…or, thinking a little harder of the lack of arable land for even a wee garden, and the constant rain and sea roar, maybe not…

Mildly eerie but decidedly cheery: dwellers in the rainforest at Tofino Botanical Garden.

Mildly eerie but decidedly cheery: dwellers in the rainforest at Tofino Botanical Garden.

Heading down island, into some welcome sunshine, which lights up the evening waves at French Beach, near Jordan River. We sat on the rocks in the sunset and watched three sea otters frolicking in the kelp beds as the tide turned and started rolling in.

Heading down island, into some welcome sunshine, which lit up the evening waves at French Beach, near Jordan River. We sat on the rocks in the sunset and watched three sea otters frolicking in the kelp beds as the tide turned and started rolling in.

Into the city, to do the tourist thing in Victoria, our province's capitol city. Totem poles in Thunderbird Park, with the stately Victorian Empress Hotel in the background.

Into the city, to do the tourist thing in Victoria, our province’s capitol. Totem poles in Thunderbird Park, with the stately Victorian-era Empress Hotel in the background.

City botanizing: fall-blooming cyclamen in a quiet corner of Victoria's Beacon Hill Park.

City botanizing: fall-blooming cyclamen in a quiet corner of Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park.


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I have operated a small specialty plant nursery from our farm for many years, but this year am thrilled to be taking a sabbatical from that occupation, which means I get to look around and get a proper taste of spring. Earlier in the month we travelled to Vancouver for a look at the spring flowers there, and I fell head over heels in love with the many magnolias which rivalled the lovely cherry blossoms which were our initial and “official” quest.

I’d never seen these before in their full glory, as we are ourselves much too far north (being situated close to the centre of the province) for magnolia trees to survive, let alone thrive as those on the coast obviously do.

Too lovely not to share, so here are a few I captured with my camera. Much more spectacular in real life, by the way, as those of you in milder climes will no doubt already know.

Happy Spring!


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Pine cone, exact species unknown. UBC Botanical Garden, February 26, 2014.

Pine cone, exact species unknown. UBC Botanical Garden, February 26, 2014.


The next three books in my series of Round-Up posts all involve some sort of autobiographical experiences, though they are presented in different ways. Gavin Maxwell’s Harpoon Venture is self-critical and hyper-realistic; Rosemary Taylor’s Harem Scare’m goes for the gently self-mocking humorous approach, while W.H. Davies’ The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp is in the nature of a unemotionally-documented saga, told in the plainest of language by a man looking backwards down the years at his unconventional and occasionally dramatic vagabond (quite literally) days.


harpoon venture lyons press gavin maxwellHarpoon Venture by Gavin Maxwell ~1952. This edition: Lyons Press, 1996. Introduction by Stephen J. Bodio. Softcover. ISBN: 1-58574-370-4. 304 pages.

My rating: 8/10

If you have read Gavin Maxwell’s memoirs of his life with pet otters and other various creatures, Ring of Bright Water, Raven Seek Thy Brother, and The House of Elrig, you will recall his passing references to his several immediately post-WW II years spent hunting basking sharks off the Isle of Soay, in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, close to the Isle of Skye.

This book, Maxwell’s first, details the doomed venture from its first conception during a bombing raid in the 1940 Battle of Britain blitz, when Gavin Maxwell determined that if he survived the war, he would

“…buy an island in the Hebrides and retire there for life; no airplanes, no bombs, no commanding officers, no rusty dannert wire…”

Two years later Gavin Maxwell was serving with Special Forces and stationed in northwest Scotland, when he joined a friend for a yacht trip during their leave and first came across the small, steep-hilled Isle of Soay. After spending two hours roaming the island, Maxwell had determined to make his dream a reality; he would buy it, establish a local industry, and spend his days in peaceful usefulness, looked up to as a local benefactor, the “laird”, in fact.

Needless to say, such utopian dreams were to prove to be too good to be true. The industry Maxwell decided upon was the establishment of a basking shark fishery, to chase down, harpoon and render into useful products the massive, plankton-eating basking sharks, which can reach weights of over 5 tons. These sharks contain huge livers which were at the time in great demand for their oil content, but Maxwell’s scheme involved a factory which would process all of the parts of the fish – skin which could be turned to leather, flesh which could be marketed as “sail-fish”, fins to be dried and sent to China as aphrodisiacs, cartilage and bones to be used to produce glue – the list of possibilities was endless.

It took almost four years for Maxwell’s enterprise to bankrupt itself; he never really recovered from the loss of his personal fortune which he had sunk into the project; he lost Soay and embarked upon a vagabond lifestyle of travelling and writing, which resulted in the acquisition while in the marshes of Iraq of the first of the famous otters.

But this was before that, and fascinating it is all on its own merits, though the brutal details of the process of hunting, harpooning and killing the basking sharks may be queasy-making to those readers of delicate sensibilities. Somehow the narrative manages to transcend the sordid details, leaving one with a portrait of a brilliantly intelligent, highly observant and sensitive yet deeply self-destructive man, who frequently made some very bad decisions, and only sometimes took responsibility for them. My final impression is of a book of intense experiences delicately observed and lyrically depicted.

A wonderful review of the book is here: Desperate Reader: Gavin Maxwell’s Harpoon at a Venture

One hint: Avoid the Lyons Press edition, pictured above. For some odd reason it leaves out all of the photographs – over seventy in number – which are referenced throughout the text, giving a rather surreal experience to the reader as Maxwell has continually linked his written narrative to the photos, and without them one is left completely at a loss as to what is being referred to.

Second-hand copies of  earlier editions of this book are readily available, generally titled Harpoon at a Venture, so go for one of those instead of the 1996 Lyons reprint.

harem scare'm rosemary taylor 001Harem Scare’m by Rosemary Taylor ~ 1951. This edition: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1951. Illustrations by Paul Galdone. Hardcover. 246 pages.

My rating: 6.5/10

This was another one of those happy-chance stumble-upon books. I had read and written about Rosemary Taylor’s Arizona childhood memoir Chicken Every Sunday back in 2012, and then, just recently in March 2014 had received a comment on my post, which brought Taylor to mind again. Only a day or two later what should I notice among the tattered hodge-podge of old cookbooks and automotive repair manuals at a local antiques emporium, but “Rosemary Taylor” on the spine of a book. And here it is. Isn’t random promising-book-discovery a wonderful thing?!

Written in the early 1950s, Harem Scare’m is Rosemary’s account of her time as a young, aspiring writer in the early 1920s, when she was travelling with a friend in Europe on a break from her first job as an assistant dean of women at Stanford University.

In the process of “getting cultured”, Rosemary temporarily parts with her travelling companion and journeys solo to Madrid, with a week among the pictures in the Prado her goal. The train trip starts out well, but is soon to go sideways…

So there I sat, the future dean of women, dressed in the brown coat and tight-fitting white felt hat I’d bought at such a bargain in a little shop in Paris, wearing no make-up – I didn’t approve of make-up – my legs encased in lisle stockings, my shoes stout and sensible, and on my nose big horn-rimmed glasses, for I was, and am, very near-sighted. A prim and proper young lady, attending strictly to her own business, definitely not provocative, definitely not the type to invite any attention, welcome or unwelcome. Or so I thought.

An optimistic Spanish porter appears to think that Miss Taylor is very provocative, and as she fights him off with determination she is vastly relieved by the entry into her compartment of a one-eyed man, who turns out to be a fellow American, one Floyd Gibbons. The name sounds vaguely familiar to Rosemary, and she is grateful for Mr. Gibbons’ large and protective presence for the remainder of her trip. Floyd, who is of course the Floyd Gibbons, intrepid and well-known war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, is on his way to Morocco, to cover the events of the Second Moroccan War, the long drawn out series of clashes between the Spanish and French forces with the Moroccans, also known as the Rif War.

Floyd takes quite a liking to the naïve young Rosemary, especially when he learns that she is corresponding with her hometown newspaper, the Tucson Citizen, and has just received a princely $5 for a recent article. Why not come with me to Morocco, he asks her teasingly? You can get the woman’s-eye view of things there, maybe get an interview in the local sultan’s harem…

Well, as things turned out, Rosemary did go to Morocco with Floyd, joining a bevy of other war correspondents, and she did get an interview in a harem, which she wrote up for the Citizen. She also found herself in many unexpected places, which she writes about with self-effacing good humour and occasional passionate poignancy.

Rosemary tries very hard to keep the tone light throughout, and though this makes for a not-very-deep but entertaining read, one sometimes feels like she is leaving a lot of interesting stuff out, by deciding to go for the laugh every time, which is why I couldn’t in good conscience rate it much higher.

Rather fascinating stuff, though, with much scope for further investigation. I’ll certainly be paying attention the next time I come across Floyd Gibbons’ name; he sounds like a very interesting personality indeed, and Rosemary Taylor’s depiction of him in Harem Scare’m is affectionate and appealing.

the autobiography of a super-tramp w h davies other

Not my personal copy, but a much later edition with an apt cover photo.

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by W.H. Davies ~ 1908. This edition: Jonathan Cape, 1933. Introduction by George Bernard Shaw. Hardcover. 304 pages.

My rating: 9/10

There’s a lot in this book, reminiscences of a long and event-filled life, by a sometimes less-than-sympathetic narrator, whose deadpan delivery takes some getting used to, but is worth putting up with for the vivid picture the book gives of a very unconventional attitude and way of living.

I suspect this is the most well-known of the three books in this grouping, being still in print over a century after its first publication, so I won’t go into too much detail.

Born in Wales in 1871, William Henry Davies was raised by his maternal grandparents, and from childhood showed a reluctance to follow in the expected path of others of his class and circumstance. Unable to settle into steady work, Davies abandoned his apprenticeship with a picture-frame maker and instead took to the roads, living on income derived from temporary work, a small income from a legacy, and eventually outright begging.

Davies was fascinated with North America, and eventually made it to the United States, where he joined a loosely connected tribe of “professional” hoboes who travelled the country by stealing rides in and on top of boxcars. They fed themselves on the charity of housewives and by taking on odd jobs, picking fruit, working as seasonal laborers and such. Davies was able to extensively travel throughout the States, and he crossed the Atlantic to and from England numerous times by working of his passage on cattle boats. His foray into Canada on the way to the Klondike gold rush ended horribly when he slipped while attempting to jump a train in Ontario, losing his foot and crushing his right leg, which was eventually amputated at the knee.

Returning to England sporting a wooden peg leg, Davies turned his attention to writing poetry, as he had always been a great reader and secret writer through his vagabond years. Living in charity rooms and living off of his grandmother’s legacy, Davies wrote and wrote and wrote, eventually paying to have his verses printed and attempting to sell them door to door. He met with small success, but kept on, until a series of lucky coincidences brought his poetry into the public eye, where it was received with enthusiasm for its universal themes and sincere tone.

George Bernard Shaw was shown the manuscript of this book, and by his patronage secured Davies a very favourable publishing deal, and the rest is history. Davies ended his days in England hobnobbing with the literary aristocracy of the time, a far cry from the days of stealing garments off of backyard clotheslines and dodging railroad cops.

This memoir is stunning in the scope of its content, and in its unapologetic tone. Davies makes few excuses for his choice of lifestyle and where it took him; he was a keen observer of his companions of the road and the book is full of fascinating portraits of unconventional people and the even stranger events they were involved in.

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp is written in a very calm, almost overly flat style, and can occasionally be rather hard going as climax after climax is related matter-of-factly in Davies’ sober voice, but his musings on why he is like he is and how he relates to the others he meets in his journeyings and his pithy commentary on social peculiarities make it compelling reading.






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the wonderful adventures of nils selma lagerlof 001The Wonderful Adventures of Nils by Selma Lagerlöf ~ 1906. This edition: J.M. Dent and Sons, 1950. Illustrated by H. Baumhauer. Hardcover. 294 pages.

My rating: 10/10

My biggest regret upon turning the last page of this book is that I did not discover it when my children were in the midst of the read-aloud years. They would have loved it, voraciously appreciative little listeners that they were.

It has everything – a magical transformation (as punishment for a misdeed), a quest for redemption, animals wild and tame, a deeply dastardly villain, continual and varied adventures, restrained amounts of sentimentality, and absolutely painless lectures on natural history, geography and Swedish folk legends.

Hey, homeschooling parents – take a look! The cross-curricular connections are many and quite brilliant. And I think it would be hugely enjoyable for the reader-alouder as well.

Fourteen-year-old farm boy Nils is beloved by his hard-working parents but also a huge disappointment to them. He neglects his chores, he lies, he torments the animals, and he dodges going to church. What will become of him, they sigh to each other in sorrow? Will he ever see the error of his ways?

Apparently not, but fate takes a hand when Nils offends the farmstead elf, who then transforms Nils into tiny elf-size himself. As Nils runs hither and yon about the farmyard in absolute distress, he realizes that he can now understand the language of the animals. They in turn are pleased to see that their tormentor has had his comeuppance, and let him know a few home truths about their views on his past behaviour.

Nils is at first shocked and resentful, but then as the true consequences of his fourteen years of misbehaviour become clear, he experiences something of an epiphany. “I am sorry!” he cries. “Please forgive me!” But the animals ignore his pleas.

As Nils mourns his sad fate, a flock of wild geese fly over, and the farm’s big white gander, stirred to wanderlust by their call, rouses himself up and prepares to take flight. Nils, with his newly aroused conscience, immediately grasps what a tragedy the loss of the gander would be for his parents, and leaps onto the gander’s back in an attempt to hold him back. The gander – very predictably, as we already know what is going to happen – manages to take flight with Nils on his back, and we are off on the wonderful adventures promised in the title.

This book is a marvelous series of dramatic vignettes, tied together by Nils’ desire to redeem himself so he may break the elf’s curse and be returned to human size, and by his acquisition of a mortal enemy who follows him over sea and land, Smirre Fox.

Even without an audience of enthralled young listeners, I found this book immensely appealing as a private read-to-my-adult-self story. Selma Lagerlöf avoid excessive sentimentality, and while she makes it obvious that Nils is being taught a lesson and that he is working towards repentance to his parents, to the animal world, and ultimately to God (for Nils’ previous neglect of religious observances), she never preaches. The morals are discussed, and then let go – the reader is given the respect by the author that he or she will “get it” without being pounded over the head by repetition. And Nils is believably far from perfect, even after his epiphany, and lapses from grace frequently, usually with bitter consequences to himself and to others, though occasionally an outside party will intervene just as things seem to be going most desperately awry.

Smirre Fox is a gloriously frightening villain, almost supernatural in his powers as he follows the flight of the wild geese, and the sense of danger that we feel for Nils and his companions is intensely real throughout.

This books transcends its origins – it is a very Swedish book, and I feared would be a bit unrelatable to the non-Scandinavian reader – and its age – it is well over one hundred years old – to be fresh and engaging. While there are the expected styles and attitudes of its era of writing, it is a very worthwhile read for anyone at all interested in the “fairy tale transformation” type of genre. This is decidedly a classic.

Oh, and the ending is not what one would expect, leaving us still in mid-air, as it were, though with some good clues as to the final resolution to Nils’ greater quest for redemption.

I loved this one, and will be saving it for my (at this point extremely hypothetical) grandchildren.

One last note. I would hesitate to give this to a youngish child to read to himself/herself. Though the interest level I anticipate would be from 5 or 6 years of age through the primary years, the text would be hard going for such a young reader, what with the general old-fashioned phrasings and grammar and the many Swedish place and character names and terms. There is a handy glossary of pronunciation in the back of the Dent edition, and it would be well to refer to that before starting on your read-aloud.

wonderful adventures of Nils selma lagerlof illustr h baumhauer 001

The illustrations in my 1950 Dent edition are by H. Baumhauer, and add a pleasant touch to the story. I would think that the variety of illustrators is vast, as this book has had countless editions over the past century, so it would be well worth the effort to investigate if possible before purchasing a copy to share with your child(ren)-in-question to make sure you find a nicely-illustrated one.

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Down by the Fraser River, which forms the boundary of our small farm, New Year's Eve afternoon. A brief moment of peaceful beauty, soon to change...

Down by the Fraser River, which forms the boundary of our small farm, New Year’s Eve afternoon. A brief moment of peaceful beauty, soon to change…

The book reviews have been coming daily so far in January, and though this looks quite impressive, I hasten to reassure my readers that it will definitely not be the pattern of the year. January so far has been something of an anomaly, a time of stillness and a sort of tipping point for what is proving to be a transitional time in my life, in a smallish and positive way.

(And as some of you might remember from previous comments, we don’t have TV, so that time is freed up for dallying with books. At least an hour or two a day, if our friends’ TV watching habits are anything to go by.)

For the past twelve years I have been that most involved of maternal figures, a fully fledged dance mom, and it had looked like this would have been one of the busiest years yet in that regard, as it would have been my daughter’s “peak year”, the last fully dedicated to dancing before her graduation from high school and transition into the next stage in her life. After much agonizing, the decision was made in October to call it quits right now, a year early, as it were. No more long commutes to the dance studio in the city two and a half hours away, no more trips to Vancouver to visit her choreographer, no more sweating over solos and arranging for rehearsal sessions and cutting music and mulling over costumes, and most lovely of all, no more monthly tuition, choreo and fuel bills. We are suddenly free from the self-imposed tyranny of the dance world, and though there are definitely deep regrets for the many positive aspects of being a serious amateur dancer, we are both, she and I, rather enjoying the experience of going into the festival and competition season stress-free (for we are still both involved on an organizational and volunteer level in our local performing arts festival), and being able to look forward to being home in the springtime, instead of daily on the road to somewhere else.

For we’ve also decided to take a sabbatical from running our plant nursery this year, something we’ve done twice before in our twenty-one years of involvement in the business. Our personal perennial garden desperately needs a concerted year (or possibly two) of attention, something impossible to do when one is tied up in the greenhouse growing thousands of lovely little plants for other people’s gardens. The little propagation greenhouse, my 12-hours-a-day home in February-March-April-May, which has been yearly shored up and patched up and made to “make do”, is at last going to be replaced with something a bit bigger, much better built, and more comfortable to work in.

January 1st, 2014. Ice coming down the Fraser River has piled up a mile or so downstream, causing an ice dam and upstream flooding of our lower fields.

January 1st, 2014. Ice coming down the Fraser River has piled up a mile or so downstream, causing an ice dam and upstream flooding of our lower fields. This is looking north, as the river runs backwards in the main channel, on the other side of that ice pile mid-photo. I had to scoot out of the way, as my feet were about to get very wet!

And what with various family medical crises these past few years, including losing a family member to cancer, my mother’s serious fall in the summer and subsequent transition into a seniors’ care facility, and a flare-up of problems with my own two broken ankles which still refuse to work properly several years post-injury, it’s time for a healing year, emotionally and physically. Time to step back, and look inward for a bit.

Usually January 1st marks the time of taking a huge breath and diving into the combined maelstrom of dance festival preparation and concentrated seed starting and seedling care. Not this year. Not a single seed has been planted – heck, not a single seed order has been made! – and the dancer has cheerfully packed away her pointe shoes and has turned to drawing up ambitious garden plans instead. Under doctor’s paradoxical orders to both favor my ankles and exercise as much as possible, I’m attempting to do both by having some sitting down time every hour (which happily translates into reading time and computer time), and by using hiking poles when out and about, which is slightly awkward in that I am still learning how best to use manage my sticks properly when going up and down hills and on narrow paths. But the ankles are noticeably less painful at the end of the day, so maybe it’s working. One can hope!

We’re presently getting some work in on our still-not-finished self-built house, including a gorgeous set of floor-to-ceiling bookcases in a newly constructed hallway/office space which we are calling the “L Room”. “L” for its funny shape, and for “Library”, too! It’s coming along nicely, and when completed will house my working collection of plant books, as well as a goodly amount of “pleasure” reading, my old wooden desk, desktop computer and scanner/printer, filing cabinets and last but not least my piano. Which I hope will figure more prominently in my own near future, as once it is properly settled in I will be able to resume playing, at last in a quiet corner all of my very own. I’m inwardly tremendously excited, though I show an outer calm. 😉

It’s been a very good winter to be off the roads, as the weather has been rather frightful – lots of snow, and warmer temperatures turning everything to ice, and then snow again. We’ve shovelled our roof off four times so far – a record – to prevent ice buildup on the eaves, and this morning I see it could likely use it again. A few inches of fresh snow yesterday morning, followed by above-freezing temperatures and slushy rain in the afternoon, and this morning minus 6 Celsius. Lots of icicles.

I should probably sign off. This quiet Sunday morning has left me feeling rather introspective, hence this rambling post. Both teens are sleeping in, and my husband is off at work. It’s snowing again, the dogs are sleeping in front of the woodstove, the bird feeders are topped up, my kitchen is relatively neat and tidy, and my plans for the day – a bit of paperwork, some puttering about in the construction zone, a bit of sanding, a bit of painting – are modest and manageable. An intriguing book is waiting for my attention as well, My Brilliant Career, by Miles Franklin. Teen angst in Australia, circa 1901.

Happy January, friends. A full fresh year stretches before us. I hope you are all feeling as optimistic as I am that it will bring good things, and that we will all have the inner resources to weather the inevitable storms as well.


January 2, 2014. Same spot as the idyllic picture at the top of the post, a short two days later, after the water has flooded the banks and receded, leaving much ice behind.

January 2, 2014. Same spot as the idyllic picture at the top of the post, a short two days later, after the water has flooded the banks and receded, leaving much ice behind.

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land below the wind agnes newton keith

The edition pictured is the more recent reissue of the book. My own paperback copy is too tattered to share; I do need to replace it, as it’s one to keep and re-read.

Land Below the Wind by Agnes Newton Keith ~ 1939. This edition: MacFadden, 1964. Paperback. 270 pages.

My rating: 9/10

I do enjoy an interesting memoir, and, having read several of Agnes Newton Keith’s later accounts of an eventful life, namely Three Came Home (a description of Agnes Keith’s three years in a Japanese prison camp in Borneo with her husband and young son, 1942-45) and Bare Feet in the Palace (everyday and political doings in the Philippines, where her husband worked for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, 1953-56), I have long been on the lookout for her first literary accomplishment, this worldwide bestseller, Land Below the Wind.

I was particularly interested in this memoir because Agnes Keith credits it with helping save her son’s life while in the prison camp in Borneo. The book had been translated into Japanese prior to the war, and the commandant of the camp had read it and greatly enjoyed it, apparently appreciating Agnes Keith’s favourable descriptions of the Asian world. He would occasionally call Agnes into his office and chat with her on things literary, rewarding her with treats for young George – a biscuit, a banana, and on at least one occasion medical supplies normally unavailable to the internees. For this she was labelled a “collaborator” by some of her fellow internees; In Three Came Home, Keith justifies her conciliatory attitude to the Japanese officers as doing the best she could to ensure the survival of her child. So I was rather curious as to what the appeal of Land Below the Wind was, to see what chord it might have struck which was strong enough to influence a prison camp overseer some years later.

Land Below the Wind is indeed a most readable and a happily positive book, a description of Agnes’ introduction to life as the wife of a British civil servant in then-North Borneo (now known as Sabah) in the 1930s, when that country, “seven days by steamer from Singapore and Hong Kong”, was a British Protectorate, and Harry Keith its Conservator of Forests and Director of Agriculture, a position he had already held for ten years when he brought his new American wife out to the tropics with him. After four years living and travelling in North Borneo, one of only twenty or so European women attached to the seventy or so European men in the North Borneo Civil Service (men were not permitted to marry until they had served eight years in their posting, which accounts for the disparity in numbers of the sexes) Agnes published this book, and it became an immediate bestseller, after winning the coveted Atlantic Monthly $5000 Prize for Best Non-Fiction book published in 1939.

The book is entrancing, certainly because of the descriptions of the local residents, the tropical surroundings, the native flora and fauna, and also for its gentle mocking of the delicate social structure built up around the Protectorate bureaucrats and their spouses and unspoken rules of etiquette.

In Sandakan there is a game played with visiting cards. Every married woman has a small card box with her name lettered on it, planted at the entrance to her garden path. Spiders and lizards live in this box and in the wet season a very small snake, so care must be taken in opening the door not to snap off the end of the lizard’s tail or flatten the snake in the hinge. At intervals, among the lizard’s droppings, if you remember to open the box, various cards will appear. These you scrutinize, forget about, and some days later find under the ash tray. You then disinter your own and husband’s cards, stealthily approach the friend’s card box, and offer a return sacrifice to his lizards. The rule as to who drops the first card is as mystifying and inexplicable as the use of a subjunctive clause, and I have never really understood either of them. The rule has something to do with the sex, length of domicile, and matrimonial alliances of the parties involved, but the whole thing is best enjoyed if regarded as a game. The really important rule is to remember that when calling on the person you should not meet him in the flesh.

Sometimes newcomers do not understand about this game, or play it with a different set of rules in the outer world from which they come. this creates an impasse in social relations, for not until the first round of cards can people meet in person. The impasse continues until someone quietly hands the newcomer a printed slip containing the laws of the Medes, the Persians, and the Game of Cards.

North Borneo in the 1930s was a very active place, with lots going on, and constant coming and going both throughout the countryside and to the various islands, and frequent contact with the “outside” world, but there was still enough “first contact” type experience within living memory to give the Europeans the thrill of realizing that their immediate predecessors, instead of being matter-of-factly greeted by the natives as just another lot of government officials, might well have perished under mysterious and tragic circumstances. This was, after all, a country where head-hunters had stalked the hills only a generation ago. People still occasionally disappeared without a trace, and there were corners of the jungle not yet penetrated by Europeans, where traditional culture presumably survived in isolated pockets.

Agnes Newton Keith plays down the Noble White Man and Backwards-and-Possibly-Scary Native scenario, except where to make a point about White Man’s attitudes (good and bad) and fundamental dependence on the good nature of their Native co-workers, fellow officials, and yes, servants and jungle guides and local shopkeepers and business owners. For its era, an even-minded account of life in a relatively newly colonized land, of course from the point of view of one of the colonizers.

An enjoyable book, and though I could easily go on, I will stop here. Agnes Newton Keith was an interesting woman and an accomplished writer, and I enjoy reading her for her sense of humour, readiness to criticize herself when she pulls a real bloomer, and for her deep appreciation and vibrant descriptions of the places she finds herself occupying, whether North Borneo government villa or prison camp grass hut. Good stuff.

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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, everyone, no matter where you are!

Out yesterday with the camera to capture a glimpse of autumn in our part of the world – Cariboo-Chilcotin region – interior British Columbia, Canada.

In the nursery beds: Michaelmas daisies, lily and sea kale foliage for contrast. Hill Farm October 13, 2013.

In the nursery beds: Fall asters, with lily and sea kale foliage for contrast.
Hill Farm October 13, 2013.

Mountain ash.

Mountain ash.

Echinops ritro - Golbe Thistle - with Macleaya cordata - Plume Poppy - foliage in background.

Echinops ritro – Globe Thistle – with Macleaya cordata – Plume Poppy – foliage in background.

Italian prune plums - this year our small tree was loaded with fruit. Almost over now, but so sweet and worth the long wait for ripening!

Italian prune plums – this year our small tree was loaded with fruit. Almost over now, but so sweet and worth the long wait for ripening!

Cottonwood trees beside the Fraser River - our daily view from the edge of the garden.

Cottonwood trees beside the Fraser River – our daily view from the edge of the garden.

Last roses of summer... Label long lost - no idea which variety this is, but reliably gives us a few late blossoms.

Last roses of summer…
Label long lost – no idea which variety this is, but reliably gives us a few late blossoms.

Alcea rugosa - Russian Hollyhock - an endless bloomer, tall stalks reaching for the sky.

Alcea rugosa – Russian Hollyhock – an endless bloomer, tall stalks reaching for the sky.

Hosta leaves touched by frost - snapped a picture just before my daughter ruthlessly chopped them down - she's in full garden clean-up mode these days!

Hosta leaves touched by frost – snapped a picture just before my daughter ruthlessly chopped them down – she’s in full garden clean-up mode these days!

Bur Oak leaves.

Bur Oak leaves.

Velvet-textured and dramatically veined Italian petunia; the plants themselves are leggy and awkward at this time of the year, but the few late blossoms make up for it; a lingering reminder of summer now past.

Velvet-textured and dramatically veined Italian petunia; the plants themselves are leggy and awkward at this time of the year, but the few late blossoms make up for it; a lingering reminder of summer now past.

The horse chestnut can't decide which colour it wants to be, so it's trying a bit of everything.

The horse chestnut can’t decide which colour it wants to be, so it’s trying a bit of everything.

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river for my sidewalk gilean douglas 001River for My Sidewalk by Gilean Douglas ~ 1953. Originally published under the pseudonym Grant Madison. This edition: Sono Nis Press, 1984. Softcover. ISBN: 0-919203-41-8. 132 pages.

My rating: 7/10, after some consideration. Some of these short anecdotes and essays are solid 10s, some are not.

I’ve been slightly sidelined with a minor virus these past few days, and the upside is that while I’m just feeling sub-par enough to take a break from most of my more strenuous everyday chores, I’m perfectly able to putter about in the garden, do some gentle weeding, tomato-staking and pruning, watering, and definitely take advantage of the down time to read and type. So, having ambitiously started a number of reviews, I may just get a few more than usual launched in the next day or so. Or perhaps I’ll take advantage of the WordPress feature which allows us to schedule posts for future dates, something I’ve never yet had to do, as there is definitely no backlog of things ready to share! If anything, I frequently post before all of the final tweaking is done, catching typos and awkward phrasings after I’ve hit the “Publish” button. Luckily there is an “Edit” feature, too…

I picked up this particular book at The Final Chapter in Prince George last week, while browsing the excellent Canadiana section. Being rather partial to memoirs in general and British Columbia rural and wilderness settings and history in particular, River for My Sidewalk‘s back cover blurbs pretty well guaranteed my purchase.

About the Author

Gilean Douglas has been a newspaper reporter, copywriter, editor, columnist and, throughout and still, a freelancer. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals both here and abroad, including Chatelaine, Saturday Evening Post, Canadian Business, Audubon, the New York Times and, by actual count, 144 other periodicals. She has five volumes of poetry to her name, one of light verse, and three nonfiction titles. Four of her poems were set to music and published by Schirmers and others received choral settings and have been performed at [various venues] and in concert. She edited Modern Pioneers for the B.C. Women’s Institute after holding local, district, provincial and national office in that organization.

Gilean Douglas now [in 1984] resides on Cortes Island, where she is a Weather Observer with Environment Canada (receiving four awards for her work) and a Search and Rescue Agent. In her spare time she raises plants, produce, and bulbs.

About the Book

Gilean Douglas spent close to a decade living alone in a small wilderness cabin in the Cascade mountains. River for My Sidewalk, first edition, was originally published…in October of 1953, under the male pseudonym of Grant Madison. The reading public of that time would have doubted the authenticity of a woman managing in the circumstances described. But Gilean Douglas did more than manage, she thrived in the isolation and completeness that solitude brings. Well before the days of liberated females, Ms. Douglas chose, lived, survived, and savoured a self-sufficient existence in an area that is still considered wild and inaccessible. Her story is timeless and the observations are lyrically clear…

Gilean Douglas: Naturalist, feminist, farmer, poet, author.

Gilean Douglas: Naturalist, feminist, farmer, poet, author.

Well, I’d never heard of the woman myself, but who could resist finding out more? And, after reading River for My Sidewalk, I did just that. What an absolutely fascinating woman Gilean Douglas must have been! And not just fascinating, but, for all of her quirks and her unhappy history with husbands, apparently much admired and beloved by her friends and neighbours. Here is an excerpt from a longer biography in B.C. Bookworld:

Gilean Douglas, author of River for My Sidewalk (1953), was a female Thoreau of Canada. A loner from a well-to-do family, she retreated to wilderness cabins and became an environmentalist before the word existed, leaving four marriages behind her.

Gilean Douglas, born in Toronto in 1900, was orphaned at age 16 and soon became a reporter. She travelled extensively prior to her arrival in B.C. in 1938 where she first lived in a cabin on the Coquihalla River. She then moved to an abandoned miner’s shack on the Teal River near Duncan, B.C. “It was the great moment of my life when I waded the Teal River,” she wrote, “with my packboard on my back and stood at last on my own ground. I can never describe the feeling that surged up inside me then. . . I felt kinship in everything around me, and the long city years of noise and faces were just fading photographs.” Subsisting mainly on produce from her garden, Douglas began to write about her adventures but could not find acceptance as a woman writing about outdoor life. Adopting the male pseudonym Grant Madison did the trick—and she published River For My Sidewalk, her best-known book.

Gilean Douglas continued to use her male name until 1983 when she revealed herself in a Vancouver Sun interview. Douglas next moved to Cortes Island, near Campbell River. “I have spoken many times of ‘my land’ and ‘my property’, but how foolish it would be of me to believe that I possessed something which cannot be possessed,” she once wrote. Along with seven poetry books, she produced two more meditative memoirs, Silence is My Homeland: Life on Teal River (1978) and The Protected Place (1979). The latter describes life on her 140-acre homestead on Cortes Island where she was employed as an Environment Canada weather observer and a Search and Rescue agent. Her cottage was situated at Channel Rock on Uganda Pass. For nine years she served as the Cortes representative on the Comox-Strathcona Regional Board. Gilean Douglas also contributed a nature column called “Nature Rambles” to the Victoria Daily Colonist (which became the Times Colonist in 1980) for 31 years, from 1961 to 1992, a longevity for a B.C. columnist that places in her in the company of Eric Nicol and Arthur Mayse. She died on Cortes Island in 1993.

And for a much longer and much more detailed biography, Andrea Lebowitz’s well-researched and fascinating article, Narratives of Coming Home: Gilean Douglas and Nature Writing, is a must-read.

Well, this is all well and good, but how does River for My Sidewalk measure up to its author’s infinitely intriguing promise?

I must say that I had high expectations, just from reading the cover material and from my quick perusal of the contents before I purchased the book. And I did enjoy reading it, though it went in a little different direction than I had anticipated.

Something about the tone of the narrative voice struck me as a little bit odd, and occasionally forced, and it wasn’t until I twigged to the fact that the author was carefully phrasing her passages to make the book appear as if it were written by a man that the penny dropped. I had started out assuming that the reader was aware that the writer was indeed a woman, and once I revised this assumption and allowed for the time of writing and publication, the late 1940s and early 1950s, the rather coy slant was understandable, and therefore much more acceptable.

Gilean Douglas writes in a strongly opinionated manner. She lays down the law as she sees it, unapologetically critical of mankind’s abuse of nature, and eloquently defensive of the way in which she has chosen to retreat from the mainstream world. She never condemns the city dweller as such, acknowledging that it would be an impossibility for all to strive for her type of lifestyle, but she has little patience for the squeamish and feeble-hearted visitor to the bush who quails at the thought of coming across a cougar or bear, or of crossing a river on an open cable car, or of hiking miles for a casual neighbourly visit.

Much of the book is an enthusiastic tribute to the natural world, phrased in glowing and effusive tones. Possibly just a little too glowing and effusive? The style frequently seems a bit dated even for the time of writing, being perhaps more typical of the century before; it reminds me of those rather stilted memoirs one frequently comes across hiding behind ornate covers in the antique books section of the better second hand book stores.


The day is my friend. I meet it with outstretched hand and use every moment of it to the utmost. Sitting in the house I have partially built I eat the food which I have grown for myself. I have tried to learn everything there is to know about the trees, flowers, birds, animals, insects and rocks which are all around me. It has taken me years and will take more years, but I feel that every grain of such knowledge brings me closer to the great harvest of the universe.

The night is my love. Dusk comes with the benediction  of the thrush and the darkening of river water. The clearing is all shadow and the forest dim with mystery. The shade climbs higher and higher up the mountains which ring my valley, leaving only the peaks crested with sunlight. Everything becomes slower and more silent as the dusk deepens into night. Then stars burn silver in the sky and sometimes the moon sails a midnight sea to a port beyond the tall evergreens of Home Wood. This has been the way of night in the wilderness for untold eons. How few living now have ever known it as I do! Campers, fishermen, hunters come in here bringing their shouts and drinking and luxuries. They go home to boast of their wilderness adventures, but all they take away is a paste jewel in a plastic setting.

And then there are the passages like these:

Spring has swept away the last patch of her snow with her green-twigged broom and hung out the clouds to bleach…


When burning … fir and hemlock have their swan song of beauty… as needles become rosettes of flame which shimmer and fade along the twigs, transforming each one into a garland for some fire queen’s shining hair…

But for all the occasionally purple prose there is much beautifully phrased and sincerely presented, as Gilean Douglas documents the thoughts of her long solitudes. I buried all my qualms when I read this:

We are all strangers here, but no one more so than the person who is out of step with the time. If you are that person you will be understood – and then only imperfectly – by just one or two of all those you know and perhaps by none at all. To the others you will always be suspect. The timid will be afraid o be seen with you; the bold will say they cannot be bothered with anyone who is more interested in the future of the world than in whether today’s market is going up or the price of tomorrow’s whisky going down.

Most of this ostracism will bother you very little for there is nothing you like better than quietness and privacy. But not every moment of your life. In books you can find the comradeship and understanding you are denied by living men, but even so you are hungry for a good heart-to-heart talk with someone who comprehends you intellectually and emotionally. If you are lucky you will come across one or two people with whom you can exchange ideas, and if you are luckier still you will marry one of them…

…[An] urgent sense of the shortness of life, perhaps more than anything else, distinguishes the man out of step with his time from his fellow beings. He sees time wasting everywhere around him and he is disgusted and alarmed. He knows that it is all wrong; that life is precious and should be used for precious things. Not that he believes in all work and no play, but simply that his idea of play differs from the bridging, gossiping, clock-watching, pulp-reading average. To him play is a change of occupation – perhaps from writing to splitting wood – while relaxation is letting go completely in sleep, laughter or lying on a summer hill watching the clouds drift over and “growing soul”…

An unusual and admirable woman, this Gilean Douglas, and one whom I will be seeking to acquaint myself with more deeply through her other writings. Apparently the two 1970s memoirs are not quite so gushing, and are more contemporary in tone, though they are not as well known (relatively speaking) as River for My Sidewalk.

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enchanted summer gabrielle roy 2 001Enchanted Summer by Gabrielle Roy ~ 1972. Published in French as Cet été qui chantait. This edition: McClelland and Stewart, 1976. Translated by Joyce Marshall. Hardcover. ISBN: 0-7710-7832-5. 125 pages.

My rating: 8/10.

This is a slight and delicate compilation of short (some very short) vignettes written by the esteemed francophone author during one of her summers residing in a little house she had purchased in 1957 in the rural village Petite-Rivière-Saint-François, Charlevoix County, Quebec.

People come and go throughout Gabrielle’s summer; her husband Marcel Carbotte, various acquaintances from far and wide, her local friends, and, most frequently, her closest neighbours, Berthe and Aimé, with whom she peaceably shared a fenceline.

Many of the vignettes are fragmentary glimpses of nature and landscape, snapshots of a moment captured in words. Gabrielle and Berthe walk along the railroad line to a small pool inhabited by a responsive bullfrog, Monsieur Toong; Gabrielle ponders the wild garden which grows on an uncultivated bit of farmland; the intellectual capabilities of Aimé’s placid cows are considered; the gentle life of  Jeannot the crow is captured in words as he sways in the wild cherry tree, and his sad fate is documented.

Wildflowers, birds, domestic animals are all considered and watched with interest and the author’s observations are gently and humorously related to the reader. The beauty of the landscape is frequently detailed, and the sights, sounds and fragrances of what seems to be a time of great peace and contentment; even the occasional storm does not break the mood of repose. These summers by the river were Gabrielle’s time of retreat and (relative) solitude, in which she refreshed herself from the busy social life of her winter residence in Quebec City, and from the cares of her family – two ailing sisters in Manitoba were often visited – and a time of concentrated writing.

Most of these small stories are centered on animals, but the two most poignant, and to my mind the most memorable, involve people.

Elderly cousin Martine comes for a two weeks’ visit in the country; living in a small city apartment and frail to the point of immobility, she longs for a glimpse of the river of her childhood. One day, without telling Martine’s sons what they are planning, Berthe and Gabrielle laboriously support and carry her down to the river, where for a while she revisits her long lost youth.

For my part, the more I looked at her the more I was reminded of those pilgrims of the Ganges in Benares, whom one sees with loincloths tucked up, frighteningly thin but their faces illuminated with fervour…

…Suddenly, barefoot on the rim of the summer sky, she began to ask questions – doubtless the only ones that matter.

“Why do we live? What are we sent to do on this earth? Why do we suffer so and feel lonely? What are we waiting for? What is at the end of it all? Eh? Eh?”

Her tone was not sorrowful. Troubled perhaps at the beginning. But gradually it became confident. As if, though she didn’t quite know the answer, she already senses that it was good. And she was content at last that she had lived…

And, in a remembrance of a long-ago month as a substitute teacher in a very small, poor, rural Manitoba settlement, Gabrielle recounts her visit to the house of one of the school pupils, who has just died of T.B. The other schoolchildren, who have been apathetic towards their temporary teacher, unbend as they tell her about the sadly fated Yolande. With sudden inspiration, Gabrielle suggests they pick the wild roses growing in the clearing outside Yolande’s cabin, to give tribute to their friend.

On our return we pulled them gently apart and scattered petals over the dead child. Soon only her face emerged from the pink drift. Then – how could this be? – it looked a little less forlorn.

The children formed a ring around their schoolmate and said of her without the bitter sadness of the morning, “She must have got to heaven by this time.”

Or, “She must be happy now.”

I listened to them, already consoling themselves as best they could for being alive.

But why, oh why, did the memory of that dead child seek me out today in the very midst of the summer that sang?

Was it brought to me just now by the wind with the scent of roses?

A scent I have not much liked since the long ago June when I went to the poorest of villages – to acquire, as they say, experience.

As I said early on, this is a slight and quickly read memoir, but one that has a decided charm and a strong sense of atmosphere and place. Very well suited to a peaceful summer afternoon read, preferably in the shade of your own particular tree, with birdsong and dancing shadows for counterpoint.

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Welsh Poppy, Minter Gardens

Welsh Poppy, Minter Gardens

Minter Gardens, May 29, 2013

Minter Gardens, May 29, 2013

The coolest water feature ever - the "water wall" at Minter Gardens.

The coolest water feature ever – the “water wall” at Minter Gardens.


Clematis, holly, grass, rock - Minter Gardens.

Clematis, holly, grass, rock – Minter Gardens.

Gunnera detail, Minter Gardens.

Gunnera detail, Minter Gardens.


Bridal Veil Falls, near Chilliwack, B.C.

Bridal Veil Falls, near Chilliwack, B.C.

Water power, natural sculpture at the foot of Bridal Falls.

Water power, natural sculpture at the foot of Bridal Falls.

Maidenhair fern, B.C. coastal forest.

Maidenhair fern, B.C. coastal forest.

B.C.'s provincial flower, Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii.

B.C.’s provincial flower, Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii.

Pacific Dogwood in fir forest, near Alexandra Bridge, Fraser Canyon. May 29, 2013.

Pacific Dogwood in fir forest, near Alexandra Bridge, Fraser Canyon. May 29, 2013.

These dogwood flowers are big, as you can see by my hand holding the branch.

These dogwood flowers are big, as you can see by my hand holding the branch.

Pictures from our recent excursion to the lower mainland. We took time out on our final day to botanize and tourist our way home. Didn’t take too many pictures, but these are a sampling of what we saw in our travels.

Beautiful British Columbia – the clichéd phrase is so very true!

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