Sunday, August 14, 2011

Curious Cats and Bountiful Back Lanes

It is a perfect morning for a walk. The sun warms the earth from a blue sky dotted with light wisps of cloud. A gentle breeze washes my face. I am exploring Crofton's back lanes, hunting for photos to complement a column my friend Liz has prepared for the next edition of the Chemainus Courier. (Though our column, The Crofton Connection, is a joint endeavor, one of us often writes the bulk of it while the other edits and makes suggestions. Last month I wrote about Osborne Bay Park; this month Liz is writing about back lanes, gardens, and a couple who have embraced the simple life).

The dogs, too, enjoy our morning exploration of the back lanes of Crofton. I walk each dog separately – they have different paces and distances, and it gives me one-on-one time with each as well as a hand free for operating the camera or feasting on the plump blackberries that decorate the lanes.

There are berry pickers everywhere – a dad with his children here, a senior citizen there, a tourist from the motel in the next block. I am beginning to feel guilty for having the municipality clear out the blackberries in my own back lane last year (an act which very much upset Liz, but at least made it possible to access the tools between the back of my shed and my fence once again). I will compromise, trimming them back each year so they don’t entrap my property but leaving some for beauty and berries.

Blackberries, schmackberries - Ah think they should plant some cookie bushes here!

I have been walking these lanes each day for the past two weeks now, and each day spot something new – today it is bunches of grapes amidst apple branches draped over weathered old fence.

Grapes and apples cascade over a backyard fence

Then I spot these – I have no idea what they are, but they create beauty in what was once drab.

I turn to see a cat following Pepper and I down the lane, young and fearless and curious about these intruders.

And shortly after, across an empty lot, another cat watches us silently from beneath a fruit tree.

I am unsure what type of tree this is - perhaps a sour cherry, perhaps an unripe plum? The fruit is cherry size and at the moment, rock hard, with colours varying from yellow to red to purple.

The cat darts off, taking cover under a boat stashed against the side of a building  on which blackberries climb.

There are many cats in Crofton's back lanes - often shy, sometimes not. As I watch the timid one dash behind the boat, I smile remembering one from another back lane the previous evening. He was perched atop an arch over a backyard gate when I walked the first dog, and still there when I walked the second - watching me, watching the dog, watching the camera.

I spy a particularly lush patch of berries hidden deep within what looks like fennel, the berries so plump, so juicy, so ripe that they fall into my hand and leave my fingers stained with red. I fill the jar I carry in my waist pack – it holds one cereal-bowlful, just a perfect amount for one person for one day. The licorice smell of the fennel, a delightful vegetable to which I have just recently been introduced by a woman in my neighbourhood, tickles my nose and tantalizes my tastebuds.

We stop to watch the boats moving in and out of the marina, sun turning ocean to brilliant light.

The morning is growing late, and I have a theatre shift this afternoon and two more dogs to walk. I head back home, for a breakfast of fresh blackberries and vanilla greek style yoghurt , thankful to live in such a beautiful place, thankful for small town back lanes and curious cats.

Fresh blackberries and yoghurt on the patio

What's in your back lane?


Karen said...

The white bottle-brush looking things are called teazles. :)

EvenSong said...

Ah! There's your lovely extravence, your little patio table! The berries look just right!

dp said...

Tree looks like sweet cherries to me, as opposed to the bing cherries we mostly see in BC. They tend to be harder and to look like little plums.

Mark said...

The white spikey things are Teasel they turn brown when they dry and have hooks in the ends. They were used to card sheep wool years ago. they are still used in the textile industry to produce velour

Jean said...

Thank you, everyone - I knew I could count on my readers to tell me what the unknowns might be.
I shall have to keep an eye on the teasel - I look forward to seeing what it looks like in all stages of its growth. It is certainly very attractive in this stage!

Anonymous said...

The teazles would make nice dried flowers for an arrangment in the fall! Lucky you to have them in your back lane(along with the blackberries and kitties!