Saturday, March 31, 2012

Four Parks in Three Days

Come along with me!

No wonder my knees are sore and my limbs ache.  This week, I explored two parks on Wednesday with the Elder College group (albeit small parks, my continual squats for 'that perfect shot' give the knees a bit more of a workout than the average trailwanderer), one on Thursday with  Eddie, Gail and Gail's dog Sadie, and another on Friday with Eddie, Liz and Liz's dog Sasha.  Add to that the 4-6 km total we do in our morning and evening walks, and several hours of shovelling crushed gravel and hauling rocks as I begin some landscaping on the south and east sides of the house and I think I know why I hurt.  My chiropractor will love me.

But back to the parks. 

On Wednesday, the Elder College group started with Diana, Princess of Wales Wilderness Park in Saltair, just north of Chemainus.  (Take Chemainus Road north, and turn right onto Olson Rd at the colourful Jarid's B&B. The park is just a short ways along, with a small parking lot on the right). I visited this little thirty-acre park once a couple of years ago, but the trail I took ended just minutes later.  This time, we chose different forks in the trails and had quite a decent half hour walk through this beautiful forested area. 

Because of the chilly weather this March and the many grey days, spring has been slow to come alive in the forests, but little signs are popping up for those who seek them:

Trillium begin to blossom
Bright yellow skunk cabbage emerges everywhere
No flowers yet, but the bleeding hearts are waking up!

And, of course, everywhere in this rainforest environment are mosses and lichens of all shapes, sizes and colours. My favourites are the lacy ones that look like little feathers:

Old blackberry canes in feather boas

From there we headed back south a bit to Askew Park, on Oak Street in Chemainus. Askew Park was named after the first child of European ancestry to be born in Chemainus. Again a very small park (only 7.5 acres), but  with  huge trees, some over five hundred years old, as well as little brooks and ponds,  many ferns and mosses and wildflowers that make this a lovely place to explore.

Woodpecker holes in trees
Tasetefully built bridges over little streams
Tall, tall trees everywhere
Little ponds, ferns clinging to their banks
and skunk cabbage reflected in their waters
A fallen tree - I should have asked someone to stand in front of it. 
It was well over twice my height!
The base of another huge tree.
Picture three people with arms outstretched in front of it.
Old stumps nurture new trees.  I believe this is called
a "nursing tree".
Delicate little fungi (mushrooms? toadstools?) decorate
rotten logs.

And that's all for Wednesday's walk.

Thursday's walk was to Stocking Creek Park in Saltair, which I have mentioned here before while searching for lost dogs.  It is a lovely park with developed and rustic trails and a beautiful waterful.   Eddie and Gail's Sadie got along well on this second meeting - primarily ignoring each, with the occasional sniffy overture to say 'you're okay, we might be friends!'. We got a little off the beaten track and Eddie was soon slopping through big mud puddles while I tried to not-so-gracefully skirt around them. A bit more off leash time proved Eddie to be responsive to staying close and coming when called - he is turning into a wonderful walking companion.
Gail's incredibly smart and obedient Sadie poses on the trail.
Off into the bush we go.
Water drips from a rotten stump while ferns old and new adorn it.
Are we going, mom, are we?
Off leash Eddie moseying along the trail home.

Yesterday's hike was my first to the beautiful Eves Park, and netted over 150 photos which I still need to edit. So I'll save that series for tomorrow. Right now it's time to walk dogs and shovel gravel. Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, March 26, 2012


Sadie:  Mommm! The cat stole my bed!

Allie:  Suck it up, sugar.  Cats rule, dogs drool!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A sad day for two good friends

Two more loved companions left this earth today. My good friend Else said the final goodbye to her beloved 18 year old cat, Ernie.  I never got a photo of Ernie - he seldom made himself visible when I was there, being rather selective in his choice of companions.  But the very last time I had dinner at Else's, he did saunter in before quickly taking off at the sight of a stranger.  Hugs, Else, I know how very much you loved that cat.

And my dear friend Janice, who runs Hearts on Noses Mini Pig Sanctuary, lost her beloved dog Buddy today.  He was diagnosed with cancer just over three weeks ago, and today asked to be set free.  You can read Buddy's story on Janice's blog, here.  Buddy always made me smile, a big, somewhat clumsy boy who would push against me or look at me with big eyes hoping I would pull a treat from my pocket.  Whenever I arrived at the sanctuary, he would come strolling down the driveway to meet me as I opened the gate to drive through and then would walk along side as I drove up to the  house.

I took this photo of him on my last visit, just days before his diagnosis.


My heart goes out to Else and to Janice; I am so sorry, my friends.

Run free Ernie and Buddy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A day at the beach with a brand new friend

Meet Sadie.


No, not my Sadie.  This is another Sadie, recently adopted by my friend Gail (Georgi's mom).  Sadie is a very petite four year old border collie.  Both she and Eddie needed a playmate who could help shape their play/socialization skills so Gail and I decided to introduce them, starting with a walk through Osborne Bay Park and along the beach.

While they still haven't quite made up their minds about each other, and had a couple of - um - little disagreements, over all it was a very good start.

Gail's Sadie loved the beach, fetching sticks, rolling in the mucky sand, even swimming in the ocean.  Eddie mostly just meandered along - his first time off leash - checking in with me frequently just in case I happened to have any more treats in my pockets. He did go check out the spot where he stole my egg salad sandwich the other week...just in case he had missed a crumb. 

Here's a few of my favourite pics from today:

Throw it, mom, throw it!

Why won't it move?

Off Leash Eddie

Just mucking about

This is fun!

Sadie seeks the Squirrel

A couple of hours later and Eddie was all tired out for the rest of the day.  Sadie, however, went home and was soon ready to play fetch again.

Tune in next Thursday for the further adventures of Eddie and Sadie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Enchanted Forest

It looks like an ordinary trail.....

But it leads to an enchanted forest....

Where silver jewelled lichen drapes the trees,

And mossy limbs point fingers skyward.

Where  young fawn lilies spread
their wings,

And snow nestles gently on the
hearts of swordferns.

Gnarled old trees gaze down on the river,

As steam rises from the canyon below, 
sunlight flirting with chilly waters.

And a simple moss-covered stump...

Is home to a world full of faeries.

(Notes:  Today's Elder College 'Walk in the Woods' was right in the heart of Duncan.  The Cowichan River below the trail is a popular spot, called Paradise Pools, where families  tube and swim in summer.  The start of the trail is off Cliffs Road near the first big bend - take the muddy, broken boardwalk just to the right of the chainlink fence.  Wear good footwear and take a hiking stick for the slippery parts.  Some of the trails are narrow and hug the edge of the cliff; but a few feet away, ones safe enough for leashed canine companions run parallel.  Watch for trilliums, wild ginger, staghorn moss, fawn lilies and other beauties of nature. )

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Portrait of a Carrot Thief

Petey, aka Gutsy Grabber
Weighs less than ten pounds. Has grey curly hair.
Deaf. Blind. Fearless.
Will steal carrots from dogs four times his size.

On Sunday, I was working outside. Eddie was happily munching on a good-sized carrot - over an inch thick and about six inches long. Suddenly I heard Petey's distinctive growl - more like a warble - and looked up just in time to see Petey grab Eddie's carrot from under his nose and take off with it. Eddie looked flabbergasted, but to his credit did not fight with Petey about it - he just ran to me and whined instead.

It took me a few minutes to take off my work gloves and muddy boots in order to run in the house for the camera. By the time I came out, little Petey had that carrot gnawed down to a 2" stub, which he protectively kept a paw on and polished off in less than two minutes.

Eddie got a new carrot - in the safety of the mudroom.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sumbody Save Me!

By Petey

Ah dunno about my foster mama.  First she takes such nice
photos of me to show my transformation

An' then she sticks me in this dorky hat she found
at some thrift store on the mainland.

Do I look happy?

Sumbody adopt me and save me from this humiliation!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Short Post Long Days

I have a backlog of photos to post and things to write about, but the heavy rains and gale-force winds have kept me curled up with some good books (any excuse will do...) between have-to-do chores and outings. With daylight savings time, the longer evenings afford longer evening walks, cutting into both my blogtime and my book time. The last few chapters of "The Help" (great read!) are waiting to be read, so I will just post two of my favourite photos from yesterday.

Yesterday was the first outing of an Elder College "Walk in the Woods" group I signed up for. We did part of the TransCanada Trail in the Duncan area, starting from the Sherman Road entrance:

Traipsing the Trans Canada Trail

And this little junco was hopping about my carport when I arrived home, and then hopped through the gate and along the edge of the house to the fence. At first I thought perhaps he was injured as he didn't attempt to fly away, but apparently he was just trying to stay out of the rain.

Junco in Spring Rain

Back to the book.