Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Butterflies on my Butterfly Bush

I love when a plant does what the plant books promise!  Last year my friend Else gave me a little cutting from her butterfly bush - this year it is about ten feet tall and five feet wide - and attracting butterflies just as the plant books say!  I am thrilled as I usually see very few butterflies in my garden.  Yesterday there were five of these beautiful Swallowtails on the bush at the same time.

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

(c) Jean Ballard 2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Scenes from the Salish Sea

I am a land-based person.  As much as I love the ocean and its beaches, enjoy fishing in small picturesque lakes, like flying in small planes,  have tried para sailing, and even flown on a trapeze 30 feet above the ground (the things you learn about me on the blog, eh?), I am most at home on the land - hiking a mountain path, wandering along a rocky shore, strolling through a park, exploring roads less traveled.

I haven't always had my feet solidly on the ground!

Even though I have lived by the ocean these past five years, I have never seen the Cowichan area from a boat, with the exception of the occasional ferry ride to Salt Spring Island. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy being on the water - but the closest I've ever been to owning a boat was an 8' folding fiberglass boat with a small electric motor I used for fishing in small interior lakes and the occasional fun-filled photoshoot while camping with my sister and my friends.

O'Bear, Robear, Muffin and Teddy
do a little fishing from my boat.

So when my nephew (my late sister's eldest son) offered to take me out in his boat while on a visit to this area with his wife and daughter, I jumped at the opportunity.  This was no 8' Portabote with hard wooden seats and a tippy demeanor, this was a 47' Bayliner with multiple viewing points and all the comforts of home.

I wonder how many teddy bears
my sister and I could have piled
in a boat this size!

The trip wasn't completely without risk - my nephew had been having problems with the port engine and at one point had also lost the steering.  Repairs had been completed on nearby Salt Spring and then again at Genoa Bay, and this was to be a trial run before the family continued on their journey.   It was the perfect day for testing it out - clear and sunny, smooth seas, great company.  I grabbed my lifejacket and we were off.

My first photo of the trip was some bright yellow flowers growing high atop a piling at the wharf - ten or more feet above my head:

Flowers atop a post

We set sail from Genoa Bay in the early afternoon.  We emerged from the protection of the bay and headed north through the Sansum Narrows, past Stoneyhill and the marine-accessible Sansum Point Park with its signature Garry oak and arbutus trees, past Maple Bay, and into Stuart Channel heading towards Crofton.

The Captain

Gotta have a flag!

Heading out

A lone tree stands out on
the top of a very high, round hill.

The scenery was beautiful -  tree-covered hills, ocean washed cliffs, small cottages and large homes that seemed accessible only by boat or whose roadways must have been well hidden, twisting, and treacherous.

Where's my winning lottery ticket?
I want to live there!

There were huge homes that looked more like institutions or business centres and other properties that appeared to be private resorts though I couldn't think of any in that area:

Not my style of architecture
but I bet the view is gorgeous!

Private resort?  

Solar powered beacons warned boaters of rocky points, and hidden beaches and bays drew all types of sea crafts to the area.

I love the tiny hidden beaches.
I just may have to take up kayaking!

A boat slips into a very small cove

Love the Canadian chair
someone has placed here!


And small motor boats....

Motorized sailboats

And boats in full sail....

Boats towing dinghies, 

And boat scenes that
remind one of a painting.

A seiner provided a picturesque reminder of those who earn their living fishing these waterway and provide us with the amazing fresh, wild salmon and halibut for which the west coast is famous.  In this case, the crew appeared to be inspecting or fixing the nets and the mechanism with which they haul in the fish.

I was hoping we might make it as far as the Shoal Islands where the sea lions live, the ones I hear barking on my early morning walks on the sea walk.  But just as we drew within sight of Crofton, the instruments for the starboard engine - not the one that had just been repaired - started to indicate a problem and we knew it was time to head back.  I was able to get this shot of the mill - it looks so much bigger than it does from land!

We headed back to Genoa Bay, and arrived back in time for my nephew to have the starboard engine looked at in preparation for their departure next morning.  The afternoon sun was just beginning to cast its glow on the boathouses.

And while the boat was being secured to the dock, a seal popped up to entertain me:

I took a few more family photos, gave thanks and hugs all round, wished them well on their journey, and headed for my car.  The tide had come in now, and the top of the piling whose flowers had been so far above my head when we left, was now at eye level, affording me one more shot, one of my favourites of the day:

Flowers atop a pole
(c) Jean Ballard, 2014

An amazing day, a wonderful opportunity to make memories with a part of the family I see all too seldom, and a host of images to enjoy during cold or lonely winter months. I feel very blessed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Reflections at a marina

My favourite shot from today - taken from the patio of the Genoa Bay Cafe at the Genoa Bay marina, where I was enjoying dinner with my nephew, his wife, and their daughter:

Reflections at a Marina
(c) Jean Ballard 2014

That's all folks. More another day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

My Country, My Home, My Canada

On Canada's 147th birthday, I once again celebrate our beautiful nation through some of my favourite images from the past twelve months.   Copyright to all photos is held by the author of this blog; do not copy images without permission.   Sharing the link via facebook or other social media is permitted.

My Country, My Home, My Canada
(c) Jean Ballard, 2014.

There are few places on earth that can match Canada's rich and diverse mix of people and places, of climates and landscapes, of flora and fauna.  And though this is not my 'native' land - for, like many Canadians, I am an immigrant - Canada is certainly my home.  This is where I belong. And this is my tribute to my beloved country on this its 147th birthday.   

My country, my home, my Canada, glorious and free - 

Though you are sometimes referred to as "The Frozen North", we Canadians know the beauty of all your seasons, 

from spring flowers in February 

And the honeysuckle that creeps along the fence in March

The plethora of birds and blooms  in summer

And the early morning mists of fall.

We've seen the reflections of your sun on an ice-covered roof 

And felt the bite of your breath on a cold winter's day.

My country, my home, my Canada, 

We've watched your oceans when the fog rolls in

And gazed at your mountain tops that reach to the sky.

We've taken in the beauty of your lakes and streams

And felt awe within your forests. 

My country, my home, my Canada, 

We know your inhabitants, the people and critters, sentient beings all.  We are a diverse lot, we Canadians, and we share our talents in diverse ways

From the artists

to the farmers

and the fishers and the hunters.

They are all part of my country, my home, my Canada.

With friends and families and community members

as we look to the future,

And reflect on our past

May we aim to be strong when resources are scarce,

To protect our environment,

To nurture that which nurtures us,

To reduce, reuse, recycle where we can,

For Canada is our future, our home, for generations to come. 

The young 

and the old

Life of all kinds, 

 No matter our endeavors, 

or energies or abilities, 

Life is to be enjoyed, 

My country, my home, my Canada, 

here we can sing our own songs, 

And chase our own dreams,

And be proud of our achievements,

And if we sometimes fall on our face

or hide  in the shadows,

Or see destruction where others see progress

And if sometimes our world feels upside down

And we think the grass is greener on the other side

We'll s
hake ourselves off

Stand tall,

And our world will soon right itself.

If we stick together 

And share with others

Heading in the same direction, 

Sharing the path,

despite our differences

And if some lead that others may follow, 

And grab the brass ring (or even an old wooden stick)

And even if the way is sometimes obscured, 

Together we can reach magical places

Because this is Canada, our country, our home. 

From sunrise to sunset, from ocean to ocean to ocean.

We are Canadians
And you, Canada, are our beloved home.

Happy Canada Day.