Sunday, March 15, 2015

Springtime at Swallowfield

Spring is in full bloom here on the island, and nowhere is it more noticeable than one of my favourite stomping hiking grounds.  Swallowfield estuary is located midway between Crofton and Chemainus, and the area was once a homestead with orchards, grapevines, and domestic flowers, the remains of which still survive today.

The property was next owned by the mill, and then sold a few years ago to Ducks Unlimited, who kindly permit others to enjoy the land when gundog training and trials are not taking place.  (Editorial comment: It always perplexes me that an organization with the name "Ducks Unlimited" - committed to the preservation of waterfowl habitats - is preserving the habitat precisely so hunters can kill waterfowl for sport.)

My friend Pat and I took the dogs out there this week.

The fruit trees provided a canopy of white, blossoms which will later become plums and apples and pears.

On the moss-covered boulders and rocky outcrops around the old homestead (where grapes will later flourish), bright blue flowers covered the ground.  I think they may be young camus lilies, but I'm not sure as the camus is typically much taller.  These were more of a ground cover like periwinkle, but with six petals rather than five, and with a different leaf.

And along the path at the foot of the boulders were daffodils in full bloom, daffodils with deeply complex heads unlike the simpler version available in most grocery stores right now.

The last of the crocuses were still around, in many colours from white to deep purple to stripes.

When we reached the river, we saw another sign of spring - an otter busily checking out the bank, perhaps looking to prepare or repair a home for new kits.  He (or she) took off as we drew near,  swimming along the muddy bank to a more secluded spot.

Pat's two young poms, Lexi and Cosmo, also had spring fever - playing "catch me if you can" over a piece of wood that Cosmo thought might make a tasty snack, wrapping themselves in long strips of bark peeling off the arbutus trees, and wrapping their leashes around Pat's legs.

C'mon, brother, give ME the stick!

Hmmmm.... this looks interesting.
Soft tree stuff to play with!

And THAT's how it's done!

WHOA!  Those pups make my head spin!

On the estuary, the pups immediately plunged into the water for a swim in the safe little sandy and gravel-bottomed pools that provided enough depth for some dogpaddle practice but not enough current to be of danger. Eddie was not impressed with swimming practice.

I can swim! I can swim!

They go in the water VOLUNTARILY???

Aw c'mon Mr. Eddie!
It's fun!
What do they see in it?
Nyah.  Not my thing.

And by the way, pup, did you know yer butt
looks like an ostrich when it's wet?
I always take tons of  photos of the dogs, though I really miss my better, but broken, camera.  Still, some of the poses were fun to shoot:

Cosmo, you look like a
country bumpkin
with that straw in your mouth!

You're funny, Auntie Jean!

Is there a treat in this for me, Auntie Pat?

Lexi:  I am the BEST poser!

Mom, Cosmo is buggin' me!

Was not.

Was too!

There's (at least) one in every crowd. 

We were all pretty tired by the time we got back to the cars two hours later, but a good sleep and some nourishment, and we'll be ready to hike again. We live in such a beautiful place.


Carol Beckwall said...

Awesome pictures Jean! And love the captions!!

Chris Fransen said...

I think the blue flowers are called Glory of the Snow - we saw a graveyard filled with them in Saanich. Love your pics of Swallowfield - we were going to walk there a while ago but the blackberries had been cut back and there were thorns all over the road.

Jean said...

Thanks Chris! The blackberry brush is nearly all off the path now - just a bit near the beginning of the walk. We skipped Swallowfield for a couple of weeks when it was really bad.

Caroline said...

Blue flowers are Squill aka Siberian Squill, tough little bulb

Jean said...

So....I looked up both Glory of the Snow and Squill (sometimes known as Scilla, though others maintain this is a different plant), and discovered we have hit one of the great controversies of the gardening community. From Wikipedia comes this succinct summary: "Chionodoxa, known as glory-of-the-snow, is a small genus of bulbous perennial flowering plants in the familyAsparagaceae, subfamily Scilloideae, often included in Scilla…..Chionodoxa is distinguished from the closely related genus Scilla by two features: the tepals are joined at their bases to form a tube rather than being free; and the stamens have flattened stalks (filaments), which look almost like a cup in the centre of the flower."
Several other sites tell of recent reclassifications, of scilla and squill being the same or different, of both being lilies or get the picture. I shall have to go back to look at the tepals (petals and sepals) and stamens more closely.