Thursday, September 30, 2021

Friday Favourites: September Ends and October Begins


Rainy days are very welcome after an extremely dry summer. I went outside just before dinner to clip some chives for a salad. The beautiful light had me setting down the scissors and going back indoors for my camera. After the rain I wanted to drink the pure air like a clean, fresh tonic. 

The thyme plants have regained their bushiness after flowering and being cut back, and I plan on cutting more to dry before the colder weather comes. How sprightly it looks next to the feverfew flowers. 

Some of my dahlias are just beginning to bloom now. This cafĂ© au lait is so creamy and beautiful that I forgive her for being so slow. There are several more flowers forming, and we usually don't have frost until later in October, so I'm hoping they will have time to open. 

My favourite month, October, arrives tomorrow. So much to look forward to - Thanksgiving (Canada), golden light, cozy rainy evenings, and at the end, my birthday. 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Rainy Sunday at Tod Inlet


In the early darkness, the rain beats a soft steady rhythm that provides the perfect background to a quiet Sunday evening. A candle flickers on the coffee table. I am filled with an enormous sense of contentment.

It's been a weekend of celebration - one birthday party for a friend and another to celebrate our youngest daughter and a son-in-law. A get together with friends for lunch this afternoon.

Feeling the need for fresh air and a little exercise, we pulled on our rain jackets and walked the short trail to Tod Inlet, a favourite haunt in any season. 

Autumn colours are making their debut here, doubly beautiful when reflected in the dark water of the inlet. A few raindrops soon turned into steady rainfall. There were few people here today. The deep silence seeped into our souls, filling us with peace. 

Even the gulls were quiet, floating silently through the greyness to alight on a protruding rock and then stand still as water dripped over and around them. They looked as peaceful and contented as we felt.

We stood on the bank of the inlet, in the rain, and watched leaves fall slowly like pieces of gold into the dark water, each one trembling a little before letting go.

Neither of us was in any hurry to leave, but finally we turned back to the path and hiked through the silent sunless forest back to the car. Once home again, we shed our wet clothes and enjoyed a cup of tea together. 

A few more days of rain are in the forecast, and I am so thankful for a warm dry house. 

Is it rainy or dry in your corner? How was your weekend?

Friday, September 24, 2021

Five on Friday: Early Autumn


This morning I awoke before the alarm clock. Cool air blew gently across my face and I pulled the covers up and snuggled in. Choosing clothes requires thought - long sleeves needed in the morning, but by late afternoon, something cooler appeals. I am glad to slip my feet into cozy fur-lined slippers early on, but go barefoot by noon. 

In the garden, cosmos hid the dahlias, so I ruthlessly cut most of those feathery plants down to their stalks. The dahlias thanked me by producing even more blooms, even though I'm not too fond of orange. 

Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet wrote Ode to Tomatoes, in which he writes, 

"the tomato, 
star of earth, recurrent
and fertile star, displays
its convolutions
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness"

These days, most meals feature the abundant tomato in some shape or form. Cherry tomatoes, simply roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper, then topped with crumbled feta cheese and browned in the oven, finished with a generous sprinkle of fresh, chopped basil, make a wonderful topping for French bread. It disappeared in a hurry!

"The air is crowded with birds,
beautiul, tender, intelligent birds
for whom life is a song."
George Henry Lewes

When I stepped outside this morning to see what I could see in my garden, a most melodious chorus of birdsong greeted me. Wittering and twittering from hedge and eaves, white-crowned sparrows filled the air with cheerful noise. I see them perched by the blackberries in the afternoon.

Our neighbour's thornless blackberries hang over the fence, and since I've cut back the cosmos, I've been picking berries, sweet with summer sun.

Not all is tawny golden. A fresh growth of chives is producing flowers, and marigolds and poppies have seeded themselves in the vegetable garden. I fear those tender little plants will have a rude shock in a month or so. 


"Go out, go out I beg of you
and taste the beauty of the wild.
Behold the miracle of earth
with all the wonder of a child."
Edna Jacques

These mornings tiny beads of dew sparkle on the zinnias. It is so lovely out there and so compelling. The sun urges me to soak in as much warmth as I can in preparation for the grey days to come. 

I've begun the garden clean up - pulling up the squash and green bean vines, weeding, always weeding, and picking tomatoes. This morning laundry and housecleaning will keep me occupied for the morning, but I hope to get out and work in the autumn sunshine this afternoon. 

Happy Weekend, dear readers. I hope you find time to enjoy this beautiful season. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Kicking Horse River, Moraine Lake, Eiffel Lake


I have wanted to try river rafting for a long time, and I finally got onto the river on our recent vacation. Some of Tim's siblings joined us. We rafted on the Kicking Horse River, which feeds into the Columbia. 

There was a lot of orientation before going out, and we put on wetsuits and jackets, along with helmets, wet boots, and life jackets. Our guide was very professional and a lot of fun, giving us tidbits of information when we were in the calmer parts of the river.

The water is low at this time of year, so we dodged a lot of rocks. Into the water went our paddles at our guide's instructions, and then out again as we "held on" to shoot through the rapids. Tim was in front in the raft, and I was several places behind, on the other side. We all got very wet, but it wasn't uncomfortable at all because of the wetsuits. Without them the glacier fed water would be oh, so very cold. It was a LOT of fun and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. 

Moraine Lake is one of the "Jewels of the Rockies." It's near Lake Louise and was been featured on the Canadian $20 bill from 1969 to 1979. It lies at the base of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, so named for the surrounding mountains. 

Because it's so iconic, it's very popular with tourists and hikers alike. When we went to the park office for some trail maps, the agent told us that the parking lot here fills up between 5 and 6 AM. Yikes! There is a shuttle, but because we would be hiking, we wanted to have our vehicle there. So we prepared a packable breakfast of fruit, granola, and yogurt, made some tea, and left our camping trailer around 5:15. Temperatures had fallen to freezing overnight and it was cold and very dark when we arrived at the parking lot at 5:30 - to pull into one of the last half-dozen of 150 parking spots. Lucky us! 

It was a clear night/morning, and the stars over the great peaks filled the sky with light and magic. 

We began our hike just as the mountain peaks were lighted by pale clouds reflecting the rising sun, around 6:35. It was still dark in the forest, but Tim's headlamp lighted the way and as the sun rose, light grew.

The ten peaks around Lake Moraine were named by Samuel E. S. Allen using the indigenous words for numbers one through ten. Most have been renamed. 

Frost on the wild strawberries. Brrr. We were glad we brought wool sweaters and gloves. 

How lovely it was to see the mountain peaks kissed by the sun, and the sharp shadows created by other massive mountains.

Moraine Lake lies at about 6100 feet above sea level. In the first hour on the trail we climbed another 1000 feet, going back and forth across the mountain slope in a series of switchbacks. It was hard work. Once we reached 7100 feet, we climbed another 400 feet over a much more gradual incline. 

Here we are, still smiling!

Our goal was Eiffel Lake, seen above. The trail doesn't lead to the lake itself, but carries on for another 4 kilometres to Sentinel Pass. We turned back not long after this point.

On our way up we saw no one else on this particular trail. Just the two of us in this vast landscape, surrounded on all sides by enormous mountains. In the photo above you can see the glacier, mostly covered with gravel at this time of year, and just above Tim is Wenkchemna Peak, the last of the ten peaks surrounding this valley. 

How small and insignificant we felt. How clear and crisp the air was. Tim is seen above, walking on the scree, and I am the little shadow below, a bit further back. 

The verse, "O Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth" came to mind as we viewed these scenes.

At a trail junction on the way back, we took a little hike towards Larch Valley, where the larch trees are just beginning to turn golden. Another beautiful glacier view. We didn't go more than a couple of kilometres along this trail as we were both getting tired and there was still that steep descent ahead of us. 

Once we returned to the truck, we had a snack (lunch was eaten early on the trail), took off our hiking boots, wiggled our toes in joy, and rested a bit before exploring the area around the lake a bit. 

It was such a great day. Although I'm not fond of early rising, it was such a wonderful sight to see the mountains being revealed as the sun rose. I think I would do it again! 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Snippets from the Mountains


On the first Sunday of September, we locked the door and drove to the ferry, towing our travel trailer behind us. Once across the Strait, we drove to my parents' home in Abbotsford and enjoyed lunch and a short visit with them before driving over the Coastal Mountains, across the Interior plain, and into the Columbia Mountains. 

The town of Revelstoke was a good place to spend two nights. We walked along the river in the evening, admiring the vast Columbia River that begins in BC and loops its way through the mountains before crossing the border into Washington State. A stone arch commemorating workers seemed fitting on Labour Day weekend. Mount Begbie is seen in the distance. 

Once, when I was very young, my parents took my sister and me to The Enchanted Forest. For nostalgia's sake, Tim and I revisited the place on our trip. He had never been there. It's a place full of whimsy and fairy tales. My one distinct memory was of a large egg with a window in it through which one could peer in to see a medieval village. The egg was still there, and it was still enchanting. 
Above is the straw home of the first little pig. The buildings are small scale, child-sized, but I saw a number of adults crouching in to walk through them. It was a fun trip down memory lane.

Not too far across the highway was Three Valley Gap, where an enterprising gentleman who wanted to save the history of the area bought a large piece of property, and over many years he moved historical buildings onto it, creating an old town. Above is St. Stephen's Church, built in 1887 in the town of Donald, moved to the town of Field in 1902, and finally to Three Valley Gap in 1967. 

The buildings, including school houses and a three-story hotel, were dismantled board by board and reconstructed. 

One of the rules for teachers from 1872 that hung in one of the old schoolhouses stated that "Male teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they attend church regularly." Another rule stated "Teachers each day will fill the lamps, trim the wicks, and clean chimneys." 

From Revelstoke we traveled into the Rocky Mountains (there are range after range of mountains, but they are collectively known as the Rockies). The town of Golden was our stopping place for several nights. Here we met up with two of Tim's siblings and their spouses and enjoyed good food and good times around the fire, along with some fun activities. 

Tim and I visited the Golden Skybridge, a new attraction featuring Canada's highest suspension bridge. Two suspension bridges cross a very deep canyon. 

When we lived in the jungle in Ecuador, a suspension bridge over a river connected the hospital where Tim worked with the property where we lived. We all got very used to walking across it, although it took me a little bit of time to do so. Although the Golden Skybridge is much longer and much higher, I felt that I could walk across it without too much difficulty. 

I did have Tim walk in front of me so that I could focus on his back rather than a vast amount of space ahead of me. Looking down didn't bother me, but looking out across the expanse did. 

On the far side of the canyon a wooden beam is suspended for the sole purpose of taking photos. However, the bench is not stable and requires some balancing to actually let go and "touch the sky". 

I thought I could get away with hanging on with one hand and was just about to get down after another tourist took the photo, when someone else said, "she didn't let go!" And here I thought I could get away with cropping the photo to make it look like I had. So, another photo was taken and I let go for a very short second. The bench was very wobbly! 

With Tim's brother and sister we visited Wapta Falls on the Kicking Horse River. The hike was mostly level until the very end. This is the view from the top of the falls, thundering and crashing tons of water. 

We hiked down into the river bed, and could walk out to face the falls as the water level was low. The rocks were such pretty colours and shapes, smoothed by the water. 

The falling water created huge sprays of mist that dampened our hair and clothing. It was exhilarating to stand there and experience the power of the falls up close. We climbed onto the small hill in front of the falls to watch the water tumble down. 

During the spring and early summer the area we walked on is covered by water. These stone structures were built by others who walked here, and some winter/spring, they will be washed into the river. 

I hope you've enjoyed this little taste of the mountains of British Columbia. There are more experiences to share. I am always amazed at the beauty and magnificence of our province. I was surprised at how many tourists were in the area - from Europe and the UK, and Asia. Our air border opened to vaccinated visitors on September 7, and the visitors we spoke with said that they flew as soon as they could. 

I'm not quite ready to travel internationally yet, and was very glad to spend our vacation exploring closer to home. 

Have a wonderful new week, dear readers. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Popping in to say Hello


Hello there! 
It's been a drippy, grey morning here at home. We arrived last evening around 5:30 and I immediately went out into the garden to collect produce before the expected rain during the night. I gathered 13 pounds of tomatoes and many of them are now roasting in the oven, destined for the freezer. The kitchen is filled with warm fragrance. 

We had a most wonderful vacation in the Canadian Rockies. What a stunning world we live in - so much beauty at every turn. I'll share a few special sights in the coming days.

view from hike to Larch Valley

For today, the washer and drier are whirling, and as soon as the tomatoes are roasted I'll be heading to purchase some groceries. 
While we were away autumn arrived with much cooler temperatures and much needed rain. 
I'll be slowly visiting your blogs and catching up over the next few days. 
Have a good weekend!

Friday, September 03, 2021

September Begins


Choosing a favourite season is a toss-up between summer and autumn. As August ends and September begins, my thoughts drift towards cozy evenings spent reading or stitching in a pool of lamplight, pulling up the covers during the night, crisp mornings and warm afternoons, apples and pears, and heartier meals. 

This past week I've thought about my fellow teachers preparing for the new school year. It was always fun to return to the school and find out what everyone did during the summer, to admire new haircuts and hear vacation stories and garden anecdotes. I miss that this year.

Instead I've been spending time with grandchildren, getting ready for a little vacation, and filling shelves with canning and the freezer with produce. I'm going to have to stop as the freezer is jammed full. 

Today I took two grands - a 9-year-old and a 2-year-old - to Fort Rodd Hill, a National Historic Site. The 9 was full of energy and bounced along the path, eager to get to the lighthouse. The 2 was also full of energy but stopped frequently to observe the world around her. She made 9 and I laugh a lot. 

Golden grasses against blue sky and sea make for beauty that seeps deep into the soul. This photo, and the heron below, are from last week's outing to Sidney Spit.

I find herons elegant and interesting. This one was out strolling the beach, carefully lifting one leg after another in search of something to eat.

Here she is going the other direction and trying to hide in the grasses. She crouched lower and lower, retracting that long neck while lifting those long legs. Sort of like walking while doing squats. That would be hard work for me. 

There's been some cookie baking - I posted the recipe on my recipe blog here. These are chock full of all kinds of good things - cranberries, nuts, chocolate. Yum. 

And so begins this beautiful month. There's a slew of family birthdays, and one anniversary to celebrate, beginning with our son's birthday. We're getting together tomorrow night for a little party. Then we're heading towards the Rockies for a couple of weeks in our camping trailer. There will be hikes, visits with family, perhaps a soak in the hot springs, and lots of beautiful views. I've packed clothes for all seasons as the nights are cool and we could even have frost in the mountains. 

I'm taking my camera and I'm hoping for some good sights in our beautiful National Parks of Canada. 

Days at Home

  Last night after dinner the sunshine illuminating the bouquet of peonies prompted me to grab my camera. I love the frilly elegance of the ...