Monday, October 31, 2022

October Daily 31:


The last day of October. We went from hot summer to chilly autumn weather, from drought to several days of steady rain. A lot happens in one month. On this rain-washed morning everything looked clean and fresh for several hours after the dripping stopped. How glorious the colour on the maple trees. 

I spent a good part of the day indoors, having tea with my youngest daughter and Cora. Ashley left and Cora and I played together, ate lunch, and then she went down for her nap. It was a good day for making date loaves, one for the freezer and one to eat now. I've grown to love dates more than I used to as a young woman. 

Halloween tonight. It's not a favourite day of mine. I find a lot of the decor tacky and don't enjoy the focus on death. Rather, I enjoy seeing the little ones dressed in their costumes and have fun with them when they knock on the door and holler "trick or treat". We had thirty-three this evening. Now, I hear lots of firecrackers going off. 

Tomorrow begins another month. And it's my daughter Cristal's birthday. She was born in a small mission hospital on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. (All three of our children were born there.) She is coming for a walk and tea in the morning, and I'm looking forward to a good chat. 

Thank you for coming along with me on this month of daily blogging. I so much appreciate your comments, and have hopefully visited your blogs in return. Happy November days ahead!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

October Daily 30:


View from the restaurant, overlooking Saanich Inlet on a misty wet day.

Rain began in the night and fell steadily most of the day. No one is complaining for we can almost hear the trees sigh in relief and the earth slurp up the moisture. Tim and I enjoyed lunch overlooking Saanich Inlet - he had pizza and I had a burger and fries, a rare treat. 

We brought along our raincoats and waterproof shoes to hike around Goldstream Park on the way home. Above is a view of the end of Saanich Inlet, where Goldstream River joins the sea. 

Mallard ducks and Canada Geese paddled slowly in the rain, and gulls lined up along the shore in strict formation. 

Goldstream River provides spawning grounds for salmon. This year, because of the prolonged drought, the rivers are too low for the salmon to enter. The salmon are resting in the inlet, waiting for enough water to swim upstream, lay their eggs, and die. We did see a few salmon that made it, and there are hopes that with all the rain the streams will benefit, and the salmon will be able to complete their life cycle and lay eggs for the future. 

A short walk through a dripping forest of huge cedar and maple trees to this waterfall, also suffering from the lack of rain. 

Golden maple leaves fell slowly, one by one, and now so many of them carpet the paths and forest floor. Freshly fallen leaves look so bright and golden before fading to brown. 

Some leaves floated down the river, twisting this way and that before succumbing to the weight of the water and rain to sink. 

Goldstream River is in a narrow valley hemmed in by mountains and covered with trees that keep it shaded year round. 

As we were getting ready to leave, a Blue Heron flew above the river, banking and tilting his wings above the water. He landed in a little backwater, quite well hidden from the trail. I followed its progress in the air and was very happy to discover its hiding place. 

We came home, changed into dry clothing and spent the rest of the day indoors. 

It was a lovely day, made even more special by being my birthday. I spoke with all my children and my parents, and we will have a family party next weekend when three of us, my eldest daughter, my daughter-in-law, and I will be the ones feted. 

Saturday, October 29, 2022

October Daily 29:


A quiet day at home punctuated by an afternoon walk in the neighbourhood. Many people were out enjoying the mild, cloudy weather. Young parents pushing babies in strollers, several groups of children playing basketball, one older man striding along with the help of walking poles, and a number of dog walkers. 

The trees look sparser every day with the carpet of leaves underneath becoming thicker. Gingko biloba leaves have such a delicate fan shape, and I stopped to admire the colour gradation. 

I saw this recipe for Parsnip-Apple Soup on Jan's blog, and while at the market I picked up a few parsnips. The apples came from one of our trees and I added a couple of carrots to the soup, which is why it has more colour. It's a delicious and warming soup for autumn. I omitted the milk and added a few tablespoons of cream, and I served it with a rosemary ricotta pesto. There is enough left for at least one more meal, and it's a recipe I'll be keeping in mind for the future, as well. 

Earlier I planted garlic, just a few cloves, in the garden. I was talking with my neighbour over the fence and he planted a few potatoes that had grown eyes. He said he did this last autumn, too, and they grew slowly over the winter and then more in the spring. I had a couple of potatoes in the same state, so planted them as well. An interesting experiment if nothing else. 

This evening I finished another Martin Walker mystery and will be taking a break from that author for awhile. I haven't decided on my next book. 

Another atmospheric river is set to arrive overnight, bringing lots of rain and mild temperatures to the island, so we have our raincoats and umbrellas ready. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

October Daily 28:


Yukon River seen from the Dome above Dawson City - photo taken at 9:30 pm on August 3

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun
by the men who moil for gold;
the Arctic trails have their secret tales
that would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee."

So begins Robert Service's famous poem set in the Yukon about a poor southern fellow who traveled north in search of gold, died, and was happily cremated because he was finally warm. 

Robert Service was a banker, born in England, who traveled to Canada and worked in Victoria, BC, where a local restaurant "The Bard and Banker" operates in the former bank building where he worked. He was transferred to Whitehorse, Yukon and worked there for a number of years, and wrote verse on the side. Sam McGee was a real person, but not from Tennessee, nor was he cremated on the shores of Lake Lebarge. McGee's original cabin stands on the grounds of a museum in Whitehorse. Robert Service heard his name one day and asked if he could use it in a verse he wanted to write. Service pieced together snippets of conversation he'd overheard, added poetic license and a local setting, and so created the ballad of Sam McGee.

After some time in Whitehorse, Robert Service moved to Dawson City, the center of the Klondike Gold Rush, and worked in the bank there. It is said that so much gold passed through this building that when it was renovated gold dust was collected from beneath the floor boards. 

Robert Service wrote a number of poems, or verse, as he called his writings about Yukon life and became known as the "Bard of the Yukon". He sent a collection of his poems back to England for self-publishing, but they became so popular and sold so well that he quit working in the bank and dedicated his days to writing.

He rented this small two-room cabin on Eighth Street in Dawson City and wrote, tacking large sheets of newsprint to the walls on which to lay out his verse. The cabin is now maintained by Parks Canada. 

Robert Service left the Yukon and moved to France where he married and continued to write. He served in the first World War as an ambulance driver and medic, having not been accepted as a soldier because of "varicose veins" at age 40. 

St. Paul's Anglican Church was well-established by the time Robert Service lived in Dawson City. It, and other buildings of the Klondike Gold Rush, have been restored to give visitors a glimpse into life as it once was.

Have you read or heard The Cremation of Sam McGee? 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

October Daily 27:


Together with two friends I took a small ferry across the Saanich Inlet this morning. Patches of blue alternated with clouds and rain showers. 

Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church stands overlooking the inlet. Built in the mid-1800s, services continue each Sunday, and the cemetery serves several local communities. 

We enjoyed lunch out at a local winery, visited a kitchen store with beautiful dishes and linens, popped into a local plant nursery, and finally headed back to the ferry mid-afternoon. Off and on rain most of the day resulted in beautiful rainbows seen several times as we drove along the shore and further inland.  

Another stop was at a bakery where I purchased hearty sourdough twisted cheese breadsticks to accompany the pumpkin soup I'd pulled from the freezer for supper. Actually, I didn't purchase them because when we walked into the store, the owner informed us that the power had gone out due to the wind, and they could accept only cash. I had none, so my friend bought the bread for me (and more for herself).  

Another cozy evening at home listening to the steady rain falling outside in the dark. How thankful I am for a warm, dry home. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

October Daily 26:


Hawthorne berries are a bright spot in the landscape. I just learned that they are edible, but I've never tried them, have you? 

Little Cora spent the day with me today, and we enjoyed a walk around a duck pond, picked a few very late blackberries, and played in the playground. Her turquoise boots have sparkles and light up when she stomps, so she enjoys wearing them very much. 

I stitched up some felt play food for the girls - donuts and strawberries. They were fun to make. 

The blooms in the garden are becoming scarcer, but I found enough to fill a small vase. Allium heads were falling over, so I cut a couple of them, too. 

More rain is headed our way in the next few days. Atmospheric rivers the weather people say, but not as severe as last year's. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

October Daily 25:


Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves.
Humbert Wolfe

A day of intermittent gentle rain. A day for stitching and reading and soup simmering on the stove. Most of my day was quiet, although I filled in one block of teaching Humanities 8. Lovely, polite students who thanked me as they left the room. 

The quote above, by Humbert Wolfe, is one of my two favourite October references. The other is L. M. Montgomery's "I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." Wolfe's lines are from Autumn Resignation, a longer poem that I have not been able to locate. I like to find the context of things, don't you? 

With the onset of proper October weather, and the knowledge that two months from today is Christmas, I've been planning some projects. Pajamas for the younger set, now a tradition. The other day our eldest granddaughter put on her flannel nightgown from last Christmas and said, "Pretty soon it will be Nana nighty time again." So I'd better get cracking on those. 

Tonight, though, it's a cozy evening by the fire. How I love these October eves. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

October Daily 24:


As I approached this Golden Maple tree today, the wind suddenly lifted the carpet of leaves from beneath the tree in a great gust that brought them all rushing and tumbling straight towards me in an autumn greeting. "Hello, hello," they said, "we're so glad to see you." 

I'll leave you with more photos from my walk, and words from others today. 

Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.
J. R. R. Tolkien

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It's a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it's time to reflect on what' come before.
Mitchell Burgess

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
John Muir

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful,
for beauty is God's handwriting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, October 23, 2022

October Daily 23:


I pulled the curtains back this morning to see frost on the roofs all around. The frost didn't touch the garden, but I was glad I had clipped dahlias and zinnias a couple of days ago. It won't be long before more frost appears.

This afternoon I brought all of the green tomatoes into the house and placed them on newspaper to hopefully ripen. Many will, some won't. I'll likely make some fried green tomatoes with a few of them. What do you make with green tomatoes? 

As a child, I loved riding my bicycle. Still do, although I don't do it often. That exhilaration of speeding along, wind in my face, spelled freedom. My sister and our friends rode our bicycles all over our part of town, and we were often away for hours at a time, stopping here and there to talk or look at something interesting before jumping on our bikes once more.

Our son loves riding, too, but he does it at a much higher level than I ever did. Early this afternoon we went to the bike track to watch him. He practices Cyclo-cross, where contestants ride a number of laps on a fairly short, but challenging course. I'd never seen a course before, and oh, my goodness, the dips and hairpin corners, steep climbs, and rugged terrain opened my eyes. 

Last weekend, Travis fell during a race and was quite bruised in spots, with severe road rash in other spots. He didn't know if he would compete today, but decided to give it a try. My mother's heart thought he should sit it out. I was rather glad that he couldn't complete the race due to a flat tire. 

I think I'll stick to sedate riding on a roadside or trail. 

Over the weekend it has begun to feel like autumn. The air is crisp and fresh, and the temperatures have dropped in harmony with the leaves fluttering from the trees. More welcome rain is forecast for this coming week, and cozy indoor pursuits will become the norm. 

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

October Daily 22: Puttering


It was a puttery sort of day here. Much cooler, with a damp freshness from the little bit of lovely rain we had. More of that to come next week. 
It was the kind of day when there are little things that could be done, but nothing is very urgent. We spent some time in the garden arranging things so that we can transplant a couple of blueberry bushes once the soil is damp. 

I was inspired by Monique (La Table de Nana) to create several bouquets garni for the soups and stews that will simmer this winter. Some bouquets contain the classic French combination of parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf. Others have rosemary, sage, and thyme. I set them on a platter to dry and will pop them into glass jars for storage. 

Gingersnaps are an autumn cookie, and I baked a batch of those this afternoon. It's a recipe that I've made for 40 years or more. The cookbook page is stained with molasses and spices, clearly marking it a favourite.

Time for some reading - another Martin Walker mystery featuring Bruno, and some sewing completed the day. I feel utterly relaxed. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

October Daily 21: Feels like Autumn!


This afternoon I wore a sweater, wool socks, and slippers and was still chilly. So we lit the first fire (gas) of the season. How lovely to see that welcome flicker and feel the warmth. Yes, our autumn has truly begun, with a fine mist in the morning and a soft gentle rain late afternoon. The parched garden sighed in relief. 

I picked the last of the basil before the rain began and made four little jars for the freezer. I use almonds in place of pine nuts. Opening a jar of pesto in the cold dark of winter brings the scent and taste of summer right back. I also picked tomatoes that will ripen in the house. 

And I clipped the rose blooms - there are still a few buds on the plants that I'll leave for there may be sunny days yet. The dark red rose is Falstaff, and the pink is Boscobel, both from David Austin. They are lovely and fragrant, and some people have mistaken the cut blooms for peonies because of their layered petals. 

Our friends just left after a convivial evening of conversation, laughter, and good food. I made a chicken pot pie, but used phyllo pastry for the crust. So easy, and I think I'll be doing that again. Tim and I cleaned up the kitchen and soon we're off to bed. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

October Daily 20:


One last semi-bright day. A fine rain fell for a few moments this morning, and we're hoping for much more over the next week or so. Lilac bushes are not particularly striking other than when the lilacs bloom, but I do admire their autumn colours from my kitchen window. 

Today at school we had an earthquake drill. Duck, cover, and count before evacuating. There are also fire drills. In Ecuador, we had earthquake, fire, and volcano drills. Procedures were a bit different for each one. 

Tomorrow morning I plan to cut bouquets of roses and dahlias and zinnias. Our temperatures are not expected to freeze just now, but rain can damage blossoms, and I'd just as soon enjoy them indoors. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

October Daily 19:


A busy day. I was called in to teach three Home Ec classes today and tomorrow. I've stayed on the Teacher on Call list, but am being very selective about when I teach. After arriving home, I made a cup of tea and put my feet up for a few minutes, then headed out to the garden as the sun slipped lower and lower in the sky. Such beautiful golden light. Birds alighted in various bushes - Sparrows and...

House Finches, as well as Dark-eyed Juncos. A Northern Flicker zipped across the garden into a pine tree where I couldn't see him. 

I admired the way this clematis flower transforms into a soft and fluffy tangled nest. Looks like someone had a very bad hair day. 

Two classes prepared a Thai Red Curry Coconut Soup and I was inspired to have the very same thing for our dinner. It's easy to put together, and very flexible with the ingredients. Clicking the link will take you to the recipe on my other blog. 

Our golden October days may be ending this weekend as much-needed rain is in the forecast. How much we actually receive is the big question on everyone's mind. 

Thank you for all the lovely comments on the bear videos in my previous post. It truly was an unforgettable experience to witness this in real life. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

October Daily 18: There Be Bears!


On our trip to the Arctic over the summer, we did not go to the American state of Alaska, other than for one 10-kilometre stretch of the Alaska Panhandle. We stayed in the small town of Stewart, BC, and crossed the USA/Canada border there. Hyder, Alaska bills itself as the "friendliest little ghost town", and a ghost town it is. There is one bar, one gift store, and a fish and chip restaurant, plus a very few families and old-timers. Hyder's electricity and phone services are supplied by BC.

The only road to access several gold and copper mines in BC, Canada, runs through Hyder. During the pandemic, when the border was closed, life was made doubly difficult for these few Americans who lived in Hyder. The only way out was via seaplane or boat. The few children in town attended a Canadian school in Stewart, but that ended abruptly. Residents would phone their grocery orders into the Canadian grocers, who packaged everything into boxes and left them at the border crossing for pickup. 

This is a remote area of BC and Alaska, with tall, steep, densely forested mountains lining narrow valleys where water rushes down, down, down to the sea. The main attraction of Hyder is just a few miles beyond the town at the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site. 

In the most beautiful, lush, green temperate rainforest, pools of water are home to many kinds of waterfowl, including the Common Mergansers seen above. 

In mid-August, summer is already drawing to a close, and salmon begin their long trek upstream to spawn in the many rivers and streams. The USA Fish and Wildlife Department constructed an observation deck alongside the stream. Here we watched salmon lay their eggs and die, bodies decaying into the water and soil. 

Exciting as the salmon run is, it's no match for another event that takes place at the same time - grizzly bears fattening up for winter. From the safety of the observation deck, on two separate days we watched grizzlies fishing for salmon. 

The first bear we saw was in the evening and we waited about an hour before he showed up. We were driving to the observation site when we saw the second grizzly cross the road in front of us and head down into the bushes by the river. We parked and raced in so as not to miss anything. 

The people who stood along the observation deck were mostly quiet as we waited for bears to appear. Once they did appear, everyone was silent, watching the amazing spectacle before us. It was like being part of a nature documentary, with the bear running back and forth in the water after the salmon. 

I was utterly amazed at how close we were to these bears, and they seemed unaware of us. Notorious for their poor eyesight, they couldn't see us above the wooden barrier, but surely they could smell us. Regardless, they paid us no attention at all. In the above photo, the bear was directly below me in the stream. 

I've uploaded to Youtube two videos of bears running in the water and splashing as they catch salmon. 

Grizzly Bear in the Morning 

Grizzly Bear in the Evening 

This is my private channel, but the videos should be visible with the link. Searching for them on Youtube won't work. This is new technology for me, so I hope it works! Tim took the videos while I took stills. 

Our entire trip was filled with fun, but this experience was definitely one of the highlights. 

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