Monday, April 24, 2023

A Quick Post on a Glorious Morning


After several weeks of chilly, wet weather, a new system will bring warmth and sunshine to our island. This morning, after a wonderful sleep, I awoke to streaky blue skies. Filled with energy I went out for a short walk before breakfast. Beautiful blooms everywhere - prunus trees, daffodils, a few early tulips, and rhododendrons. They filled my soul to overflowing. 

In the woods fawn lilies line the paths, shy faces looking downwards, resembling earthly stars seen from above. 

Last autumn I planted starters of purple sprouting broccoli. Yesterday I picked some. How sweet and tender it is. I also gathered aromatic mint and slender green onions. What joy to harvest in April!

My dad is 89 years young today. He had dinner at my sister's place yesterday and she took this photo. I think he looks great, especially in that blue shirt that matches his eyes. I'm so thankful for my father (and mother), and call them frequently. 

Enjoy this day, whatever the weather where you are. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Friday Favourites: Exploring nearby


Bright young green willow tree leaves glow in the sunlight at Beacon Hill Park in downtown Victoria. This week has been a mixed bag of all sorts of weather - cold to the bones rain, piercing wind, and a bit of blue sky and sunshine to remind us that yes, it really is April.

In late January or February Great Blue Herons arrive in the park to build their messy twig nests, lay eggs, and raise their young. They stay until August and then disperse into smaller groups along the coastline. 

In 2004 over 90 heron nests were established in the Beacon Hill Colony. Marauding bald eagles decimated the population in 2007 and the herons abandoned the rookery, not returning until three years later. Slowly, the amount of nests grows once again. 

A sign by the rookery says, "Shhh - herons are nesting". Most of the trees surrounding a lake in the park have herons perching on tall gangly legs, surveying the scene of visitors from near and far observing the spectacle. All at once a great number of herons effortlessly lift off, long legs dangling, to soar with slowly flapping wings round and round. I saw at least 20 of them in the air at once. 

Peacocks live in the park and are easy to spot when their raucous cries pierce the air. This bird looked very regal perched in the tree, long colourful tail feathers trailing down.

My young companion ran around the flower beds, following the paths and grassy edges. 

We made another stop downtown, at the Teacup Tree. I learned of this tree from another Canadian blogger from across the country, Margie of Tea in the Valley The teacups are hung in an ornamental plum tree in honour of the homeowner's mother, a dedicated teacher and tea-drinker. 

Little Cora spotted this "teacuppot" as she called it, and wanted to touch it, so I lifted her up. A pretty collection of teacups hang from many branches. As well, tiny fairy gardens huddle under the shrubs along the sidewalk, and Cora was thrilled to look at them. 

What a pleasant outing we had. One doesn't have to go far from home to discover interesting things. 

I am happy to report that the cabinet installation is complete. Measurements for the countertops were taken today and it will be another month before they are ready. Patience is definitely needed when renovating. This weekend I hope to move everything back into the kitchen, although I won't have much of a work area or running water. Little by little!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend whether at home or away. 

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Friday Favourites: Of Books and Flowers


Outside my window this afternoon all sorts of things are happening. The apple tree is getting ready to burst into blooms. Clematis armandii, seen above, couldn't wait, and a few pink buds have opened to the sun. The camellia bush, planted a year or two ago, is covered with pink flowers. Daffodils, pansies, bellis daisies, and a few tulips bloom in profusion along my walking route. And the ornamental cherry trees - pink clouds everywhere!

My current reading selection is eclectic, ranging from gardens to food and from Paris to England. Seasons at Highclere is a book to dip in and out of and I'll be sorry to return it to the library. 
Hidden Gardens of Paris is much the same - it's fun to look at the map, find a garden, and read about it. The book reminds me of finding the Anne Frank Garden in the Marais District in Paris a few years ago, and of a delicious lunch of falafel in a nearby restaurant. 
I've just begun What She Ate, an exploration of the kitchen lore and food preferences of six of women including Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the poet, Eleanor Roosevelt, and surprisingly, Eva Braun, Hitler's mistress. I'm looking forward to finding out more about these women.
And then the Miss Marple Stories. These stories are written by current mystery writers with Miss Marple as her usual perceptive self. I've enjoyed the ones I've read so far, although I sometimes think, "Agatha Christie wouldn't have said it quite like that." 

Easter dinner was not at our place this year. My kitchen is a hollow, empty room where I manage to scrounge together enough to feed the two of us. Instead, we all met at Ashley and Owen's place on a rainy Sunday afternoon and enjoyed a delicious meal, a slightly wet egg hunt, and a wonderful time. Young Iris helped decorate the tables with cheerful bowls of floating dandelions. Both Iris and Cora were thrilled to be seated at the children's table in an adjoining room this year. They do love their older cousins, who love them and take good care of them in return. 

Weekend plans are loose - gardening, perhaps, or maybe a little outing. The new cabinets will be installed next week and until they are done Tim is not quite so busy. Wishing you all a weekend filled with satisfying things. 

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Of April Things that Gladden the Heart


Spring is a wonderful and capricious season; blowing hot one day and cold the next. There's been both during this first week of April. All day today the wind tossed tree branches to and fro, and pink and white prunus blossoms fly through the air. Now in the evening we sit in warmth and pools of light and listen to the gusts outside.

American Robins are everywhere. I see them on lawns, poking their sharp beaks into the soil to bring up juicy worms. They perch on tree branches in the garden and in the woods. A sure sign of spring. 

Along a recent walk I noticed a weeping willow tree, each trailing stem acid green with new growth. In my own garden the acer tree leaves are a similar yellow green. 

The apricot tree is in bloom. I always think it flowers much too early, before the pollinators are really active. So I do my part with a soft paintbrush. Whether or not it does any good I can't say as our yield of apricots has never been large. 

The dyes I used were from things around the house - purple cabbage (the teal eggs), dried marigold flowers, yellow onion skins, grape juice, and sumac - the last was a first time experiment.

While dyeing eggs yesterday, I thought about Easters past. My sister and I always had new dresses for Easter Sunday, sewn by my mother, who usually sewed something for herself, as well. When I was very young, there were little hats and white ankle socks to wear with our patent leather shoes, and sometimes even white gloves. 

We often went to my grandparents' home for Easter, spending time with both paternal and maternal grandparents. Church on Easter morning meant getting dressed up in our new garb. My grandparents' church was large and I always thought it cold. But I loved the singing - Mennonites sing harmony so well. 

Then Easter dinner - a feast! My grandmother hid a large chocolate treat for each grandchild, often in the house because the weather was unpredictable. One year I remember looking and looking for mine and feeling quite desperate because everyone else had found their egg. Grandma told me that because I was the eldest, mine was well hidden. To my relief, I eventually found my egg. 

This year we're having dinner with our children and grandchildren at one of my daughters' homes. Rain is predicted so perhaps the egg hunt will be indoors once again. 

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I wish you the joy of the Risen Christ. 

Saturday, April 01, 2023

A (Very) Short Tropical Getaway


Outside, bright sunshine and chilly wind vied for supremacy. I stood in the line up to enter Butterfly Gardens with three grands and shivered without my jacket. I knew that tropical temperatures awaited me. A fluffy Yellow Canary welcomed us into the humidity. I felt my hair responding immediately - curl and frizz ensued as expected as the jungle ambiance surrounded me.

Butterflies are everywhere in this miniature paradise, landing on heads and brightly coloured clothing. Butterfly Garden's website has a great guide to the names of the butterflies. I thought of Barbara from Coastal Ripples blog because of her interest and knowledge of butterflies. 
Do you find that certain sights remind you of blogging friends?

Blue and gold macaws kept careful watch from their perches, or splashed in bowls of water. Other parrots flew around, made cheerful conversation, and entertained us well. 

The pink flamingo looked so elegant  beside the koi pond and its great posture had me straightening my back. 

I was reminded of the first time I saw a Blue Morpho in the wild. Seven months pregnant with our son (middle child), I went on a jungle hike in Ecuador that involved descending into a deep canyon via a steep trail with a rope. Tim and our guide took good care of me and I managed to go up and down without incident. 

At the bottom of the small deep canyon, a waterfall splashed into a small pool before running away in a stream of clear cool water. Light filtered through tall trees and a fine mist filled the air. Several Blue Morphos flitted about as we admired this secret place. With closed wings these creatures camouflage well (they are the brown ones with many "eyes" in the lower left corner of the collage above), but when they fly, oh the beauty of their iridescent blue wings. 

This memory came to mind as I watched Blue Morphos in the gardens this week. It's difficult to capture them in flight and as soon as they stop, the wings close, hiding their blue beauty. I managed to capture a hint of the blue which does not compare to actually seeing them. 

It's far too cold for butterflies outside of the sanctuary just now, but I've seen a few fat bumblebees busy about the early blooms which is an encouraging sight. What are the sights in your world these days?

Of Spare Rooms and House Guests

  If you've ever read L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables , you'll remember the importance of the spare room. It was a long-...