Its such a stunning change from the drought of summer to the soaking forest creeks of this season. This is one of several creeks that run to the NE shore of the island, from small lakes in the hills, tumbling down onto the sandstone beaches and into the Salish Sea. This creek has widened its path with the fresh rains of this past week, dividing into two streams around an island of ragged fern and moss and logs. The mosses are luminous green today, and the lichens on the trunks in the background give a grey-blue hue to the stand of young trees. Everywhere, life burgeoning.
Such a Novemberish outlook this morning. Misty rain, and dim light. Everything shades of blue and grey with a tinge of green as I look out over the water. The mist hangs on the trees. The quiet blankets the coastline. But for the lapping waves and the occasion call of an eagle or gull — only silence.
This Sunday marks the beginning of a new season (Advent), and I love that the season of expectation, of hanging on a promise, begins in these days of still descending into the darkness. Of quiet. Though the department stores, grocery stores, and gift shops will play their ubiquitous ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and blended carols, its not quite time to celebrate. First this season. First waiting. In the dimmer light. Even in the dark. With hope.
When we set out for our walking expedition today, to one of our favourite island spots, I had no idea I’d see it differently from any other of the many times I’d walked that trail.
The rain was falling steadily but slowed to a sort of misty drizzle by the time we hit the trail. The clouds were hanging low on the hills, draping them with varying shades of gray. The islands up the channel were a faded gray green, the water calm and so still that the rings of each raindrop was discernible til its rings blended with those around. It was all very lovely in a wintry desolate way— not a person in sight or a voice to be heard. Even the ducks were in hiding. The only wildlife we saw was a pair of otters playing on the rocks. But they too scooted away, surprised to see us, thinking perhaps the weather was providing them freedom from interlopers.
But it was the extraordinary sheen of the arbutus, its smooth bark glistening in the rain that was the greatest delight. It looked as though someone had spent hours polishing it with wax or painted it with high gloss shellac, and the effect was to show every bend and twist of the trunk and branches —each tree we came upon unique in how the years and circumstance had shaped them.
The rain’s gift was to show me those trees in a different way than I’d ever noted before. It was the detail, the strange beauty of the contortions and adaptations to weather, breakage, erosion, and all of it, beautiful— washed clean and gleaming even on such a day as this.
These last three days have provided spectacular wave watching as the strong North East outflow wind crossed the Salish Sea whipping the waves to a fury of ‘white horses’. The collision of water and rock made great sprays and splashes, as the rollers moved in steadily.
The light of the rising sun through the cresting waves was a beautiful green and to me it seemed a jubilant dance of light and water.
This afternoon the wind’s dropped, the sea has calmed and life returns to a semblance of ‘normal’, though definitely with a more wintry chill.
Bringing in the firewood on a rainy autumn day— the reward is many hours of quiet fireside warmth.
When we were kids, one of our morning chores was to fill the storage box with wood for the stove— a wonderful cast iron wood-stove. It had a smallish oven (big enough for a small turkey), and a shelf above for the pots and frypans. Each morning we’d go to the woodshed to load up the wheelbarrow, and then after pushing it across the lawn to the porch, we’d lift it out piece by piece, stack it in our arms, and traipse into the kitchen with those armloads of carefully split wood. Often we’d have to replenish the kindling supply as well. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as splitting cedar rounds into wedges, then into inch wide slabs and then the plink, plink, plink, of the kindling pieces flying off and landing on the growing pile. Until I was old enough to wield the hatchet, my job was to pick up the chopped kindling and stack it neatly in the box, avoiding getting hit by flying kindling.
Hatchets, chopping blocks, cedar smell, fir sap— and wheel barrows. Good memories— memories coloured by the years, I’m sure, as I think it was harder work by far when three sticks of firewood was an armload. Now, my arms are bigger, the wheelbarrow is more ‘modern’ and the wood is only for the comfort and coziness of the living room, rather than for keeping the stove going to cook our food, and boil the water.
Times have changed, but the fragrance and the basic tools remain.
After a day of drenching rain yesterday, and the general sogginess, the sun broke through today in a most glorious manner. Perfect weather for a walk and to venture beyond the bounds of our own homestead. We headed up to the Bluffs as we hadn’t been there for a while, and I was eager to get some autumnal photo-shots from that perspective.
One of the striking sights, illumined by the brilliant sunlight, was the extravagant hangings of hairy lichens. Somehow they were more emphatically ‘present’ than I recall. Maybe the combination of weather patterns and clean air has made it a bumper season for lichen growth.
What caught my eye here was the dominance of the vertical lines: the tree trunks in the background, the drooping lichen in the foreground.
The glory of last spring’s growth, blazing still, though now in its gift to the earth. The life that burgeoned will provide for the next season’s growth, and meanwhile is aflame—glowing with an extravagance that speaks of the very essence of promise—the promise of life ahead, complete with its breaking, its falling, its one time sacrifice.