Watching a fishboat depart from the sheltered waters of Whaler Bay in the early morning, with a strong NW wind, and beneath a rather ominous looking sky, reminds me how precarious every venture is. Again the Breton Fisherman’s prayer seems apt, not only for those who literally go to the sea in ships, but for us all: Dear God, be good to me for the sea is so large, and my boat is so small.
Usually the ducks and shorebirds take refuge and find quiet spots where its safe to seek their nourishment. But not these two I saw yesterday. While the NE Wind blew over 40knots, and the waves crashed ashore in the sandstone shallows, a lone female Goldeneye cruised through the tossing waves and dove and fished and bobbed bravely continuing her search for a good meal. And on the rocks above, a single Killdeer stood stoutly in the face of the oncoming sea.
Watching these small birds I was struck by how spirited— even audacious— they were in the face of such powerful forces of wind and sea.
On Thursday night there was more rain in 12 hours than I recall since I had a rain gauge. The Gulf Islands are in a ‘rain shadow’ on the east side of Vancouver Island, but that ‘shadow’ didn’t mitigate the amount of rain that fell overnight. 26 mm. The wind also buffeted the house with astounding force as the gale rose and receded. In the morning the wind had veered to the Southwest as predicted, still swirling in the treetops and bringing repeated rain showers, and even periods of heavy rain. But in between— oh my goodness! Is there anything more magnificent than the sun slanting through the drenched cedars, as they drip and little rivulets forge through the low spots, finding their path to the sea, and the colours are intense as the sun drenches the rain soaked forest.
This photo is a glimpse of one flash of light on the lichens, moss and fern as we navigated our road between rainstorms, stretching our legs and breathing the rich fragrant air.
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.
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.
The variations in weather, sunlight and storm alternating all day on Thursday provided a rich show of colours and clouds.
The particular delight of this scene for me is not only the range of colour but the intensity of the pastoral green in the foreground contrasted with the deep grey of the storm over the Tsawwassen bluff in the distance (right). The patch of blue, which an old school-friend would remind me, is definitely ‘enough to patch a sailor’s pants‘ but in this instance it was not a guarantee of sunshine to follow. I love it though, especially with the heavy grey and white clouds, and the glint of light on the rocky islands offshore (Lion Islets for those of you with marine charts).
Life itself is full of variety in texture and colour. Vibrant. Bright colourful parts, and scary dark parts. Maybe that’s something of why I am so drawn to this ever changing view. It’s brim-full of life and change. Always. And in its variety, it stirs in me, at the very least, awe. Wonder.
glimpses of the extraordinary amidst an ordinary day