Yesterday, walking in Galiano’s Heritage Forest, my eye was drawn to the shapes of the trees— the shapes that will soon be hidden by the profusion of leaves.
Mixed with the evergreens are are are several willow trees of varying kinds, along the main path. They’ve been there, as their size indicates, for years and years, but it wasn’t til yesterday that the light caught them in a certain way, and I ’noticed’ them. They are, to me, absolutely beautiful— the stature of the tree as a whole, and the detail of the slender curves…
I will likely post several more photos of these and other trees in the days ahead, either here or on my Curious Spectacles Facebook page which you can find here.
The colours are muted and soft along the Heritage Forest Road, and the ground is rock hard, frozen solid. It may look like there’s little life in the landscape, that it everything is ‘dead’. Dull. How far from the truth!
As we walked the road what struck me was how many signals there were that even in the quiet stillness of winter, and its apparent barrenness, there is a pulsing vitality to the season: the creeks burble beneath a skim of ice, lichens hang conspicuously from limbs all round, colourful slime molds are ‘there’ for the observant eye as are various fascinating fungi; winter birds— wrens, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees and towhees flit amongst the low shrubs while the finches and others occupy the higher branches; the deer meander and graze undisturbed. Surely the forest pulses with life as much in winter as any season.
I wonder if maybe the forest and its creatures enjoy the relative quiet. Maybe its their ‘sabbath’.
Finlay Lake Conservation Area – Click on image for a larger view
We’d wanted to walk in to Finlay Lake for a while, so with the sun shining brilliantly, it seemed a good day to set out for this quiet spot.
The path leading through the forest was bursting with spring shoots, and the birds were singing in the canopy above us, and the winter wrens and towhees rustling in the ferns and salal.
When the path opened to the lake there were a few Buffleheads on the far side, but otherwise all was still. Occasionally a raven’s call echoed through the trees, and an eagle flew past. Otherwise, simply stillness— but a stillness that is burgeoning with life.
Clearly I have an affinity to the deep mystery of rainforest beauty. The moody grey weather invited another walk along the lower trails of Bluff Park. Its impossible for me to walk these paths without thinking of stories and fairy tales, and of Ents and Hobbits— I have yet to see one of those, but doesn’t this scene make you wonder if maybe… if we waited very quietly … ?
This afternoon for a change of pace, I’ll go and hunt for some early spring buds, but for now, its deep forest that I want to share.
The broom that lines the old road along which we walked this morning was glowing gold, the same rich yellow that the blooms of June display.
But this is mid January.
Rather than June’s golden bloom this was winter’s answer to springtime vibrance— thick gold lichens along the length of the dead grey broom twigs. Winter life. Life in a different mode.
These branches won’t bloom next spring. They’ve spent themselves already. But their winter glory is beautiful all the same.
But its not simply the sight of this surprising beauty. Its also the thought it stirs in me— the thought that this brilliance doesn’t emerge from the broom itself, but rather is a gift, covering its dead twigs. It is clothed in a glory that’s given.
A good reminder. Another glimpse of grace amidst the ordinary meanderings of the day.
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.
I’ve always loved the forest. As a child I loved to explore trails in the woods, to build forts, and to take a picnic to a mossy spot and sit in the quiet— sometimes with a friend. The forest has always been a place of wonder and mystery for me.
It remains so— and to me it is most deeply mysterious and wonder-full in the depths of winter when the soaking rain and the January mist and fog moves amidst the trees. The strong shapes are softened and the moss and lichens become almost luminous in the shortened daylight, as though they thrive in the winter, enjoying the relief from the droughts of August.
Some people have told me they find these short darker days with the low hanging cloud wearying. For me, along with the lichen-bearded cedars, soaking their roots in the sodden earth, and the moss that is practically jubilant in its lush growth, this is a happy time of year. It’s the season of rest and replenishment.
I’ll be ready when the exuberance of spring comes, and I’ll be ready to dry out in the summer. But for now, it’s winter, and it is very good.
glimpses of the extraordinary amidst an ordinary day