Posts Tagged ‘Nature’

Headline: Woman Wonder born amidst blades of grass

Writing this week will be taking a beating as I am having to spend time outside helping Man-wonder who strained his back last week. This week I am acting as Woman Wonder (okay fine – I made that name up, he didn’t.) He’s calling me the woman-behind-lawnmower, which I find rather boring and hardly worth curling the tongue over.

First, let me admit I’m not athletic. I’m barely mobile if it’s too hot, rainy or cold outside. I like sitting.

I know how to straighten up and space out the spine. I sit with an angled stool (below me not in me) and I keep the knees slightly above the hip line.

See – a student of sitting.

Besides, I’ve studied the best of the natural-born sitters which just happens to be babies. If you don’t believe that – check out those little chubbies of cuteness—their spines are a joy to watch.

So, for me to take over the some of the tasks of landscaping where I can`t run inside as soon as my face gets all hot and icky, is going to be tough. The other horrific thing is the sun makes my nose run. Oh, hell, anything beyond a simple sit makes my nose run. I used to laugh at Mom and her box of tissue for every room. Let`s just say I`ve lost that snotty attitude.

But I`ll do it. And secretly—I have to admit to being a teeny-tiny bit excited over the fact that if Man-wonder isn`t in good enough shape for his Friday job, which is the one where he rides his ride’m mower over and around five acres – I GET TO DO IT!

I get to run it. Not beside it. Not behind it. On it!

Cathie on lawn mower

Yehaw!

Oh, I have driven it on pavement and it was fun – waving at the neighbours as I screamed down the road at a half mile per hour, goggles and earmuffs firmly in place and waving like the queen in one of her horse-driven buggies (and, hell, probably moving faster than I was).

But this time I`ll be running it over five acres of hillside with wide sloping lawns right down to shoreline.

I hate to admit it, but come Thursday night, if Man-wonder shows no sign of soreness, I may have to sneak over and re-adjust the numbers level of his side of the bed—just enough to through a kink into his plans . . .

Randy with cane

That`s not really mean-spirited is it? After all, he`ll have Saturday and Sunday to re-cooperate. And I`d be right there pampering him. .  . like a good wife should.

 

 

Just because a road is paved doesn’t make it smooth

Last Saturday started out easy—we decided to take a drive across island, hit the village of Mesachie Lake and then follow a  widely touted paved logging road which also happens to be called the Pacific Marine Circle Route Drive.

signs page 1a

I mean, what could be more relaxing than a nice long loop to see the Pacific Ocean, follow the coast down to Victoria and then meander home again?

Hmmmmm . . .let’s see

Good description— a day trip through the mountains, to the Pacific Ocean and along the west coast side of Vancouver Island.

Better description—a paved winding, twisting logging road through the island’s the central range of mountains.

Best description—a roller-coaster ride for vehicles!

yield bridge warning bumpy road corner falling rocks  loose gravel narrowing road road flooding slippery sign

And here’s what we learned:

  • That an active logging road doesn’t really have to be wide enough for a logging truck and another vehicle.
  • That a narrow road can be made smaller still, e.g.—when every single creek bed, dry or dampish, and every single crack-in-the-rock canyon, has a single-lane bridge over it with a sign warning drivers to yield to oncoming traffic (if you can see around the corner, past the bridge).
  • That a scenic route can have a gazillion sign posts along both sides of the road.
  • That there are road signs I’ve never seen before (and never want to see again). Like the ones, on approaching corners, where each sharp angled arrow had a downward pointing arrow attached to it; meaning—scissor-sharp  corner coming at cobra-striking speed and turning dementedly fast downhill).
  • That a sign where the arrow was curved into an upside down letter U didn’t mean ‘hell’s a coming’ as Man-wonder moaned.
  • That a lot of people travelling the Pacific Marine Circle Route pack shotguns, judging by the size (and volume) of indents in the signs.
  • That a simple road-trip can take hours and hours (and hours) longer than expected.

What was the most impressive thing about the trip? That I drove and Man-wonder, notorious for his motion sickness, did not even turn green once. . . I might just give his chiropractor a big hug for that.

Would we take the Pacific Marine Circle Route again?

Hmmmmm . . .

flying pig 2

 

 

 

 

From Dogs to Ducks

It’s been one of those weeks. Not the busy kind. More the slow, Mañana, and get outta’ my face and space week, thanks to a spell of hot-sticky days. It seems even the birds and animals are taking it slower. 

Except for good old Elvis the Jack Russell a few doors down. That dog has a seriously high bark-o-meter level! Personally I think someone left him out in the sun too long when he was a pup and it fried a few of the cells connecting the brain to the bark. Might of damaged his vision too. Because he tends to stare stone-still for a good thirty seconds before his body begins this weird vibration that starts in his throat and works its way down to his tail which whips around like a whirling dervish – sending the vibrations back through his body to explode out of his snout like a canine barkmobile.

A little tired of listening to Elvis the barking wonder, and to escape the heat for a while, Man-wonder and I went for a paddle on one of our favorite lakes (close to home).

Quennell Lake has always been an interesting paddle.

quennell lake 023

quennell lake 029

The first time we ever tried the lake was just after we’d purchased a canoe. (Yeah, it was on sale because it was still winter and they needed to move merchandise) and yeah, we went for a paddle in mid-February and yeah, we didn’t even make it past the line of shore reeds before we flipped.

I gotta’ say—lake water is damn  very cold in February.

Very, very cold!

Being slightly more intelligent than, say—Elvis, we waited three months before trying again.

Happily we stayed upright and dry that trip. Though just barely!

We found ourselves in the middle of a battle between a frightened duck and a hungry eagle. It was a  little unnerving to have an eagle swooping over you as if he wasn’t even aware of your existence while he tries to snag a la duck. Thankfully we didn’t witness any bloodshed. The duck managed to reach the tall reeds to our left where he stayed hidden until the frustrated eagle gave up. The eagle gave us the stink- eye as he passed for the last time; almost as if he was blaming us for his blown lunch.

Come to think of it – that’s the same look I get when I’m hungry.  .  .

The next trip around Quennell Lake put us under a surprise attack from a swan when we unknowingly paddled in too close to the nest.

There we were, paddling away and yakking it up when this furious honking started ahead of us, at the mouth of the channel. We sat there like a royal pair of goobers watching, and not believing what we were seeing as this big, angry white swan skimmed over the surface of the water heading straight for us. It swerved at the last second. I think I squeaked. I know Man-wonder did. The kamikaze  bundle of protectant feathers was turning around for a repeat performance before we clued in and paddled our butts out of its channel. I still wonder how many how many other unsuspecting canoeists were bird-bombed.

So we were looking forward to this trip because anything could happen and something usually does.

But this time the only sounds were the black-winged redbirds singing and the only action came from people waving at us as we passed them relaxing on their docks. A totally relaxing, quiet and lovely paddle.

Ah well,  there’s always next time. . .

 

 

 

Into the wild woods we go

We found another trail to explore and, just to live on the edge, decided to explore it after dinner with a coffee from our favorite coffee shop. Imagine that – coffee after seven and taking a chance on an unknown trail which might not get us home until after dark. Goes against all the wiles of wisdom eh?

But that’s us  — modern day elder-rebels. Mind you both the trail and the coffee shop are within an eight minute walk of home. . .so maybe it’s just a tweaky sniff of danger. And definitely not as dangerous as the trail turned out to be.

Off we went—meandering down a new trail, enjoying the signs of spring and inhaling our coffees when, 10 minutes into the trail, we come to this sign

. sign - first one

Have I ever mentioned how I dislike signs? More often than not they cause problems; like filling my head with lines from a childhood ditty about being in the woods, ‘If you go down to the woods today / You’re sure of a big surprise’

And there I was, getting a sore neck from trying to see over both shoulders at the same time because all I can think of is; gun-packing cranky land owners with private burial fields for trespassers or bikers protecting grow crops. Meanwhile, as I’m freaking out, good old Man-Wonder continues  tromping along like he has never learned how to read and/or could care less what the sign says.

And then, another ways down the trail we come across this beauty;

sign - second one

OMG!

Just-out-of-the-winter-den-hungry bears! I know it and am a heartbeat from spinning like a demented ballerina and running out of those woods when Man-wonder comes to a dead stop twenty feet ahead and says, “Look at that,” way too calmly for slobbering bears or goobers with guns so I sneak a little closer to see what he’s seeing.

It’s a big hole, maybe fifteen to twenty feet across and circling it is a wire fence with bits of dangly ratty-edged red ribbons. There are faded words on the ribbons and of course I want to know what it says. (Red should have been a good clue here but I was too busy not thinking to think).

“What’s it say on those ribbons?” I ask Man-wonder.

“I don’t know.” He says from where he stands on the trail.

I get a little closer—close enough to notice two things: One—part of the fence is in the hole (meaning the hole hasn’t finished growing), and two—the words on the ribbons are: “DANGER” and “DO NOT ENTER”.

Right. Man-wonder must have seen the panic in my eyes because he comes up with this statement, “It’s an old sink hole. Look,” He points downward, “there are trees growing out of it.” And, as if the problem has been solved, he heads off down the trail again.

Even as I back away I’m not buying his idea. I have my own theory. That sink hole happened so fast those poor trees just dropped and shock has kept them upright.

Two smaller sinkholes later we follow the trail over a bank, alongside a small river just before it empties into the Nanaimo Estuary. We stop beside a medium-sized tree and goggle at the tree roots dangling in mid-air below us. Kneeling down we saw how a large section under the trail was gone, gone, gone!  Honestly, my two weak knees lifted and hustled me across that section like I was in a freaking parade. Hubby not far behind.

That was the worst part and I’m happy to say the trail mellowed out after and stayed solid (except for the muck field) until we found the end of the trail and this view.

from estuary to mainland #1 Was it worth it?

This freaked out pansy-rebel thinks so.  And for the record—I think Man-wonder is darn lucky he didn’t have to piggy-back me home.

Dump-Ta-Dump

We were pretty pumped – finding another new walk; this one being an old connector road between two main roads and long blocked off.

The road was pot-holey and chunky with age. Vegetation along the sides seems determined to eat through the pavement and one day meet. Along one side of the road the land rose and fell as rock walls mixed with pockets of mini forests. In some spots the water-dripping mossy rock walls rose twenty feet. Then the land would flatten out and trees from both sides arched overhead and met in gloomy canopies.

Those trees, on the other side of the road, with their branches covered in long beards of pale lichen, formed a scraggly wall letting in glimpses of a steep bare hill behind.

Or so we thought.

Man-wonder finally figured out we were looking at the back hillside of the local dump. Sorry—waste management facility.  And, even though the backside hasn’t been touched for years, and is rumored to become a walking park one day, it put a little creep in our walk. It had me trying not to imagine what new life forms might be lying in the murky muddy creek below that mountain of waste . . .

And it was just about then when the creep ramped up a notch.

A raven jumped out from behind a small boulder. He gave a raspy kwok-ing cry and starting this weird fluttery hop staying just ahead of us as we walked. Every dozen or so hops it would stop and turn one beady black eye back at us like it was saying, “Well, come on, keep up.”

“Hanzel and Gretel?” I side-mouthed to Man-wonder.

“You think we should hold hands and skip?” Man-wonder side-mouthed back.

In truth I guess it was an old garbage eating raven unable to fly anymore and coming to the end of its life and probably more nervous of us than we of it.

Still. . .

The fading sun stopped us from reaching the end of the road. Of course, as we hustled back the sky behind the trees was turning a vibrant Halloween orange, making the trees look blacker, their branches twisting into evil shapes. And, it really didn’t help when we realized the raven has disappeared without us realizing it..

But I knew it was there, somewhere, watching us—I could feel it. . .

Yeah, that’s a road to leave alone.

Pterodactyls and Port-a-potties

Since moving three weeks ago, Man-wonder and I have begun exploring our island again—little day trips here and there. Not roaming too far away that we can’t find our way home before dark.

A few days back we decided to check out an easy looping walk at a wilderness park further up island. Nice sunny day. A great day for a stroll. Note I said stroll,  not walk, and that’s because we have rediscovered that no matter how much we try to hustle along we have been, and still are being, passed by the masses. I guess it’s just something in our genetic make-up—born to plod.

But plodding has its rewards. At one point we stopped midway across a bridge over a gorge.  On the upper side was a falls slamming its way over the rocks,  forcing itself down through a tight ravine before dumping itself into a large pool on the other side of the bridge.

Leaning on the bridge rails Man-wonder’s face relaxed into a dreamy childhood look as he said. “It’s almost as if a pterodactyl might come swooping through the canyon at any moment.”

IMG_0320

I felt it too—one of those moments when we were swept back in to the beginning ages of this world. Where we were standing just as our earliest ancestors might have (if they’d built a bridge).

Then as we turned to the other side of the bridge, we were rocketed forwarded to a time in our own youth. Summertime and a favorite swimming hole at the local river. Deep pools of emerald-green waters edged in the same blue as the sky. Crystal clear water so cold you gasped but it never stopped you from diving in.

Oh man, the urge to jump off that bridge was almost overwhelming but the thought of Man-Wonder in full panic mode stopped me from throwing a leg over the railing.

Okay, that and age. . .

After I gathered my senses we wandered on and eventually we ended our walk sitting on one of the picnic benches high above the river sharing a triple-layered peanut butter, jam and banana sandwich (he likes jam, I like banana and marriage is all about compromise). We topped our gourmet meal off with a rich slice of Christmas fruit bread.

Some days are just plain lip-smacking good all around eh?

But the day did leave me with a puzzle.

Not from the park, but something I saw at a rest stop on the drive there—three portable toilets sitting in a cozy half-circle. And doesn’t that just beg the question—what do you call a trio of toilets?

A tripod of relief? A package of potties?  A relief of p.p.s?

Man-wonder’s great offering—three shitters.

Note to self—stop asking him what he thinks.

Can’t Wait to Finish Before Reviewing. . .

My read-in-progress is  the NATURE PRINCIPLE by Richard Louv.

Richard’s words ‘The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need’ is basis for this book and if the rest of the book is as wise as the first five chapters – Wow! I find myself nodding like a bobble-head in a moving vehicle as I read.

Take this section from chapter five where a woman, an admitted type A overachiever tells of how, after raising children, she returns to the workforce. To prove her value she works herself into a frenzy, not knowing how to stop, losing sleep and worrying too much until she brings camping back into her life and finds, as a therapy, it works for her.

And her words, as I read the truth in them, caused me to sit up and laugh out loud;

You plan for your most basic needs. You see wildlife taking care of its most basic needs. It reminded me that life asks very little of us. Eat, sleep, procreate—there really aren’t too many demands on us. So what the heck was I doing? All those details that were worrying me, raising my blood pressure, choking the life out of me, had nothing to do with life, really. Being outside made it all crystal clear to me. Just live. When we’re dead and gone, most of it really doesn’t matter. We just made it up.”

Imagine that! The things that we hold to great value, or lead us a merry chase, perhaps even piss us off, or hurt us—do so because we’ve decided their importance. We’ve made it up.

Holy Doodle—Another step up in my effort to simple down!

Now please excuse me – I’ve got a fantastic book to dive back into. . .

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