Nature

Credit where credit due

My introduction to the frontier lifestyle of the West Coast came shortly after I began my articling year in Nanaimo, when the herring fleet hit town.

Those were the glory days of the herring fishery, when high-balling crews of “Cold water Cowboys” exuberantly chased enormous schools of  herring around the Straits of Georgia, loading  their skiffs with fish until their gunwales were almost awash, then frantically signaling to the hovering packer boats displaying “Cash Buyer” signs, to sell their catch before they capsized. Herring roe is a delicacy in Japan, and the  Japanese were flush, paying huge prices for the roe. Continue reading

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“The discontented man finds no easy chair “-Benjamin Franklin

We saw our first pair on the windswept point below the Mayne Island lighthouse: perched high to take advantage of the views over the Straits of Georgia and the entrance to Active Pass. A few months later, on a stormy winter day we encountered another pair, this time on the rocky promontory that juts into the Pacific Ocean at Green Point,marking the boundary between Combers Beach and Long Beach.

“They” are pairs of red Adirondack chairs, placed by Parks Canada in well over 100 locations across Canada, the first ones appearing in Gros Morne National Park over three years ago. they serve no purpose other than to invite the traveler to sit and linger and take in the view, and they are delightful.

For the ardent hiker they offer  the surprise of  an unexpectedly luxurious repose;  to the ambler, a ready excuse to dally a while, and to the photographer, a splash of color to help compose the perfect landscape photo. It’s not often that one can accuse  a government bureaucrat of harboring a sense of whimsy. but clearly one or two playful types have somehow infiltrated Parks Canada and I think our parks are better for them.

I feel compelled to register my approval of the Red Chair Project since it is not without controversy. There are it seems, purists amongst the users of the parks who are affronted by those little splashes of color, or feel that the wilderness is somehow tainted by the presence of the chairs. To each his own I suppose, but for the critics I think the words of Benjamin Franklin quoted above are apt.

For the rest of us-  let’s sink back into the comfort of these chairs, draw a long, deep breath, relax and enjoy the view!

 

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Is it too much to ask?

My heart sank this morning when I heard that a fuel barge with millions of litres of fuel on board was in danger of grounding itself  on the shores of the Goose Group, a tiny, uninhabited group of islands that lie offshore of the remote stretch of the  BC coast known as the Hakai. Continue reading

Categories: Environment, kayaking, Nature, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

When to throw in the towel

They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, and a lifetime of travel has led me to conclude that much of tourism consists of simply re-visiting the sites of those lessons. Continue reading

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November evening

NOVEMBER EVENING

The head of Burrard inlet is a lonley place on a drizzly November afternoon.The park that skirts the mud flats is deserted, as even the bredraggled dog walkers have long since sought shelter.

Standing still in the gloom, hunched against the rain, and trying to ignore the cold and the wet creeping through the soles of ones boots, you can just make them out in the last of the light – coming in low between the new high-rises that form Port Moody’s new town centre.

They come in pairs,and in small family groups, and sometimes in long noisy skeins of twenty or thirty or more, wings beating furiously , honking loudly as they inspect the emply inlet: then satisfied that no danger lurks, banking, and in unison gliding in to land.

They are Canada geese, pilgrims from the Arctic, stopping only briefly to rest and feed on their long trek south, and they come in waves, every few minutes, filling the emply inlet with noise and movement.A thousand birds? 1,500 ? impossible to say, but a remarkable sight.

Leaving the geese to settle in, numb feet find the muddy path up Noon’s creek, to the heavily padlocked hatchery. The stream below the hatchery shows signs of man’s efforts to help nature, but nature is on its own upstream. One follows a barely discernable path to a bend in the creek. There, tight against the far bank, where rushing storm waters have pushed a deposit of sand and gravel, there is a flicker of movement. Thrashing, circling, it is a solitary pair of chum salmon, completing their dance of life, alone, in the dark and drizzle of a late November evening.

Categories: Nature, Port Moody, Reflections | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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