Going into Town

How we get around!

I am staying with my daughter in a semi rural community on Vancouver Island. I really enjoy walking the many beautiful trails close to her house. However, there comes a moment when one starts to talk to ravens and then one realizes it is time to go into town. My daughter works and drives in so …. after an hour of poring over the website of BC Transit we decided on a tentative bus route. Much as I appreciate the web, I know myself and my various dyslexic quirks. I need the whole trip back and forth written down. Strangely enough I had to return by a different route than the one I went out on but….who am I to question rural bus companies.

My destination was a Seniors’ Activity Centre in a rather chi chi part of a sprawling fast growing town on the east coast of the island. Bus number 12 arrived on time and a stern lady driver answered my question about the transfer point ( yes, two busses) and told me brusquely to take my seat. I soon found out why as she pulled onto the two-lane highway and drove off at startling speed. There were no poles to cling to, only hanging straps. I plunked myself down hurriedly and noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a young mother holding onto a deluxe stroller with what I took to be a very pretty red-headed baby in it.

When I had adjusted to the swaying of the bus I turned to bestow my best grandmotherly smile on the baby and found … to my surprise that it was a very lifelike doll. It fixed me with its brown eyes for the whole of the half hour it took to come to my transfer point which was rather disconcerting. A sneak peek at the “ mother” made me wonder if it was a sort of therapy doll I had read about for women who had suffered some sort difficulty or trauma over motherhood.

Thanks to Google Maps I could see that I was almost at my first stop. By then a large contingent of teens evidently destined for some sort of vocational school had come on board. They were enjoying themselves immensely, laughing and joking at the tops of their voices. When I got off the bus they gave me a rousing farewell, waving and calling out to me.

It seemed rather counterintuitive to cross the street to catch my next bus. However the stern driver had simply pointed when I timidly questioned the logic of driving back the way I had come. The second bus soon arrived. This driver was even more formidable than the last one. However at least he got us headed off in the right direction. When I approached him to ask a question about where to take the bus back he ordered me back to my seat “ I don’t speak while I’m driving!” I humbly returned. When we arrived at the terminus he explained that he had seen several people seriously hurt as they moved around in the bus. I could well believe it!

I arrived in plenty of time for my Spanish conversation class and was warmly welcomed. The centre was airy, modern and the coffee was pretty good. I am a qualified language teacher and had my own ideas about how the class was run. A certain shyness and a total inability to express a lesson plan in Spanish kept me mercifully silent. Many of the other participants had lived in Latin America and were quite fluent.

Three of the nine participants were French Canadians which surprised me. We were talking about music and one of the gentlemen shocked me by saying ( in Spanish, no less) that his favorite song was a Welsh hymn – David of the White Rock. That was a song my mother used to sing and a nick name she gave to the David who married one of my cousins. Two hours soon passed and it was time once again, to get moving on the busses.

This time there was a half hour wait between busses. As I was sitting quietly on the shelter bench a smartly dressed gentleman with a very cute Shitz Tsu puppy came up and asked me a question about the route. I offered to look it up on my phone – now that I was an expert at getting around this mixed up town. He decided to go with his gut feeling that this was the right bus and we fell into general conversation. Hmm, a handsome man with a cute pup! About my age too! Things were looking up. Alas it soon became apparent that he was something of a conspiracy theorist. No sooner had I squelched his enthusiasm for Putin than he launched into an attack on hospital workers. “Honestly, have you ever really met anyone with COVID?”

Thank heavens the bus hove into view. He stuffed Fido into his carrier and because I really am a nice person ( take my word for it) I warned him that he risked tripping over his dog’s lead which was trailing on the ground.

Apparently my disgusting left-wing ideas could not be endured any more so once on board he struck up a conversation with a sketchy couple who soon let him know he was on the wrong bus. At this point I learned that if you holler loud enough the driver will simply slam on the brakes, pull over and let you off. Fido was, by now, scratching madly at his carrier and as Mr. Trumpster stumbled down the steps, I had a certain satisfaction in seeing that he had not heeded my warning about the trailing leash. We pulled away too fast for me to get the full view I deserved but, never a dull moment on the No. 12. At the next stop Little Mother and her luxurious carriage complete with the beautiful doll got on. This time she was with a friend and with her attention distracted, the doll was free to once again fix me with her unblinking stare.

The bus meandered off the main road and into wooded turn offs where sullen-looking people lurked in shacks reminiscent of Stephen King stories. I was very glad when we finally pulled into the bay next to Discovery Foods . My old stamping grounds! This was where we buy groceries! I hopped off, scuttled across route 19 and ambled home.

“ How was it? Did you manage OK with the busses?”

“You texted me four times, Liz. Every time I told you I was OK.”

“And the class? Did you like it? Are you going again?”

“It was different. Different in a good way. Yeah, I think I’ll go next week . It’s another world on those busses though, right?”

“Ma, you didn’t talk to people on the busses did you? That’s the first rule..,,,”

“Excuse me, Liz but I need a nap. I”ll tell you all about it later.”

Today I didn’t go into town. I went down to the beach. This is what I saw.

Fishing season starting

Another world

In plant jail

The strange luminous squares are light from the fine netting that protects a few plants. Here the innocent must sit in jail while guilty deer roam around at night munching on delicacies. They have whole forests to graze on but they prefer our favorites. The rose bush, sulky at this injustice only put out one deep pink bud and even it is loathe to open. The still air and mild sun may yet coax it open.

The old stalwart

She is old. Her branches grow at odd angles. One ambitious branch wants to turn into a second trunk. A quirky old dowager, I feel close to her, honor her and try to banish any hint that she may not outlive me. Her bark, the mosses that grow at the foot of her main trunk, even the odd fungi that grow on some of her limbs are old family jewels that no sapling can inherit. They will perish eventually with her, like our trappings, our ideas and fancies. It has been very dry. The soil at the base of her trunk was dusty yesterday when I planted a few daffodils. I added compost and water. Like her acolyte I will have a drink too… a toast of Pino Grigio for the old lady

Fall on the West Coast

Out on Vancouver Island you can tell it’s fall. Blackberries are starting to ripen

The ripe ones are always highest
Rose hips hang like jewels

The open faced eglantine roses have lost their petals in the dry heat of a long summer. The air is a little hazy today because of wildfires on the mainland. Here on the island, all is calm. The water of the Straight is as calm as a mill pond. A child in a red cap wades out to cast his line into the salt water. How many more fishing expeditions will he see this year?

The End of Summer

Just starting

Fall colors outside the city are hinting at the glory to come. The sun is still strong but it is cool in the shade. The trees and bushes have had their chance to grow, to flower and to put out fruit. Today they stand absolutely still, balancing on the point between the seasons.

No boaters and no swimmers

Only the still, vivid blue of water and sky. beauty fading away and beauty ushered in.

How?

How can this….
feed and sustain this?

My top heavy sunflower snapped its stem on a windy day. I tied it up with a support stick but I don’t understand how two weeks later it managed to send up enough nutrients to have a new flower open up!

I cut off the original big flower as it was past its best but along came another one! Amazing!

A Friend Visits in Early Morning

Who are you?

A dragonfly perhaps? Sitting in the shade on my lemon tree that steadfastly refuses to bloom, you are the pale and diaphanous detail that deserves a greeting. Much you care for my greeting! You have your own vital tasks to attend to. You are like the fat white spider who haunts my astonishing geranium. Astonishing because it was a collection of dried-up old sticks in a paper bag in my storage cupboard all winter. Now I can hardly keep up with trimming its crimson flower heads.

Pumpkin vine

I can hardly wait for another visitor to notice this. A hummingbird swoops in now and then, pokes around my window-box, fixes me with a reproachful eye and literally buzzes off. My window box is full of very unsatisfying little flowers. Next time I hope she gets around to my big yellow trumpet blooms.

Quite inadequate!

My Sunflower

My sunflower shed pollen today

I didn’t even know they did that! The Montreal summer has been alternately cool, rainy, stifling, brilliantly sunny and now, at last as the August moon conquers the sun, the days are sunny, warm and decorated with demure white clouds. Finally, of the several sunflower seeds I planted in pots on my balcony one has shot up and delivered its golden rain of pollen. Will it have time to make a crop of seeds I wonder?

A sinister squirrel came creeping around yesterday but I chased him away. He had better not have any designs on my sunflower!

In the country

Last Sunday I went hiking with a dear friend in the country. It was very hot and humid. Rather than hiking it was like wading through treacle. However we did it. The trail was in the Eastern Townships near Freiligsburg. I just loved the colors in the fields that surrounded us.

Summer is almost over but I don’t mind. This friend who comes to sit close to my park seat will stay all winter,

Enjoy each day, Duckie

Doing our Thing

Ducks, cats, writers

When it’s this hot, park ducks know what to do
A Montreal cat struts her stuff
In the face of two brutal rejections…

Keep on submitting. Don’t misunderstand. The rejections were bland enough, kind enough, respectful enough. My mistake was hoarding them in the little dark closet in the back of my mind. “ There I have a chance. They’re smaller presses so I have a better chance.” Both rejections arrived on the same day. So…. out come the folders, the pink revision pencil and off I go. Fix it, Polish it, send it.

An eventful day

At my window box

A hummingbird just visited me. He visited my flowers really but it still felt like a cheery reminder of how many wonderful things can happen to me. No, they don’t just “ happen”. Most of them … I make happen. If I hadn’t planted and watered the flowers, the hummingbird would not have shown up. Where did he come from? I live in a condo, one in a whole set of condo blocks . Not much in the way of gardens or blooms here. It is true that a large and beautiful park is right on my doorstep but it is green, rather than floral . So, the hummingbird was a little miracle.

It’s official!

Another wonderful thing happened today. I was officially accepted as a hospitalera by the Canadian Company of Pilgrims. In a beautiful setting on the Ottawa River I finished my training in how to greet pilgrims, how to manage an albergue, how to give back to the Camino de Santiago that gave me so much . A happy day!