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!

They let me out… the yard

I’m still in Covid jail but whether they let me or not, I walk in the huge park next to my house. I cannot stay in the house. That’s why winter is so hard for me. Don’t worry, I follow the rules – I go alone. I never speak to anyone – well, there was that guy practicing his violin but I stayed really far away. But really, how often do you see a guy practicing his violin in the park? I’ve only ever seen someone practicing the bagpipes. He was a wise man!

This woman had the right idea. The weather is great – not too hot and a bit windy. I was glad Canada Day passed off without any nonsense up in Ottawa. I spend my days on the balcony in the boughs of a delicately leavy tree nursing my sunflower and some other seedlings that are surprisingly popping up in pots.

Elder blossoms in the Park

Reminds me of my dad making elder wine and all the bottles popped in the side-board cupboard. Granny was cross!

Good for butterflies

All is blooming and soon I will get out of this Purdah … I hope!


In the boughs of my tree

I finally succumbed to Covid. For a couple of days I complained about a stuffed up nose. I felt uncharacteristically tired as I trailed across the hellishly hot parking lot of our local shopping centre. Was it some extreme hay fever brought on by the lush foliage of summer? Was I shamefully out of shape, diabetic, simply old? My three beloved grandchildren came to sleep over as they often do. I sent them home early ( unheard of!) as I was dog tired from not having slept well the night before. As soon as they left I fell asleep and awoke completely disoriented with a full on fever. A friend called. “ you sound like you have Covid.”, he said.

Whaat? Covid? Four times vaccinated, a veteran of dorm sleeping last fall on the Camino Frances….I couldn’t have Covid! I dug out a box of rapid tests and, sure enough … a positive result. Just goes to show you shouldn’t let your guard down. Who knows how or when I got it but the first 36 hours knocked me off my feet and into my bed where I slept in increments of three hours. Each time I woke up wondering if it was day or night. I was awoken by vivid dreams of my mother demanding that I fly immediately to British Colombia ( she’s been dead for ten years) or a totally convincing fire alarm that was only ringing in my dream. I read. I scrolled Facebook. I watched the start of ten lousy Netflix movies ( recommendations please) and today, the third day I feel better. So far none of my family show any signs of illness thank goodness.

My only annoyance is that I must self isolate. Tomorrow I will find out for how long. In the meantime I sit on my little balcony and read and hatch nefarious plans for “ when I am better”

Not an elegant tree but birds visit me here

The Northern Rain Forest

A Study in Greens

Elizabeth says if you wait for the sun around here, you’ll never go out. Yes, the rain forest isn’t just the Amazon. It’s the cool green giant trees reaching up, falling, rotting, feeding other life. The mosses and lichens play out their seasons as the cool soft rain and the sea winds keep everything slow cooking.

One species shared soil and light with another
Here and there a little vibrant color, if you look hard enough
A banana slug with his raincoat

I walked about ten kilometres in the rain, something I would never have done in the noisy city. The rain didn’t seem like an enemy, just part of the day.

On Hornby Island

At Tribune Bay
Can I Help You?

Today we took two ferries to get to Hornby Island. There are many small islands off Vancouver Island and we went to explore Tribune Bay and the forest and bluffs nearby. The ferries are small – one is a cable ferry that is pulled across the channel to Denham Island. We tried to do this expedition on the Victoria Day weekend but it was too busy to get a spot on the second ferry. A cloudy mid-week day allowed us to complete the second jump and enjoy quiet time in the deep green woods and along the pristine bay.

Natural shell Garden

The shells and wildflowers were beautiful and perhaps best of all – there were hardly any other people. Am I turning into a misanthrope? No, but sometimes quiet and space are the great treasures of our age.

There were other critters to greet like this deer, a snake and some sea eagles. A couple of ponies were enjoying their trot along the beach too.

No Idea What this is
Baby pine cones

Some of the flowers were unknown to me. It is a treat to come across a species that is mysterious in its special allure. The trees are wonderful too – all sorts of conifers. This one let out a cloud of pollen, like smoke when shaken. Old favorites like pink roses just coming into their own and cammomile daisies mixed in with colored grasses. “Like a Monet landscape” said Elizabeth. I am a lucky woman.

A Whole New World

Where Eagles Fly

At seal bay on Vancouver Island

We had a wonderful day today walking in fern and tall tree forests down to the shore where we sighted eight bald eagles. How lovely it was in the cool woods walking down a steep trail to the rocky shore. Out on the channel between the Island and the mainland huge container ships passed each other. They were so far away that at one point it looked as if they would touch noses but, of course they simply glided on by. These wonderful birds flew close above our heads to land in their high nests in shoreline trees.

On top of a mast in the harbour

When we drove into town after our walk we grabbed a coffee at the square next to the harbour and found another eagle perched on one of the masts.

The sun won his battle with mountain clouds

We caught sight of the charter plane coming in from Vancouver. What a lovely day! Thanks to my daughter for such a beautiful excursion.

Water touchdown

My Soulmate

I love this tree

She stands at the gate of my daughter’s property on Vancouver Island. She is old and the “tree guy” says she’s on her way out. The white branch fell off during a winter storm.

She has lots of places where bark isn’t growing and the white inner core of her boughs can be seen. But she’s opening up new leaves and keeps on doing her “ tree” thing. At her wide base flowers and moss are well established. The daffodils that were blooming at her roots are over but she’s got plenty of forget-me-nots and sturdy thistles to keep her company.

I sat out in the sun, tempered by a brisk wind this afternoon. I was reading a wonderful book but finally, feeling rather chilly and curious about a raven visiting my tree I went in.

The raven was making a strange call, like a couple of notes on a flute. It was a far cry from Poe’s croak, but my daughter assured me it was his Spring call. Sure enough, he flew off out of the newly green branches of my companion towards the sea. That tree has such spirit. Let her hold on another decade or so.

Pacific North West

On my morning walk

Not often I glimpse a view of the Rockies when out for my walk. My daughter’s home on Vancouver Island offers this treat. I walk down beside the swift-flowing Oyster river until it joins the Straight of Georgia. It was quite muddy in spots as it rained heavily in the night but the high winds forecast did not appear.

Winter’s work

Some of the path runs very close to the river and I’ve always been leery of the footing there. Turns out my instinct was right as a whole section had sheared off complete with some trees.

Raspberry flowers
Life from decay
Bluebells. Old favorites that I never see in Quebec

It’s very different here. Like a strange country.

A coming-out party

At last leaves emerge

The little leaf casings are sticky. The still folded leaves are as soft and smooth as velvet. The grass is green thanks to recent rain but the rushes beside the pond are still last-year’s pale straw. Only they remember the first hard frosts of last fall, the dark clear nights when only the stars circled overhead. The winter was long, cloudy and icy underfoot.

A muskrat in Angrignon Park

But all the life that was suspended, seemingly gone forever is coming out into the daylight.

A real robin’s egg. Not candy, not a toy but a real robin’s egg that I found on a high bluff where no one walks. Somewhere there is a chick, and a mother robin nurturing this new life.
Blood Root – first to emerge from dead leaves
Trout Lily named for its leaves spotted like a river trout.

Unbelievable as it seems I saw a red butterfly in a quiet section of the woods over a week ago. A week ago it was dark and cold at night. Sometimes it seemed to me that we were all under some winter spell and that we would never feel warm or complain that it was “ too hot.” But it is the coming out party for all nature… and here is the master of ceremonies.

Today is Pascha

Eggs 2022

My kind grandchildren helped me make these for yet another year. Fragile and beautiful yet resilient and precious like their creators. How lucky I am that they still like to indulge me and come to my house to color these symbols of new life, of Spring and hope. Later this evening my whole family who live in Montreal will come and have a festive meal with my. My daughter who is on Vancouver Island will not be here but in a couple of weeks I will go to visit her. I will bring her seeds for her garden – more symbols of growth and new life.

These pictures are from today’s brief Easter office ( only an hour!) From up in the choir last night I looked down and saw the darkened church slowly illuminated as the darkness of the tomb was overcome with shared flickering candles.How wonderful it is to sing the powerful Easter canon and later the anthem “ Christ is Risen” in many different languages – we even have a sheet in Innu although I don’t remember ever singing it. English, French, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Spanish, Bulgarian…,

I am very lucky to be healthy enough to go to many services to sing, to exchange greetings, to buy and cook food for my family. Every day is Pascha. We just have to remember