Sunday, September 12, 2010

Late August and Early September

Sometimes, it seems as if the blog is written in its own time and way, having little to do with my plans. When it is ready, it finds a route through my schedule.

First, Turtle Gardens. Thanks to Bill, there is a new gadget at the top of the blog page that will take you to the Pepsi Challenge. A vote each day could help Yvette and Dave buy a reliable van, so that they can transport dogs from Northern B.C. all the way to their new homes on the mainland and Vancouver Island. Turtle Gardens is currently in sixth place, and must make it to 2nd to win some cash. The voting finishes on October 31st, and I repeat, you can vote every day, so there is time. I would love to see them get some funding - they sure could use it.

Next, a couple of favourite pictures of Black Jack, taken during a bike ride around Granville Island on August 22nd . Bill and I stopped, as we often do when there is a safe space, and had her run back and forth between us. We still have to be very careful with her when she is off leash, but we have made progress this summer. I don't take her energy and athleticism for granted, ever. It is a thrill to watch her.
Now, that's happy!

We biked by this lovely pond, and discovered that seagulls come here each day to bathe.

Bill scooped up Black Jack, just as she was disappearing after some mystery rodent in the grass.

Several rocks at the pond's edge came with distinctive personalities.

I am curious to know if you see them as Bill and I did.

This crow checked out our bikes while we played with Black Jack.

Even with the very dry summer, flowers in Vancouver seem to have thrived. These shades of blue and violet really stood out during a ride around the Stanley Park seawall on the 24th.

I saw this hawk at Jericho Park the following morning. The photograph is deceptive, but from high up on the branch, it didn't appear to be much bigger than a large crow. Perhaps a juvenile Cooper's Hawk?

The water in the ponds at Jericho has been so low this summer that we have wondered how the ducks and other inhabitants could possibly survive. I have noticed quite a decline in the number of ducks, but the beavers have been active and great fun to watch. This picture was taken during an evening walk on the 27th.

The following morning, we decided to explore Trout Lake. On Saturdays, the Farmers' Market brings lots of visitors and action to the park, but even with all the activity,

there were wildlife sightings. This osprey circled overhead, and a photographer told us about a Cooper's Hawk that he had seen moments before we arrived.

Trout Lake has a swimming spot for dogs, and quiet places where you can leave the crowds and feel nature around you.

Bill keeps his moments of rest amazingly short. Ten minutes with his eyes closed, and then he is ready for action. This climbing apparatus is in a playground near Trout Lake, and it took only a moment to convince him to try it out.

I wish I had had my smaller lens with me, so that I could give you a better sense of perspective. Still, you can definitely sense Bill's pleasure in reaching the top. I climbed it as well (with much less grace), and understood exactly how he felt, but there are fortunately no photos to record my tenuous moment of triumph.

Do kids really climb these things? I wonder how a child might navigate without the advantage of longish legs.

On the last day of August, we biked to the central branch of Vancouver Public Library. I went in first. I've become obsessed lately with the life and music of Johannes Brahms.

I found two volumes of his correspondence with Clara Schumann, and lots of information as well about his close friendship with Clara and her husband, Robert. Clara, a very successful concert pianist, managed to raise a large family, while inspiring her husband to compose. Sadly, she finally had to cope with his mental illness. That illness has been explored in this article. I have spent many hours lately reading and thinking about these three musicians and their complex relationship.

Once I had my books, I waited outside with Black Jack, and Bill went in the library to do some investigating. While I waited for him, I watched a fellow feeding the pigeons a large bag of chips.

The pigeons were lined up on just about every part of that fellow's body, but when another person came along with what appeared to be more nutritious grains, the majority of the pigeons opted for that choice. I am really curious about the junk food/healthy food preferences of birds. This cartoon at made me smile.

Many people dislike pigeons but I always thing that is unfair. They come in the most beautiful assortment of colours.

That evening, another walk at Jericho yielded my first view of four beavers together. I managed to catch three of them in this shot.

I am a bit ashamed to admit this, but as many times as I have enjoyed Lost Lagoon and other treasures on the west side of Stanley Park, I had somehow missed this dragon on the other side of the causeway. We biked around the seawall on September 1st, something I had never done in its entirety.

Part of my reason for wanting to explore the entire seawall, is that I had heard that a Grey Whale was once more visiting Vancouver. There had been one in April, and whether this was the same one has not been confirmed. We weren't lucky enough to see the whale that day, but other sights like this seagull,

and a stunning sunset over English Bay, made the day a great one.

On the way home, I stopped to catch this photo of a corner of the Burrard Bridge.

The next morning, we got up early and biked over the Lions Gate Bridge to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. We were still on a search to find the whale. Bill and Black Jack were checking out the territory,

when I asked a gentleman if he had by any chance seen the whale.
"Oh, yeah," he said, calmly.
"Really?" I said, not calmly at all. "In the last couple of hours?"
"In the last two minutes," he replied. "It's right over there."

I looked to my right, and quite a distance down the shore, there was the whale.

Bill and I started going along the shore towards it, but realized afterwards that we should probably have stayed where we were. The whale came our direction, and I caught a couple of shots of its blow hole as it passed by.

Many people missed it, I guess because a whale is the last thing one expects to see so close to the shore. Most of my shots were really poor, but here, you can see the spray as it moved by.

It came right alongside the spot where we had been standing originally, then headed around the corner, and under the Lions Gate Bridge. The Welcome Totem seemed to wave "good-bye" as it left. I felt like the luckiest person in the world to have had a chance to see it.

Later in the afternoon, I spent a few hours in a little spot along English Bay. The cormorants were fun to watch as they played/hunted in the waves.

I have really loved cycling and discovering new parts of the city with Bill this summer. We have both commented that it could well take a lifetime to fully take advantage of Vancouver's green space.

The picture below was taken on September 4th at Crab Park. I hadn't realized that this monument in memory of the women murdered on the downtown east side had been erected in 1997, five years before Robert Pickton was arrested. It is a very sad story and you may want to think twice before checking out these last two links, but the fact the police are now investigating why it took them so long to pay attention to what many either knew or strongly suspected is at least one small consolation.

I stood for a long time, looking at that monument, as the sound of a bagpipe drifted up from the rocks. I believe the gentleman may have been tuning his instrument, as there was no discernible melody. I had a trombone teacher once who used to say of bagpipes, "Thank Heavens they don't smell as well!" That always made me laugh, but recently, I have had to admit to a fondness for that drone. It evokes a pensiveness that I also see.. the musician's face. It is not by accident that bagpipe music feels like the right choice to mark both occasions of great significance and smaller moments of contemplation.

And so, this post hops around from Turtle Gardens to Granville Island to Stanley Park to Jericho Park to Trout Lake, then across the ocean to visit Brahms and the Schumanns in Germany, and then back to Vancouver's library square, to English Bay, to Ambleside Beach, and finally, to this little garden at the corner of 6th Avenue and Cypress.
The two osprey couples, Lawrence & Olivia, and Jewel & Jonny, as well as the eagles at Jericho and Vanier, have gone unmentioned, and there was a visit to Victoria at the beginning of August that I hope to record. Those stories must wait until the next time the blogging muse strikes. Thanks, as always, for taking time to read about my adventures.