Note: I began this post before Valentine's Day, but then came midterms and reports, and so, here I am, more than two weeks later, writing its conclusion.
Some time ago, I received my first ever blog award. It came from EvenSong, and was passed on again by Jean, at MyLifeWithTheCritters. It is called The Stylish Blogger Award, and it turns out, all three of us consider comfort to be a much higher priority than style. I guess I would have to say we each have our own particular brand of style:) There are rules that go along with the award, but I have a feeling EvenSong and Jean will forgive me if I bend those rules quite a bit. I hope the flavour of this post will reflect my thanks to them, and that a few more readers will discover their blogs. EvenSong is a teacher who also raises horses. Her "Jill of All Trades" talent boggles my brain. Jean writes with honesty, pathos and refreshing humour of her adventures, as influenced by a variety of her rescued critters.
So, interspersed among the usual photos, will be more links than usual to blogs and sites that I enjoy. There is only one recently discovered one, but all offer food for thought and point out interesting aspects of the world around us.
This American Wigeon was at the shoreline in North Vancouver, on Thursday.
As a photograph, I'm not so sure it works, but I love the way the sun caught the brilliant splash of green extending back from its eye. That brings me to four photographers who are not bloggers, but their sites are awe-inspiring and their photos always seem to work. You can find them at the following links: Shiprock, Iputts, Michelle and Henrik. If you have time to check out these sites, I feel certain the time will be well spent.
I often take pictures of plants and birds, and although I mostly make some sort of effort to identify birds, I rarely do the same for plants. I forgive myself with the reminder that there are only so many hours in the day, and sometimes, with a full time job, recording the beauty around me has to be, as Jean would say, "good enough." I took the following two pictures of a sign at Stanley Park that identifies some of the plants growing there, thinking they might come in handy if ever I decide to work harder at plant identification. With my huge lens, I had to settle for the left half of the sign in this shot,
and the right side in this one.
Two blogs offer a wealth of flora and fauna information to the reader. Wanderin'Weeta's stories add warmth and compassion to the biological details we learn about creatures and organisms of every size and shape, some so tiny, only a microscope can bring them to her eyes.
Another close-up view of B.C's flora and fauna is given to us by Dave Ingram at a site called Island Nature. He lives on Vancouver Island, and I find it interesting to compare his findings on the island to those of Wanderin Weeta's on the mainland.
My stop-off at Lost Lagoon on Thursday was a short one - perhaps only about fifteen minutes, but those minutes were rich. Someone had left this beautiful bouquet of flowers just above eye level in some trees by the water.
Since the story that must surely go with them is unknown to me, I will put their beauty to great use by awarding my photo of them to Maria Pavlik. She is the author of a children's book, With My Umbrella I can: the Magical Journey of Penelope Puddle that I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading, but it is now a must find for me. There are a few young children in my life and I have a strong feeling they would love it. Penelope also writes a blog entitled: Penelope Puddlisms; BC Life is a Whale of a Ride. Her blog takes you around the Lower Mainland, and also has a beautifully photographed and carefully detailed series of posts about her trip to Europe. That series should be required reading for anyone planning such an adventure. Penelope's curiosity and appreciation for her world comes through in every post. It is a heartwarming, imaginative and always fascinating blog.
*Special note: I have edited the above paragraph, as I mistakenly assumed Maria's book was one I remembered from an elementary school teacher's reading list, but in fact, that was too long ago to have been her story. My apologies to Maria!
This swan was in the lagoon, looking coyly back through its gorgeous wings.
Watching it interact with another swan, I interpreted the four or five 360 degree turns it made (while the second remained quite still) as courtship behaviour. However, I've checked some Mute Swan sites, and have found nothing to substantiate that belief. I've even watched video footage of the mating ritual of a swan couple, and their actions did not look at all like the pair I watched in Stanley Park. Nevertheless, the dance was beautiful to see. Around and around the one on the right went, at quite a dizzying speed, almost touching the other, each time it circled. Do you suppose it could have been a threatening behaviour?
Surely not. The heart-shape of their two heads and necks seemed made-to-order just in time for Valentine's Day.
Here, I love to think that the male's dance had the desired affect, and they swam away to build (or restart) their life together.
Mute Swans are not native to BC and the ones brought here from England have to be pinioned to prevent them flying out of the park and mating with native species. It is rare for the young at Stanley Park to survive to adulthood. The few that do must be pinioned as well. I have written about this before, and it is something that still bothers me. Surely, there must be a way to correct a mistake made many years ago when the swans were brought from England to entertain visitors at Stanley Park. Couldn't they be slowly phased out? Or, taken back to England? If they were able to make the trip here, surely they could make it back again. At least there, the young could fly away when they reach maturity, and the older pairs could be protected as they live out their life. If you are interested in finding more information on the subject, this article presents quite a balanced viewpoint. I do think the light shining through their wings is a stirring sight.
I resisted the look in this one's eyes with difficulty, and obeyed the signs not to feed the wildlife.
One blog that inspires me is that of Marianne and Bill at Addourmusic. They are a retired couple and have great FUN exploring their world. They travel around BC, but also do some long-distance trips. On their blog are accounts of a journey to The South Pacific and if you look back to May, 2010, there are fascinating descriptions of their trip to Egypt. They do the blog together. Bill loves to compose, using his Yamaha Clavinova, and Marianne is a keen photographer. I met them while osprey-watching, and hope to have as much fun with retirement as they are having!
And, speaking of fun, the final series of pictures that day at Lost Lagoon were of this seagull taking a bath. They weren't spectacular photos, but if that seagull wasn't having a rip-roaring good time, I would be hard pressed to attribute any other words to its expression. It was the whitest of a flock of seagulls, all busy with their bathing routine. Surely, its whiteness was due to a particular love of being clean. Here, it ducks under.
My last photo before leaving the lagoon was of this Lesser Scaup (I think). I love the patterns in these ducks, but what really gave me pleasure were the water ripples.
On that lovely stop-off by the Lagoon, I was absolutely convinced that Spring had arrived. As I write at this moment, there is snow - yes, you read correctly - snow falling outside my window. It seems particularly fitting to show the flowers on Denman Street that day, as I left the Lagoon and walked toward Beach Avenue. I have biked by this flower shop and seen petals on the hedges many times. Each time, I have thought I should stop, and on that day, I did.
The lady in the shop was very friendly when she saw me taking photos. Aren't the flowers beautiful? I hope they remind you that Spring isn't really that far away. I feel sure, in spite of the white vista outside my window, that it is truly just around the corner. You can check out the flower shop here. The web site is almost as beautiful as the shop.
I came to know of this last blog only a couple of days ago. Black Jack and I were out for a walk, when we met a young Sheltie. Black Jack began to run around the grassy area as fast as her little legs would carry her. Pixel wasn't quite sure what to make of that, but in the end, they played together, and I (of course) snapped a couple of photos, even though my huge lens was all wrong for the job. Pixel was with two young women, and I gave them the google words to find my blog, should they want to see Pixel's photograph. I didn't really expect to hear back, but that evening, there was an e-mail message from Margarita. It turns out that she had thought I looked familiar, and indeed, she was correct. I was her teacher, twenty-five years ago, in Ste. Agathe des Monts, Quebec! As soon as I saw her name, I remembered Margarita. She was Maggie to me at that time, and she stood out in the class for her sensitive and thought-provoking writing, peacemaking spirit, and musical talent as well. She has since graduated with a Fine Arts degree, discovered love in the myriad of forms it takes, established two successful businesses and travelled the world. I am thrilled to be afforded the opportunity to reconnect with a very special person. She has just begun a blog called "Love Matters", and it will, I know, reflect her life's journey with honesty and insight. I have linked it at the side of my page, and look forward to following it for a long time to come. Here is her adorable dog, Pixel.
As for the rules of the Stylish Blogger Award, they were to:
- Thank and link back the person that awarded it to you
- Share 7 things about yourself
- Pay it forward to 15 recently discovered great Bloggers
- Contact those Bloggers and tell them about their blog award
Not so bad:
- Perhaps, it counts that I did this exercise once, quite some time ago, in a post called "My Seven Factoids." Some of you may remember my story about swimming with the whale (1990, not 1980, as mistakenly told in the story), or stealing Scott (my last dog), or having a motorcycle, or perhaps you remember some details about my eye condition. One detail in that post is no longer true. I have not joined a hockey pool this season.
- Only about half of the requirement, and not even that, since only one of the blogs is new to me, but I like them so much, perhaps they count for double:)
- Instead of contacting the bloggers, I'll just repeat my thanks here for their wonderful stories and photos, and hope that a few more readers will find their sites.