Stalking my heart’s desire (warning, this post has gone to the birds)

I found an opportunity today to drive way across town, and end up with a couple hours free in the George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I haven’t visited since this last time.

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Oh what luck! This is such a wonderful place, where one can get this close to the birds. Close enough to count the drops on the drake’s back! 😀

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And the animals are so tame that one doesn’t need a super telephoto lens.

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A marshland/delta/ocean view location, ideal for all sorts of wildlife.

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Like beautiful wood ducks.

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And American wigeon.

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And pintails. Er…excuse me?

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Ah, there you are. 😀

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And, of course, the ubiquitous Canada geese.

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Who are a bit neurotic and bitchy right now, hissing up a storm.

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This is about the safest distance…unless you have bird seed in your pocket. It may be mating and egg time, but everyone is friendly for the bird seed!

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And the sanctuary provides loads of nest boxes in all kinds of habitats,

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So whether birds like trees, or marsh, or even for the do-it-yourselfers, there’s a nest, or materials for a nest really close at hand.

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And many are already being occupied, like this one in the middle of a pond has been claimed by a pair of purple house martins.

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I climbed up the three story tower to have a good look around.

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It’s 360% from up here!

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And up close and personal down there.

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But the real reason I came, the real object of my heart’s desire, are those magical sandhill cranes.

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A few are resident here. Last year they raised a couple chicks, but sadly the chicks disappeared and never grew to maturity.

The object of my heart

I’m hoping for a better outcome this year.

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Bye for now.

😀 OK, now I’m just writing silly lines to justify sticking one more picture into this post. But if only you know how many pictures I want to post and stop myself, you’d be impressed! 😀

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Visiting the Bloedel Conservatory

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Some days, when one is in a mad rush, it’s important to say, “Stuff this for a game of soldiers” to oneself and stop for more than two minutes together.

Chloe and I did just this the other day.

We stopped across town in my mother’s corner of Vancouver, to visit one of my most favourite places, The Bloedel Conservatory. A few years ago in danger of being phased out and dismantled… CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?…Vancouverites railed up in such huge numbers that this beautiful, tropical garden, with waterfalls and pools of rainbow fish, rescued airport smuggled lizards and geckos, over 200 free-flying birds, and over 500 species of tropical plant life, was saved.

I love greenhouses and, in many ways, being a gardener here would absolutely be my dream job, (if it wasn’t for the tourists…lol) But really, we don’t come here often enough. Each time we do stop by, we walk thru it from beginning to end, and then reverse from end to beginning and start over again, before we find a lovely bench to sit at, usually at a bird feeding station, and hang out for a few minutes. Only then, very reluctantly, we walk out the door, and only because we probably should not have stopped here in the first place. But for our sanity, it was the best decision of the week. 😀

PS. First photo is across downtown to the North Shore and you can probably see my house in that photo. Probably about where the two orange cranes on the dock are, above them, if you divide the constructed area into thirds, then just below the first third. (Probably making no sense at all…lol)

Ola from Sunday night, which suddenly turned into a Monday morning

There’s something to be said about bringing the weather with us.

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But we Vancouverites, what do we care about the rain! We don’t ever bother with an umbrella in a good old West Coast downpour… so a tropical storm? It’s just March lioning it.

And then there’s that sky!

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evening rain

And that tropical Pacific.

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This evening I walked in the warm, wet sand, and let the surf splash up my legs. I watched dolphins playing and pelicans floating, and small birds darting among the palms, until the last of the light was gone.

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And then, exhausted from two extremely shorts nights and hours of travel, I slept, and slept, and slept thru the warm and humid Mexican night. 😀

Afternoon break in a hectic day

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This little urban park was such a welcome break in my rather full and hectic day. Clover and I walked around and thru it and noticed that the city really did plant an amazing assortment of trees here. This is an old part of town and some of the trees have probably been here for for the better part of a 100 years, and it was lovely to stop the car, go for a walk and watch the squirrels and birds.

And then we got on with this long, but successful day, made even better by taking some time to stop for a while.

A river runs

Apparently it’s been a dry and lovely summer here on the West Coast and, while we can still believe that it’s the height of summer, there are undeniable signs of autumn all around.

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But what do we care about that on a golden Saturday as this Saturday it turning out to be?

We pick our way thru the boreal forest, around the giant cedars and firs, thru the curtain of vine maple…

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…to the aspens and the river.

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And we stick out feet right in and and balance on the slippery rocks with our toes.

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And then, when the cold, mountain water isn’t taking our breath away, we gently ease our bodies right into the river…

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…and watch as the aspens drop their leaves and float them by.

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And hours go by and the shadows lengthen and we reluctantly dry off and head out of the boreal forest for home.

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And as we walk out of the forest, the summer river seems like a memory because the signs of autumn whisper to us from all around. They are as ephemeral as a spider’s web and as real as next year’s wildflowers seeds caught within.

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But even as our thoughts turn to autumn, we will hold on to our summer river as long as we can.

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Time for one last walk. The Wychwood forest.

Very close to us at West Cottage is a forest called Wychwood. It used to stretch over 180 square miles and was counted as a Royal Forest of William the Conqueror in the 1086 Doomsday book.

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It’s a mixed forest of pines, beech, oak, maple, and the most glorious, tall bracken undergrowth.

It has a circular public path thru it and we chose to have a walk here today.

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walk

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At one point, the path wend out of the forest…

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…and we stopped and looked over our beautiful Oxfordshire countryside…

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…and the golden fields around us.

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Then we found a majestic oak and had a rest and listened to the forest.

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Summer is almost over and we can see autumn approaching fast.
Tomorrow I have to leave the country and return to the city, but I’m glad we got to walk thru this magical forest before I had to go.

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch, and I’ll come visit everyone after I land in Vancouver.

Quiet days

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The world is very liminal today.

It’s a grey day here where things can go either way.

The river is very still.

Robert and I wonder if the river is still because of a storm downstream. Too much water downstream. Is that even possible? We like the idea.

The clouds are luminous, the world is wet, all is as perfect as perfect can be.

Messing about in boats

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And the Water Rat said:

“If you believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing, half so worth doing as – simply messing about in boats!”

(Wind in the Willows)

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The phone rang. Robert asked,

“Would you like to go out in an Edwardian Canadian canoe launch with Geoff and Dawnie around 2 PM?”

I must admit I had to get my mind around that one; Edwardian, Canadian, canoe, launch?

R explained: a 1908 restored launch form the Edwardian era, made to resemble a Canadian canoe, down the backwaters of the Thames, to the lock at Henley on Thames, and back.

Are you kidding me! 😀

You know, sometimes in our lives we just have to stop and take stock. I remember one of the first times R was at my cabin with me and he though, “here I am, in the middle of nowhere, backwoods Canada, with bears and coyotes all around. Surreal… 😀 ” I must admit this was one of those times for me.

Geoff had arranged to borrow the Beazie, a beautiful, wooden, fanciful, canoe-type boat with a super quiet, electric engine, from his friend Richard. Tulip, Richard’s dog, was really pushing to be allowed to come along. She jumped into the boat three times and three times she was very gently but firmly evicted. Poor Tulip. You can just see her disappointed, little, mushy face.

So off we went, under the willows, past swans and cottages with roses, thru the little backwater channel, to the main stream of the Thames and huge mansions. There was a lot of boat traffic on the main river. Lots of children in summer camps and people paddling, camping, swimming, having all sorts of fun, in all sorts of boats. We came past some boys who were tired form their paddling and gave them a tow much to their delight.

I so wanted to see a kingfisher. More than anything. I kept looking for one but there were none to be seen. Then, a blur of blue, and Geoff turned the launch around, and just there, on a small branch above the water, sat my kingfisher in his azure waistcoat and orange socks. He held tight to his fish prize and, as we got closer, flew off.

Could a day be more perfect than this day?

Sharing with the WordPress weekly photo challenge: Summer Lovin’

My birthday and RBG Kew

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know I love the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. And you probably also know that it’s my birthday treat is to visit each year.

You would probably not be surprised to know that Kew is a riot of flowers and colours, and that, each year, the Kew world changes. One year there was the most beautiful Dale Chihuly installation here. Hundreds and hundreds of colourful glass sculptures stood in gardens, floating on ponds and lakes, were suspended from trees and ceilings. One year the focus was on vegetables and other edibles, and this year the focus was on comfort, protection, healing and medicinal plants from all around the world.

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Robert and I had a ton of unexpected traffic into London and came to RBG Kew later than we wanted but just in time for lunch.
We walked past the palm house, past the brilliant flower beds, to the Orangery cafe.

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And while the hot reds, purples and yellows were very much on view, exciting and wonderful, what I noticed most were the white flowers. Each time I came on a brilliant white blossom, my heart skipped a beat and I had to stop.

It may have been the sunshine, may have been the terrible traffic jam, but I felt that I needed the cool, clear, peaceful white flowers that day, and so, this year, Kew became the year of the white garden for me.

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We did the usual tour of the gardens between the palm house and the Orangery, but then decided to walk out into the arboretum to see the Thames.

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We walked and walked and eventually made our way back to the Orangery, and R decided he wanted a rest, so he found a shady tree while I went on to explore the walled gardens.

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I love Robert, but I loved my alone time.

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I held hands with the trees…

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I waved with the grasses…

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And I captured as much of the peace in my heart as I could.

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Eventually, I walked out of the walled gardens to the Princess of Wales conservatory and explored the alpines and cacti.

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And made friends with some gardeners working in the grasses.

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Found Robbie right where I left him…

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And we went on to explore some more. 😀

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More from Kew tomorrow.

Here I am in England! At home.

Look what Robert had waiting for me!

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But that’s not all. Look what else was waiting for me!

This is my new car; it’s a vintage, 1970’s series 3 Land Rover.

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And it’s MINE! Robbie bought it for me and he and Jason fixed almost everything on it in time for me to get here.

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By the way, it’s been named DODO (as per the license plate)! So I’m introducing you to The Dodo. You’ll probably see a lot of it and my mini this summer, (which by the way has been named The Doctor because the license plate says DOC. I need a Dalek key chain for my mini…lol).

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What I thought when I got here was that I only had three tea bags left in the cupboard. How could I survive with only three tea bags? :( There just is no way! So I asked R to drive to the store so I could get some more tea.

Then we cleaned up the cupboard and found all this tea! 😀

But he still drove to the store to get me some fresh tea bags.

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Ah…my hero!

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Now we’re at home. R is with our friend Alan trying to sort out a problem on Alan’s car and I’ve just picked this lovely, fat Nigella seed pod out of the garden…

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…and drew it on the page that says “English”.

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It’s good to be here. 😀