Thursday, April 22, 2010

Island Fever

Canadians have a reputation of laid-backness. It is true. I'd like to think. My Canadian friends are. Elsecially Mr and Mrs. B-. They are dear friends that recently moved to Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island) as a result of the dreariness of the up-island town of Pt. Alberni. Charming in that sunless and rainy, I-think-I'd-like-to-drink way.

Now, they enjoy sunny dog-walks on the beach and copious coffee. I never thought I would to being able to sleep after a cup, but after a few days with them, it was a regular part of my blood composition. The baton passed- now tea gives me the shakes; this shall pass...

But's lets talk about the simple joys in life.

Great Pleasures of Great Projects and Lofty Missions are great, and I subscribe to them, but even they leave one with a hollow spot somewhere behind the sternum.

I was reminded in a conclusive way by my Canadian friends the importance, no, the essentialness of simple pleasures, which is often within domestic life. Yes. So let us look at some dog pictures. And walks on beaches. And gardens-moved-to-back-porches.
And simple fantastic snacks. No, that's yogurt, not ice cream.

I am so inspired by Mrs. B-'s joyous patio plant ghetto that I fancy I'll invest in a trough and pots for my homeless garden when I get home. ("Home," here, being a rather fleeting word, like a nervous chickadee)

Now that I'm all relaxed, it's time for some evening-walk-inspired environmentalism.
I am not calling for any actions nor supporting/proposing any policies, personal nor governmental. Here's some pictures and interpretation.

Biking through Nanaimo, I came upon this lovely, thin-soil-over-rock hill. Coated in mosses and outwardly puncuated by trees, including the above Arbutus menziesii. (A glorious luminescent Ericaceous {Heather Family [they all do well in the Pacific Northwest]} tree with bright, naked, bark and glossy evergreen leaves.) I hid the bike and took myself for a little walk up the ridge. The environment produced between sheets of tiny-flowering-annual studded moss and leaning conifers and Arbutus is a quaint ethereal stroll through one of those forest-style bonsai. The whole thing is sitting on top of a solid mass of dark grey rock, the trees inhabiting puddles of pure-humus soil. Beautiful.
This shot is for you, Allan. Rocks and Ericaceous plants.
Why are these words underlined? I'm too computer un-savvy to fix it...

But the interesting bit is where this hillock has been carved into to accomodate new houses for a growing Nanaimo. I am impressed that such massive amounts of rock can be sliced through so cleanly and efficiently enough to be economical. Cute houses.
Hanging off one of the edges is on of the three last Artostaphylos columbiana on this shrinking hill. It's not a rare plant in the Northwest, in fact, it is quite common. But there are three on this hill, each being genetically different. The last cut portion is unfinished, the road and homes are not built yet, and there may be no plans to cut more hill. It would be a novel drive through the hill into a neighbourhood if so.

In the study of weeds, one learns that weeds are nature's way of swinging disturbed soil back to the other side of the balance- old, established, tight ecologies. One will see certain plants only growing on roadsides and not away from the road. Well, that is a bad example, because roadside mowing and runoff also change that environment... But anyone who has bought a new house will find that they are up against worse weeds for it. The above picture demonstrates the soil-disturbance effect so perfectly, I never imagined such a clean exhibition. The top of the photo is the edge of the rock, which has been cut away some twenty feet removed. The bottom represents an undisturbed show of great green moss that covers the hill. Note the middle spectrum: how young Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) are springing up and the moss is markedly less green, then dead towards the cut edge.
A Fantastic exhibit.
Now, the discourse on the implications of finer degrees on spectrum of the human-nature disturbance interface, as well as personal value-based choices within the practical analysis of will be left for later, or never, on this blog.

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