Friday, August 31, 2007

celebrating the seasons

Yesterday morning I woke early enough to watch this beautiful sunrise. Sitting on the deck with my tea, feeling spectacularly lucky, blessed, peaceful.In the photo below, the rising sun outlines our arbutus, the one on the right showing the stubborn remains of the ivy which former owners planted and which was threatening to overcome this majestic tree. My US readers will know these trees better as madrona -- we're reaching the northerly limits of their spread here, and I've thought of them as almost magical since I was a child. Apparently, they're now being threatened by a blight which has caused many to die back. As well, new housing development takes many of them down and even homeowners who embrace them at first -- their trunk which regularly peels its red surface back to reveal a pistachio-like green for a stunning combo--eventually want to get rid of them for being "dirty" trees. And it's true, they are evergreen, but shed their leaves regularly, and it's a leaf that doesn't break down easily. Our yard is landscaped with a "cottage garden" look so we don't worry about neatness or a leaf-free lawn, but the island culture is much more tolerant of this attitude than most suburbs. For now, at least, we have our arbutus and they frame my morning sunrises beautifully!
Paul's taken a few days off, albeit with his Blackberry to keep things copacetic at the office. So once the sun was up and we had some breakfast, we headed off to our favourite nursery, Island Specialty in Chemainus. Here's the intermediate step of that trip (first step is biking the kilometre to our boat)
That's our boat in the foreground on the left -- you can see what a long walk we have along the dock, and maybe you can imagine what this might be like on a rainy day (or an icy or snowy one!). This dock is a communal one with a policy of first-come-first-served and no reserved spots -- and much of its length is over water shallow enough to leave boats high and dry in low tide. We moved to this dock after the private, very-poorly-maintained dock we'd been using for years finally collapsed this past winter. So far the move is working out okay, altho' I've taken to using the ferry rather than contend with having to negotiate a different docking spot each time and often having to raft up to other boats (and often, when you want to leave, untie from those who have rafted up to you!). As well, our other spot was in the lee of most of the fall and winter winds which made docking much easier. Still, while moorage space is under the pressure of our island's population growth, this communal system does seem to work and most of our fellow boaters are considerate -- helps that our boat is welded aluminum and can take a lot of bashing!

Anyway, we made it to Island Specialty although our favourite staff member, Mary Dawn, wasn't there -- we've now got four new shrubs to plant today. One will be replacing a cistus that had gotten far too messy and that didn't give much beyond its three weeks of blossoms -- just didn't pay the rent, that one, so it got shovel-pruned! We splurged on a fabulous variety of Corylus avellana contorta 'Red Majestic'-- the Harry Lauder Walking stick, except this one has purple-red foliage and even purple catkins! Also picked up a small arbutus uneda (strawberry tree) for a large pot, a small variegated (red-green) Japanese maple, and a quercus garryi (Garry oak) -- much of this island used to be Garry oak meadow, now a threatened ecosystem, so we're hoping this native will settle in happily here. It has home-grown cousins just around the corner on our neighbours' property.

So I'm a bit disappointed that there's no beautiful sunrise today, but the rain will be good for our new plantings. And since it's raining and it's the last day of August, maybe I should start thinking about the good things fall brings. Sweaters, for example, and this season there are so many great cardigans. Here's one I bought a few weeks ago -- mine is black, but trying to photograph black is pretty frustrating so here's the grey one, from the Free People site . ADDED LATER TO CLEAR ANY CONFUSION: I didn't buy this online but rather from the Aritzia store on Robson Street in Vancouver
I know I'm going to use this often--my office is in another building from the one I generally teach in, so I need something to keep me warm when I dash back and forth. I love the shaping, the length, and the texture and drape of this. I wish I could guarantee results like this when I knit myself sweaters -- this has it all! In fact, not being able to guarantee results is why I partly agree with what Grumperina recently said about giving up knitting sweaters (her August 27th entry -- don't seem to be able to link to specific post). I've got too much respect for designers, too much awareness of my own limitations to try to create the sweaters I love each season and rarely are there patterns that do exactly what I want (altho' I do have several in the queue right now). Even if there were, I don't know how the sweater will look on me 'til it's done, some $100+ and many hours later. I don't buy garments unless they make me feel good as soon as I put them on and look in the mirror, yet I'm trying to convince myself to wear something because of the cost and effort I put into it. I won't be giving up on sweaters anytime soon, 'cause there's just something about wearing one you've made when it all just works -- but I'm not holding back buying un-homemade, especially when there are so many great ones offering protection against the coming fall chill.

But the fall chill hasn't arrived yet -- in fact, the recent sunshine here has convinced this favourite of mine (Romneya Coulteri or California Tree Poppy) to bloom againAnd these Graham Thomas buds seem to think there's all kinds of summer ahead.
ADDED 20 minutes later: just came racing back, huffing and puffing, all excited, to tell you that you have to go check out Une Femme D'Un Certain Age whose post this morning mentions me and links to my site -- she'll show you a great pair of Fluevog boots, you'll love them! My first mention in a blogpost -- better than an academic citation anyday!


  1. Hey mom,
    Soaking up the last bits of summer eh?
    what the hell time was that picture taken at? Had a lot on your mind that morning?
    I remember when we were little, we used to look forward to the arbutus bark peeling. We'd look for the ones that looked like cigars and pretend to smoke them. I never realized that people though of them as dirty trees. I supose that those are most likely the people who have leaf blowers to solve that "problem"

  2. Hey girlcook: yes, you know what it means when I'm up that early--couldn't sleep.
    We're lucky to live somewhere where we don't need to own a leaf blower, and you were pretty lucky to grow up here!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...