You will notice

With the arrival of so many new island neighbours and a lot of blog readers who weren’t following the blog during our last really good herring spawn, I thought I would provide some information which might excite you for what may come again. Cross your fingers the spring of 2021 will provide another great nature show. With all the crazy that is going on in our world, we could use something to look forward to. A reward if you will.

This spring it will have been seven years since the last really good herring spawn around this island. A number of times in the last week we have tried to explain to newcomers what to watch for and how really exciting that time was here. It is very hard to describe, but here is a summary of our experience from 2014.

What we have observed from the 2014 herring spawn (our first) is as follows.. It is not meant to be scientific in any way but for our record.

March 21 – We saw schools of herring below our deck and watched them release eggs which floated to the surface

March 28 – Pacific White sided dolphins swam below the deck presumably here for the herring

April 2 – Spawn in the waters opposite our house on neighbouring island. Eggs visible on the kelp, water white with milt, Gulls and eagles feasting on herring pushed to the surface by hundreds of sea lions

April 6– Pod of Orca (5) follow the spawn through the Narrows past our house. April 8 – Milt in the water north of our marina.

April 9 – Spawn outside of south Marine Park… Lots and lots of eagles

April 10 – Milt appears in our south bay.. begins in front of the family house and spreads across the bay. By early evening it filled the bay and the shore off the Point.. The bay next to us completely is white also by the time we went home.

April 13 – Marine Park full of eagles and sea lions… Our sister-in-law woke up in the family house to an episode of the national geographic in the south bay. Over fifty eagles, and as many otter, sea lions and seals feeding on the spawn. It continued for the next two days

April 20 – Hundreds of herring gulls and sea gulls remain on the beaches at the south end. Fields of Scoters hang around on the water for over ten days just off shore.

There has been some question of the route the herring follow.. There are those in the camp who say the herring come from the north, moving south… as we witnessed with the spawn and others who say the herring move north… E’s dad was of the opinion they moved north. I would never argue with him. Especially as he spent most of his career with the DFO. So I looked it up in on the google… I attach for your interest….. Herring Migratory Behavior

It seems the herring feed in the fall and winter off the west coast of Vancouver Island and then move north up the Georgia Straight, past us, to then spend the spring spawning and moving back down south. It seems everyone was right

I am confident that very few of you have followed this blog since the beginning in 2010 and even fewer have later joined and then read it from the beginning. You could call it laziness that I am just repeating an entry from six years ago but I figure few of

you will notice

fun these days

My father in law used to say that he didn’t have a middle name because his family was too poor. Honestly, I think his mother gave one to her oldest, a daughter but just couldn’t be bothered to think up an extra one for her boys. Lucky thing or they likely would have been saddled with names like Ludwig or Ignacy. A pianist by trade, she was a big fan of classical music.

We may be getting a new puppy, so options for a suitable name is an ongoing topic of conversation. You know, in case we decide to go through with it. There are currently 82 people on the waitlist from the breeder where we got Piper so I am not holding my breath. We aren’t at the bottom of the waitlist so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared just in case.

We have had six purebred cocker spaniels in our years together, along with two senior mutts we took in for their last years. Our first dog, Finnegan, was named by our five year old son after his favorite show. I was in a rum and coke stage of my life when we got Bacardi and our daughter, a huge Canucks fan named Sami. When E got his new heart, I got another spaniel and named her Ticker. Our latest puppy, Piper, was named after one of our favorite Mark Knopfler songs.

My sister named her new puppy after the primary source of income in her village. Fish, is by far the cutest name I have every heard for a dog. After a lifetime of naming family cats, in my sister in law’s home she gave up and just named their newest pet, white cat. When we were living at SoHo and the dogs would wake us up in the middle of the night to bark at tugboat lights, E threatened to name our next two dogs, Shut and Up.

We have always had at least two dogs and it seems quiet here with just the one. After saying goodbye to Sami last year I just could not imagine going through it again. It still worries me and that is why the hesitation in getting another. As a lot of you know, saying goodbye to a dog is just the absolute worst.

The nice thing about Cocker Spaniels is they don’t hunt, they retrieve. They don’t usually tend to wander unless the next door neighbour is cooking sausages or handing out cookies. They have soft mouths and, if tested, can bring you a raw egg unsmushed. Having said that, Finnegan did tend to follow anyone walking along the beach so had to be tied up when we visited the island with Papa. Warren would have killed me if the dog left the property. We are fairly lucky with Piper but the worry that a new puppy might bother our new neighbours gives me pause.

If we do get a puppy, I would like to keep with a Mark Knopfler themed name or maybe something nautical. In case we do get one, suggestions are welcome.

I would like to name the dog the nickname my Grandma was given by her family but E isn’t a fan, says it sounds too much like a parrot. We probably won’t get a puppy any time soon. It is a long waitlist but, just in case, thinking of ideas for a name is a good part of my

fun these days

Happily ever after

The first time we hosted Christmas dinner for our extended family was 1986. We had a seven month old baby and we wanted to start our own traditions. I had made the stuffing for the turkeys in the house when I was growing up so early that morning I naturally began to make the stuffing. E soon stood over me huffing and puffing about my method. We had a huge fight.

He has made the stuffing and prepped the turkey every year since. He tweaked the recipe over the first few years to a point where most of us really just go through the motions of eating the turkey itself. We are there for the stuffing.

No turkey for us this Thanksgiving, no kids and no family. E and I celebrated last night alone with leftover hamburger chowder. Don’t be sad for us though, we are having a nice dinner with four friends tonight in a covid friendly manner. Doors and windows open, seats far apart. I made apple pie.

You might have heard that we had a little bit of rain yesterday. If you are curious, we gained 625 gallons! Tanks are sitting at 5600 gallons. I celebrated with a long hot bath.

Our daughter phoned to get her Dad’s recipe, as this year would be her first time to make the turkey stuffing. Apparently it went well. I am glad. I wouldn’t want her to have been arguing with her fella over poultry seasoning like her parents before her.

Not many things to argue about any more. Disagreeable jobs were divided up long ago. He makes the turkey dinners, I set the table. I do the banking and bill paying, he pours the wine. It all evens out and we live

happily ever after

With their return

My first thought this morning when I awoke was how quiet and still our world is. This time of year there have been no songbirds, geese or eagles yapping below my window to wake me. Lately the seal hasn’t even been fishing at dawn. I guess there are no fish around.

It doesn’t take much imagination to remember the sounds we started our day with when we lived in the city. Traffic and sirens. Lots and lots of sirens. Nothing but peace and quiet here on the island. At least for the moment. It won’t be long ‘til a wind storm visits. There is no sleeping through that noise.

The eagle came back today. I am sure his family and friends will be joining him in time for the holiday weekend and so my mornings will again start with their chatter.

Got the rosemary apple jelly canned and the kitchen cleaned up by nine. Left me the rest of the day for small chores. Once I got all the canning equipment put away, my very tiny kitchen seemed so much roomier. Good riddance, I say, to the mess until next September.

I was tidying the deck in preparation for winter storms when my resident seal showed up, swimming back and forth in front of me. I thought “isn’t that nice to have him with me while I sweep the deck”. That is when the eagle decided to make his return known. He came from nowhere and dived at the seal’s head. Scared the heck out of all of us. Poor seal made a tremendous splash getting safely back under the water. I am sure that he didn’t have a fish in his mouth so what the heck did the eagle think he was doing?

It seems the fish must be back in the waters below me with the rest of the gang following. Eagles, seals, sea lions, maybe a few whales? My mornings may be a bit noisier but that is okay, my days will definitely be more interesting

with their return

sandwiches is ironic

There is a long list of tools I never knew I needed until we moved here. The sewing machine, seam ripper, food mill and magnet sweep to name a few. Today my favourite toy is the apple peeler.

We dealt with our apples and the peeler saved me sore wrists and hours of time. Six and half quarts of apple pie filling is now sitting in the pantry waiting to solve urgent winter pie emergencies and the rosemary apple jelly is at this very moment dripping through a cheese cloth. Tomorrow morning, it will be canned and I will be done for the year with all possible jars in the house filled. Finit! Finito!

I somehow managed to go through my life never reading the Sue Grafton books. You know the ones. A is for.. B is for..

Well, her book S is for Silence was in our community library box and I read it and thought it was alright so I downloaded the rest and have started at the beginning. Just my level of concentration required and I can read one in a day. Not too big of a time commitment. I am now at E and will likely not accomplish much else around the property until I finish the alphabet. Fortunately rain is forecast.

It’s a nice feeling having a full pantry and the jars certainly do look pretty on the shelf. The fact that our covid meal of choice for dinner is cheese and crackers and our lunch preference peanut butter and banana

sandwiches, is ironic

Need of nothing

We have had a wee Belted Kingfisher hanging about the deck for the last few weeks. He rarely sits still long enough for me to get a picture. I caught him waiting for breakfast this morning. If he was a she there would be a broad rust coloured band around the chest.

We also have a baby raccoon hanging around. We haven’t had babies around for a long time. It probably has something to do with the owls living on our lane. This cutie was playing hide and seek with Piper. The baby was convinced Piper couldn’t see him if he hid his eyes. I am telling you, it was cute as can be.

I could tell you now that, after two days of burning debris, we have had a good start at tidying the property but I know you are eagerly waiting to hear about our water levels.

It is the end of September and we have 4700 gallons of water in our tanks. Essentially the reserves are half full and we are at the beginning of rain catchment season. This bodes well. Previous years we have had less than half that amount. Plans are underway for a suitable celebration for the moment we hit 8500 gallons. There will most definitely be cake.

It has been seven weeks since we were in the city. If it weren’t for a Doctor’s appointment which we can’t avoid, we wouldn’t leave the island at all. As I have mentioned before, our pantry and cupboards are well stocked and along with the weekly community delivery of milk and fresh vegetables from the neighbouring island we are in

need of nothing.