Monday, September 05, 2011

Five hundred words

Because this picture only tells half the story.

This is an adult female osprey.

She carries a perch in one talon.

She has two nearly grown nestlings.

She was in the middle of feeding one of her nestlings when a male osprey (not her mate) flew near her nest.

In this shot, she's in the process of chasing that male away while hanging on to the fish.

Seriously. Why do I love these birds?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A new view of Goldstream

Sometimes I falsely get it in mind that I've been there done that.

I have been thinking that I've done all the hikes around Victoria (time to move!) but maybe I just don't know all the hikes around Victoria.

This was illustrated for me when my mother and I selected Goldstream Provincial Park as a Sunday hiking destination strictly because of how handy it is to the city. I've scaled the park's Mount Finlayson a few times — a challenging hike suitable for days when lungs and legs feel strong. I felt like I'd seen all there was to see at Goldstream. Not so.

We explored trails I'd never trekked on the west side of the Island Highway.

First discovery Niagara Falls, the B.C. version.

A thin, long stream tumbling over a cliff that we first stood below craning our necks up to look at, then climbed alongside and eventually up above to watch it falling down into the clear pool at its base.

Embarrassingly, these falls are literally a two-minute walk from the highway and I've never seen them before. In 15 years, I've never bothered to stop, park and have a look.

That's a failure to appreciate my home that I try to avoid. I try not to get complacent about the beauty and wildness of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, or heck, the great, big country of Canada.

After the climb, the path continued through the two common forest types of this region Douglas fir, cedar mix and Gary Oak meadows.

We saw remnants of an old mine. Yep, was a time the people of Victoria searched for gold in them thar hills. Thus the name for the park.

A bunch of robins fluttered around in one low area where this barred owl sat in a giant cedar. The smaller birds mobbed and we watched until the predator silently flapped away to perch in another tree.

This has become the common owl in the Northwest while its close relative, the spotted owl, disappears.

Spotted owl pairs need large territories in old growth forests (also disappearing), but the barred owl can get by with second growth and thrives here, where almost all forests have been mowed down at least once.

Spotted owls declined from around 200 in the early 1990s to an alarming 17 individuals found in 2007.

The United States has finally come up with a conservation plan after years of fighting between scientists and loggers. What's being done in British Columbia? Not much. It's business as usual.

This article on The Tyee in 2007 provides the details of the decline and the politics involved. Here's another from this summer.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Welcome to Camas Country

This photo is from earlier in the spring.

Found a great story about the importance of this plant — Camas quamash — to this region on the Beacon Hill Park history website. And I'm sharing because I seem to be lacking time to write.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Launched at last

I brought my kayak down to Victoria from Sproat Lake in January and only just got it in the water on the Canada Day long weekend.

I hate to admit it, and maybe it's a good thing, but I've become a lot more cautious.

My kayak lives at Fisherman's Wharf in Victoria's busy harbour. As soon as I poke my nose out, I'm in the traffic. I need to be mindful of float planes, whale watching boats and big ferries like the Coho lest I make the kind of navigational error that make real mariners cringe.

Even worse than that, I don't want to be the unprepared novice in need of rescue who makes the six o'clock news. I do not experience the same hesitation about my terrestrial adventures, but perhaps I should.

I recognized myself in the movie 127 Hours as the solo hiker who doesn't use a check in person (I know  it's wrong Susie, I know).

I guess I find it hard to define when a day hike becomes an activity that requires such precautions. I think we are made to be fearful of outings that are not high-risk. I'd like to think I know when to let someone know where I've gone and when I expect to return.

So I took it easy. I took it slow. Got comfortable with getting my vessel on and off the dock (thanks for the handy grid Victoria Harbour Authority!).

Next time I may venture beyond Laurel Point. When I really get comfortable I will paddle out of the harbour and to sea.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gowlland Tod Park (part II)

In round one I started the trail at McKenzie Bight and headed south. This time I headed north from the Caleb Pike Access for a 8 km (round trip) tromp to Jocelyn Peak, where I'd left off last time.

First impression - the south end is a little nicer than the north. Then again the margin is small and the weather was considerably better on my second hike, so that's a pretty subjective opinion.

Again wildflowers everywhere, looking spectacular. Up top is sea blush (Plectirtis congesta) a pretty, pink plant I called clover until a friend corrected me (thanks Dawn!).

At right we have either the few-flowered or the tall mountain shootingstar (Dodecatheon pulchellum or jeffreyi).  One of those creations I can hardly believe exists in real life, not just in a cartoonist's imagination. I used to feel the same way about marine creatures like sea stars and urchins. Turns out they are real, too.

And speaking of marine creatures, the best part of this hike was catching a grey whale foraging deep in the Saanich Inlet, down in Finlayson Arm. Could easily have missed it, but it just happened I was out on a bluff looking at a sail boat making its way up the fjord.

Grey whales are not uncommon in this part of the Pacific. They make a long staggered journey from calving grounds in Mexico up here to feed in our plentiful northern summers.

Having worked on a whale-watching boat in this area, however, I can say that seeing a grey whale scooping sediment from the bottom of Finlayson Arm is a highly unusual occurrance.

The photos aren't great — merely evidence.

In my defense, this is how high above the water I was. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Gowlland Tod Park (part I)

I visited this park many years ago, but rediscovered it this spring and it seemed larger and wilder than I remember.

I've now made a few trips in order to span the 13 km ridge-top trail above the Saanich Inlet.

My first discovery along the trail was this little orchid. The fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa) grows in dense forests along the coast from Washington State up to Alaska.

All of the wildflowers seemed especially plentiful and brilliant, possibly due to the long, cool spring we've had.

I started from the north end at McKenzie Bight and hiked the Timberman Trail along the top of the mountains standing on the east side of Finalyson Arm, deep in the Saanich Inlet.

The rest of the suspects were usual. This grey squirrel rushed my lens during the time it spent investigating me. Seemed very tame even though we met nearly smack dab in the middle of the trail where the fewest hikers venture.

Like so many Vancouver Islanders I've looked over at these green hills while racing along the Malahat drive on the other side of the inlet and wondered at that great stretch of wilderness.

One minute you're in town, the next you are out there on a ridge top, looking above at a kettle of turkey vultures and below at a little sip of the Pacific coming in to meet the salmon rivers that pour off the land.

My preferred stop on this hike was the Malahat Lookout where the big raptors soared.

I can't help it. I like it when I'm above the eagles.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Osprey on the island

It's been hard to know how many osprey are around the Victoria are because I have little time to watch them.

I saw this one at Patricia Bay on the Saanich Inlet in early May, handily scooping fish from the shallow waters.

This would be pre-nestlings, so the birds aren't yet rushing about. 

There's time for perching and eating without disturbance.  That will have all changed by now in nests that have successfully produced young. I know of two in the Victoria are that I'm concerned about.

One is in Esquimalt and the female on that nest died last summer after fledging two chicks. The wildlife rescue centre that received the dead bird reported that she was riddled with tumours but they did not manage to do a necropsy (long story).

The other is the nest of the campus sweethearts from last summer. They lived high above a soccer field at the University of Victoria. So far this year, I have only seen the female hanging around what remains of the nest, seemingly waiting for the arrival of her mate.

So there it is. There are plenty of osprey to chase, and not the time to do it in. I'm planning though, don't worry, I'm planning.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Caught this peregrine at Patricia Bay on the Saanich Inlet of southern Vancouver Island.

It sat in one of the Douglas fir trees lining the beach, inconspicuous among the bald eagles and osprey spectacularly soaring around.

I went round and round the tree trying to get a clear shot. When I moved, the falcon moved. Very common experience.

Finally a crow spotted the intruder and flew over to dive repeatedly at the peregrine. It grew tired of the attack (which went on behind a leafy branch) so I snapped it on the wing as it flew off (in disgust?).

You just can't get any peace at the beach anymore.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hornby Island

Each of the Gulf Islands that lie between Vancouver Island and B.C.'s coast has a different flavour. Hornby Island gets views of snow covered mountains in both directions with its own funky mix of artisans and people who've retired from the rest of the world.

On this trip my travelling companions were after pottery from one specific potter — Susan Crowe at Cannon Road Pottery.

I loved the outdoor gallery and the way her creative talents carry over to the way she displays her work.

In the laid back way of islanders, she feels no compulsion to operate a website. She can be reached the old-fashioned way for viewing (250.335.1629).

The requisite bald eagles perch by the seaside. Some have their own webcam broadcasting life in the nest around the clock. People from around the world watch eagle cams in British Columbia and the Hornby Island birds started it all.

I once met a woman from Japan who travelled across the Pacific to see the eagles in person after watching them on her computer for several years.

Finally, the views from Helliwell Provincial Park make it one of the best strolls anywhere on the islands.

One of the few marine protected areas, the waters around the park are closed to commercial fishing. While recreational fishing is allowed, islanders have instituted a voluntary closure allowing marine life a small haven.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why I otter!

A river otter stops to check me out on a hike in Gowlland Tod Provincial Park. Not to be mistaken with the sea otter which is rarely seen this far south.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter

Now, I lean more toward Pagan than Christian so my celebration of the season of fertility doesn't involve much tradition. To tie this occassion in with Earth Day, I recommend the holiday feast include one of these

a feral rabbit that some thoughtful pet owner deposited in a city park.

They are fruitful and they do multiply (kind of like our species) upsetting the balance in whatever ecosystem they are let loose in (hmmm more similarities).

Plus, they are more nutritious than the chocolate variety.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The viaduct: one of Victoria's wetlands

As a transition zone between land and water, wetlands provide habitat for plants and animals that are terrestrial, aquatic and amphibious. The mix makes for high species diversity.

These productive ecosystems have been viewed largely as a nuisance to people wanting to develop land whether for agriculture or residential developments and roads.

Besides being prime wildlife habitat they filter water and break down detritus that flows in from the land around them.

In Canada many important wetlands have been filled in so we could build on top of them. Attempts to restore former wetlands have demonstrated that we can not recreate these complex landscapes, so our best bet is to conserve what's left.

Wetlands make a good bird outing at any time of year but they really bustle in the spring.

Mixed flocks of ducks paddle about seeking mates. Here's a female hooded merganser – or hoodie – hiding out behind some woody shrubs. Pretty dramatic look for a female.

She will find a tree cavity to nest in the year before she is actually ready to breed.

As a year round resident she can keep an eye on it and not have to race back from the south in the spring to claim it.

For food, hooded mergansers dive under the water and look for aquatic insects and crayfish. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology they can change the refractive properties of their eyes to see better in murky water.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The importance of feathers

All birds have feathers and any animal with feathers is a bird.

Haven't been able to find the original author of this quote but it makes the classification of Aves pretty clear doesn't it?

Feathers are complicated structures. An evolutionary marvel.

The original pressure to adapt such an accessory was for warmth. Flight came much later. The insulating properties of feathers allow birds to live in the coldest and hottest environments that few other creatures can tolerate. Think of penguins in Antarctica or ostriches in the Sahara desert.

A different kind of bond between keratin protein strands in the feathers, beaks and claws of birds give them a greater toughness than the keratin parts of mammals (i.e. hair, horns, and hoofs).

The many colours seen in bird plumage come from either pigments absorbed from the diet or the microscopic refractive structures.

The arrangement of microscopic structures in combination with a certain angle of light give many species spectacular iridescent plumage. 

The bright whites of seagulls and egrets come from air trapped between feathers that scatters all the wavelengths of light. 

Illustration by Adolphe Millot (1857 - 1921)
In some species the growth of wild feathered appendages would seem to put them at a disadvantage by either making them very visible to predators or too clumsy to escape. 

Evolutionary biologists puzzled over this until they realized that the outlandish diplays signalled to potential mates what high quality genes must be carried by an individual that survives despite such an obvious handicap.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

An oystercatcher by any other name

The black oystercatcher is not quite correctly named.

It could be called the black limpetcatcher, or the black musselcatcher to be more accurate in terms of what this shore bird eats.

Described as "just plain comical" by Nancy Baron and John Acorn in their Birds of Coastal British Columbia guide book, some researchers are taking this bird seriously.

The Pacific Wildlife Foundation and Parks Canada selected the bird as an indicator species of rocky intertidal community health.

To start that meant learning all about populations and movements to get a baseline measure. It is already known that the species is not threatened. The global population is around 10,000 individuals. Most live in British Columbia and Alaska.

They forage along rocky shores, often in urban settings, making it a good species for measuring the effects of human disturbance. 

This fellow at left was boldly stalking the shores of a beach in Sidney, just north of Victoria. About 100 pairs nest in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

To get the local population data, many birds were banded. Researchers hope people will report sightings here.

Haida Gwaii oystercatchers have orange or dark blue bands on their left leg.
Pacific Rim National Park birds have white bands with black letters on the right leg.
In the Gulf Islands they have orange bands with black letters.
BC mainland coast oystercatchers have yellow bands with black letters.

If you see a banded oystercatcher, note the band colour and numbers (if visible) and your location.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Clip from Bird Studies Canada

11 March 2011 – A few weeks ago, the oldest known wild bird in the Northern Hemisphere was spotted at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii. The bird, a female Laysan Albatross named Wisdom, is at least 60 years old; she is also a new mother. 

   Wisdom was spotted with her chick a few weeks ago by John Klavitter, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and the deputy manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. She has sported and worn out five bird bands since she was first banded by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Chandler Robbins in 1956. At the time, he estimated the albatross to be about five years old. Robbins rediscovered Wisdom in 2001, when she was at least 50. 

   “She looks great,” said Bruce Peterjohn, the chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. “And she is now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of our USGS Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian bird banding program,” he added. “To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words. While the process of banding a bird has not changed greatly during the past century, the information provided by birds marked with a simple numbered metal band has transformed our knowledge of birds.” 

   Wisdom, Peterjohn said, has likely raised at least 30 to 35 chicks during her breeding life. Almost as amazing as being a parent at 60 is the number of miles she has likely flown. Adult birds average about 50,000 miles annually, so Wisdom has flown at least two to three million miles since she was first banded. That’s the equivalent of four to six trips from earth to the moon and back again, with plenty of miles to spare.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Have you seen this bird?

It's British Columbia's most widespread and abundant warbler.

A small number of these hearty songbirds overwinter on Vancouver Island. A pocket population socks in on Stubbs Island near Tofino, B.C. where a forest of California wax-myrtle provides them with food and shelter. It's the only place the plant grows on Vancouver Island.

The berries are purple, contain a single seed and have a white wax coating. They are unusual in that the fruit ripens late in the fall, providing a bounty of calories in the winter when other plants are dormant. If the bushes were removed, the birds could not stay.

Each time we cut a tree, hack a bush, pull up a plant the little community of organisms that depend on it have to find a new home or source of food. When we need we should harvest. When we don't, we should leave it for the other species that live on this planet.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Amazing tales from nature

I read a lot of comic books as a kid. Well, as an adult too. Giant grasshoppers and runaway tomatoes are imprinted on my brain.

Giant kelp is a real life plant, or algae, that lives up to the comic book hype.

Giant kelp and bull kelp are two characteristic species of algae on this coast. They wash up on the beach when they die and become whips in the sandy adventures of kids walking the shores.

Giant kelp grows an average of 27 cm per day in the spring. It can grow as much as 61 cm in 24 hours. That's two feet!

These tree-like algae form underwater forests where invertebrates, fish, marine mammals and birds find food and shelter. Even grey whales hide from killer whales amongst the stipes.

The popular image of a sea otter (not to be confused with the much more common river otter that is seen in the ocean around southern Vancouver Island) lying on its back, surrounded by kelp with an urchin between its paws illustrates and interesting interrelationship between those three species.

Sea otters were nearly wiped out in this coast in a hunting frenzy for their pelts in the 1800s. When their numbers were reduced, the kelp forests nearly disappeared. This was because the favourite prey of the otters - sea urchins - expanded their populations rapidly once they were free of their furry predators. The urchins eat the kelp and devoured the forests up and down the coasts.

It's one of the classic examples of a keystone species. An animal that may not be the most numerous, or obvious, but if removed from an ecosystem has a big impact.

All species have some function in their environment. Most of the time we do not see it, or understand it or make any decisions based on it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scenes from Beacon Hill

   I always think I need to go far into the wilderness to get great nature photos. Part of an afternoon at Beacon Hill Park in Victoria reminded me that I don't.

   Beacon Hill sits between downtown Victoria and the cliffs that face Juan de Fuca Strait. Well-used by residents, the 81 hectare (200 acre) park sports a diverse population of creatures that tolerate urban conditions.

   Besides these commonly seen denizens, hawks and owls lurk in the tree tops and a heron rookery survives despite annual attacks on their eggs and chicks by bald eagles.


   This successful outing reminded me that nature is right outside my door. I just need to make time to get out there — and bring my camera.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Clean sweep at Willows Beach

No dead birds were found on my survey today. Whew.

Not really surprising since oil, or oiled animals, from the boat that sank (see previous post below) would have had to come all the way in the Juan de Fuca Strait then hang a left to come up Haro Strait, and weave around some islands to land on Willows Beach.

That's not impossible when you consider the complexity of tides and currents, plus a big Pacific storm last night, but I didn't find anything more alarming than driftwood at the high tide line.

Hats off to the people at COASST (Costal Observation and Seabird Survey Team at the University of Washington) for getting the word out and co-ordinating beach surveyors throughout the Pacific Northwest for a fast response to this incident. I'll be interested to know if people found oil in other locales.

In my experiences with fisheries and forestry, our neighbours to the south tend to do a better job managing and protecting their resources than we do up here. In addition to powerful environmental organizations, the state departments responsible actually do their jobs instead of playing politics. Imagine.

I know that will surprise many Canadians, but our image of ourselves as environmental stewards has never been true. We just had so much natural wealth it took a lot of chipping away at it to reveal that fish, trees and water can disappear. And if we don't change our ways, they will.

Monday, February 07, 2011

This just in

An 80-foot boat sank off Cape Alava in Olympic National Park in the state of Washington last Thursday. That's not far from here, so the people who organize BC Beached Bird Surveys, Bird Studies Canada, have called for volunteers to scour the coasts around Victoria and area for signs of oil or animals in distress due to oiling.

I've been a volunteer beached bird surveyor since last January and have only seen one dead bird in that time. Thankfully. The purpose of the program is to gather baseline data on the incidental oil already washing up on our coast and the impact it has on wildlife. This with the hopes of keeping the moratorium on oil tankers tripping through Georgia Strait, the body of water between Vancouver Island an the mainland.

The vessel in question sank with over 14,000 litres (or 3,800 US gallons) of fuel onboard. I can't picture how much that is, but I do know that one litre of oil can contaminate two million litres of water. Thank you Transportation Tune-Up.

I also know what a beach littered with dead birds looks like.

I came across this die-off of common murres at Pachena Bay near Bamfield, B.C. in 2008. It's what got me started in the Beached Bird Survey.

I hope not to see anything like it when I head out to do the emergency survey this week.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A question of culling

There's been talk lately of culling deer on southern Vancouver Island. In Garden City, it seems, folks are fed up with herds of herbivores chowing down on their pansies and petunias.

While some talk, others have been hunting in the suburbs with crossbows and leaving beheaded deer carcasses behind. 

Wolves and cougars keep populations in check in less urban areas on the Island but cities offer refuge for deer and the open habitat with a wide variety of foilage they prefer. Wolves and cougars that follow them into town get shot on sight.

Besides reducing annuals and perennials, large deer populations remove the shrubs and plants songbirds rely on — especially on islands.

The results of recent research done on the San Juan Islands (where this lovely creature was photographed) suggest that the larger the deer population, the fewer kinds, and numbers, of birds. 

A similar study done on Haida Gwaii in 2005 found songbird abundance 55 to 77 per cent lower on islands where deer lived for more than 50 years, compared to islands with no deer.

Similar problems exist in the Gulf Island archipelago to the east of Vancouver Island.

The researchers state that if deer are not actively managed, local extinctions of native plants and birds will accelerate in the decades to come.

I'm generally not for human interference with wildlife, but humans tend to be the cause of such problems. Animals are introduced to places they may not have colonized on their own because we want to eat them, or look at them.  

And songbirds already have enough to contend with as they are hunted by house cats, lose habitat to development and fly into windows. Migratory bird populations are in sharp decline across North America. Birds will be further threatened by the effects of climate change.

Or maybe we should leave well enough alone since our meddling usually creates more problems.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The price of gold

Here's a lovely and common bird. The American goldfinch is a true North American. Some breed in southern Canada and winter in the southern U.S., others live year round in the central States and northern Mexico.

   They do well in human-dominated landscapes, but I bet many non-birders have never seen one despite the male's bright breeding plumage. Birds go about all kinds of business under our noses. Even keen birders miss them. If you don't know what to look for, or you're just not looking, the rarest of creatures could fly by and never be noted.

Goldfinches are relatively common, so keep your eyes peeled.

That attention-grabbing plumage comes at a price. 

   It's long been know by biologists that lush colours in birds and other animals represent fitness to potential mates. In other words, the stunning bumble bee combination of this goldfinch, says to the more drably coloured female 'hey, my genes are good, if you were thinking of laying some eggs, I'd be your guy.' 

   The idea is that to have such a display, the creature must maintain a good diet to get the nutrients to produce the colour. In other words, a good provider. Additionally, such a brightly coloured animal must be clever enough to evade predators despite wearing what amounts to a high vis. vest. This is the theory of sexual selection. It has lead to the evolution of fantastic colours and bizarre appendages in a wide variety of animals.

Interestingly, the dietary aspect of the theory wasn't tested until 2003 when scientists from Cornell University restricted the food available to a male American goldfinch. They found less carotenoids in the birds' blood and eventually grew rather drab feathers.

In our diet, carotenoids can be found in bright orange and yellow fruits and vegetables and also contribute to human health in many ways.

So, theory proven. Hopefully those hungry little goldfinches got fattened up and returned to their glorious hue after their service to evolutionary science.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ghost story

Everyone’s had this experience.

You learn of something for the first time – a new word, or food, or person you’ve never heard of before.

Then it starts popping up everywhere. In the Saturday restaurant review, in a conversation overheard on the bus. You wonder how you were in the dark for so long.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily talking about a new trend. More like something that somehow never hit your radar.

This happened to me with Indian pipe last summer.

This is one of those oddball plants that aren’t really plants. And I’ll admit, I’m not as attentive to the flora of the Island as I could be. The same way I neglect poetry in my literary explorations.

Still, you’d think this freaky, not-quite-a-plant-thing might have come to my attention sooner.

Let’s back up a bit.

I’ve explored the forests of Vancouver Island for nearly 15 years, often in the company of people who do possess a body of botanical knowledge I can only envy.

Yet, the first time I observed Monotropa uniflora (notice how smoothly I slipped in that Latin name) was this summer, reading another nature blog.

Just a couple of weeks later, I was climbing up Mount Galiano and there it was. Ghostly, white nodding pipes. More like a mushroom than a plant. Definitely Indian pipe alternately known as ghost flower, ice plant or corpse plant.

Indian pipe is neither a plant nor a fungi. It's a parasitic myco-heterotroph.

Yikes, what does that mean?

Fungi that are in a mutually beneficial relationship with tree roots act as hosts for this organism that uses hormones to steal the tree's sugars from the fungi.

It does not photosynthesize, as all plants do. The leaf like structures are vestigial, from the days before this plant came up with an easier way to harness the sun's energy than photosynthesizing itself.

The Salish people called Indian pipe wolf's urine because they found it growing wherever wolves marked their territories.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bird stories

Before I ran off to sell Christmas trees, I had two bird articles published. One was about the Christmas Bird Count in Victoria.

And the other, about hummingbird banding, appeared in the University of Victoria alumni magazine Torch.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

I know, I've done it again. Promised to return to regular blogging then disappeared. Not health this time, nope, I'm feeling much better. Amazing what adequate oxygen levels do.

No, this time, I was absent due to the need to make a living. I returned to my old standby, flogging Christmas trees. Now, anyone who knows me knows I'm not really a Christmas person. For some reason though, I've always enjoyed working Christmas tree lots – something I did for the first time 19 years ago in Winnipeg.

I guess it's a way of being part of the season that's less painful for me than say shopping, or hosting a dinner for 10. Or maybe it's because I love working outside, doing physical labour and having something tangible to show for my efforts (like cash).

Whatever it is, it's set me up for another few months of the freelance life, and that should mean time to blog, which also produces something tangible.

Happy 2011 everyone.