St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
Summer has finally arrived, with the beginning of September. It looks like we are in for a run of several days in a row of warm, maybe even hot, weather.
We are lucky to have dragonflies here all summer, which keeps the mosquitoes down. This week, there must have been another hatching of them. I was outside one evening and saw hundreds of the zipping around, hunting. Later the same evening, I saw bats doing the same thing. They eat dragonflies as well as the mosquitoes, but it all balances out in the end.
This week's big event was the annual Blackberry Fair. As usual, I was part of the Fire Department crew serving hamburgers (or, in my case, veggie burgers). The playing field aat the community hall was covered in booths, serving food, displaying crafts, or providing information on various causes. It was the biggest fall fair since we have been on Denman.
Wendy watched the parade, which also had the best participation we have seen. The biggest group in the parade this year was the "Denman Opposes Coal" group, protesting the proposed coal mine that is planned for the slopes directly across Baynes Sound from the Denman ferry. Considering that opposition to the coal mine runs at close to 100% of the population, the large contingent was no surprise.
The parade route runs right through "downtown Denman", both blocks of it. It lasts perhaps ten minutes, and is carefully times to take place between ferry runs in order to minimize traffic conflicts.
We got our final load of firewood delivered to fill the woodshed. We are now well-stocked for both this winter and next. Our goal is to always have a two year supply. Not only does that ensure that the wood is fully cured before use, it also means we have a reserve supply on hand in case of a hard winter.
Tomorrow, Wendy flies off to Nova Scotia to visit her parents. She will be gone for three weeks. The cats and I will miss her.
It has been a busy week, but I don't have a lot to show for it. The weather has actually been hot a few times, with our highest temperature of the year, 27.5°C being recorded on Thursday. If you call that hot. With the long dry spell, the fire hazard went up to Extreme on the weekend.
On Tuesday morning, I took Wendy to the airport for her trip to Nova Scotia to visit her parents. She left lots of food in the fridge and freezer, so I am unlikely to starve in the next couple of weeks. It has not even been a week, but already I am anxiously waiting for her return. So are the cats.
I have been pretty busy though. I moved my work days to Wednesday and Thursday last week, to accommodate the trip to the airport, but that then took care of most of the rest of the week. On Friday evening, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning, I was at the firehall renewing my First Responder licence. It was quite intense, as the instructor crammed a couple of days' training into a few hours. We performed numerous first aid scenarios, which were evaluated by an examiner, and had to write three written exams. I passed, so I am once again certifiable.
The garden is hanging in through the hot dry weather. We have almost emptied two water tanks, leaving just enough in them to fill a few watering cans. I will have to start monitoring the third tank to try to project how long it will last. The rains usually start in October or November.
I have to water daily. The raspberries are getting ready to produce their second crop, so they are getting 45 minutes of water a day, about 60 gallons. We have quite a few plants that need a daily gallon of water: a row of California lilacs along the edge of the deck, and the vines at the front entrance. Both the lilacs and the vines have done particularly well this year, so we want to ensure that they go into the winter healthy. The Virginia creeper has started changing colour.
We have fruit on the Spartan apple tree and on the plum trees. It is not a good year for fruit, due to the cool spring. We have tons of grapes, but it is too late in the season, even with the current warm spell, for them to ripen.
ADDENDUM: It was pointed out to me that I completely forgot to mention the earthquake on Friday. It was a magnitude 6.4, centered just off Nootka Sound.
I was sitting at my computer when it hit. I heard the house creak first, but I didnít think anything of it. Then I felt what seemed to be my chair rolling over a couple of wrinkles in the carpet. Except that there is no carpet and I wasnít moving the chair. I was starting to think earthquake, and when I saw the pull-cords from the ceiling fans swinging, that confirmed it. The living room light was also swinging, as was the door to the den. It lasted about a minute. The only damage was that the tip ofthe clematis vine came off the pergola.
It was apparently felt all over Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea basin.
Well, last week's heat must have been summer, because we are now well into fall. The temperatures now are struggling to make it into the mid-teens. In fact, this week has been so cool and cloudy that this morning I made a fire for the first time this season. The last few days, we have actually had measurable rain, the first in a month.
There is still one more week before Wendy comes back from Nova Scotia. The cats and I will be glad when she is back.
I have been keeping myself busy with several minor projects such as replacing a couple of old lamp timers, and working on the well depth measuring system.
The excitement for the week, if you can call it that, was the annual budget meeting of the Residents Association. Although the association has no governmental functions, it serves as the only forum on the island for tax-supported organizations to present their budgets to the public. The Fire Department's budget is the biggest, and for the first time was presented by the Firefighters Association, who have newly taken over management of the department. The meeting, of course, is a long one, but that didn't stop people from raising pointless items for discussion and repeating themselves unnecessarily. I walked out after 9:30.
In the garden, the second raspberry crop is starting. There are loads of berries still on the canes, and they are starting to ripen. This crop will continue now until frost puts a stop to it. The plums, too, are starting to ripen. I was able to eat one straight off the tree today. In spite of my pessimism last week about the grapes, some of them are beginning to ripen. You can tell when they start ripening because the skin turns translucent. The first few grapes are getting there. They are a long way from being sweet enough to eat, though, and I am still not optimistic about being able to eat any before the frost. Last week's warmth may have woken them up, but I suspect the cool weather is here to stay.
The rainy season started early this year. It has been raining consistently all week. By far the wettest day was yesterday, with 26 mm of rain, the wettest day since March.
This week's major event was an information meeting held by BC Ferries to discuss the proposed cable ferry. It is going ahead for certain, and they expect it to be in service two years from now. It will probably be the longest cable ferry in the world, certainly the longest in salt water, by far. Work on the dock reconstruction will start next summer. The reason they are doing it is to save money. It will require less fuel, but the biggest factor is labour costs: the new ferry will supposedly require only a crew of three, half the size of the present crew. Unfortunately, that will mean the loss of several of the best-paying jobs on Denman.
They say that there will be no impact on service, and that the cable ferry will maintain the same schedule as the current vessel. We'll see.
They haven't thought much about alternative service when the cable ferry needs repairs or maintenance. The existing, recently-rebuilt ferry dock at Buckley Bay will remain there, so a regular ferry can dock there. However, the old ferry dock on the Denman side will be dismantled and only replaced by the cable ferry dock, so a regular ferry cannot dock there. Instead, the proposed alternative service involves a cruise around Chrome Island at the south tip of Denman to the dock on the east side. That means a round-trip time of three hours, with a vessel half the size. And they clearly haven't given any thought at all to how they will manage traffic at Gravelly Bay on the east side, with two routes docking there. There is no waiting apron at Gravelly Bay, and not even a shoulder on the road for cars to wait on. It is bad enough with cars queueing up in the driving lane for one ferry, but with two routes to queue for, and all the traffic having to make a U-turn to join the queue, and the prospect of a three-hour wait if you miss the boat, it is going to be a nightmare.
The logical alternative of making the cable ferry dock compatible with regular ferries hasn't occurred to them. Instead of having the loading ramp on the dock, as at every other BC Ferries dock, the cable ferry will have the loading ramps on the boat. As a result, the regular ferry will be unable to use the new dock. They are doing it that way "because that's the way all other cable ferries are designed." Hence the need for the three-hour cruise.
The Ferry Commissioner is going to be on Denman on Tuesday, and I suspect he is going to get an earfull.
I have been working this week on finishing a new door for the bathroom. It is just about ready to go.
My other project was to upgrade my well depth sensor. I did the plumbing work for it last week, and this week I finished the electronics and calibrated it. Unfortunately, one of the couplings is a non-standard size, so I have to try to find a micro-sized pipe clamp to keep the air pressure from blowing it off.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013