St. Bernard, Nova Scotia
The fall weather continues. We have had a mix of showers and sun, and temperatures have been seasonal. There has been ground frost on the deck on a few mornings this week, but I haven't yet recorded any below-zero air temperatures. Some of the stormier days have blown a lot of the leaves off the trees, but there are still a few hanging on. The first photo this week was taken before the wind.
Fall chores continue. Today, I weeded and dug one bed in the garden in preparation for planting garlic. Our garlic was much more successful this year than the year before, and we want to continue that by planting early. At least this year, we have multiple cloves per bulb, so we have enough for both planting and eating. Last year, each bulb had only two cloves, so most of the crop went for seed stock!
I fetched another load of seaweed to use as top-dressing for some of the shrubs. Our California lilacs looked a bit misearble when they started out this spring. We are thinking that they mind the cold. With a good top-dressing of seaweed and some straw on top, they should not only stay warm, but should wake up nourished in the spring.
We are still harvesting the late raspberry crop. Picking once a week gives us enough for a few handfuls on porridge in the morning. However, there are still quite a few immature berries on the canes, so with the odd sunny day, we could still get a few more before a real frost puts a stop to that.
Wendy is working on the pile of branches from the tree pruning. It is finally getting noticeably smaller than when it first started. The small stuff is being piled by the front fence as a privacy screen. As she oncovers the larger pieces, I cut them up for firewood.
We are not the only people doing tree pruning. The Guesthouse has had a giant maple that was blocking their front window cut down. I am sure that it will be much brighter in the coffee shop on winter days.
The main event this week was this afternoon's all-candidates meeting for the upcoming Islands Trust election. The election would normally also include voting for regional district and school board representatives, but the incumbents in those two races were acclaimed.
For the Islands Trust election, however, we have six candidates running for two positions. The Islands Trust is a unique municipal-level government with responsibility for land-use planning on the Gulf Islands. It is unique not only in sharing the municipal responsibilities with the regional districts, but especially in that its legislated mandate is to "preserve and protect" the natural and social environment of the islands. It is probably the only governing body in the democratic world with a specific mandate to say no to developers.
With a large number of candidates running, and with several social issues looming large on Denman Island, notably the challenge of affordable housing and changes to our ferry service, interest was high for the all-candidates meeting. Though the community association couldn't really afford to rent the main hall, they were forced to move the meeting there when the attendance in the back hall exceeded its rated capacity. Voter turnout on Denman tends to be above average, and I fully expect it will be high for this election. The election itself will be held in a couple of weeks' time.
I mentioned last week that I was going to try to take some more astro-photos. I actually was able to set up the telescope twice this week. I completed the photograph I was working on, and managed to get an even better one. This is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Triangulum, known as M-33. (For a larger version of this picture and thumbnail links to more of my astrophotography, check out my Astronomy page.)
The weather this week has been cool, with some rain. Although I still haven't recorded a below-zero air temperature, we have had ground frost on a few occasions. This morning, we had lovely frost fern patterns on the deck skylights.
I have been informed that I was remiss last week in not mentioning World Vegan Day, which was on November 1st. So, consider it mentioned. What was really worthy of mention were the vegan cream-filled cupcakes that Wendy made for the occasion. Yum!
On Thursday, the community choir, of which both Wendy and I are members, performed at the school for the kids' Remembrance Day assembly. The assembly was mostly the work of the kids themselves, with music, poetry, and reports on interviews they had done with some of the island's elderly veterans.
On Friday, the choir did a repeat performance for the main community Remembrance Day ceremony. Attendance at these ceremonies has been increasing over the past few years: the hall was quite full. The choir acquitted itself reasonably well at both events, not bad considering that we have only been together for a little over a month.
There was another major event on Friday: a special screening of the movie "Hair". Someone with a numerological mind-set had apparently decided that 11/11/11 was the beginning of the "Age of Aquarius". (Apparently the actual date is not well defined, and could be any time from the 20th to the 25th century.) The peace theme made it appropriate for November 11th, too.
Regardless of the excuse, it was a major event. For the last couple of weeks, people had been asking each other if they had got their tickets yet, and if the were planning to dress up. Both questions were a bit silly, because clearly this was going to be the event of the year, and here on Denman Island, half the population consists of old hippies. It seemed that everyone was going, and everyone was dressing up.
The screening was held as a fundraiser for the Memorial Society, which is setting up a "green cemetery". I am sure it exceeded the organizers' expectations, because the hall was packed. Almost everyone was in their hippie finery, with lots of tie-dye, beads, headbands, and fringed vests. For some of the original hippie residents of the island, the clothes were the real thing, lovingly dusted off from the back of the closet.
For the musical sequences in the movie, there were live dancers in front of the screen, choreographed to synchronize with the music and dancing in the film. Clearly, a lot of work had been put into organizing it. A fun time was had by all. Wendy and I didn't stay for the dancing that followed the movie, but we had a lot of fun anyway.
Today, Wendy and I walked up to the new park at the north end of the island. I reported on the opening of the park a few weeks ago, where they have built a staircase down the cliff to the beach. It was a pleasant day for a long walk (19 km round trip) with no rain or wind.
Well, winter is finally upon us. On Friday night, our temperature dropped below zero for the first time since March 1st, a frost-free period of 262 days. Along with it came a bit of snow. Not enough to shovel, but enough to remind us that we still live in Canada.
Earlier in the week, on Wednesday morning, a wind storm knocked our power out for eleven and a half hours. I had just, the week before, filled two jerry cans with gas for the generator. We don't run the generator all day, and when the weather is not suitable for working ourdoors, there is surprisingly little you can do indoors without electricity. I spent most of the day at the firehall, where the generator does run all day, working on the training syllabus I am setting up.
Although the electricity came back by Wednesday evening, our Internet was off the next day. Apparently, one of Telus' routers was knocked out by the power failure. Though our internet was back by Thursday, several subscribers didn't get theirs back until Friday. The common-sense solution of going down to the Bistro to use their Wi-Fi didn't work, because the Bistro was one of the subscribers affected.
On Tuesday evening, the sky cleared out, and I was able to do some more astrophotography. This picture is of the Pleiades.
Saturday was election day here. All municipal-level elections in B.C. are held on the same day. Although our Regional District and School Board representitives were acclaimed to their positions, we on the Gulf Islands also get to vote for Islands Trust trustees. There were six candidates running for the two positions on Denman Island. Wendy and I had already voted in the advance poll last week - something we always try to do if we can - but we noticed a large turnout at the polling station when we walked by.
Another interesting event on Saturday was a CD release concert by a local band. It is a six-member guitar-based group, with trumpet, saxophone, and piano. Their music is melodic, instrumental jazz-rock. Their timing was very tight, and the melodies, especially the trumpet - guitar combination, were quite delightful. In live performance, they were a bit loud for our tastes, but the CD is very listenable.
Of particular interest, it being election night, was that one of the band members was a candidate in the election. We thought it was a particularly civilized statement on the condition of democracy on this island that a candidate for the highest public office on the island would wait out the election results performing on stage, while one of his rivals sat listening in the audience. Half-way through the second set, someone got up on stage to announce the election results. The band-member candidate acknowledged his victory, and then the performance continued.
Although Wendy usually practices her fiddle out in the cottage, she occasionally does so in the house. Owen seems to be a bit of a music critic, and begs her to stop. In fact, he insists. Here, he is biting Wendy's leg to emphasize his demand. He doesn't bit hard, just enough to get his point across.
It has been a rainy, stormy week. Monday was our second rainiest day this year (after February 14th), with 43 mm of the wet stuff. Temperatures have been mild, though I have had to scrape frost off the car windshield once or twice. When it is rainy, it is usually because it is stormy. We managed to survive the blows on Monday and Thursday, but Saturday's wind storm knocked out our power for about four hours. In between storms, the weather has been cool and pleasant.
I had to go to the ferry terminal on the east side of Denman during the storm, and the ferry was having a hard time docking. It was rocking and rolling in the waves, and moving about eight feet vertically in the swells. The captain docked it by jamming it hard into the dock. I am glad I did not have to ride it.
Because of the stormy weather this time of year, the regular barge-hulled Hornby ferry is normally replaced by a boat-hulled vessel in winter. Apparently this year that will not be the case. It is possible that they may have cancellations on that run this year. Our Denman ferry sails in calmer water on the west side of the island and almost never misses a run because of weather.
The large ferries that cross the Strait of Georgia are not so lucky. Many sailings were cancelled in Thursday's storm. That affected us because we had been looking forward to seeing a play called "The Progressive Polygamists" on Thurdsay evening. The performers were unable to get here from Vancouver on Thursday, and the play was postponed to Saturday.
The wait was worth it. The play was the hit of Fringe Festivals all across Western Canada. It was a hilarious and insightful look into the polygamist FLDS community in Bountiful, BC. It played to a packed hall on Denman, and was scheduled for performances in Courtenay and Cumberland. The power flickered a couple of times, but stayed on until the play was over.
Today, we attended another Concerts Denman performance. This concert featured reknowned bassoonist George Zukerman. Though the concert was competing for audience with some football game, it was reasonably well-attended. He played a variety of pieces from baroque to modern, with everything in between. Mr. Zukerman made some jokes about bassoon players in orchestras going out for a beer after playing their three notes. Clearly, the instrument has considerably more potential than that, as he played a variety of melodic pieces with piano accompaniment. In addition to traditional pieces by Mozart and von Weber, and some non-traditional pieces, he played one piece written by his pianist, Leslie Janos.
This morning, I was helping at a CPR course put on by the Firefighters' Association. It was a repeat of a very successful course presented in the spring. Between the two courses, we have now trained 150 islanders in CPR. Considering that the population is only 1100, that is a large portion of the population. Statistics show that that level of public participation and training significantly improves heart attack survival rates.
Copyright © 2013 Keith Walker
Last modified: 20-May-2013