Sunday, June 29, 2014

cobalt blue falls

cobalt blue falls
curl into inky fingers
staining the cedar fence

Each Dutch Iris blossom only lasts a few days. Then, fertilized or not, the wide soft falls corkscrew and curl inwards into a shriveled fist. But one blossom, falling against the lattice fence, uses her inky fingers to stain the fresh cedar a lovely shade of cobalt.

Friday, June 27, 2014

a pile of poly

a pile of poly
red and blue blankets for warmth
on a chilly spring day

During our last day on Salt Spring Island we are scheduled to take a two-hour kayak trip to Goat Rock Island, a private ecological reserve. We're late arriving for our scheduled outing with Island Escapades, but when we get to Ganges the girls disappear into the trade fair and have to be rounded up. Then It takes a long time for our guides, Jack and Nathan, to outfit us with the right size pdf vests and rubber boots for carrying our kayaks on the muddy shore, store our cameras in waterproof bags, hand out paddles and pair us off into double kayaks. 
          I'm used to a kayak but this is my first time in a sea kayak. In the stern I quickly learn how to operate the foot pedals that turn the rudder. It's windy and my buddy isn't used to any kind of paddling, so we quickly fall behind the rest of the group. I've brought a waterproof camera, but can't stop paddling long enough to take any photos until we reach Goat Rock Island.
          On the way we pass Grace Point, where we see a Great Blue Heron standing stock still in the shallows, watching for fish.

When Nikki and I finally pull up on the white sand beach, Jack tells us that is composed of pulverized oyster shells from the middens of First Nations people, who must have eaten millions of oysters over thousands of years. Jack and Nathan serve us hot tea from thermoses and cookies. I dig my camera out of the waterproof bag and snap a couple of photos.

Bits of translucent seaweed -- green and red and brown -- float in the shallow waters like miniature sea dragons.

Since we started so late, we don't have time to explore the island, but we do have time to visit the outhouse at the top of the hill. It is by far the most beautiful outhouse I've ever seen, with a peaked shake shingle roof, a Japanese moon window and a carved crescent moon on the door.

The woods are filled with the snaky branches of arbutus trees, which love to grow near salt water. These seem healthy, but elsewhere I've seen them with dying leaves. Unfortunately, they're very susceptible to pollution and various fungal diseases.

On the way back we see a Cormorant standing on a rock, holding its long wings out like a black W to dry them. Then we pass a Native bird sanctuary, its shores lined with the most amazing rocks, all riddled with holes from the salt water eating the soft sandstone. When we pull over to have a closer look, Jack carefully extracts a bright orange starfish from a rock and hands it around, then puts it back. He calls it a sea star, which is the proper scientific name and feels more appropriate and also more beautiful.
          As we head back to Ganges harbor, Nikki and I are bringing up the rear again. Jack is at the head of the group but Nathan, our other guide, stays right with us. He spots some harbor seals out in the open water and says if we make a high-pitched sound, they'll be curious and come closer to investigate. We have fun yodeling and watching one of the seals raise up out of the water to get a better look at us.
          Back in Ganges we have lunch at an open air restaurant. I ask the waitress about the vivid blue and red polyester blankets with fringe shaped like fat fingers which are piled high on a chair. She says it's for customers to wrap themselves up in when it gets chilly. The weather is so mild they're open all year around here.

After lunch I stroll around the trade fair, by now nearly finished for the day, stopping to admire handmade rugs, pottery and felted owls. I'm just looking, not buying, but the artisans enjoy talking about their beloved creations.

And finally, I stop at a little boutique to buy two pairs of cotton tights with wild designs, to remind me of our magical stay on Salt Spring Island.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

golden landing pads

golden landing pads
beckon bumblebee to
blossom's inner sanctum

The drought last year killed so many things. My Japanese iris did not thrust a single blade above the parched ground. I was afraid even the roots had died. But this spring, with all the rain, the slender green swords appeared, then a few tightly furled buds. 
          This morning, I discover the first purple blossom, almost completely open, flashing white stripes and golden flares. Quickly I grab my camera. While the iris poses for her portrait, a bumblebee lands on one of the yellow landing pads and ducks into the nectar repository. Click! Bee and blossom are forever united in the virtual world of digital photography. 
          I am always amazed and delighted when I happen to be in the right place at the right time to witness the life that flows all around us all the time.

Friday, June 20, 2014

smiling through his long

smiling through his long
red-white beard the old hippie
cradles art in his hands

After our morning walk in Saanich Forest Preserve, we eat lunch at the Rock Salt Cafe.

Where I enjoy a delicious bowl of curry.

Looking out the window I see what looks like an orange abstract painting on top of a little yellow table in a small courtyard enclosed by a wooden fence painted magenta with a sky blue railing. In addition to the vivid play of colors, the vertical boards, table leg and stripes on the "painting" make a pleasing contrast with the horizontal railing and the shadows falling across the table top. 

After lunch, the girls all scatter to the many small gift shops nearby, while I wander down to the wharf.That's where I see a man with long white hair and beard streaked with red striding along the boardwalk toward the ferry in a brown cloak and wide-brimmed hat. By the time I run down to the ferry waiting room, he's disappeared. But he doesn't board the ferry because he turns up a little while later on the corner near the cafe, holding two tiny trees he's made with wrapped wire. A cheerful old hippie, he's happy to pose for photos. When I compliment him on his hooded cloak, he tells me that all of his clothes were given to him. We all admire his artwork, which he displays lovingly on his outstretched hands, though he doesn't even try to sell them. How much? Whatever you'd like to donate. Susan buys the gold one and he seems almost reluctant to part with it.

Later, we drive to Ganges, one of the main harbors on Salt Spring Island.

Again the girls take off to go shopping, while Nikki and I tour the many art galleries.

In a gallery devoted to First Nations art, I especially love this wood carving of the sun. Another gallery features exquisite glassware and ceramics.

On the way back to the World Peace House, we pass a charming chapel built with a mosaic of stones, standing all by itself on the side of the road, a lovely work of architecture.

And so ends another enchanting day on this enchanting island.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

all things Italian

all things Italian --
ravioli, cannoli, gelato,
yellow Bugatti,
Verdi, zampogne, Madonnari,
Commedia and cantastorie

Every June our town square transforms into Little Italy for an entire Saturday. Hosted by SOFIA with all volunteer help, this year's festival featured a Bugatti Grand Prix racing car (with original engine), Madonnari artists painting copies of Renaissance art with pastels on the street, marble carving, street musicians, zampogne (Italian bagpipe), Verdi and Donizetti arias, talks on St. Francis and Michelangelo, puppets, folk dancers, Commedia dell' Arte theater, cantastorie (Sicilian comic drama), jugglers, acrobats, paintings and photographs of Italy, face painting, and, of course, food -- ravioli, pizza, cannoli, gelato and il vino. The weather was perfect and so there was un sacco di gente, in all sizes, shapes and costumes. 

Master Iowa pastel landscape artist, John Preston.

Master stained glass artist Lynn Durham, from Vero Beach, Florida.

Sean Folsom playing the zampogne, an Italian bagpipe.

Making cannoli, sprinkled with either pistachio or chocolate chips. Yum!

A Met opera tenor reviews his score for a Verdi aria.

The grand opera finale.

A troupe of acrobats.

Lots of spontaneous dancing to the music from the bandstand.

Folk dancing.

A very young and very enthusiastic dancer.

Playing on the bronze Coop statue.

Waiting in the line for gelato.

Dressed for the festivities.

Pink cat face on a pretty pink cheek.

A man with a Mohawk holds a little girl in a fancy costume.

Enjoying the dancers.

Dressed to kill!

Sharing secrets.

More secrets!

Is that a real pacifier?!

Yum, these fingers taste good too!

Yay, a SALE!

Io sono genuini italiani!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

from the corner of one eye

from the corner of one eye
watching the face painter paint
around her other eye

First Friday's Art Walk in June, people emerge like cicadas to swarm all over the town square, buzzing in a deafening chorus, ingesting juices, seeking mates, or at least company.

A girl gets a ride on a man's shoulders.

A gaggle of teenage girls drift towards a pod of teenage boys, check each other out, then drift apart.

Isn't anyone going to watch me hoola hoop?

A toddler dances to the music from the bandstand.

Where did my rubber duckies go?

No, he's not thirsty. That's just what pugs do, stick out their tongues and make snorting noises.

Oh dear, that selfie didn't turn out too good.

No, they're not chocolates. They're magic stones. Try one. See which one feels like it has the right vibes.

I'll stick to potato chips.

I'd rather have a toy airplane and a CD.

I can't remember where I put my glasses and my car keys.

The best fun of all when you're a little girl is climbing the big pine tree barefoot in a flowered dress with a long pink satin sash.

But for me, it's eating sushi and sashimi at Sushi Shokai with a friend.