Friday, July 03, 2020

Pink fuzzy feet

Hare's foot clover covers much of the meadow at Oyster Bay, packed together, covering the moss with a dusty pink haze. I carried a stem over the dike to see individual flowers against a blue background.

Trifolium arvense.

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Estas flores crecen en el campo de Oyster Bay. Pertenecen a la familia de los trébolesy en inglés llevan el nombre de trébol de pata de conejo. Les gusta la tierra asoleada, seca, arenosa. Crecen en gran número, todas juntas, haciendo una neblina color de rosa al nivel de los tobillos. Corté una rama y la llevé a la playa para ver las flores separadas, con un fondo azul.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Where the trail goes

And now the foxgloves are in bloom. In open spaces in the bush, along the highways, on lake shores; wherever the sunshine can reach.

I drove west, looking for a spot where I could get close to a patch. Once I was beyond the bustle of the city and the outlying businesses, gravel pits and the like, I looked for a stretch of highway with enough of a shoulder to get out of the way of trucks, far enough away from sharp curves for visibility (not so easy on the way west), away from deep forests, and with a shallow enough ditch for me to cross. And no blackberries in the ditch. Not an easy search.

Near Echo Lake, I found a suitable spot. And across the highway, a narrow path led off behind the trees.

The trail leads down the hill.

I often wonder about the little trails I find. Who makes them? Who goes from here, where there is nothing, to there, where there is just more bush?

The trail here was narrow, at times barely the width of a shoe. Not a bear trail; too narrow. Not a deer trail; it was too consistent, and there was no scat. Rabbits, maybe; where there was grass, it bent over the trail, making a tunnel. It had been used recently; some of the grass lay flat, and I saw a broken yarrow stalk, the flowers still fresh.

Humans, maybe a fisherman? But the trail meandered too much; uphill, then down, to the left, to the right. It finally led over the side of the hill, a steep climb, as I realized on the way back.

Tiny wild raspberries beside the trail. One has only one seed.

At the bottom of the hill, a gravel road skirted the lake.

Elk River Road.

I looked for it on Google maps later. The road leaves the highway on the far side of Echo Lake, passes a couple of campsites, then wanders east and south, almost randomly, for 17 km, until it ends up back on the outskirts of town. A logging road; there is nothing there but old logged-off forest, growing back. Side roads lead to clear patches, more recently logged.

On the far side of the road, the trail drops down through thick forest, and ends at the side of the lake. Mirror Lake, I learned from Google maps.

(The satellite view on Google maps is so good that I could even see the bush that the trail bends around before it drops to Elk River Road.)

And there were foxgloves.

Foxglove patch on the hillside above me.

And foxgloves beside Mirror Lake.

Foxgloves come in white, pink, and deep magenta.

On the way back to the highway, I picked a couple of handfuls of huckleberries. And then I came home.

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Ahora las dedaleras (Digitalis purpurea) están en plena flor. Crecen donde hay sol, al lado de la carretera, en espacios abiertos en el bosque, al lado de laguitos.

Salí a buscarlas. Quería un sitio donde podría llegar cerca sin luchar contra moras o trepar en tierras movedizas. Tomé la carretera hacia el oeste, dejando atrás la ciudad y los sitios alrededor donde excavan grava, donde los camiones van y vienen. En la carretera, buscaba un sitio para estacionarme que tuviera suficiente espacio al lado del camino para no bloquear el paso, que no estuviera demasiado cerca de curvas donde no se puede ver lo que hay a la vuelta (algo difícil en esta carretera), donde el bosque no estuviera muy denso, donde la zanja no fuera muy honda, y donde no estuviera cubierta de moras. No era fácil de encontrar.

Cerca del lago Echo, encontré un sitio adecuado. Y al otro lado de la carretera, un caminito se dirigía atrás de los árboles.

Me intrigan estos caminitos. ¿Quién los hace? ¿Quién va desde un sitio sin nada hacia otro sitio que no es nada más que más bosque?

El caminito era angosto, a veces no más que el tamaño de mi pie. No era camino de osos: demasiado pequeño. Ni venados: ni había bolitas de venado, ni huellas, y el camino era demasiado consistente. Los venados brincan.

Tal vez lo hicieron unos conejitos. Donde había pasto, se doblaba para hacer un túnel del tamaño apropriado.

Y se había usado recientemente; pasé una planta de milenrama rota, con las flores todavía frescas.

¿Alguna persona? ¿Un pescador? Pero el caminito vagaba demasiado; iba para arriba, luego para abajo, hacia la izquierda, hacia la derecha ... Por fin bajó el cerro y llegó a otro camino, un camino de grava.

Lo busqué luego en las mapas Google; es un camino de madereros que da vueltas por el rumbo por unos 17 kilómetros hasta regresar al pueblo. Y aquí cruza por el lago Mirror (Lago Espejo).

El caminito baja hasta el borde del lago, y allí termina.

Y había dedaleras, en el cerro, y al borde del lago.

Las frutillas en la segunda foto son frambuesas silvestres. Muy pequeñas, no muy comunes.



Tuesday, June 30, 2020

I beat the bears to these

The huckleberries are ripe!

Red huckleberries, Vacciunium parvifolium

They're slightly acid, but sweet. I picked only two handfuls, leaving the rest for the bears and birds.

The bush these came from.
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Los "huckleberry" rojos son una especie de arándano nativo a la costa del Pacífico. Ayer encontré un arbusto lleno de frutas.

La fruta es un poco ácido, pero dulce. Me comí dos puños de fruta, y dejé los demás para los osos y los pájaros.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Green cone and mouse tails

I don't often see Douglas-fir cones up close while they're still on the tree. They grow mostly on the higher branches; when they're ripe and brown, they drop to the ground. The dike around the Oyster Bay meadow, raised several metres above ground level, put me level with one tree's branches laden with their new cones, green and reddish.

Cones, male and female, on Pseudotsuga menziesii var menziesii.

The long cone is the seed cone. It will turn brown and fall to the ground; these are the cones I find scattered throughout the forest. The three-pointed bracts identify the cones as Douglas-fir; no other evergreen around here has them. They have been described as snake tongues, or the hind legs and tail of mice hiding under the scales. Shy little brown mice.

Above this cone, the much smaller, bumpy, reddish-brown cones are pollen cones. The pollen blows in the wind, and will fertilize the seed cones on another tree.

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Normalmente si encuentro piñas de abeto Douglas, están en el suelo, maduras y secas. No las veo en el árbol porque crecen en las ramas superiores. El camino a un lado de Oyster Bay corre encima de un dique de unos tres metros, así que me trajo cara a cara con unas piñas, machos y hembra.

La piña mayor, larga y verde, es la hembra; produce semillas bajo cada escala. Estas son las que caen al suelo. Las brácteas, de tres puntos, se han comparado con lenguas de víbora, o también se dice que son ratoncitos escondidos, a los cuales se les ve únicamente las patas traseras y la colita. 

Arriba, hay varias piñas de polen, chicas y rojizas. El polen se esparcen en el viento para fecundar las piñas hembras de otro árbol.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

White and yellow

Daisies grow all along the sides of the highway. Masses of them, entire fields of dancing daisies.

So cheerful!

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Ahora las margaritas cubren campos enteros, bailando en la brisa.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Biodiverse

This is the meadow at Oyster Bay Shoreline Park. It is a protected area; the sign towards the centre warns people to stay off. I stick to the few paths across and around it, or sometimes take one careful step to the side to dodge people coming the other way or to take a photo of a plant.

Looking towards the ocean, from beneath the old apple tree.

At this time of year, the main plants growing here are the yellow gold stars, red sorrel, wild strawberries, hare's foot clover, assorted dune grasses, and yarrow (all those white flowers, but some are pink.) Later, the yellow flowers will be gumweed; now, at the end of June, the plants bear small green, sticky buds.

Around the edges, various wild fruit trees and shrubs border the evergreen belt. Yesterday I found and ate a handful of huckleberries, the first of the year. There are wild cherries, a few escaped apple trees, saskatoons, hawthorns, blackberries (native and imported), wild roses and ocean spray, salal and kinnikinnick. The trees are maple, Douglas fir, hemlock, cottonwood and alder.

Wild rose, Rosa nutkana

And under everything, in the woods and in the meadow, a crispy blanket of moss and lichens.

Overhead, there are birds and bugs. Bees, flies, butterflies. Swallows and crows and gulls and eagles. Purple martins. A kingfisher, sometimes. Assorted peeps down on the shore (to the left here). Ducks and Canada geese at high tide, or crossing overhead. Chickadees and juncos and, of course, sparrows.

Very tiny grasshopper. I couldn't see him once he settled down, so I just pointed the camera in his general direction.

And every time I visit, it has changed. So I keep going back.

Maple "wings".

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Este es el campo protegido en Oyster Bay. Un caminito lo cruza; otros siguen los bordes. Pero en el area central se prohibe entrar, para dejar crecer la vegetación natural; hay algunas plantas que se ven raramente en otras partes.

Hice una lista de las plantas que se ven hoy en el campo. Hay fresas silvestres, estrellitas de oro, acederilla, hierba de goma, rosas silvestres, perejil bravío, poaceas de las dunas, tréboles. En el bosque alrededor, árboles frutales nativos e importados; manzano, cerezo, rosa silvestre, moras, y muchos otros. Muchas de estas plantas no tienen nombre en español, pero las voy a estar presentando una por una en los días que vienen.

Y siempre hay pájaros; golondrinas, gaviotas, águilas, cuervos, patos, gansos, gorriones, juncos, carboneros, y muchos más. Y abejas y mariposas, claro.

Y cada que visito, algo ha cambiado. Así que vuelvo frecuentemente.

La tercera foto es un saltamontes muy pequeñito. Cuando se aterrizó ya no lo podía ver, así que no más apunté la cámara en la dirección hacia donde saltaba. La cámara ve lo que mis ojos no alcanzan.

La cuarta foto son semillas de maple madurando en el árbol. Cuando estén listas, caerán pero dando vueltas con el viento como si tuvieran alitas. Así no caen directamente bajo el  árbol progenitor.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Bzzzzzzz

At least there are bees.

The news is horrific, the virus is spreading, the future seems dim. But at least there are bees.

Bee on daisy

Honeybee on Gold Star
 I've given up, for now, on trying to identify species of local bees, but at least the honeybees are distinctive.

Another bee on Gold Star

These were in the meadow beside Oyster Bay.  Every patch of flowers was busy.

And another.

I can't identify the white drooping flowers behind these Gold Stars. I was lying on the ground in the meadow, so it was a very small plant. I'll have to go back and look for these.
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Por lo menos hay abejas.

Las noticias son terribles, el virus sigue aumentando, y el futuro no promete algo mejor.

Pero por lo menos hay abejas.

Estas estaban en el campo al lado de Oyster Bay. Abejas de varias especies en flores de margarita y "Estrella de Oro" (Gold Star, Crocidium multicaule).

Saturday, June 20, 2020

There will be apples

There's an old apple tree beside the shore at Oyster Bay. I drop by several times a year to look for apple blossoms and later, apples. Last year, what I found were tent caterpillars.

Western tent caterpillar, Malacosoma californicum, August 2019

Hundreds of caterpillars in their tent

I stopped by the other day. The branches are loaded with apples, still small.

Half red, but not ripe yet. It's still early.

Another branch

There were no signs of caterpillars. They usually infest a tree for a year or two, then disappear for several years. Last year, many trees were covered in their webs. I haven't seen any this year.

Last year's tented branch. No harm done.

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Cerca de la playa en Oyster Bay, hay un manzano viejo. Paso por allí varias veces al año para ver las flores, y luego las manzanas. El año pasado, lo encontré cubierto de una plaga de orugas de la tienda.

Lo fui a ver esta semana. Tiene muchas manzanas, todavía chiquitas. Y ni una oruga.

Estas orugas infestan un sitio por uno o dos años, y luego desaparecen por un tiempo. El año pasado, muchos árboles por aquí llevaban sus tiendas; este año no he visto ni una.

La última foto es de la misma rama de la segunda foto, que saqué el año pasado. Cuando hay una plaga, se ve horrible, pero no deja daño permanente.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Violet to magenta

And the rest of the purples, before I go on to other topics:

Creeping Charlie, Glechoma hederacea. Aka ground-ivy, run-away-robin, etc.

Creeping Charlie loves lawns.  In many places it is considered an invasive weed, but I welcome it. While I fight the cat's-ear, because it kills everything around it, and then spreads seeds to the neighbour's yard, Creeping Charlie blends in, stays put, and provides food for assorted critters. And the flowers are interesting.

Small magenta flowers, unidentified.

Border planting.

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Tres flores más, antes de pasar a otras temas:

La hiedra terrestre, Glechoma hederacea crece entre el césped. Muchas veces se considera como una hierba mala, invasiva, pero a mí me gusta. No mata a otras plantas, no se extiende a los terrenos de los vecinos, proveen alimento y albergue para muchos insectos, y las flores, muy pequeñas, son interesantes. 

No sé como se llaman las otras dos flores. Las sembró mi vecina.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

Two white-flowered shrubs

Mock orange, Philadelphus lewisii, is a native species, growing mostly around here on well-drained, sunny slopes. It can grow to about 3 metres tall, produces a generous crop of fragrant white flowers, a shiny, gleaming white. According to E-Flora's map, it grows through Oregon and Washington, and along the southern border of BC. On their map, the most northerly report is from an hour's drive south of me.

The one growing under my kitchen window is a designer variant. This one is a dwarf, and after three years has stayed at about 1/2 metre tall. Nor is it as fragrant as the wild variety.

Double flowers; the wild ones have single flowers.

Flowers and buds.

And up on the wet hillside, Red Osier dogwood, Cornus sericea, grows wild and tall. It's another native, a water-loving plant that grows abundantly from California to Alaska. It's an important winter forage plant for deer, and further north, moose and elk.

Flower head and heavily-veined leaves.

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El mock-orange, un arbusto con flores parecidas a las del naranjo, es una planta nativa, creciendo sobre todo en tierras con buen drenaje, bien asoleadas, desde la frontera de California hasta el sur de Colombia Británica. En el mapa de E-Flora, el reporte más al norte es de unos 100 k. al sur de Campbell River.

Es un arbusto que crece hasta más o menos 3 m. de altura, con abundantes flores aromáticas, de un blanco resplendente.

La planta que crece bajo la ventana de mi cocina es una variedad cultivada, miniaturizada. Apenas, después de cuatro años, mide medio metro; no creo que va a crecer más. Y las flores no son tan fragrantes, pero por lo menos son dobles; las del arbusto indígeno son simples.

La tercera foto es de un Cornejo sericea, un arbusto de la familia de los Cornejos, Este arbusto está creciendo entre  los bordes del bosquecito en el cerro lodoso atrás de mi casa.

Este es otro nativo, pero mucho más abundante que el Mock-orange; crece desde California hasta Alaska. Por aquí, sirve de comida invernal para los venados. Más al norte, también lo aprovechan los "moose' (Alces alces) y los "elk" (Cervus canadensis, también conocido como Wapiti.)

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Pink again

These are the last of the pink flowers from last week*

Young pink dogwood planted last fall: first flowers.

Asian bleeding heart, Lamprocapnos spectabilis

Flowers and leaves.


I don't know what these are. They are very small.

*That's just the pink flowers around my house. There are tons more down the block. And more at my doorstep this week.

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Y estas son las últimas de las flores color de rosa alrededor de mi casa la semana pasada. Ya hay más; cuando deja de llover tendré que dar otra vuelta.

Primero, las nuevas flores de un árbol nuevecito de cornejo color de rosa.

Luego, un "corazón sangrante asiático", tambien conocido como "corazón de virgen", Lamprocapnos spectabilis. Este crece en la sombra al lado de la cochera.

Y por fin, unas flores que no conozco. Son muy pequeñas. Las sembró mi vecina.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Too bad the spiders were so tiny

And more pink:

I picked these up in a garage sale 4 years ago. They keep flowering in their pot every spring.

Sea pink, Armeria maritima. Aka thrift, sea thrift. 

It grows wild near the shore, on cliffs and in sandy soil. It doesn't mind a bit of salt. There are three sub-species growing here in BC. I think this may be ssp. californica, because the leaves, seen under a loupe, are smooth, hairless.

In their full-sun spot on the steps. Spiders not visible.

(I'm slightly crazy; I wasn't sure about the sub-species, so I had to go out and bring in the pot to examine it. It's the middle of the night, and I disturbed three miniature spiders, yellow and black, in their webs on the stems of the flowers, so tiny that I had to examine them under the loupe; even with the normal 10x magnifying lens, they were still just tiny dots, and the webs were invisible. I took them outside again, very carefully, so as not to disturb the webs.)

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Otras flores color de rosa. Estas son clavelinas de mar, que compré en una venta de garage hace 4 años. Cada primavera vuelven a florecer.

Crecen en la orilla del mar, en tierras arenosas o entre rocas. No les hace daño un poco de sal.

Su nombre científico es Armeria maritima, y tienen tres sub-especies aquí en BC. Creo que este es ssp. californica, porque las hojas, vistas con una lupa fuerte, son lisas, sin pelos.

Y soy un poco loca; no sabía por cierto a cual de las sub-especies pertenecía, así que salí, a media noche y en calcetines, para traerme la maceta a donde la podría examinar encima de mi escritorio. Y porque es noche, había tres arañitas, arañas tan miniaturas que las tuve que examinar con la lupa. Bajo mi lente de aumento normal, a 10x, todavía eran puntitos pequeños. Con la lupa más fuerte, se veía que eran amarillas con una flecha negra en el abdomen, y también se veían su telaraña, que no se notaba con la lente normal.

Una vez examinadas las hojas, llevé la maceta afuera con mucho cuidado para no sacudir las arañitas en su sitio.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Petunia pink

And so very pink!

Bee's-eye view

Side view

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Las petunias. Esta es de un color de rosa muy fuerte.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Yellow

There are so many flowers blooming around my house, (and I've not even walked down the block; there's a whole new batch out there for when it quits raining again) that I've broken the list down, like one of my guidebooks does, by colour.

These are yellow.

Volunteers:

Buttercups. They're in the lawn, they're in my flower beds, they're in the disturbed mud on the hillside. They don't need any encouragement. With a tiny, tiny fly.


Parsley, flowering.

I had this growing in a flower pot in Delta, 8 years ago. It kept coming back every spring, so when I moved to Campbell River, I brought the pot with me. And it liked the corner where I dropped the pot so much that it has escaped, and now fills the whole area around it, even beating out the buttercups.

And not a volunteer: 

Tuberous Begonia, growing in semi-shade.

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Hay tantas plantas en flor ahora alrededor de mi casa, que tuve que separarlas, como lo hace uno de mis libros guía, por los colores. Y eso que no he salido a la calle en frente de la casa: ahí hay otros tantos, y todos diferentes. Si deja de llover, ese es el próximo proyecto.

Estas son las amarillas.

Dos voluntarias: ranúnculos (creo que estos son Ranúnculus repens, que crece pegadito al suelo.) También se conocen como botón de oro. Pueden ser una plaga; invaden todo.

Y perejil; lo sembré en una maceta hace 8 o 9 años, y volvía a crecer cada primavera. Cuando me mudé a Campbell River, me traje la maceta y a la plantita le gustó tanto el lugar que se escapó de la maceta y ahora llena toda la esquina, aún logrando excluir los ranúnculos.

Y una que no es voluntaria; una begonia tuberosa, creciendo en media sombra.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Curves and lines

Hosta leaves, from ground level.

All the colours of green.

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El follaje de Hosta, desde el nivel de la tierra, mostrando sus múltiples tonos de verde.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Blurderfly

Cabbage white butterfly doing what cabbage white butterflies always do.

Weedy herb garden with chives and butterfly.

On sunny days, they're worse than bees. Bees stop to dig into flower centres; cabbage white butterflies almost never stop. I chase them and chase them; if ever they pause, it's not long enough even for the autofocus on the camera.

So I got this one, anyhow. See it? Out of focus, in the distance, but it's there. And the chives at least behaved.

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La mariposa "blanquita de la col" haciendo lo que siempre hacen; en dias asoleados no se permiten fotografiar. Vuelan y vuelan sin parar; si acaso se detienen es por un instante tan corto que ni la cámara puesta en enfoque automático puede verlas.

Pero hay está; ¿la ven? En un jardín de hierbas culinarias con sus hierbas malas; la mariposa estaba muy contenta visitando todas las flores sin parar. Las flores color de rosa son cebollín; atrás hay perejil. Las flores amarillas son una hierba común, mostaza de campo (Brassica rapa).

Monday, June 08, 2020

Mud lovers

The sidehill behind my house was logged off early in the 20th century, then mostly left to itself. It was too steep, too wet, to be considered for housing back then, and gradually turned into a forbidding jungle of alders and maples struggling through a thicket of Himalayan blackberry vines.

My neighbours, a generation ago, cleared the lower slope of blackberries and built their houses. Now, as the population grows, as well as the size of houses, even the old wastelands become valuable. My landlords are clearing that back hill, with the view of building a house and a garden site there.

I explored the site on a sunny afternoon. The blackberries are mostly gone; now the mud is populated by buttercups and Queen Anne's lace. The hill is still wet, even on dry days; mud oozes slowly down the hill; shoe-swallowing mud, glooping mud. In a wetter spot that almost becomes a creeklet, I found a patch of American brooklime.

American brooklime, Veronica beccabunga ssp. americana.

This is a tiny flower that creeps along wet ground, seepage areas, at the edge of ditches. I don't see it often, partly because of its habit of growing where I can't walk. To get these photos, I had to crouch precariously above the mud, with my shoes already half eaten.

The bluish colour in back is the sheen of water over the mud, which is almost black.

Four-petalled lilac-coloured flowers.

They say it's edible, but they also warn against eating any growing in polluted water. So I'm not harvesting any of these.

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En los primeros años del siglo pasado, se cortaron los viejos árboles del cerro atrás de mi casa. Desde entonces, el sitio se abandonó a su suerte, ya que era demasiado inclinado, demasiado húmedo, demasiado inestable como para construir casas. Con el tiempo, se convirtió en una jungla de alisos y maples casi ahogada bajo cañas de mora invasiva.

Mis vecinos, hace una generación, limpiaron la parte inferior del cerro, matando las moras, y allí construyeron sus casas. Y ahora, con el crecimiento de la población, aún ese terreno inútil adquiere valor. Los dueños de mi casa están limpiando ese cerro, pensando construir allí una casa y un jardín.

Una tarde asoleada, fuí a explorar el sitio. Casi todas las cañas de mora se han extirpado; ahora el lodo está cubierto de ranúnculos y zanahoria silvestre. Y el cerro sigue mojado, empapado; el lodo fluye lentamente cerro abajo y es capaz de comer zapatos.

En una esquina donde el lodo casi se convierte en riachuelo, encontré estas flores. Son Verónica acuática (o becabunga), una planta pequeña que se arrastra por sitios donde hay lodo mojado, en el borde de riachuelos, en terrenos maltratados. Raras veces la encentro porque acostumbra crecer donde se me hace difícil caminar. Para sacar estas fotos, me tuve que balancear precariamente sobre el lodo, con los zapatos ya medio tragados.

Se dice que la planta se puede comer, pero también nos advierten que no hay que comerla si está creciendo en aguas contaminadas.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Broom and buoys

So I promised. Promised to tear myself away from the news, which seems to hold a glimmer of hope today, so there's that, and get back to posting photos of my peaceful surroundings.

Okay.

Last week I had a flat tire. Out on the highway, on the way out of town. I discovered that I had no jack in the car, so I got to hang around on the edge of the road until someone stopped and helped me. And so I wandered about exploring a site I had seen in passing and wondered about before, but never would have stopped.

It looks like an old, abandoned gravel pit, where off to the side, someone has used the space for open-air storage. Over the years, invasive Scotch broom has taken over most of the pit.

Scotch broom, Cytisus scoparius. Pretty but not a welcome sight.

Due to its affinity for light-dominated, disturbed areas, any disturbance activity, such as road or home construction near infested areas, can enhance spread. Scotch broom invades rangelands, replacing forage plants, and is a serious competitor to conifer seedlings; Douglas fir plantation failures in Oregon and Washington have been credited to infestations of this plant. (Invasive Species Council of BC)

When I was a kid, living in White Rock for a year, a neighbour had Scotch broom on his property. I loved it, even though my mom said it was a horrible weed. But it was so cheerful!

So bright!

Mom was right, of course. Here on the island, we have a native species that colonizes waste spaces, old logging sites, torn lands; fireweed. It leaps into open sites and prepares them for regrowth of the evergreen forest, while providing forage for wildlife. Broom prevents forest regrowth, and is inedible. Fireweed dies back as the trees recover; broom spreads and spreads and spreads. But it is cheerful!

Among the yellow broom bushes, someone is storing dozens of yellow balls.

Steel buoy floats, about a metre in diameter. Six fit on a flatbed truck.

I've wondered about these, seeing them here and there. If it weren't for the flat, I wouldn't have stopped to look at them, though.

They sort of fit with the broom, like some sort of enlarged seeds. Recently, someone has brought in a bunch of new ones, all shiny and yellow. They are probably for sale, although I saw no signs, and Google map gives no company name. Or maybe they'll rust and blend in with the broom. I don't think they'll re-seed themselves, anyhow.

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Se me ponchó una llanta en la carretera a una poca distancia de la ciudad. Y descubrí que no tenía gata para llantas, así que tuve que esperar al lado de la carretera hasta que alguien viniera a ayudarme. Y tuve la oportunidad para explorar un sitio donde de otra manera nunca habría parado.

Es un espacio que parece haber sido usado para excavar grava, y luego abandonado. Y como muchos sitios, ha sido invadido por los arbustos de Genista

Genista es un arbusto que se escapó de jardines y ahora cubre espacios abiertos. Es una plaga porque no provee alimentos para animales ni salvajes ni domésticos, e impide el crecimiento de nuestros árboles nativos. Y se extiende rápidamente, no dejando espacio para otras plantas.

Cuando era niña, me gustaba, porque el color es tan brillante, aunque mi mamá decía que era horrible. Mamá tenía razón, claro.

Tenemos una planta nativa que se ocupa de sanar tierras heridas, el epilobio. Protege la tierra y los arbolitos recién brotados, provee alimentos para los animales, e incluso para humanos. Y cuando el bosque empieza a crecer, el epilobio desaparece. La Genista es al revés; no deja crecer los arbolitos, ni se puede comer, y se queda para siempre.

Pero sí, es bonita.

A un lado del espacio, entre la genista, alguien está usando el espacio para depositar materias fuera de uso. Hay docenas de pelotas grandes, amarillas, como de un metro de diámetro, de metal, oxidándose lentamente. Las he visto al pasar y me preguntaba qué serían, pero no hubiera parado para investigar sin la llanta ponchada.

Parece que son flotadores para muelles y boyas.

Se mezclan con la genista, y casi parecen alguna especie de semillas gigantes. Recientemente han llegado más, nuevecitas, limpias y brillantes. Tal vez están en venta, pero no encontré anuncio o nombre. O tal vez se oxidarán como las otras. Por lo menos, no se van a reproducir.

Friday, June 05, 2020

Still appalled

I used to think it was a few bad apples in the barrel. Remove them, wash the rest, and all would be well.

I should have known better. This past week has convinced me that the rot goes deep, that it stinks right down to the bottom of the barrel.

It's not that I haven't been unaware of the racism endemic in society; after all, it has impacted my family since long before I was born, in one form or another, not necessarily dependent on the colour of our skins. We've always been a multi-racial family. My grandparents were Irish immigrants; worse: Catholic married to Protestant, and therefore disowned by both sets of parents, and looked down on by the people of their new country. (And in spite of that, my beloved grandma was furious when I dared to marry a Mexican.)

There were the DPs we sheltered, Eastern European refugees from WWII; I got my eye blacked for standing up for one of them at school. There were the First Nations people, neighbours, friends, even on occasion roommates; their kids were sent off to residential school, as the adults had been in their day. I heard their stories and saw the effects. I lived for a time in the US: there, my parents were denied entrance to restaurants because they travelled with a black co-worker. I was involved directly in helping the Mexican immigrants (some legal, some not, but still brought in by employers looking for cheap labour to harvest the crops and do the dirty jobs). My son was beaten for being a *n-lover".

In Mexico, I was not quite good enough; a foreigner, unable to comprehend issues of morality and culture. At least, so I was told by friends of the family.

Back in Canada, I and my kids were "starving Mexicans". And then grew up to see their own battles as they married outside of their colour range.

So yes, I knew. But these were all more or less micro-agressions. I was horrified to see stories of the murder by cop of blacks in the US, the attacks on refugees and so-called "illegals". I still have nightmares over the kids in cages; how can anyone sleep while this goes on?

But I still thought it was still the work of a minority of awful people.

Two things changed that: the slow murder of a young man already in handcuffs, on the ground, pleading for his life for going on 9 minutes, and the cops involved going home free. If it weren't for the outcry, they'd still be going to work as if nothing had happened.

Then the photos and videos of this week's protests. Lines of police in riot gear; hundreds of them, thousands of them, armed with tear gas and pepper spray and rubber bullets and sticks. And shields which they also used as weapons. Against old people, children, people sitting on the street, hands in the air. Against journalists and medics. Against anyone the wrong colour, or anyone helping them, against anyone nearby, people going home from work at the "wrong time", as if jobs always end at 5 PM. Against anyone trying to take photos. But especially against anyone black.

And the attacks have been vicious. Shots to the head with rubber bullets. Repeated bashing with heavy rods. Pepper spray from inches away (even on small children). Ramming people with cars. Tear gas thrown at people sitting quietly on the ground. It hasn't been a matter of containing the unrest, but rather inflaming it.

But what got to me was the sheer numbers. Black armies of police advancing shoulder to shoulder, row upon row. In city after city. Night after night. Politicians, dozens of them, justifying this, encouraging this. Hundreds (that I've seen, but that's only a tiny fraction) of people on social media calling for more violence against the protesters, against the blacks and "thugs" and "traitors", as if wanting your kids to grow up without being murdered made you a thug.

This is not a case of a few bad apples.

One other thing: my red-headed granddaughter, whose son presents as black, wrote about how all this affects her family. (Also see this.) A phrase she used struck home; her cute little boy will grow up to be a black man. A black man. A black man. With all the connotations that phrase holds, all the negative stereotypes, all the fear, and all the danger. And yet, he is no different in any way than any other of my family members, "red and yellow, black and white", to quote the children's Sunday School chorus; we are all one family.

But he will be a black man. In this world. And I'm afraid.

What are we going to do about it?



Sunday, May 31, 2020

Timeout

I've been following the news from the US. Heartbreaking news. I'm too disheartened tonight to post pretty photos of flowers and bees. Too appalled to take comfort in beauty.

Maybe tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow's news will be better. Or at least less horrendous.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Another pollinator

This one is not a bee.

Syrphid fly on Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota.

The syrphids, or hover flies, sometimes mimic bees and wasps, but their antennae are short and stubby. A bee's antennae are longer, and elbowed. And, in proportion, the flies' eyes are larger than the bee's.

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Y este no es una abeja. Es una mosca de los sírfidos, que comunmente se confunden con las abejas y avispas. Pero las antenas de las moscas, incluyendo los sírfidos, son muy cortas, sin ángulos. Las antenas de las abejas son más largas, y tienen una articulación muy obvia. Y, con respeto a su tamaño, los ojos de la tribu de las moscas son más grandes que los de las abejas.

Esta mosca está buscando su alimento en las flores de zanahoria silvestre, Daucus carota, conocida en inglés como "encaje de la Reina Ana".

Friday, May 29, 2020

Bees again

And more bees! These were foraging on a couple of comfrey plants on the hillside.

Comfrey; Symphytum originale.

Flower head with one bee. A female, because she's carrying those pollen pockets.

Another flower head, another bee. Same collecting posture.

This one's got her back to us. Another female.

The two tall plants were covered in happy bees. All the photos I got were of females; there are hundreds of females for each male, and the males do no work. Among the honeybees, they don't even bother to feed themselves. (Male bumblebees do feed, but don't bring food back to the hive.) Their only function is to mate with the queen.

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¡Y más abejas! Estas estaban en un par de plantas de consuelda (Symphytum oficinale) atrás de mi casa.

Todas son hembras: se pueden distinguir por las canastillas para polen que traen en las patas traseras. Todas las fotos que saqué eran de hembras; hay cientos de hembras para cada macho, y los machos no trabajan. Entre las abejas melíferas, ni siquiera se alimentan por si mismos. Los machos de las abejas Bombus (abejorros) si comen, pero no traen comida a la colmena. Su única función es fecundar a la reina.