“Step into my mother’s garden,’ said Amantha.
“Walk toward the gate. There’s a whole new world just outside.” she said. “But I doubt you’ll ever get there.”
Daphny, the dog in the garden.

This is blog 400. I suppose that’s a milestone. It is not a very happy one for me. I’d planned to be writing this one aboard my beloved ‘Seafire’ while anchored in a lagoon somewhere on the opposite side of the planet. The boat is gone and the dream is in shambles. But, that’s the way the pickle squirts and all you can do is keep on looking ahead while also trying to make the most of the moment at hand. You only have this moment and truly do not even have the day so squeeze all the juice you can from every opportunity.

The warm aroma of dry and crushed leaves on the path fills the air. It will be lost in the earthy wet smell of autumn.
We stop often to smell the flowers.

Two days ago Ayre and I went walking in a favourite spot. It was late in the morning and by the time we completed our two kilometre loop back at the vehicle we were hot and thirsty.

No keys! “Oh gosh” I said. (Uhuh) They had to have fallen out of my pocket somewhere along our way so back around we went the opposite way hoping I’d dropped them later than sooner.

I’d chatted with a friend on my cell phone. Could that be the spot? Back at the car again after the second loop there still no keys. “Hey” I thought, “spare key!” I thought of all the other keys I’d need to replace but one step at a time. It took a while to remember where I’d hidden it but finally I extracted the precious item and inserted it into the door look. No result. I fiddled and wiggled and finally looked at the key to discover that it was only a blank, the key had never been cut. So what bonehead hides a blank key? I began to contemplate all the possible scenarios. What was best?

This was a moment when I wished I still smoked. After quitting over thirty-five years ago the urge still arises. I sat and thunk a spell. What the hell to do? I reconstructed events since our arrival and recalled that when we had arrived I had been accosted by a lovely malamute just as I opened the car door. Had the keys fallen out my pocket then while I was still in the vehicle? Finally my wide shut eyes noticed the passenger window was open about an inch. I fished the dog leash down inside and snagged the door handle. It, of course, pulled inward. Finally using a tree limb which I scrounged up I was able to eventually push the taut leash inward enough to open the lock. That was when the car alarm went off. It worked well. My keys were hiding peacefully under the driver’s seat. Never has a mouthful of hot bottled plastic-flavoured water tasted so good.

We are just a few days away from a huge crop of ripe blackberries. all we need is a few hours of rain for their perfection.
“Bugger off,” said the fly.
So they did!

All’s well that ends. My next stop was a locksmith. While he put things right, across the street police and paramedics removed the body of another fentanyl victim. Their activity seemed placidly routine which enhanced a sense of the surreal. The day progressed like a weird bad dream. We all have them. I wonder what sort of mental energy brings these experiences on. How can we harness that force to make good stuff happen? Oddly, later that same day, Ayre began barking furiously. I could not hear nor see anything. Several minutes later a rain squall arrived. Think of all the sensitivities dogs possess which we gave up long ago. A few days later, to photograph the trailer images below, I pulled onto a tiny short road so I’d bother no-one, nor they me. In the sixty seconds I needed, three different cars arrived at the spot where I stood in the roadway which I had blocked. Really! What are the odds?

My little circus parade. Folks ask “Wotcha got in yer trailer? A horse?” I reply, “Naw, just the kids.” I’m going to paint a sign on the side that says ‘Feel free to feed the monkey.’ There’ll be a drawing of a Sasquatch.
And there’s room for more. Motorcycle and ramp, kayak, inflatable boat and 10hp outboard motor, comfy bed, generator, air compressor, chainsaw, tools, ax and shovel, tent, inflatable mattress, bbq, tarps, jacks, hand winch, extra fuel and water, spare parts and “stuff.” Oh yeah, firewood! Note that there’s a hitch for a second trailer! Just in case.  I’ve built storage lockers in the front and some solar panels will go on top. As a boy I started out with a canoe and a tarp.
A friend suggested installing “Ram” ball mounts on my mirrors so I could fit the bike under the bunk inside the trailer. Great idea! The new mounts also lift the mirrors up and out enough for me to finally see the vehicle coming from behind. It’s nice to see who is going to crush you! Working mirrors are probably the most important safety item on a motorcycle. Thanks Jimmy!

We are at the time of the August full moon. I had been visiting friends on Gabriola island and missed a ferry homeward by five minutes. The next boat eventually left two hours later. I rode my wee scooter home in the dark. I now do not like driving anywhere after dark and realized that I’d never ever ridden a motorbike in the night time. My motorcycle jacket, which had seemed so cumbersome in the summer sun was now my saving grace. It seemed chilly after the heat of the day. My shorts were a cold frivolity. I ride the back roads. My little two-wheeled flivver just does not have enough power for the open highway of madmen at any time of day, let alone at night. The dark country road was my path, complete with glowing eyes in the ditch and the sudden, mysterious shapes of deer ahead. I eased my way along, tense for what might rise before me. The notion of being smacked in the face by the entire planet hung over me heavily. I tip-toed on my tiny motorcycle.

The gibbous moon was rising. It bathed the fields and forests in its soft light, the occasional window glowed warmly along the way. Soft clouds floated above. It was beautiful and indelibly eerie. Obviously I made it home and again, all’s well that ends. Today I stopped for gas at a station in a tiny island village. Fuel was selling for eight cents a litre than anywhere else. The protocol there was to first fill up with gasoline then go inside to pay. Yeah, I know it’s illegal. There were Canadain flags flying, nor protest posters, this guy was just exercising his free will and freedom. Isn’t that refreshing? No, I won’t tell you where is, for obvious reasons. That’s sad!

Osborne Bay. Sunday afternoon, August, low tide. Three golden retrievers ran out onto the mud flats which reeked wonderfully of clams and oysters. They charged about in the muck, their feet making loud splocking and squelching sounds. Then they rolled in the mud for good measure before coming for a cuddly visit. They were happy. And, so was I. It was only mud.
The knocker! His drumming filled the forest with rhythm. I know the feeling of banging my head on a tree all day.
La Puma. “Hey Woody, pull yourself together.”

Despite beautiful warm languid days there is a sense of late summer. There were spring blossoms just a few weeks ago! Now dry yellow summer leaves are falling. And get out a big pail. The blackberry crop this year is coming on fantastically!

You never know who’s watching.
It’s just a trickle but it is normal at this time of year.
En route, on track, on time. What purpose and precision! We don’t even look up.

What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.” Bob Dylan

( So Bob…how about a handout? )

Sailor’s Sky

Isn’t it interesting how some nondescript sight, sound or aroma can trigger a memory long-buried? It happened to me a few evenings ago. I was tinkering on my little trailer as the day began to cool and when I looked up, this is what I saw. I have been doodling landscapes all my life and have always sketched this sort of sky in the background.

Painted sky, without clipper ship.

The cloud shapes and colours took me back well over sixty years. A happy memory of my childhood was when my father would take he and I off on a day-trip. Off we’d go with his ubiquitous military canvas gas mask bag slung over his shoulder. I’ve no idea what he carried in it but by today’s standards it was a way-too-cool man purse. He was the quintessential British trainspotter and so we usually began these trips with a train ride into Toronto. Trains meant rail yards which were his absolute delight. Steam locomotives were fast-disappearing in the late 50s and dad would almost wet himself when we saw one chuffing out clouds of steam and sooty smoke. Yep, that was over sixty years ago!

Look up!
Good to the last gasp. An hour later a horrific lightning storm crackled across Southern BC.

Rail yards are often built near waterfronts for obvious reasons and one day that’s where we ended up. There were rows of lake freighters moored near the grain elevators and nestled somewhere in the heart of it all was a small working man’s cafe. All I can remember is a vague recollection of a clock advertising Player’s Navy Cut Cigarettes. There was an image of a bearded naval rating that implied real men smoked. That old salty dog sold a lot of cigarettes; I don’t know how many people he killed. Clearly remembered of that distant moment is a large framed painting of a full-rigged clipper ship sailing before a glorious sunset just like the one pictured here. She heeled slightly to the wind with all her sails set, stuns’ls, t’gallants, everything she could carry was up and billowing in the rich red-gold of a sunset just like tonight. The white bone in her teeth reflected the light of perfection. I suspect that image did a lot to inspire me toward my lifelong nautical persuasions. Could something that fleeting and subtle influence the course of someone’s entire existence? I suspect so.

Hero                                                              trade mark Imperial Tobacco

A few days later I’m finishing this blog as rain patters on the skylight above my desk. It’s lovely! We need it. The forests are bone-dry and our streams are getting dusty.

Original paint! 1962ish I think. I was ten years old when this Ford Falcon was new. It’s in much better condition. It came as a compact car a few years after the end of the steam era. Seatbelts, airbags, child restraints, even radial tires were still in the future. It appeared in our parking lot and was a delight to see.

Anyone who lives on this island is fortunate indeed. What is left of California burns up and wildfires rage in our interior. In the wake of those clouds I photographed a spectacular lightning storm raged across the southern province. We won’t get all the rain we need but it is all a help as summer evolves with shortening days and cooler temperatures.

Dogs know no bounds about size, colour, gender, age or owner. Jack appeared sympathetic about the leash.

Walking with Jack in the heat of yesterday afternoon crickets were chirping their summer song and the tang of fermenting blackberries on the vine was in the air. As the berries become over-ripe they begin to ferment in the hot sun. Wasps become drunk on that nectar and buzz harmlessly but crazily in front of your face. There’ll be plenty of berries for several weeks yet. Blackberries have evolved to bloom sequentially and produce fruit over an ongoing calendar. There’s a bumper crop this year with more than plenty for everyone. Just remember to harvest your berries beyond the watery radius of dogs and old men.

Yet two wo days later, the sky is clear again. It is 10°C outside at the moment. Yep, it’s coming.

The primal old fart urbanite sitting with morning coffee by the facsimile campfire.
photo by Jill
Wet spots.  The photo says it all.

 “There are years that ask questions, and years that answer.”

Zora Neale Huston

Wandering And Wondering

Mid-September. I’m anchored in a placid cove, the rain is gently pattering down. Darkness came early this evening. I tip-toed in through the narrow rocky entrance in the dark and now sit peacefully in less than twenty feet of water. I’m on my way to Silva Bay again to get the old diesel running in that little schooner. First I had to make repairs in ‘Seafire’ and spent two hours after arriving here contorted into the bilge repairing a leak in the shaft log. It’s fixed and I won’t have to sleep in a sinking boat. How do people manage in boats they can’t fix themselves? Well manage they do but I’m happy to be self-sufficient.

Back in Ladysmith the movie making is in full swing. The streets were crowded with people trying to catch a glimpse of something, anything and anyone. There was a movie to be made off-set of the crowds. I’m happy to be where I am tonight with the rain spattering down and an aromatic pizza bakes in the oven. Let it rain, let it blow, I’m snug in my little home.

A few blogs back I simply posted photos with interesting captions and guess what yer gonna git again. The feed-back was very positive and so here we go once more.

Wandering into the magic, and the mystic of late summer. It goes by so quickly.
Think you’ve got problems? Imagine owning this beautiful wooden monster. Imagine the boathouse!
No, not somewhere in Mexico but rather a campground on Gabriola Island. Please, no dog-washing!
An Australian Cedar. You know the joke: “Brace yerself Sheila!”
It’s complicated
The bumper crop of blackberries this year far exceeded what people could pick. As the berries became over-ripe, bees and wasps became drunk on the fermenting berries. Now dessicated, the berries will provide excellent winter forage for the birds.
Right then!
The bicycle remained secured to a stout chain with an old boot lace. However, the seat, the chain and both wheels had been stolen.
Long, long after the old tree had been cut down and hauled away, its progeny wash firmly established and thriving.
Resplendent in its ancient demise, the old charred cedar stump still reaches for the light.
Watching from the edge of the forest, wild creatures regularly surveyed what happened in the fields..
One day at the end of summer, the old swimming hole was suddenly quiet. its clear water was empty and ran placidly and pure.
Where dogs and children climb out of the water then leap, screaming with delight, back in again.
Well past middle age, he still looked at the wonders of the forest with the blue-eyed wonder of the boy he had been most of his life.
Abandoned in the forest, the old hay rake remained well spoken.
It’s just fungus man! Picked,baked in an oven then lit to smoulder, these make an excellent although pungent insect repellant.
I will strangle you, ya old stump.
A bumper crop of maple seeds and datum of the passing of summer.
THe way we were
The way we are
It was not a place to visit on a moonlit night yet during the day dogs and children loved to explore.
The old head rig stok like an abandoned neolithic alter where virgins were led to the top and then sacrificed by the big wheel shamans who cast them into the bottomless pit beneath.
It could be imagined that this donkey was descended from those used to haul loads into the sky on the big wheel.
An old coal chute in a back alley of Ladysmith. The date on the cast handle is 1895
TILT! A self-dumping log barge is pumped back to level in preparation to head back up the coast for another load. The logs will be sorted and the best will be reloaded onto a ship bound for Asia. Several ship loads of raw timber leave our coast every week. All the while, our sawmills are closed due to lack of a good log supply. You figure it out!
In morbid silence the crowd watched as the old woman was hoisted aloft with a noose around her neck. Then the rope broke and she silently walked away with her rope necklace through the opening which parted from her path because they knew, now, that she was indeed a witch.

I arrived in Silva Bay the following morning and rafted onto ‘Aja’ once again. A long day followed squirming my ribs into impossible spots freeing badly corroded bits, trouble-shooting wiring, clearing water from tanks and gearboxes. Finally the moment came, wires were jumped and blappety, blap, blap the poor mistreated little Yanmar sprang eagerly into life after a very troubled two-year sleep. Fixing boats is one of those things that you do, in part, because it feels so good when you’re done. My old bones protest loudly at the continuing abuse and it’s time to move on to other things. Maybe if I wash my face and hurry back to Ladysmith, those Paramount picture people might…! Uh huh.

Not sure what these gorgeous mauve flowers are, I was amazed to find them blooming on a path in mid-September. Old tales claim that new violets blooming in the fall herald a death or an epidemic.
And finally, a mobile phone still life.


IF you smile when no one else is around,you really mean it.”… Andy Rooney

The Wharfinger’s Zuchinni

“Just walk on by and take that floppy-eared, skinny-flippered creature with you. Jack is fascinated with the temerity of these seals.

Suddenly the evenings are noticeably shorter; and cooler. The morning light comes a little later each day. A few days ago we had a lovely warm rain. After our dry smokey weather it felt grand. That is despite all the wetness of Shearwater which I’ve sworn I was so fed up with. The crickets chirped on through the downpour just as they do now that it has dried again. Suddenly we’re in mid-summer. There is a mild sense of the distant yet approaching winter. We savour the beauty of each day, and it’s fading flowers, knowing nothing is forever. Part of the fascination is knowing how fleeting the moment is.

On the morning tide. This derelict, capsized sloop was towed in to the boat ramp during the night. It was later dragged ashore and put on a trailer. Hopefully it will sail again some day.
Drifting and dreaming. a long passage northward with smoke obscuring the horizon.I passed this beautiful boat while delivering another vessel to a shipyard in Campbell River.
The Dream. A soft focus image to portray the sense of glassy water and low visibility.
Crossing The Bar. Northbound from Comox requires a circuitous route across a shallow bar and around Cape Lazo. There’s a sailboat ahead on the starboard bow.
Fishing for pinks. It is a time of harvest and bounty. Coho salmon are spawning and provide feisty sport for fly fishermen. They’re out there in their chest waders from first light to last.
Crows in a weeping willow. Their dry rasping calls are an anthem of midsummer.
Look up. A view from my table in the pub.
Ah summer! The Blackfin Pub in Comox has an amazing panoramic view.

There is an abundance of fresh produce. Even the wharfinger’s flower box has a tumbling wealth of vegetables. The tomatoes are ripening and the zuchinni is ready. Happily adopting the lazy spirit of the season I’m posting this blog as a photo essay. See you at the beach. I’ll be under the Corona umbrella.

The Wharfinger’s Zuchinni
Coming down. What better way to chill out in the evening than a flight in a home-built Sopwith Camel replica?
Jack and Fred row back from the beach. Jill took this shot of us returning from our dawn patrol.
Jack and Jill on the beach at low tide.
Jack’s Bliss. A tidal pool is all he needs for day-long self amusement.
I can’t get enough. the views on the sandy northern tip of Denman Island amaze me.
Beach Apples
This old apple tree, rooted in sand, manages to still bear fruit!

 “A little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.”
John Mayer