Linden Gardens

A single-file dirt path ribbons into my favourite kind of garden; not wild, exactly, not tame or manicured either. A riot of knee-high, waist-high, chest-high plants jostle, shove and elbow their neighbours for a good space in the sun. A single leafy tree—maybe a linden—pushes skyward, rising above the Joseph’s coat of blossoms. I recognize yellow iris and those little white flowers might be mock orange, but I have no clue what to call the purple bottle brushes lining the path or the lurid fuchsia shrubs nestled here and there among the jungle of greenery that will blossom in its own turn throughout the summer. 

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Tip-top Trails

 Twice a week, Jim, a spry outdoorsman known by many as the Octogenarian Mountain Goat (OMG—now that’s ironic!) sends out an email. It informs a steadily expanding group of Westside hikers where he’s heading for his next Wednesday or Saturday outing. Anybody is welcome to join, snowshoes in winter, hiking boots the rest of the year. Along with location, he outlines highlights including distance and difficulty, and reminds people to bring water, a snack, and if they want to hone their mapping skills, a GPS. Jim isn’t a guide, he’s just a hiker who likes company.

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Okanagan Market Medley

Sweet dumpling squash, you say? I had to ask the guy at the roadside stand about the cream-coloured, green-striped veggies—some round, some oblong—heaped in a bin with the pumpkins and spaghetti squash. It was my first encounter and I was uncertain, but he assured me that you cook them just like any other squash. I loaded a couple into my bag.

That’s a great thing about prowling Okanagan fruit and veggie stands; you never know what you’re going to find and every once in a while there’s a personal discovery.

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Mount Boucherie

Once belching fire and lava from a cone rising 2,000 metres above the pre-historic valley, 50 or 60 million years have reduced the angry volcano to the benign stump familiar to Westside commuters and wine trail travellers. The mountain became known as Boucherie in the 1880s when Isadore Boucherie, who had settled early in both Rutland and the west side of Okanagan Lake, established a ranch on the adjoining land.

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Drama at Sea – Miracle on Uchuck III

I’m standing at the starboard rail aboard the MV Uchuck III out of Gold River, BC, en route for historic Yuquot – Friendly Cove. We’re about to put into Nootka Island Lodge to make a quick delivery. I’m wearing my standard field trip rig: a wide belt fitted with slots to hold pouches for my long lens, notebook and sundries. I’ve got a small daypack on my back.

I’ve just shifted the camera in my hand, all my attention focused on the captain’s maneuver to get his 136-foot vessel into position within a miniscule cove to pass items by hand across to people waiting on the dock. This is not a regularly scheduled stop. Almost in unison, the man and woman standing beside me cry, “Oh, you’ve dropped your notebook.” I look down at the deck to retrieve it. Nothing. More urgently I look over the rail to the deck below. Nothing. With a vice gripping my heart, I look overside.

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Gwaii Haanas Aboard Passing Cloud

A passing comment by a Haida Watchman last summer in Haida Gwaii started an unexpected chain of events. In answer to a question from my husband, Walter Russ said that his grandparents had been the Haida couple who guided Emily Carr on her visit to what was then known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. When this got me thinking about the iconic BC artist and the relationship between her travels and her work, the idea for a book began to take shape – Emily Carr’s BC.

At that point my itinerary didn’t include Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, which encompasses the southern half of the Haida Gwaii archipelago and protects numerous Haida Heritage Sites that Emily painted. So a return visit topped my research list. I got a tip about a 70-foot Roué-designed (think Bluenose) schooner offering expeditions to the area. Ideal. I love sailing. Enter Russ Markel, OuterShores Expeditions and Passing Cloud.

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