Monday, June 30, 2008

Feeling bluuuuue

Well, I glumly admitted over a month ago that none of the meconopsis seeds I planted were going to come up. I did have two seedlings before I left for Cyprus in April, but those were obviously doomed from the start - no offense to my father who looked after my plants while I was away. Meconopsis seeds are notoriously fussy.

So if I can't have a Himalayan blue poppy of my own (despite the fact that I have the perfect spot for it, queue dramatic sigh), I can enjoy them in other ways. To whit:

spanish poppies blue full

This is an edit of a photo of my beloved orange Spanish poppy, which blooms its little head off from mid-June into October! If you were to zoom in on this snap shot, you'd notice it's a bit out of focus, but I don't mind. The flowers sway like crazy in the littlest breeze, making it hard to get a good shot, but excellent for dreamy contemplation.

double spanish poppy

Not that I'm ever dreamy these days. Darn thesis!

Also blooming, Jacob's ladder.

jacobs ladder

The leaves smell like skunk spray, the flowers smell like grape kool-aid. Go figure.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Forest Fire in Porters Lake

Smoke over highway 107
It's been an anxious couple of days here in the Porters Lake/Mineville/Lake Echo area, but I have just come down from the roof after watching the Quebec water bomber take care of the fire closest to us, I feel like I can relax a bit (and our internet is back!).

Here is the gist of the story from my perspective: Friday afternoon and evening, I was stuck at work while feeling the wind whip in from the north and watching the fire build and seem to engulf Mineville/Porters Lake. I had a long, cold ride home on my bike following another friend from the area in her car, rather than have to stay at a comfort centre overnight (the only road in left to take - it took me 1 hour 50 min to get home, rather than 14 minutes). I'm glad I did, too, because while we were optimistic there would be roads open in the morning, the authorities actually closed everything down even firmer, and I wouldn't have been able to get home at all. Saturday we spent doing yard work, getting updates about who in our church was evacuated next, and who may have lost their homes to the blaze. We listened anxiously to the news station (95.7, God bless you), keeping an eye on the weather vane and watching the fires from the roof as they built. Around 1:30 p.m., we quickly packed everything we may want or need, while I looked at the rest and thought only about how much of our "stuff," in the end, is merely kindling for a fire.

water bomber from roof

The water bomber stopped at sunset and most of the firefighters in the woods were pulled out, with enough left to defend the houses that were threatened. Last night, we went up on the roof and saw the glow from the fires, seemingly just over the ridge. From our house straight across to Mineville is only 5 km, and the fire was 3 km wide. Do you call it a miracle or God's hand, that if the wind were more easterly or more westerly, we could have lost all of Mineville or all of West Porters Lake? Or is it just good luck or nothing at all? I'm just grateful.

The wind died a bit overnight, not that I slept any better for it, waking up every ten minutes to sniff for smoke (if I smelled smoke, it meant the wind direction had changed and we were in its path), or to see if that car going down the road was the RCMP to evacuate us. A friend who lives a kilometre away was evacuated at 10:30 p.m. Earlier in the evening, he went up to Snow's Lake and saw three fires burning, one of them on the Western and Northern shore across from him!

water bomber in to fill

By today, the Newfoundland water bomber was accompanied by bombers from New Brunswick and Quebec. Dad and I went down to Capri Island to watch them take on water in the lake. For the most part, I handled the excitement of the conflagration pretty poorly - I couldn't focus, relax, or keep busy. But watching the water bombers at their work has been such a comfort, and so cool. Those guys are amazing, going nonstop hour after hour, dumping the water right where they want it. I feel so warmly towards them, like I have just been liberated by the Allies during the Second World War (on a small scale, of course)

water bomber

We're feeling pretty optimistic tonight. The authorities are still saying the fire is "out of control" and won't even call it "contained" but this evening from the roof, the smoke is not even an eighth of what it was yesterday. The fact that the largest bomber, the Quebec plane, was focusing on the fire over the ridge (rather than the fire near Mineville or Lawrencetown), makes me think they're getting close. Let's pray and hope that the wind favours us this evening, blowing the fire that remains back in on itself.

water bomber

Thanks for all the messages of concern.

Note: the first two pictures are by my mother, taken Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. The pictures of the water bomber are by me, Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fog rolls in

Fog rolls in

At the yacht club last night after the race. We came in first, but only three boats finished since the winds were so light. They had to monitor the (shortened) finish line from a boat because the fog was drifting in so thickly. The breeze disappeared as the fog moved in, but the temperature rose too. You've heard it before but I'll say it again: Nova Scotia; Don't like the weather? Wait twenty minutes. It'll change.

Garden power

I've been stepping out into the yard a few times a day to recharge my batteries as I (attempt to) forge ahead with this thesis. One of the plants that I watch with great pleasure is this Centaurea montana "Gold Bullion", which has two or three flowers starting to open.

Centaurea Montana

Just look at that blue and purple! And the gold-chartreuse leaves are a sight for sore eyes. Well, a sight for eyes that have been staring at a computer screen all day. And then that busy little ant reminds me to get back to work.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Still here...

... But busy. I've started a new job working at a local garden centre, where I unfortunately have more hours (all of them on cash, pah) than I can manage. Things will be changing on both counts, I have decided. The thesis is languishing, incomplete on my hard drive, even as our garden forges ahead for summer.

Mom and I planted some tulips back in September and tried to time the early, mid and late-bloomers with phases of cheerful colours. The results were surprisingly successful and beautiful (beginners luck?), and certainly helped us work out the last, lingering winter blues. I cut some tulips on Saturday as carefully as I could so I didn't leave any empty spots. I photographed them against a cloudy sky, over-exposing to get the blown-out white background.



Tulip bunch edited

Two weekends ago was my older nephew's fourth birthday. We found time to stop at a few nurseries on the way. This was the display of Japanese maples at the Briar Patch in Berwick:

Briar Patch Japanese maples

I couldn't stop looking at it. Well, those, the affordable peonies, and the 'Sweet Kate' Tradescantia (we bought two!). In other plant purchasing news: I think the "Kim's Knee High" coneflowers at my workplace were mislabeled at the nursery, and are actually "Green Envy." A half-open flower on a customer's plant last week got my suspicions up, and I would have kicked myself if I didn't buy one just to make sure. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Finally, we had a visitor a few weeks ago! We have had two new warblers pass through in the last week (a Magnolia Warbler and a yellow-rumped warbler pair), but this one was in the finch family - an indigo bunting! Unfortunately, he didn't stay long. Our gang of juncos were so jealous of his blue feathers, they wouldn't even let him browse the lawn. Darn juncos. At least I got one semi-decent photo before he was chased off.

Indigo Bunting

I haven't decided if I would do another Cyprus post, this one on "old things." The pictures aren't anything special, but I think I should round out the trip. Honestly, it's not really high on my priority list, but maybe someday soon.