Lens-Artists: Changing or Changeable

Seasonal changes alter the landscape,
deep greens give over to vibrant amber,
flaming reds and oranges, and cold…

A photographer alters the light, shifts
the focus, tempers the colour and
perfects the image’s final delivery.

Onthelake (colour)

In the same way, I look within, search for the beauty,
adjust flaws, accept what I cannot change, and strive
for meaning, a purpose that inspires, authenticity.

Onthelake (colour)framed

At the very least, I hope to create something
that has lasting appeal, and hopefully, if only
for a moment – makes a difference….

(Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is change and/or changeable.  The original photo (featured) is of a lake in Nanaimo, British Columbia.)

Lens-Artists Challenge: Path

Who can resist a path’s allure?  Not I.

Quinta Mazatlan, McAllen, Texas offers manicured paths, through lush green gardens, carefully groomed – a bird watcher’s delight. (Featured image).


At Piper’s Lagoon, my weary legs climbed to the water’s view, and would go no further.  This path, beyond, called to me, but would have to wait for another day.

Jack Pine Trail 3

The Jack Pine Trail, on Moodie Dr, Nepean, Ontario shimmers in the light of day, the woods alive with wildlife seeking human contact.

Trail by quarryMultiple trails, easily accessible and well manicured, await our exploration in our new hometown.

Who can resist a path’s allure?  Not I.

The Seeker

…and when I’m gone –
fleshy vessel turned to ash,
know that my spirit,
in joyous release,
will be seeking new paths.

(Poem inspired by the path at Piper’s Lagoon.  Submitted for Lens-Artists Challenge – Path.)


CFFC: Coffee Shop

Fogg Dukkers Coffee Shop in Campbell River, B.C. is a one-of-a-kind, road and beach side hang out.


The barn door entrance is emblematic of the rest of the decor – the walls decorated with witty sayings.


The furnishings are basic, and the warmth from the wood stove is very welcome on cold or rainy days.


Outdoors, there is a fire pit and lots of seating.   The friend who introduced us to the place, said that often people will jam around the fire, creating a fun, uplifting atmosphere.

The day we visited, it was too cold to sit outside, but I could imagine this would be a favourite hangout, as the view is incredible.

(Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge:  Week 5.  I chose to focus on coffee.)

Back to Campbell River

We’ve just had lunch in Comox – a quaint, mostly retirement community, judging by the services that line the main street.  Mary’s, a small cafe with gluten-free options, is where we met up with Pippa for our last day of exploration on the island.

gullcondo.jpgThe plan from here is to head north.  I tag along with Pippa and Sammy (her dog) and Ric follows behind in the pickup.  The day is overcast but no rain yet.

Oyster Bay is the first stop.  We park and follow the short path to the water’s edge.  A few mergansers float at the water’s edge, and a number of gulls squawk in the distance.  These two have found the best perches and are in no hurry to give them up. We take some pictures and deterred by the chilly wind, decide to keep going up the coast to Campbell River.

CampbellRiver.jpgThere are actually two rivers in Campbell River – the one bearing the name of the town, and the Quisnam River.  We stop at the Campbell River for some photos and then drive on to the Quisnam where Pippa and I decide to walk the trails for a bit.  The trilliums and fawn lilies are in full bloom and she wants to show me.  The woods are also full of birch trees, which remind me of childhood and my father’s garden – a favourite.

3fawnliliesRic has stayed back in the truck and when we return, he is napping, so we carry on along the trails on the other side of the road.  This is Pippa’s neighbourhood, and Sammy proudly shows off his comfort with the area.

There is something so soothing about the sound of a river’s flow.   I love this place.

birches.jpgWe stop by Pippa’s house for a tour of the gardens.  Her property – nearly an acre, is surrounded by tall trees, and sloping grounds.  There is a pond on one side of the property, and a roadway on the other, so she has wonderful privacy.  Benches are set at strategic points offering a number of places to sip tea and enjoy the beauty, but today is too cold, so we decide to get tea at a cafe back in town.

Part of Campbell River’s waterfront has been strategically maintained for public use – no development on the water side.  Along the paved path sits a shack on a concrete slab – Fogg Dukkers.

Katiethebarista“It’s a little rough inside,” Pippa warns.  “If it’s too much we can bring out drinks back to the truck.”

It is rough, but it’s a classic.  A barn-like door opens into the large, open area.  A wood stove pumps heat from one corner while locals sit around in plastic lawn chairs.  Signs with funny sayings line the walls, and in a back room a young woman, Katie, waits to take our orders.  Surprisingly, they have a wide range of offerings.  I opt for a mint tea while Pippa orders Americano, and Ric a dark roast.

“In nice weather,” Pippa explains, “people come here with their dogs and sit outside.  They usually have a fire going and sometimes there will be a jam session.”

FoggDuckersinterior.jpgOutside, there are more plastic chairs, some tables and picnic benches.

We linger over our drinks, chatting about everything, none of us wanting this day to end.  When the rain comes, it’s a reminder that we have a fair distance to travel home.

We say our goodbyes.

I am beyond tired, and hungry again.  Ric knows of a place in Nanoose Bay where we can have a decent meal.  I try to sleep but the day is still very much alive in my mind.  Besides, there are so many emotions flooding me right now.

I could see myself living on the island, and yet, I am feeling the tug of home.  If only I could transport my family here with me.

The highway has come to a halt just at our dinner turn-off.  There must be an accident ahead.

rainyhighwayIn the restaurant, I overhear the waitress telling another table that there has been a fatal crash.  The delay could be hours.  So we take our time, lingering over tea and coffee after our meals, and striking up conversation with the woman at the next table – also waiting out the traffic situation.  Apparently there is only one road running between here and Nanaimo.

Finally, google shows the route is moving again, and we head home.  It’s been an exceptionally good, and long, day.

Tomorrow we pack up.


A Lake and A Pub

WestwoodWestwood Lake, situated in the foothills of Mt. Benson, Nanaimo, is an unexpected surprise.  Pulling into the parking lot, I am eager to get out and explore.  The parking lot fronts a beach area and there are trails leading in either direction – over 5 km of walking trails, as well as mountain biking trails that circumvent the lake.

BClakebeach.jpgA small crowd has gathered around a truck bearing the caption “Live Trout”.  Ric heads in that direction and I go right, following the path to another beach a bit further along.  Not wanting to get too far out of sight, I backtrack and catch up with Ric.  The trout being fed into the lake are eighteen months-old, the young man operating the truck tells us.

“This will attract a few birds,” I say.  And then:  “I’d like to take this trail for a bit.”

WestwoodtrailRic says he’ll come too and we climb the few steps leading to the trail.  He decides to sit on the nearest bench, overlooking the water, and I enter the woods.  A pair of Juncos dive undercover as I approach, and I can hear the call of other birds, but here in the tall trees, it’s impossible to spy the culprits.  Several other people pass me on their power walks.  I dawdle, looking for inspiration. The path veers away from the water, so I decide to walk back and join Ric on the bench.  Besides, my legs are useless today and I don’t have my walker.

ascentwithfish“You missed it!”  Ric exclaims as I walk up.  “An eagle snatched a fish out of the water.  I caught it on film.”

“I can’t walk this whole trail, but I’d like to see more of it.”

So we get in the truck and drive around as far as we can, and I get out and walk a bit more.  The trails here are mostly paved and so well kept.  I could see myself visiting often if we lived here.

“Are you taking pictures of birds?”  a woman stops to ask. “I was here yesterday with my friend and we saw two we didn’t recognize.  She likes the Anna’s and Rufous hummingbirds.”

I’d love to see any of these, but I sit awhile perched over the water on a bench built just for that purpose, and decide I’d best get back to the truck.

“You up for lunch?” Ric asks as I pop back in.

“Sure. What do you have in mind?”

DingyDockwaitingroom.jpg“Let’s find the floating pub.”

Listed under the top ten things to do, The Dinghy Dock Pub is accessible only by ferry.  The ferry costs $9 roundtrip, and leaves the Protection Island dock at ten minutes past the hour.  We find a place to park and descend the steep ramp to wait for the next ride.  A vessel parked at the dock serves as a waiting room, and people gradually stream in – all friendly and eager to chat.  We meet a woman whose granddaughter is at university in our hometown, a young man who lives on the island but works further north on the island, and a woman from L.A. visiting a friend.  Soon the waiting room is full and the ferry arrives and we climb onboard for the short ride to the pub.

As the busy season doesn’t start till June, the atmosphere in the pub is laid back and friendly.  It’s obvious there are many regulars here.  The waitress takes time to chat, and the food is good.  Ric and I share the parmesan and garlic fries for starters and then a grilled salmon salad.  Catering to food issues is not a problem here.

NanaimofmwaterAfter lunch we wander on the dock and take photos.  An otter that had been playing in the water while we ate is now nowhere in sight.  It is interesting to view the Nanaimo harbour from this side of the water.  Behind the pub there is a ramp leading up to Protection Island.  I spot some starfish – pink and purple – clinging to the rocks at water level.

starlineup.jpgThen the ferry is ready to pull out and we hop on for the trip back.

“What an amazing lifestyle!” I remark to Ric.  “So different from what we know.”

“Where to next?” he asks, but I am done in.

Our days here are coming to an end and as much as I’d like to see it all, I have to acknowledge my limitations.

“Home,” I respond.

Englishman River Falls, BC

picnicintreesA break in the rain inspires an outing, and we grab our cameras and jackets and head north along the main highway.  We are looking for signs to the Englishman River Falls.  The route is well marked.

This drive, like many others we have taken, is lined by tall trees, taking us deep within the rainforest.

“The island gets in your blood,” others have warned me.  I can feel it happening.

We park in the generous lot provided and head to the marked path.

“Is is a long hike to the falls?”  Ric asks a man and woman just returning from their outing.

“A stone’s throw.”

Englishman.pngWe can already hear the roar of the water.  We pass a picnic area, ascend a small incline and see a pedestrian bridge ahead.  To our right are stairs leading to a lookout, and just past, the falls – a torrent of water rushing over giant boulders, cascading far below.

We ready our cameras and eagerly step out onto the bridge and the combination of water, sound and height throws me into vertigo.  I grip the railing and will myself to focus on the lens view.  This scene is too fantastic to miss.

smallwaterfallRic lingers for more pictures and I wander back onto solid ground, following the path on the other side of the falls.  I find myself alone in a sea of green, and I feel like I’ve been transported to another universe.  Time and resilience has preserved the sanctity of this place that was once home to Native Peoples.  Reverence fills me.

shapesinwoods.pngHere, deep in the woods, the clear waters of a small creek trickle by, and even though I am alone, I sense a presence.  I search about for the source, but there are only shadows – distorted images playing tricks on my mind.  I return to the falls.

Ric’s knees are so bad that he doesn’t last long, and I know he’s likely waiting for me in the truck.

We drive away in silence, another piece of the island seeping into our blood.





More of Nanaimo

Illness and old bodies are taking their toll on us, and as a result we are pacing ourselves more, taking days off between outings, try to regain some semblance of balance.  It is easy to hibernate when the rain is pouring down, but as soon as the sun shows up, there is an urge to get out.

Piper'slagoonbeachToday we have come to Piper’s Lagoon, a jut of land around Page’s Lagoon in Nanaimo.  The website speaks of 8 hectares of land and multiple trails, and when we pull into the parking lot we find ourselves on a long beachfront.  Like many of the beaches in B.C. the sand is littered with driftwood and logs.

A cold wind is blowing and the water is quite choppy but it doesn’t stop a group of mergansers from riding the surf.   The dog-like face of a harbour seal keeps popping out the water and disappearing, and gulls and crows or ravens compete for air space.

CovertloversRic and I walk the length of the peninsula and then he finds a bench while I carry on.  There is a path that leads along the flats just below where we are walking, and another that leads between two rocky hills up ahead.  I decide to climb short incline and discover a rocky beach huddled between the two rocky peaks on the other side.  A young couple cuddle under a blanket in one of the crevices, so I take a few pictures and leave them be.

I watch as a family with children and dog ascend a rocky path up one of the hills, but can’t trust my balance so rejoin Ric on the bench.  We decide to move on.

cormorantkingsNot far from the Lagoon we spot a sign for Neck Point – a place I had read about and wanted to see.  Ric pulls in the parking lot and says he’ll wait for me.  His knees are shot.

The initial impression is of a grassy picnic area overlooking the water, but I want to see more, so follow one of the paths leading upwards.  Wildflowers are in bloom along the path – vibrant purples and yellows.  After all the recent rain, the grass is bright green, as is the moss.  After a short ascent I see a path leading to a fenced lookout, but I decide to climb a bit more, and I’m so glad I did.

seaofscotersFrom this new perspective, I can see islands of rocks jutting out into the water.  Cormorants sit atop the high rocks, while a wall of birds congregate in the waters below.  These are surf scoters – their black bodies blending together, punctuated by   the orange dots of their beaks.  A lone seagull splashes about in the water, and as far as I can tell it’s a Bonaparte’s gull (not that I’m an expert).

pathIn the distance a sailboat cuts through the water, obviously undeterred by the cold.  Another small vessel maneuvers over the waves, set against a backdrop of mainland mountains.

I don’t linger too long although I would like to.  There are many more paths here to explore, and I think this might be my favourite place in Nanaimo so far.  That which I am able to witness has been so healing.  That which I cannot yet access motivates me to keep pushing forward.

Once again, I pinch myself for my good fortune.

Morrell Nature Sanctuary

trilliums.pngMorrell Nature Sanctuary is just five minutes from where we are staying in Nanaimo, and an earlier attempt to visit was thwarted by heavy rains and Ric’s bad knees, so when Pippy comes to visit next, I suggest we try again.salmonberry

“I just want to make it to the lake,”  I tell her, armed with my camera.

She is game and the weather is cooperative, so we head out.  Typical of me, I have misread the map, and the trail we take swings out beyond the lake.  By the time I realize the error, my legs muscles are tightening and I am beginning to lose balance.  Pippy offers her arm and we slowly make our way back to the entrance where there are picnic tables.

It feels so surreal to be here in this beautiful place with a dear friend, and I am inspired to capture the moment in a poem, written in response to my writing circle’s prompt:  wildflowers.  I share it here with images to enhance the words.

flowersdeskunkMorrell Nature Sanctuary

Rain-infused greens
inspire whimsical thoughts –
surely there are sprites
that play amongst these mossy boughs
make homes beneath the ancient roots
whose twisted tendrils rise and dip
in rhythm to earth’s pulses.

The muddied path pushes back
against my weary legs, invites me
to sit awhile, wonder at the impossible
heights from which birdsong flits across
treetops, pinging back from unseen
distances, unhindered by human progress.


BCslugSalmonberries, newly popped,
herald the seasonal shift,
and I watch as a slug undulates
slowly past, antennae bobbing,
the black spots of its tail reptilian.

Below me, lantern–like blooms
of yellow sprout at a creek’s edge
their pungent aroma carried by
the still chilled vernal breeze.


nuthatchA red-breasted nuthatch scurries
up a neighboring fir, while two
robins flirt playfully on the rainforest
floor, hopping amongst the freshly
flowered trilliums, their white
crowns a regal presence in this
palace of enchantment.

Nanaimo, B.C.

flowerbed.png“I’ll take you for lunch if you like.”

Of course, I’d like.  “Can I bring my camera?”


So we head downtown with no particular destination in mind, other than to find a place near the water.  At the harbour front we find a park with manicured gardens, concrete walkways, and plenty of parking.

“Let’s come back here after lunch.”

We stop at a White Spot nearby and Ric orders the halibut and chips and I have a salmon filet with caesar salad.  White Spot, our waitress tells us, used to be a hamburger joint but has expanded over the years to full table service.  It’s a chain on the west coast.  Not bad.

Treeatharbour.jpgThere is no rain today, and the sun has made an appearance although the wind is still cool, so we bundle up for the walk along the water.  The flower gardens at the entrance to the park are a spectacular tribute to spring.

We are right beside the ferry docks, and I notice that the trail seems to cross the main road and carry on beyond.  We will stay on this side.  There is certainly lots to see.

Buffleheads bob in the water not far off shore, and I notice what looks like a nose popping out of the water and then disappearing.


“There’s a harbour seal in there,”  a man says in passing.

dark-eyedJunco.png“Must be lunch time,”  Ric responds.

He manages to catch the nose as it pops up again.

I am photographing this plump Junco, who with its mate is enjoying the sunshine.

We find a bench and sit to watch the ferries coming and going and the water planes take off.  Sail boats sit in their slip waiting for more summery weather, and a water taxi takes passengers out into the bay.

“I could live here,” Ric says aloud.

BCFerries.png“It would be hard to tire of this,” I agree.  “Even with all the rain?”

“I’m getting used to the rain.”

On the way back to the car, a toddler on a trike races past us, her mother, pushing a twin stroller, trying desperately to catch up with her.  Another father hollers for his son to wait up.

I miss my grandbabies.

Mr.Whiskers.pngMovement in the grass draws my attention.  A large, dark rabbit with a white chin is busy feasting.

“What kind of rabbit is that?”

“Domestic.  It’s obviously an escapee.”

Is that what we are, I wonder: escapees?

“He’ll be fine here,” he reassures me.  “He’s got everything he needs to survive.”

Question is:  what do we need to survive?  Could we really live here?