Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"Paddle to the Sea" by Holling C. Holling

Last Friday we were honoured to be visited by the Canada C3 expedition ship here in Powell River. Canada C3 has been part of Canada's 150th Anniversary celebration and supports the reconciliation process with indigenous peoples.

Canada C3 (meaning coast to coast to coast) started in Toronto, followed the St. Lawrence to the Atlantic, traversed the Northwest Passage, and will complete their 150 day journey on October 28 in Victoria, BC.

MV Polar Prince icebreaker anchored in Powell River.

The ship was well suited for the Northwest Passage. The MV Polar Prince is a 67 metre (220 ft) former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker now in service as a research vessel. 

Members of the Tla'amin Nation welcoming the expedition.

The expedition visited Powell River on October 20 and members of the Tla'amin Nation welcomed the participants at Willingdon Beach. Here they shared the canoe carving project currently in progress.

Carving has brought people together to learn about each other.

After Tla'amin Nation Hegus (Chief) Clint Williams, elders and carvers spoke, Canada C3 Expedition Leader Geoff Green brought out a canoe of his own. It was Paddle to the Sea, the carving used in the film adaptation of the book written by Holling C. Holling. (Click here to see the complete film.)

Expedition leader Geoff Green shares Paddle to the Sea with Hegus Clint Williams

The story is about an indigenous boy who carves a small wooden canoe during the winter and releases it the following spring. Etched into the bottom are these words, "Please put me back in the water. I am Paddle-to-the-Sea." The story follows Paddle through the Great Lakes and down the mighty St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic Ocean.

Not only did we get to see Paddle to the Sea, but we could hold it and have our picture taken with it. This was a highlight for me.

When I taught school, I read Paddle to the Sea to my elementary students. Later, when the film version was released, that was added to my lessons.

Little did I know back then that I would move to Canada. And little did I know that my life would come to a full circle in a unique way.

Have you had such an experience? How did it happen for you? -- Margy

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Toad in the Hole

Coastal BC Amphibians: Western Toad

Toad in the Hole
On a quad ride in nearby Chippewa Bay, I did a bit of exploring on my own while Wayne rode some of the new logging roads.

Wayne doesn’t like wait when I stop to take pictures, so splitting up for a while gives us both a chance to enjoy what we love best.

On the side of a new logging road covered with crushed rock, I found a Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas) hiding in a hole he had excavated under a jumble of medium sized rocks. He looked snug and well protected from other critters, but maybe not the weight of large logging trucks hauling massive loads. This is one reason they are on the B.C. Provincial Yellow List and are a species of "conservation concern."

Hiding under rocks on the side of a new logging road.

My first thought was to call him “Toad in the Hole.” I remember that was the name of a fast food booth at the Los Angeles Country Fair when I was a kid. I looked it up online and Toad in the Hole is a British dish made with sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding batter.

But enough of my culinary sidetrack. Western Toads are found in rocky areas, but usually near streams or ponds. This is because they reproduce in a water environment. Tiny young toads emerge in late summer to fall, often in large groups covering paths and roadways.

Sitting still through his photo session.

The Western Toad chooses to live in abandoned animal burrows or holes under piles of rocks. They can also dig themselves into sandy soil if it is available.

Western toads have warty skin with a large oval parotoid gland behind each eye that secretes a substance to deter predators. Toad colours vary from gray to greenish with black-spotted reddish brown warts.

A long dorsal stripe and parotoid gland behind his eye.

I took lots of pictures, but didn’t disturb my Toad in the Hole. If I was a predator, his glands would have exuded a neurotoxin with a bad taste. But I wouldn’t have to worry about catching warts. That’s just an old myth.

Toads are good to have around. They eat lots of insects; so, if you see one in your garden, leave it alone. It will be a good neighbor and fun to watch.

Do you have toads where you live? Do you have any toad stories to share? -- Margy

References: Nature: An Illustrated Guide to Common Plants and Animals BC by James Kavanagh (Lone Pine, 1993), British Columbia: A Natural History by Richard Cannings and Sydney Cannings (Greystone Books, 2004), Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest by Eugene N. Kozloff (Greystone Books, 1995) and B.C. Frogwatch Program (online).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

This time of year with short days we often fly home on Pacific Coastal Airlines. It takes about 25 minutes from Vancouver International Airport rather than five or so hours by car and ferry. On this flight, it was partly cloudy, with scattered showers. As we broke through the overcast, below our wings a rainbow formed.

I always knew my Powell Lake float cabin home was in paradise.

 Now I know it's also the pot of gold at the end of my rainbow. -- Margy

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Refrigerator Pickled Peppers

This year I grew a variety of peppers including bell, banana, jalapeno, and Anaheim. I used my jalapeno peppers to make hot salsa and Cowboy Candy (sweet pickled hot peppers). I used a mix of bell, banana and Anaheims in my sweet cucumber pickle relish. Now that my plants have stopped producing, I picked enough to make one jar of refrigerator pickled peppers.

I picked a recipe from the Safe Canning Recipes Facebook page that I follow. It's a great place to learn about canning from experts. Click here to find their pepper recipe linksClick here for the Refrigerator-Pickled Banana Peppers recipe on the "Who Needs a Cape" blog.

Refrigerator Pickled Peppers


3 cups of vinegar (white or apple cider)
4 medium-sized banana peppers
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. salt
6-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dill (or fresh dill sprigs)
1 tsp black peppercorns (divided)
2 clean jars


Wash and prepare peppers. I used a combination of banana peppers and Anaheim chilies (a mild variety).  I found that one medium and seven small peppers would not quite fill a pint jar.

Slice (if desired) and remover seeds (if desired). I chose to cut mine in rings and include most of the seeds. Be sure to wear gloves for spicier peppers. Peel garlic cloves.

Combine vinegar, sugar, salt, oregano, dill and 6 garlic cloves in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Raw pack prepared peppers to warm sterilized jars. Add peppercorns and fresh dill, if desired.

Strain brine mixture and discard scraps. I strained and filled my jar in one step. Fill jars with brine to cover the contents.

Cover lightly the jars with canning lids during the cooling process. Once the jars are cool, discard the canning lid and over with a screw-type lid.  Transfer the jars to the refrigerator.

I used a pasta sauce jar and a repurposed plastic lid for my pickles. Since refrigerator pickles don't need to be processed in a water bath, this was a good use for my recycled items.

Let the peppers steep in the brine for at least 24 hours before eating.  The longer they sit, the better they will become. Keep the jars refrigerated so you can enjoy these peppers with salads, sandwiches or as a tangy snack. -- Margy

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Marine Avenue, Powell River BC

Highway 101 is called the Pan-America Highway because it runs all the way from Canada down to the tip of South America.

Our nearby community of Lund boasts that it is the end (or beginning) of this lengthy intercontinental thruway.

But within the limits of Powell River, BC, it's better known as Marine Avenue.

Marine Avenue starts in Westview and ends in the Historic Townsite.  There's a lot of history along this roadway. When the Townsite was created for the workers at the papermill in 1910, it was known as Oceanview.

In 1959, the name was changed to Marine Avenue.  On the east side there's Manager's Row. These large homes originally housed the papermill's most important employees. Perched above the Strait of Georgia, they had a birds-eye view of the ocean and mill below.

As Powell River's population grew, people moved to homestead land north and south of the company owned town. The community that grew to the south was called Westview. The "main drag" became Marine Avenue.  Today you can still see many of the old buildings preserved as stores, restaurants and homes. Thanks to "You Know You Grew Up in Powell River" for sharing this historic picture on Facebook.

Today Marine Avenue is an important part of life in Powell River. It's the location of important events such as the Blackberry Street Party and the Santa Claus Parade.

It's also the home of Powell River Books.

Come take a stroll down Marine Avenue. Maybe I'll see you there. -- Margy