Friday, 25 September 2020

Stormy Mountains


    Lately storms originating out in the Pacific have been moving into the Robson Valley.  They have created some dramatic looking clouds over the Cariboo Mountains.  Here are a few shots I took yesterday when we braved the weather and went for a walk.



You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

The Cariboo Potato - Outlaw Spud


    Yesterday we needed some potatoes for supper, so I went out to the garden to dig some.  I usually plant a variety of potatoes, one variety in each row.  I always think I will remember which variety I planted in each row, but I never do.  Already this year I had dug some fingerling potatoes, and some reds, so yesterday I thought I would dig in another row to see what I had planted there.  I discovered it was the Cariboo potato, which we have nicknamed “Pintos,” because of their pink and yellowish piebald skin.

    “Cariboo” is a corruption of caribou, and the term refers to the high plateau in the center of BC.  Although the Robson Valley is not in the Cariboo, when I look out of our living room window we see the Cariboo Mountains which mark the eastern boundary of the Cariboo.  As you have probably guessed, this potato was named after BC’s Cariboo region, but it did not originate there.

    The spud was developed in the early 1960’s at a federal research center in New Brunswick.  It was then distributed to experimental potato farmers around Canada to see how it grew in different regions.  When it was planted in the Cariboo Region, it did really well and was given the Cariboo name.  However, just because it grew well, tasted great, was an excellent keepers, and was disease free, wasn’t enough for the Ministry of Agriculture, they banned the growing of the Cariboo potato in 1976.   What horrible thing caused this potato to be banned you ask.

    It seems that the potato plant, which grew quite high above ground, clung to its underground tuber more than the federal officials liked.  The long potato plant clogged up the mechanical diggers when harvested, so the potato was banned.

     It didn’t matter that it was still a great potato for hand harvesting in the home garden and I have never had a problem with it clinging to the rest of the plant, but nevertheless,  it was decertified, and not allowed to be sold.  The Cariboo potato started to disappear rapidly.

    However, Jerry LeBourdais, a rebel farmer in Williams Lake, BC got wind of the banning and it got his dander up.  The banning made him want to grow the outlaw spud.  He unsuccessfully asked around trying to find some to plant, then in 1984 at a horticultural show in Prince George, John Ryser, one of those people Jerry LeBourdais had asked, came upon some and grabbed “four or five” and gave them to Jerry, who started growing them.

    Excuse the pun, but growing the Cariboo potato became and “underground” movement and slowly people shared the variety with other gardeners and the Cariboo spread.  Years ago, I was given a few of the Cariboo’s from Pete, our local gardening expert and heritage plant propagator.  I planted them, and they did well.  I always saved some for planting the next year and they have become one of my favorite potatoes.

    Like I have said, I always plant a handful of potato varieties.  Some year the reds do well, some year they are a disaster, same with the other varieties.  The Cariboo’s seem to do well consistently, although one year I almost lost them.  I don’t remember if it was because they didn’t grow well, or if we ate too many and didn’t save some for planting, but the next year I discovered that I had none to plant and  I was really upset.  I asked Pete, and he didn’t have any either.

    Fortunately, a few Cariboo volunteers came up in my garden.  I made sure I didn’t eat any, but saved them to plant the following year.  Slowly over the following years, their numbers increased, and now I have enough for two rows.

    I was happy yesterday when I broke into the row to discover that they had produced some nice sized tubers, despite all of the rain which waterlogged my garden.

    I hope the variety continues its spread, especially in the BC Interior.



You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

The Bog


    We live on what geologist would called the “Toe of the Slope”.   Mountains are mostly made up of a steep slope, that ends at the valley bottom, and there at the base of the mountain is the Toe, an area that is gently sloping.   One of the characteristics of he Toe of the Slope is an abundance of water close to  the surface.  It becomes quite obvious in our outhouse every Spring.

    On our neighbor’s property there is a boggy depression that also fills up with water each spring.  I sometimes see a pair of ducks there swimming around in the shallow water.  The water generally disappears and the area become large patch of moss during the summer.  

    Our trail passes by one end of the bog area and I was surprised the other day when I was re-clearing the trail to see the bog completely filled with water, which is quite unusual for this time of year.  I assume that the huge amount of rain that fell over the Spring and Summer has slowly been flowing underground down the slope of the mountains and has surfaced in the bog. 

    The bog is not in an area that receives surface water from a creek, it is like a spring that only fills when there is an excess of water.


View my realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Welcome to Fall


    When the term “beautiful day” is mentioned, my mind often congers up a sunny day in Autumn, dry after a hot summer, the trees decked out in brilliantly colored leaves, and the sun brightly shining with a gentle warmth.  Unfortunately our first day of Autumn doesn’t quite rise to that ideal.

    As if we didn’t get enough rain already this year, when we turned the page to Autumn, the plot looks  the same.  The leaves are starting to turn, but there is not much brilliance in their color.  A lot of the Cottonwood trees have already ditched their leaves, without bothering to put on much of a show.

    Although the forecast for the week paints a picture that is wet and gray, I will try to maintain optimism and hope for something closer to my ideal.


Take a look at my realistic paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Monday, 21 September 2020

Reminded of Mcintosh Our Dog


    Yesterday I brushed out the upper third of our old trail through the neighbor’s woods.  The Thimbleberries had obscured most of the trail, so at times it was really difficult to see where the trail went.  As I got to some of the places I hadn’t been for a long time, memories of our dog McIntosh began flooding back to me.  (The photo above shows Mac on the trail as it was in 2014, when we used it once or twice every day.)  

    Mac a sheepdog, loved to be out in the woods on our walks.  He would catch a scent of some wild critter, and off he would go, completely turning off his brain to everything except pursuing that smell.  This drove us crazy, because he wouldn’t hear us no matter how loud we yelled at him to stop.

    Although a bit of a wimp, he nevertheless treed bears and chase deer out of the yard, but he was an extremely gentle-natured dog, who one time carried a very young rabbit in his mouth to me, completely unharmed.  Another time when some chickens got out and I was chasing them, he caught one and brought it to me, again carrying it gently in his mouth.

    I loved and miss that goofy big dog, and sure wish we had another dog to share our lives with.



View my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Smoke, Fog, or Smog?


    It was dark and gloomy when we got up, and even though it lightened a bit it remains gloomy.  The smoke that was supposed to have dissipated yesterday didn’t, and even though I couldn’t smell it when I went for my early morning walk down the trail, I suspect that it still makes up a good part of whatever is obscuring the mountains.  

    I have been a bit underwhelmed at my morning walks.  I expected that I might encounter some kind of wildlife or interesting plant, but so far I haven’t even seen a squirrel.   The most exciting thing I saw today was the smog.


You can see my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Always the Wrong Screwdriver


    I am constantly having to drive in screw or unscrew one.  This happens all over.  Yesterday I was up on a ladder putting in a light fixture on the ceiling of my shop, but I could have been under the house in the depth of the crawlspace dealing with the plumbing, or out working on some minor problem with the truck, but wherever I am, if the task requires a screwdriver, I inevitably have taken the wrong one along with me, and have to go find the right one.

    In most of the world there are usually just two choices; a regular flat bladed one (on the left), or the Phillips (in the center).  I didn’t realize until I moved to Canada that there is also a third type, the Robertson (on the right).  So I have three to deal with, and of course all three come in various sizes, which further complicate my life.

    Robertson screws are very common in Canada.  They are the easiest to screw because normally the screw will stick on the tip of the Robertson screwdriver so you only need one hand to position the screw, and the Robertson screwdriver isn’t prone to slip or strip the screw head when being driven.

    If the Robertson screw is so good, you might wonder why it isn’t used more widely in the world.  It is because,  Robertson the Canadian inventor, refused to expand his invention out of Canada after being stung when he tried to manufacture in Britain.  

    Anyway, in my world there are these three types of screws (there are several other kinds, but I generally don’t have to deal with them) and I always have the wrong screwdriver along with me, and have to interrupt my work flow to go and get the correct screwdriver to continue the job.


    If you want to know more about the history of the screw, I found this interesting video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-mDqKtivuI


You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Friday, 18 September 2020

Preview of Autumn


    This young Aspen couldn’t wait to show off some of its Autumn colors.  The other trees in the Robson Valley are slowly yellowing, but haven’t yet matched the intense color of some of the branches on this Aspen.  Most of the deciduous trees in the valley just turn yellow, so it was interesting to see the hint of orange on the one branch of this tree.


You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Brushing the Trail


    The other day I decided I would start doing a walk every morning after breakfast.  Since the two pit bulls are no longer living at my neighbors, I thought I should see what the old trail loop looked like.  I was surprised at how much nature had reclaimed the path.  I got my brush saw out and was able to re-clear about a third of the loop.  

    The broad-leafed plant you see in the photo above are Thimbleberry, a dry tasting relative of the Raspberry.  It was growing waist high in places and that is mostly what I had to clear.  Below is the tunnel I had to clear through a thick grove of Birch saplings.  I am always careful to keep my eyes and ears open when I walk the trail this time of year because the bush is so thick and high and it would be easy to come upon a bear.

    I have been walking that third of the trail I cleared every morning.  I recently discovered that my iPhone automatically keeps track of my steps and elevation when I have it on me, so I have been taking it along on the walk.  This morning’s walk around the pond and down the trail and back was a kilometer ( a bit more than half a mile) and the elevation gain was the same as climbing 3 flights of stairs.  These numbers don’t show a great exertion, but they are more than I had been doing in the morning, and I hope to brush out the rest of the trail so I can walk the whole loop every morning.



You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca



 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

A New Venue For Our Jam


    Having lost our home at the library due to Covid restrictions, we abstained from playing for months, then were happy when we got permission to make music on the porch of the McBride Train Station.  It was wonderful to be able to get together again despite the rain showers, wind, and mosquitos, but we knew that eventually with the approach of fall and then winter, we would have to find someplace inside for our jam.

    I inquired at the handful of possible locations in McBride seeking a venue, but either the rental cost was too high or there were Covid restrictions that prevented us from using them, but luckily the Canadian Legion allowed us to use their Hall.  Last night was our first gathering there.

     I am very concerned about spreading the virus and know that inside spaces are more dangerous in that respect than being outside, but our numbers have diminished over the summer, and the hall is fairly spacious (you can’t see the long tables sticking out from each side of the room in the photo) so we were able to allow a lot of space between everyone.

    It is always interesting to note the difference in sound in various locations.  Outside on the porch, the sound quickly deadened, but last night in the hall it was very loud, bouncing off the walls and floors, so the sound sort of echoed and blurred together.  We will have to make ourselves adapt by playing softer.           

    I think the Legion Hall will work nicely for us.


View my photo-realistic paintings at davidmarchant2.ca


 

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Smoky Mountains


    The US forest fire smoke continues to obscure the Robson Valley.  This is not black and white photo, although it might as well be.  We have been continuing our normal daily walks even though it is probably healthier just to stay inside the house.


View my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Smoke Finally Arrives


    See the mountains, I don’t either.  I knew it was only a matter of time before the smoke from those horrific forest fires in California, Oregon, and Washington made its way into the Interior of BC and the Robson Valley.  It’s like our valley is a magnet that attracts the smoke, no matter how far away the fires are burning.

    The scenes coming out of the inferno in the coastal states of the US are extremely disturbing.  The loss of life, the loss of property, and the loss of wildlife is heartbreaking.  Each year the fires get more extreme.  One can only imagine what is in store for humanity in the future, as the atmosphere soaks up more and more carbon that we are putting into the air.  

    Two summers ago it was BC that was breaking forest fire records.  We have been lucky over the last two summers in receiving abnormal amounts of rain, but it is only a matter of time before BC is again hit with heat and draught and we again will begin living in fear of fire.

    Our house is surrounded by forests, and its always on my mind.  Meanwhile Stupid Trump thinks that “raking the forest floor” is going to prevent forest fires, then does everything he possibly can to increase the use of oil and coal.  I wonder if Trump has ever even been in a forest.

    Sorry to rant, but things are looking pretty bleak.


You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

    


 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Creeping Over the Garden Gate




    A decade or more ago, I got tired of the deer eating the vegetables in the garden, so I built a fence around it.  I needed to have a gate so we could get in, so I built the one you can see.  It looked pretty naked when it was done, so I planted some Virginia Creepers at the base of it, dreaming of the day when they would climb up and over the gate. 

    For years nothing much happened with the Creepers.  They grew very slowly, but look at them now.  They have finally established themselves.  Now to get into the gate I have to brush the hanging vines away to get into the garden.  I love the brilliant red display their leaves produce in the fall.  Below is a shot I took a week ago, when the leaves where just beginning to turn.



Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings at davidmarchant2.ca


Saturday, 12 September 2020

Flying Saucers on the Horizon


    We braced for an alien invasion as we did our walk yesterday.  Fortunately, the saucers stayed in the distance and we were able to complete our walk as normal.  With all of the numerous catastrophes happening around the world, it is not unexpected that something new is about to hit us next.


To see my photo-realistic paintings go to davidmarchant2.ca


 

Friday, 11 September 2020

The Hateful Canada Thistle



    I have waged a 40 year battle trying to eliminate the Canada Thistle from my property, and can’t really see that I have had any effect on it at all.

    The Canada Thistle is misnamed, it really didn’t originate in Canada; like all invasive plants it grew somewhere else and stole a ride here.  It was originally found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but once it arrived in North America, it thrived.   It developed during the time of the dinosaurs in the Mesozoic Era, 250 million years ago, so it had a long head start in its race against me.

    While I always had some Canada Thistles on my property, I can blame an ex-neighbor for most of my present problems with the plant.  He scraped bare a couple of treed acres on his property, which was like manna from heaven to the thistles, which quickly established themselves there.  Then he took off for the summer, leaving the thistles to flower and form seeds, which blew over to my property.

    Yearly I try to cut them down before they seed, but they have such an extensive root system, they pop up every year.  I guess in Britain they are one of the top plants for providing pollen for insects, but they are still in the “Bad Book” as far as I am concerned.

    They have done well this summer, and I see a lot of their seed fluff blowing around in the air.



See my photo-realistic paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


Thursday, 10 September 2020

The Gathering of Geese


    Even though we didn’t get our money’s worth out of Summer, it looks like we are about to be forced to turn the page into Fall.  We have been hearing the distant call of flocks of geese on our afternoon walks, and the other day as we were driving along the Fraser on our way to town we saw this small flock enjoying some beach time.

    Another sign of Fall that we have been experiencing is the banging caused by the plummeting of spruce cones onto our metal roof.   A squirrel bites them off then drops them from the top of the tree, collecting, in preparation for storing them for the winter.   Below you can see some of the cones the squirrel has thrown onto our roof.



View my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Can't Pass Up A Sunset


    I’ve always been a sucker for a colorful sunset, and we had one last night.  I found this one particularly interesting because the clouds appeared to look like waves, as the Sun illuminated the bottom of the clouds.   Then I noticed the two vertical shaded areas in the lower right side of the sunset, and couldn’t quite figure out what was causing it.
    My first thought was that it was being caused by a distant mountain peak blocking the Sun’s rays, but that didn’t really make sense because you can see light underneath the shadow.  Now I am thinking that it was caused by that really brightly lit cloud that must be lower than the others, and that is creating a shadow on those upper clouds.
    I guess it doesn’t really matter, just appreciate how beautiful the sunset was.

You can check out my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Monday, 7 September 2020

Mud Spuds


    The soil in our garden has a lot of clay in it.  Over the years I have learned that the worse time to dig potatoes is in the rain, when the soil is muddy.   When the soil is dry, the potatoes come out relatively clean, but when the soil is wet mud sticks to the potatoes and smears on the potato skin when you handle them.  It becomes a muddy job and requires more work to clean the spuds.  So I wait for dry weather to dig potatoes.
    Yesterday was a very rainy day, but we didn’t have any potatoes in the house, and we needed some for supper, so I put on my raincoat, rubber boots, and headed out to the garden to dig some.  As I expected, it was a muddy job, but fortunately, I only had to dig enough for one meal.
    I will only be digging potatoes as we need them for a couple of months.  The rest can stay in the ground until it starts getting cold, then I will dig them all (hopefully during a dry stretch).  We don’t have a root cellar, so I store them in the crawlspace under the house through the winter.  There it is cool, dark, and doesn’t freeze, keeping the potatoes fresh.  

View my photo-realistic paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca
   

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Tunnel of Leaves


    Whenever I walk the loop that circles the pond and make the turn at the far end, I look down the dam toward the house and see this scene.  It looks like a tunnel, with light shining through.  When I had the pond built during the 1980’s, all this area was bare of growth.  
    Over the years bushes and trees have grown on both edges of the dam, slowly getting taller and thicker.  It always surprises me how quickly and quietly Nature reclaims her territory when left alone.  The only reason there is now this “tunnel,” is because I whack or mow the weeds on top of the dam every year.

Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Dropped Lupine Petals


    During yesterday morning’s pond walk I came upon this Lupine; foliage heavy with dew.  What really caught my eye was the discarded violet petals that had dropped from the bloom onto the leaves, adding a bit of color to the sight.   Most of the Lupines have long since bloomed and formed smallish, pea-like pods, full of seeds, in hopes of propagating, but a few late bloomers still have flowers.

View my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Friday, 4 September 2020

Morning Pond Walk


    I was getting too lazy.
    I used to go out to feed the birds and walk the dog around after breakfast, but since the bears will eat the bird food and we have no dog to walk, I have just been going upstairs to paint directly after breakfast.  I decided that I had better start getting at least a bit of exercise before I start painting, so this morning I walked around the pond twice. 
    As you can see by the photo, there was a fog laying on the land as I started out.  I was surprised at just how soggy the trail was; muddy and spotted with a lot of puddles.  All of the leaves were heavy with dew to add to the wetness of my walk.
    We used to walk a longer trail that looped though my neighbor’s woods every morning, but that stopped when his renter got a couple of aggressive pit bulls.  Now the place is empty again, so as soon as the leaves drop and create some sight lines, or the bears hibernate, we can start doing that hike again in the morning.

Take a look at my photo-realistic paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Relearning My Hand


    I have been busy practicing playing my guitar chords using different fingers, and relearning what fingers to use when typing, and while those things are going well, every once and a while, I discover something new that I need to relearn.
    The other day I was going to nibble on some almonds.  I got the jar, unscrewed the top, then began pouring the almonds into my hand like I have done hundreds of times before, but this time it didn’t work so well.  The almonds began to fall through the hole where my ring finger used to be, onto the floor.  It didn’t take me long to realize that this was another common procedure that I had to rethink.
    A similar thing happened after I had rolled out our pizza crust, and began to wipe the excess flour off of the counter into my left hand so I could throw it away.  Again, half of the flour fell to the floor.  These  muscle memory habits, that have been established over decades, are so automatic that it is difficult to make yourself stop and rethink them before you do them.
    It is just a minor problem that I will overcome, but it was a bit bewildering to be standing there, pouring the almonds through my hand, onto the floor.

View my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

More Hay Bales



    Yesterday morning was one of those fresh sunny ones.  The clouds in the broken sky threw shadows on the mountains that danced across the slopes.  The fields were speckled with a surprising number of round hay bales that gave depth to the foreground.  
    I do like the combination of agriculture and mountains and these scenes from our walk were the best photos that I took yesterday.


View my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Picking Immature Apples


    What a useless thing our apple trees are.  We have two of them that produce apples, nevertheless we hardly ever get a mature crop from them.  A bear tore up the apple tree we have behind a fence in the garden, but surprisingly, the other apple tree that is growing unprotected in our yard was untouched, even though it has apples on it.
    Just because it still has apples on it doesn’t mean that we will have apples to eat, because yesterday I had to pick all of those apples, even though they aren’t ready to eat.  I did it so the bear wouldn’t come around again and destroy the tree trying to get them. You can see from the irregular shape of the tree that it has already been thrashed numerous times by bears over the years.  
    I stored the half a bucket of apples I picked in the shop, but this variety isn’t one that stores well, so I don’t know if they will ripen enough to eat or just rot.
    What a ridiculous thing it is for us to have apple trees.  After years of growing, the trees finally begin to produce fruit, but either the bears then tear up the trees to get the apples, or you have to pick the apples before they are ready, to protect the trees that never allow you any mature fruit--it’s crazy.

You can view my photo-realistic paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca