Tuesday 31 October 2017

Ice on the Pond

    Winter is such a dominate part of the Robson Valley, so I guess it is no surprise that autumn is a season where we are constantly on watch for the signs of winter.  We got one of those signs yesterday when I woke up to discover that my pond was covered with ice.   It didn’t seem to me that it had been that cold, but I guess the nightly low temperatures gradually cooled the water surface to the freezing level.
    The temperatures of bodies of water become stratified and layered during the summer and winter.  In summer you get a warm layer on the top and cooler layers as you go deeper.  In winter, the very top layer is the coldest.  In spring and fall they layers overturn.  I can only assume that that happened some time ago. 
    Even Horseshoe Lake which is many times larger than my pond is now frozen, I thought maybe because of its size, it would take it longer to freeze than my pond, but I guess not.  I’m not sure if the ice will now remain until spring or whether we will get a thaw before winter really hits.

My paintings are on display at:  davidmarchant.ca

Monday 30 October 2017

Community Pasture

    We usually take Skye, our dog, out to walk in places where there isn’t any traffic, so we often walk down unused roads, where there isn’t much for her to smell.  She is a very fearful dog and doesn’t like to walk where she is enclosed with bush and can’t see all around her.  Yesterday I thought I’d take her out to the community pasture for our walk.  All the cows are gone and it is a very open space where you can see far into the distance.
    She loved it.  She scampered around with her nose into overdrive.  She went from one clump of grass to the next smelling for mice.  I saw a couple rodents scramble from the back end of a clump of grass while she was checking out the front end.  She was a very contented dog.
    I did see a coyote hunting mice out in the distance, but Skye was too pre-occupied to notice it.  The sky was clear, the mountains blue, and it was a very enjoyable afternoon.

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 29 October 2017

Western Larch

    It seems like as soon as you make some rule about nature that you discover some exception to the rule.  I grew up thinking that there were two types of trees--deciduous (they lost their leaves in the winter) and conifers (“Evergreens” they had green needles and kept them throughout the winter).  When I started working for the BC Forest Service I became aware of the Western Larch--the exception to the rule.
    We didn’t really have Larches in our forest district, they grew farther south, but I seem to remember that our district did an experimental planting of larch on one of our logged out areas.  Somewhere down the line, I ended up with a young larch tree that I planted in our yard, and it hasn’t had any trouble growing in our area.
    Larch is a conifer and grows green needles in the spring and summer.  In the fall all of the needles turn a golden color and then drop off, like deciduous trees.  The tree endures the winter with bare naked branches and in the spring it grows new needles.

You can view my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 28 October 2017


    This morning when I went out to fill the bird feeders the Cariboo Mountains were showing off some alpenglow.  Alpenglow occurs when the mountains reflect back the color of the sunrise or sunset that is happening on the opposite side of the sky.

Take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Friday 27 October 2017

A Beautiful Day

    Yesterday the Robson Valley got one of those crisp, clear, sunny, autumn days.  As luck would have it, it was also the day for our book club, which seems to be the only time I ever ride my bike into town.  After our snowfall, I had pushed the bike into the barn for the winter, but the weather was so inspiring  that I hauled it back out and rode it into McBride for our book gathering.
    The cold wind ripping on my ears as I swept down the long hill by the Mennonite church was a bit painful, and I stopped at the bottom of the hill to let them warm up.  As I rested beside the Fraser River I took the photo you see.  The river’s surface was mirror-like and nicely reflected the fresh snow on the Cariboo Mountain Range.  
    By the time I got to the library my legs were complaining about all the sudden exertion, and later, when I got back home, the hard peddling up the Mennonite hill really made my legs wobbly, but I was glad I had taken advantage of the beautiful day and got my bike back out.   That makes three whole trips to town on the bike this year which is a trifle compared to all my biking to work most days before I retired.

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

Thursday 26 October 2017

The Remains of a Day By Kazuo Ishiguro

    Today the McBride Library’s Book Club meets.  We were supposed to read books that took place in England.  One of the books I chose was The Remains of the Day by Kazuo  Ishiguro.   I was just in the middle of the book when it was announced that Ishiguro had won the Nobel Prize for literature.
       This novel is about Stevens, an excellent butler from a long line of butlers, who is totally immersed in this trade and totally dedicated to his profession, during the decline of that profession as those big English houses began to fail economically.  In Steven's case in 1956, Darlington House was sold by Lord Darlington, Steven's previous employer, to a wealthy American and the house staff greatly reduced to just a few.  Those who remain were forced to take on the additional chores once done by other servants of the house. 
        Stevens is a very stiff, staid, overly proper, and overly-dignified individual, who would never consider "letting his hair down".   He is devoid of human emotions and his greatest enjoyment was discussing "best practices" of butlers with his few butler acquaintances.  His life is his job.  
        The story starts out with a dilemma for Stevens.  Farraday, the American owner is leaving Darlington House for a trip to the States, and offers Stevens the use of his car and encourages him to take a holiday while he is away. 
        Stevens, who hasn't left the the place for years at first rejects the idea, but after further pressure decides on a trip to visit Miss Kenton, a former favorite employee who recently sent him a letter reminiscing about her time spent working at Darlington House, which Stevens interprets as hinting at a desire to once again be employed there.  Stevens then is able to justify a road trip to himself because he would be doing business “for the house”, by possibly hiring a much needed staff person. 
        When she previously worked at Darlington House, Miss Kenton had made attempts to be friendly with Stevens and tried to tell him that his aging father, who was employed as a sub-butler was beginning to loose his abilities, but Stevens was so hard-wired into his butler job, that he took the information personally and chided her, as a butler would to an errant house staff person who over-stepped her role. She felt rebuffed and as a result their relationship had become strictly business-like with some underlying antagonism. 
        I assumed that the meeting of Miss Kenton and Stevens would be the big climatic event of the novel. Much of the storyline deals with his auto trip to see her.  He tells of his experiences as he travels across England to see her, but much of the plot is taken up with his remembrances of the past that slowly tell the reader what has happened in Darlington House. 
        The actual meeting was a rather underwhelming event, but it fills in the blanks of the story. If you like to read action-packed adventure stories this is not the book for you.  It is slow, but intriguing, and I really liked the way the story was written. 
        Because it was written in the first person, it is Steven's words and explanations that you read. It was written in such a way that you begin to doubt his narrative so you don't take his words literally, but instead read between the lines to construct what actually happened.   It is in your imagination that the actual tale is told, about the two wasted lives that were the result of Steven's total dedication to a job.  It was a great book. 

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Autumn Roadside Weeds

    Now that the colored leaves of autumn are becoming more and more scarce, it is getting more and more difficult for someone like me who craves color to come up with a fix.  As a result I have to lower my expectations and standards.  Yesterday I had reached the point where I was looking at the weeds growing along the roadside to satisfy my cravings.  Here is what I settled on.

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Red Maple Leaves

    I’ve mentioned before that the deciduous trees we have here in the Robson Valley only display yellow during the autumn.  Yesterday we drove up to Prince George and made our usual stop at the Slim Creek Rest Area.  As I was walking Skye I noticed this domesticated maple tree that had all around it these beautiful frosted reddish leaves.  I had to walk back to the car to get my camera.
    We do have something called a Douglas Maple that is native to our area.  It does turn orange and red, but you rarely see it and it never develops into much of a tree.  Being a lover of color, I enjoyed seeing the deep reds and the yellowish accent leaf of this planted maple.

My paintings can be seen at:  davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 22 October 2017

Cranes and Horses

    Whenever we walk Skye at Horseshoe Lake, it is always nice to see the herd of horses grazing out in the field.  It was doubly nice to see a group of sandhill cranes grazing in the pasture at the same time.

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 21 October 2017

Clouds Below Mountains

    Yesterday was one of those days when I really liked the way the sun was throwing its light around.  As a result I ended up taking a lot of photos.  There are still a few autumn leaves on the trees that added a bit of color to the scenes.  

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Friday 20 October 2017

Pre-Winter Preparations

    Yesterday I wrote about the leaves falling and today I have this photo of the flocks of waterfowl that are gathering on Horseshoe Lake before “V-ing” their way south.  Nature seems to be on track for Autumn, with all the flora and fauna using their tried and tested methods with dealing with the approaching winter.
    Like the rest of nature, I am in my “Fall” mode, scrambling around trying to get every thing I need to do completed before winter hits.  I got one of the big things on my list done yesterday.  We have a gravity fed water system that comes off of a waterfall, and to keep our waterline from freezing up in the winter, we have to keep a continual flow of water through the pipes.  As long as it is flowing it doesn’t freeze.
    Some of this constant flowing water drains into my pond throughout the winter, and it travels through my greenhouse on its route.  Unbeknownst to me a turn-off valve in my greenhouse sprung a leak last fall so the water didn’t get to the pond. Yesterday after a lot of grubbing in the mud, I was able to replace the leaking valve, so now the water will once again will flow into the pond.  I still have to insulate it, but the hard work is done.
    Since we have plenty of carrots this year, we decided to keep a row of them in the ground over winter to eat in the spring, so I covered the row of carrots with soil to help protect them over winter.  We have never done this before with carrots, but years ago we did it with parsnips and they turned out all right.
    Little by little I am ticking off those items on my list to get done before winter.  Once I get them done, things slow down quite a bit and generally about the only big job that needs to be done is to periodically clear the driveway of snow.  Winter tends to be a fairly relaxing time if all the pre-winter jobs get done.

My paintings are on display at:  davidmarchant.ca

Thursday 19 October 2017

Leaf Litter

    Most of our deciduous trees in the Robson Valley are now bare and their branches stand naked.  The leaves that sustained them through the summer have fallen to the ground.  The nutrients that the leaves  contain will be broken down my insects, bacteria, and fungus, and will be freed up to be used again by other plants or the very trees from which they fell.
    The natural world we love and depend on could not exist if it didn’t recycle everything.

You can view my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Snow Geese

    We have enjoyed seeing the various waterfowl congregating at Horseshoe Lake as they make a stop to rest before vacating the country for warmer climes.  I mentioned what a treat it was to see the wild swans the other day, and the other day we saw another uncommon sight: the Snow Goose.  We have spotted some of them amongst the more common Canada Geese on the lake.

Check out my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Autumnal Slopes

    I took these shots a couple of days ago.  By now much of the autumn colors will have disappeared as the winds and rain have blown the yellow leaves off of the Aspens and Birch trees.  Both photos show slopes of the Park Range of the Canadian Rockies as seen in the Robson Valley.

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Monday 16 October 2017

Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo

    This book is the memoir of Michelle Kuo, whose parents immigrated to the US from Taiwan, settling in Michigan, where Michelle grew up. As an adolescent, Michelle became fascinated with the civil rights struggle of Blacks in America. She read the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. and Autobiography of Malcolm X.  
        She was very academically minded and graduated from Harvard, majoring in English Literature.  As she was about to get her degree, she began to realize she didn't really know what to do after graduation.  She happened to meet  a recruiter for Teach America, a organization that sought to find teachers for really impoverished schools. They told Michelle about a very poor school of Blacks in the southern Delta town of Helena, Arkansas.  Her interests in Black liberation led her to accept the job.
       Like most first generation immigrants, her parents wanted Michelle to get some high status, well paying job, and they were appalled when she took the job in Helena.  Helena was a very impoverished community, largely Black, and Michelle's job was in the small alternative school for students who had been kicked out of the regular high school. 
       Helena, Arkansas had a terrible racial history, which included the highest number of lynchings in any county in America.  The high numbers of killings by Whites caused most Blacks to move away, and those that stayed learned to live in a subjugated society.
        Needless to say, trying to teach there was an extreme challenge and it didn't help that she was a middle class suburban Asian woman who had been sheltered from the realities of poor rural blacks, whose subculture was now further deteriorating because of drugs and violence.  Michelle was determined to change the direction of their lives, despite the overwhelming odds. 
       Among her favorite students was Patrick, a quiet 15 year old boy who always tried to calm disputes.  She felt he was one of the few who seemed to be accepting of an education.  When he stopped coming to school she visited his home in a bad section of town, and saw what he was up against, but the fact that she cared enough about him to visit, motivated Patrick to start coming to school again, and she began to see him progress. 
       After two years of teaching, Michelle left the job to get a law degree. It was hard for her to leave her students, but the pressure she was getting from her parents ruled the day.
        As she was just about to graduate from a Harvard Law School, Michelle received a letter from a former colleague in Helena, that said that Patrick was in jail, charged with murder.  This news was devastating to Michelle, and instead of taking a legal aid job in a Spanish nonprofit organization in LA, she went instead traveled back to Helena to see if she could help Patrick.  
       When she visited Patrick in jail, he was embarrassed to see her, and she was shocked at how his fragile education had deteriorated.  He openly confessed to stabbing the man, who was drunk and with his mentally slow younger sister, saying he hadn't meant to kill him, just use the knife to threaten and make him go away.
        Michelle abandoned her LA job, choosing instead to stay in Helena, and teach Patrick daily while he waited for his ever postponed trial date. She had him read novels, poetry, and black history and gave him writing homework.  
         Her dedication to this one poor black man was amazing.  His achievements were surprising.  I sometimes questioned his apparent understanding of complex wordy poems, because of his impoverished educational background, but that's what the book said. 
        Michelle Kuo's dedication to helping those in need certainly took her life in some unexpected directions and gave her an interesting story to tell.

You can view my paintings at: davidmarchant.ca 

Sunday 15 October 2017

Swans and Cranes

    As regular readers know, we do a lot of our dog walks at Horseshoe Lake.  Yesterday while doing one we got a real bonus because we saw both Trumpeter Swans and Sandhill Cranes amongst the other migrating waterfowl that were using Horseshoe Lake for a rest stop.
    We only get to see the wild swans in the spring and fall as they are either flying north or south, but there are some resident Sandhills that spend the summer and we sometimes hear their strange gobble-like croaking sound as they feed in the pastures.  I suspect some of the Sandhills we saw yesterday were traveling through, like the swans.
    It is always a treat to see wildlife.  A couple of days ago we saw a fox crossing the road, we only see a fox about once every two years.
    The photo below shows a couple of Sandhills flying over.

Check out my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 14 October 2017

Yellow Leaves and Snow

    The fact that we got a snowfall while there were still autumn leaves on the trees has created scenery that is not typical for the Robson Valley.  I have been busy taking advantage of the unique coloration with my camera.  Here are some shots I took yesterday.

You can see my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 11 October 2017

The Lone Apple

    Can you see the apple?  
    About a month ago, the deer took most of the apples off of this apple tree that grows in our yard.  We figured if the apples were ripe enough for the deer, the bear wouldn’t be far behind, so we picked off all of the other apples on the tree to prevent the bear from tearing up the already mutilated tree once again.
    At least we thought we picked all of the apples off of the tree, but it seems that we missed one that was hiding in the leaves.  The other day when we walked past the tree, now bare of leaves, I happened to notice this one lonely apple still hanging there.

Look at my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 10 October 2017

It Happened

    We were supposed to get some snow a couple of nights ago, but didn’t.  As you can see from the photo, we didn’t escape because the snow came last night instead.  Many of our trees still have leaves on them the wet snow has made their branches bend low under the additional weight.  
    Getting the first snowfall really puts panic into me, because I start to realize just how many jobs I need to get done before snow becomes a permanent reality over the winter months.  This snow should all disappear and give me time to get all those things done, but it is still worrying. 
    I have most of those pre-winter things done:  the snow tires are on the vehicles, I have lots of firewood,  I planted the garlic, and I fortunately dug the potatoes yesterday.  I still have to pull out the carrots in the garden and repair the water system in the greenhouse so that water flows down to the pond overwinter.  Once those things are done, I can relax.

You can take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Monday 9 October 2017

Ghost Ferns

    All along the trail up to Kinney Lake I saw these ghostly looking ferns that had lost their normally green color.  I suspect their pale coloring was due to a killing frost.  The dark forest that they grew in added to the ghost-like quality of the ferns.

You can view my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 8 October 2017

Cold Mountains

    So far we haven’t seen any of the white stuff down on the valley bottom, but that is forecast to change tonight.  Our local mountains have been sporting a blanket of snow off and on for a while.  We have been getting rain, and they have been getting snow.  
    I still have potatoes and carrots to dig in the garden and several there are several other things that need to be done before winter hits, and looking up at these mountain tops is a good incentive to get crackin’ on those jobs.

You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Saturday 7 October 2017

Autumn; Past It's Prime, But Still Colorful


    Even on a wet and cloudy day which dulls the colors, there is still a lot of subtle autumn beauty to be seen.  Here are some photos I took yesterday on Horseshoe Lake Road.  It was nice that the train was parked up on the distant ridge to add a bit of accent to the scene.

My paintings are on display at:  davidmarchant.ca

Friday 6 October 2017

Alpine Horns

    On the trail up to Kinney Lake, I must have stopped too many times to take photos, because I could hear the alpine horn concert as I was still walking around the lake.  It was nice to hear the low sounds of the horns from across the turquoise water.  When I got to the spot where Keith Berg and Jane Houlden where playing, I joined the 30 other people who had gathered there to listen to the music.
    I especially enjoyed the harmonies when the two horns played together and the endings when one of the horns went very low.  The music consisted of tonal phrases, with pauses that allowed the music to faintly echo off of the mountains.  It was a very interesting and unique experience.
    I left a bit early because and could hear the last tones of the music as I retraced my steps back around the side of the lake.  I was surprised as I walked how many local people came out of the bush, up from the lakeside to the trail as I was heading back.  Some had listened to the music from this side of the lakeshore and others had unfortunately arrived late.  I think about 50 people came to listen all together.
    I appreciate that we have two local musicians who play and willingly perform on their alpine horns so their music can reverberate through our majestic mountains.  

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Kinney Lake

    On Monday I told you about hiking up the Kinney Lake trail.  When I arrived at Kinney Lake, I was not disappointed.  I have been there many times before, but for some reason each time I go I am again blown away by its beauty, I never get used to it.  It is indeed a jewel.
    Not only is it’s mountain setting dramatic, but the turquoise color of its water seems so unreal.  The color comes from “glacial flour” (all the tiny ground up rock and mineral particles) that are suspended in the water.  The color often reminds me of the color you might see in tropical lagoon--a beautiful blue.  I had never been up there in the autumn before, and the yellow aspen added a nice accent to the scene.

My paintings can be seen at:  davidmarchant.ca

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Tom Petty

    I had planned to blog today about Kinney Lake, but yesterday afternoon when I was checking the news, I was stunned and devastated to read that Tom Petty was brain-dead, in the hospital, and not expected to live out the day.  Tom Petty,  I can’t express what a shock and how upsetting this news was to me.  The deep sadness I experienced, surprised even me.
    I had always felt a some kind of kinship with Tom Petty.  I of course loved his music from the first time back in the 70’s when a neighbor played me his song “Refugee.”  I had to get the album of this guy.  From his music I knew that he had grown up passionate about the same music I did--The Byrds, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan.
    During all those years when money was tight and buying music was expensive, Petty was one of the few artists that I was always ready to shell out money for to get a new album.  When music videos became a thing on TV, I was finally was able to see snippets of Tom performing.  He came off as someone that was a nice guy that played and wrote amazing music with his group The Heartbreakers.
    He fought to take some of the power away from the record companies and give some it back to the artists, even to the extent that he declared bankruptcy in order to free himself from a record label.  He won the resulting court case that helped other performers.
    I am going to miss you Tom Petty. Thanks for all that music you have given me over the years.

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Monday 2 October 2017

Up the Kinney Lake Trail

    I am not very self-motivated when it comes to going on hikes, in fact I am not sure I have ever just decided to go on a hike and then do it.  I need someone to ask me or to have it part of some event.  Luckily, on Sunday there was an event up on Kinney Lake in Mount Robson Park.  Two of our local musicians, Keith Berg and Jane Houlden were going to perform on their Alpen horns beside the lake.
    That was reason enough for me.  I drove to Mt. Robson and began the 6 km (4 mile) trek up to the lake.  It is such a beautiful trail.  It slowly climbs through a dark and mossy Cedar-Hemlock forest (my favorite) beside the turbulent Robson River to the placid turquoise lake.
    I have always loved the moss covered forests of cedar and hemlock trees.  They seem so primal and ancient.  In places the forest floor was obscured by thimbleberry plants with their autumn-yellow leaves.  Even though I had given myself plenty of time to get to Kinney Lake, I was late and the music had already begun because I had stopped so many places along the trail to take photos. 
    Tomorrow I will show you what Kinney Lake looked like with the fall colors.

You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant.ca

Sunday 1 October 2017

Mt. Robson Autumn

    Every time I am traveling east, when I round that curve on Highway 16 and have Mount Robson hit me in the face, I am overwhelmed at what a spectacular mountain it is.  Even when it is partially obscured by cloud, it is a sight to behold.  I was fortunate yesterday to once again witness the scene, this time while the trees are sporting their autumn colors.  
    Mt. Robson is the most prominent mountain in the North America’s Rocky Mountain Range and the  highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.  It’s elevation is 12,972 ft (3,954 m.).  It is only an hours drive from where I live, and I confess I should make the effort to visit it more often. 

You can view my paintings:  davidmarchant.ca