Vancouver Island

shifting skies

You might think, from the title, that this post is about Canadian politics and the recent election. I am, along with most of the country, immensely relieved by the election results. However, I am better off writing about the weather. All I really want to eat for supper at this time of year is roasted vegetables topped with poached eggs. If you offered me lasagna or quiche, say, I would never turn it down, but a colourful heap of oven-velvety fall vegetables is pretty undeniably glorious. I started to write that my husband would disagree, but he has been roasting broccoli, tofu and potatoes lately so I will eat my words.

To further my roasted vegetable quest, and revel in it for days at a time, I concocted a sort of "October bowl", so named for its warm bright colours: roasted winter squash, roasted beets, and roasted garlic topped generously with grated Balderson cheddar, soft-poached eggs, sea salt and a fair amount of pepper. I may also have tipped some Little Creek Dressing into my bowl- I'm on a bit of a kick with it lately. If you've never tried it, it combines oil, lemon juice, tamari, raspberries, vinegar, nutritional yeast, garlic, herbs and salt in magical proportions for a very delicious dressing. Also on the subject of vegetables, however vaguely, we gave the rabbits a big old zucchini yesterday evening and there is not much left of it. They've been gnawing it with great vigor and following its diminishing form around the room. It's impressive what these soft-eyed creatures can do to a gourd, and highly entertaining, for us and them.

It's necessary to talk briefly of the weather; I was near convinced it would start snowing this morning. There was a fog over the city and it was unusually cold. It felt like a late October day in the mountains, where it just might start snowing. And then I reminded myself I'm in Victoria. It rarely snows in December here. Last year, I left Nelson just before the snow started to fall. I do miss the beauty and wonder of those first snows of the season. Island life, Island life, Island life. We have had some spectacular skies lately, liquidamber* light and painted clouds reflected on the ocean, even a sundog rainbow one afternoon.

(* thank you Elise, xo)

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bright sunshine

Today: Coombs Market in the sunshine with my mum and my husband. Bright colours, strings of light, things. Beautiful and wonderful, but also kind of ridiculous. This is a place steeped in childhood memories of goats on the roof, ice cream cones and shopping for animal stamps in the special rubber stamp store. The goats are still there, along with more ice cream than ever, but the stamp store is sadly gone. It wasn't how it used to be, but then- things don't need to stay the same. It was still a fun way to pass an afternoon. Today also, a wren and a nuthatch in the garden.

I was tired when we got home, and feeling under the weather (is that possible in this gorgeous weather?). Thus, this simple soup came about, an excellent and speedy false onion soup. It involved hot water left in the kettle from when I made tea, a spoonful of mugi (barley) miso, and a larger spoonful of caramelized onions. This got stirred together and covered in a light snow of grated Parmesan and few turns of cracked black pepper. I also sprinkled it with toasted sunflower seeds because they were sitting on the counter in front of me, but a better choice would probably have been homemade croutons.

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away

I work downtown. We live in a quiet neighborhood not far from town. This is all very well for walking to work along the seawall and having easy access to excellent bookstores and chocolateries, but I have spent most of my life falling asleep to the sounds of treefrogs and owls, rain and wind. The city traffic and sirens and busyness can be overwhelming. Sometimes I need to get away. Anywhere with forest or open water and quiet will do. On one such day recently, we headed out for a hike in the highlands. I wore gumboots and brought an apple and a lump of cheese, and couldn't resist looking for hedgehog mushrooms even though I know it's still too early for them there.

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again

It's interesting the roundabout ways in which we get what we want. I wanted another day vacation (actually I'd like many more, but let's not go there just yet), and here I am at home on the couch with stitches in my knee thanks to a careless move when building a sheet-metal shed yesterday. It's not that bad; I'll be back at work tomorrow, but when I woke up this morning it hurt a lot and I couldn't walk. Instead I managed an awkward painful hop-shuffle-drag gait across the house and called in sick so I can keep it still for the day. I'll have to work on a more comfortable way to get those other vacation days. Speaking of vacation, we just had an excellent week of freedom. We built a shed, swam at several new old beaches, cleaned the house and let it get messy again, harvested onions, had some dear family moments and saw an old friend, and explored tide pools. Again, please (though maybe without the shed).

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everything I hope for

The rabbits are sneaking up on the houseplant behind me. The cat is at the door, scratching first on the inside, then on the outside. The other cat is on the couch trying to convince J to nap with her. Just a normal evening at our house. The sun descended behind the sky's ragged hem of blue mountains, all streaks of pink and orange fire framed by branches yet to leaf out. This morning it did the same thing but in reverse and with a great deal more magenta.

We drove out to the lagoon to look at birds through battered binoculars. Ever-present and yet-to-be-properly -identified gulls wheeled around and hopped playfully on the beach of broken shells. Mallards, pintails and widgeons dabbled in shallow water in the late afternoon light. In a moment that was like a rush of breath, two swans flew in close over our heads and then disappeared on the horizon, their graceful bodies huge. It felt like a gift.

Recently, I had a thirty-minute wait after work before J came by with the car. I found a bench in the sun and sat quietly with myself, the sun in my eyes and its warmth on my skin. I have fallen out of the habit of daily meditation, and it felt so good to come back to myself there, the warmth and light of spring awakening me too to the present. We have gotten lazy about our evening yoga too, but small poses work their way through my body in the course of the day.

Today when I got home, I found a sunbeam. I carried blankets and pillows to where the floor in the front hallway was a crisscross of light and painted relief of many years' scratches. Spring here is so delicious this year. It is everything I hope for in a spring. I know it's early for most of the country but these are the rhythms I was raised with and I often found myself impatient with the mountains' slow melt and fickle reruns of winter.

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