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September 26, 2009

Martians and Windex and Indian Summers

Yesterday. Where do I begin? Yesterday was just one of those days. It was as if martians had landed with an extra large load of windex and got busy shining up everything to inifinity.

English please? It was so beautiful I felt like I'd entered heaven on earth. It reminded me why moving to Salt Spring in late September/October is really the only time to move here (imho) because it's too good to be true gorgeous and one even has some hope of finding a place to rent. That's second.

I was driving to the North End along the road that parallels St. Mary's Lake and hints of oranges, yellows, and tree greens reflected in the mirror of lake water. The morning sunshine, golden with Fall, was streaming through the leaves of the trees along the road and making patterns.

I was on my way to an orchard to talk to the owner for an upcoming Driftwood story and I always like driving up roads on the island because there are so many I've never known and they are full of surprises in so many ways.

I entered the property and drove past a few old cabins coming to a stop beside a beautiful pottery studio with a wooden parking sign.

An older man looking very fit sporting a 2004 BC Seniors Games T-shirt and shorts greeted me by saying, "You must be Alice?" "No," I said, "I'm Gayle."
"Good," he said, "if you'd said yes, I'd know you were the wrong person."

He has a Ph.D. in Zoology and taught Wildlife Management at the University of Alaska and lived in Fairbanks for 30 years. His wife also has a PhD in the same thing. They met at UBC in the 1950s.

They own 17 acres of property that had been owned first by early black settlers on the island (160 acres) taken over in 1922 by English settlers.

Their retirement heaven consists of the main house, a cold storage shed, pottery studio, two other old cottage-type dwellings, a round pond surrounded by a stand of Fir trees with greenery all around its edges and a raft of floating iris in the middle that bloom traditional purple in the Spring.

Bob Weeden of Whims Farm has become extremely knowledgeable about heritage apples and he began his hobby orchard in 1992 when he planted 100 trees. He never intended to have apple trees or even to live on Salt Spring (but a detour on a cycling trip) and memories from his youth in New England during the Depression era when he'd go, on weekends, to the commercial orchards to pick the windfalls in exchange for some pocket change conspired to transform dream dust into reality.

We walked through the gate into a sloping green landscape with the dappled gnarly trunks of apple trees, their waxy green leaves contrasting the hues of apples, dangling like clusters of Rubies, Amber and emeralds.

He told me about them as we passed each tree: Gravensteins. Kings or King of Tompkins County to be more precise. Lemon pippins. Ananas Reinette. The Lady. Belle de Boskoop. Glory of Boskoop and a debate about where the first apple seedling originated: Tibet.

I spent about 2 hours with him, taking his photo, hearing him speak about first the apples, moving on to lamenting how apples seems to have become a second class fruit in this day and age and speaking about John Ralston Saul's the Collapse of Globalism.

After that interesting morning, I was in such good spirits with my Friday off from the "day job", I decided to treat myself to lunch. I drove out to Raven Street Cafe which is becoming one of my favorite places to eat on the island when I eat out.

It's perfect because it's not in Ganges, and often it's very quiet and yet the food is really fantastic and it's close to the most peaceful dock: Fernwood dock. It's a great place to get away from your "regular" on-island life if you know what I mean. I parked the car, walked inside and who should be there but a friend I hadn't seen in ages.

He couldn't believe it. "I've been thinking about you all morning," he said with some exaggeration in that statement I'm sure.

We had lunch together. Got caught up. Walked on the dock and then went back to his place because he said he'd been in Victoria the day before, was at this wonderful place called Delish, and even bought a chocolate mousse with the intent of inviting me over. (Isn't that nice?). If any other guy had said that to me I'd be like, ya, sure, nice line. But, I believed him. Gayle=Chocolate. Chocolate=Gayle. How nice!

Raven Street Cafe
makes the most wonderful salads and really the only reason to eat the salad which is great is because of this "to-die-for" Miso dressing. They need to bottle that stuff. Hey, maybe they do. Maybe I should check that out.

Anyway, afterwards, we went back to his place and had tea and the most perfect chocolate mousse.

Later I went to a talk by a guy who owns one of the kayak companies here. A man who was turning 50 hired him to guide him on a kayak journey from Salt Spring to Alaska. The natural beauty and the wildlife and the feelings of accomplishment would not, in my books, overpower the hell of sleeping on rocks, trying to cook in the rain, five meter swells, and whatever else.

Gross but impressive nevertheless if that's your thing.

And, all in all, just a great day in my books.

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