It has been one of the wettest autumns I have ever seen anywhere. I think. These days my memory seems to play tricks on me, so perhaps I’m just not remembering a wetter October and November in any of the places I have lived, in several places on this planet, during my lifetime.
The other morning the weatherman on the regional CBC morning radio told his listeners that there was “a chance of showers for all areas”. I was looking out the living room window at the time, watching a veritable wall of water descend from the heavens above as a solid stream of water poured from the broken gutter onto the ground below. “You don’t say?”
of a remote island dweller…and chronic tea drinker!
People who live elsewhere often ask, “What do you do all day long on your island.” How do I begin to describe a typical day in this place I call home? There are seasonal differences and a day in my life as a remote, off grid island dweller depends a lot on the weather, among other things.
Let’s take last Tuesday for example. I woke up earlier than usual with the sound of C.’s alarm clock chiming. Still dark outside, I could hear the incessant rainfall on the roof. C. had plans to leave for his annual winter camping and deer-hunting trip to the interior of the province. I needed to get up too, in order to take him and all his gear, in the skiff, down the channel, to the end of the road on the next island where our car stays when we are at home on this island. Have I mentioned that there is no ferry service to our island?
While we ate breakfast the rain stopped, temporarily, for the first time in many, many days. C. was able to load his gear into the skiff without it all getting soaked. We both got dressed for the open boat ride; layers of warm clothing topped off with heavy duty rain gear and rubber boots. From home, it’s a fifteen minute run, in a fast boat, to the end of the road. Continue reading “A Day in The Life…”
The past few days have been a bit of a nightmare. The gobsmacking conclusion to the long, drawn out drama to the south has left a grim cloud hanging over the world as we knew it. I have been trying to calm the “fight or flight” sensation that I woke up with the morning after the U.S. election. Thinking of something warm and cozy and closer to home seems to help fend off the sinister, dark thoughts, and this made me think of the good warmth within our island home. Continue reading “The Heat…”
I have been away for a couple of days. It was my first trip to town on the Big Island in over a month. We were down to our last 20 pound tank of propane gas, which we use to operate the kitchen stove, so it really was time to do a town trip.
The trip to town for stocking up on fuel and provisions is a much loathed ordeal, and is fodder for a proper, longer story. Today I was not planning to write about town trips so I shall save that for another time.
I wanted to mention another, much nicer story, before any more time passed and the subject became totally irrelevant; while it was still fresh in my mind.
At the beginning of this week it was Halloween, the first dry day in about a month as luck would have it. Halloween is a much celebrated occasion in neighbourhoods across the country and beyond. When we were kids we used to love getting dressed up in funny costumes. We used to go out just before dark and parade around the streets, knocking on neighbour’s doors and calling out trick or treat, holding out the inevitable old pillow cases, begging for sweet surprises. Continue reading “Trick or Treat!”
It is another very wet fall day here on the island, at the edge of the rainforest. It has been pouring with rain all day long but the sea outside my front door is calm. A misty grey monotone, it is peaceful and beautiful in its own way. It is not too bad out there if one dons head to toe rain gear and rubber boots before venturing out into the monsoon.
However, inside it is warm and dry and I am tempted to stay put, at least for the time being. There is plenty to do indoors anyway. I am still up to my ears in boxes of apples and green tomatoes, and worst of all, what seems like an endless supply of rather large zucchinis. I don’t know what it is, but there always seems to be way more of these monstrous darlings left over at the end of the summer than any ordinary person can deal with, let alone eat.
Although I had not really intended this blog to be all about food, it seems to be going in that direction. I suppose that is what happens when one grows a garden and there are only two humans to eat the results. Of course there is always the compost heap, or the chickens, but my Motley Crew of fowl, now reduced to only five in number, could not possibly get their beaks around the excess supply of overgrown courgettes lounging around on the back porch.
I hate waste, especially when it involves food. So what to do with the spare stuff? Certain things go into the freezer, like salmon and venison and berries. There is a bit of a battle about freezer space that goes on around here; we must use up the berries soon to make room for the incoming meat later in the fall. That is not a problem; I can always turn those little jewels into juice or syrup or jam when the time comes.
Canned fruits and pickled crabapples on the pantry shelf
The green tomatoes, apples and zeppelin-ish zukes will inevitably be made into chutney or relish of one sort or another, bottled in glass jars and put away on the pantry shelves. Gradually, over the next year or two the jars will be brought out and opened and the tasty condiments will be served inside a sandwich at lunchtime or alongside a supper main dish such as curry, roasted venison or a casserole.
Here follows a trio of recipes in case you happen to have some extra apples, green tomatoes or zucchinis hanging around just waiting to be used up. After all, today is a perfect day to be indoors making chutney. Continue reading “Pass The Chutney Please….”
The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking about writing yet another little story about making edible food products from excess garden produce. As usual I had the VHF (very high frequency) marine radio turned on, monitoring channel 16, the emergency Coast Guard channel. I thought the following story was more important than the question of what to do with all the green tomatoes sitting on the back porch.
It was around 2 pm when I heard the radio come to life with a man’s voice calling from the fishing vessel, the Proud Canadian. He was hailing the Victoria Coast Guard radio station. The vessel was not far from here, a seine boat I think, that may have been fishing for chum salmon or was perhaps on its way to deliver its load down south.
I listened in alarm while the caller calmly told the Coast Guard that a member of the crew, one of five on board, had just been hit in the head by a tow line and was now lying, unconscious, on the stern deck of the seine boat. As the minutes passed, I heard the caller mention that the injured man was coming to. The radio dispatcher replied. Would a medical evacuation be required? Did the seine boat have a telephone? They had two, a cell phone and a satellite telephone, but there was no signal for the cell phone to work, and later when the Coast Guard tried to call the seiner back they said they could not get through on the satellite phone either. So the call continued on the VHF radio phone.
I listened carefully to the real life drama through the receiver of my own marine radio telephone, located on the shelf above the kitchen sink. As I did, many thoughts raced through my mind. I have lived and worked on or near the water in remote locations for a large part of my life, and I understand how important good communication systems and protocol are in emergency situations like this. They can be a matter of life and death. This is a fact. Continue reading “Sending Out An S.O.S.”
The harvest continues here on the island as the temperatures gradually drop and the season changes before our eyes. Summer is really over now. The maple and alder trees are dropping their autumn leaves and the baring limbs stand in stark contrast to the deep green backdrop of the thick coniferous forest behind our house.
I’ve been busy putting the garden to bed for the winter. The last of the tomatoes have been picked, despite still being as green as grass. They will ripen gradually over time, set out on the counter in the cool laundry room at the back of the house. The garlic has been planted in between the rain storms and I finally got around to picking the last of the apples yesterday, filling a large box with lovely crisp, tart-sweet, yellowish green apples from our orchard.
Garlic ready for planting in…
shallow trenches with organic fertilizer…
garlic clove placed pointed end up…
3-4 inches deep in trench and covered with soil.
Garlic being planted with organic fertilizer in shallow trenches.
In my last post I wrote about my drying experiments using excess produce from the garden along with the heat from our woodstove. At least one reader indicated interest in the process, so I thought I would share a few more details of my current pastime. Continue reading “More about Drying”
It has been a while since my last post. Sounds like holy confession. The problem is that there is a glut of things to write about and I am having trouble picking one topic and sticking to it. Like most things in life, not just blog posts.
This year I grew my 25th vegetable garden at home here on the island. I can hardly believe that figure; have I really been planting a kitchen garden for a quarter of a century! Am I allowed to swear on a blog! I could write entirely about the garden and never mention anything else in my life, but really, the garden is just one aspect of this island life, though I do spend a lot of my time engaged in it one way or another. Today I am going to narrow it down to a fraction of that aspect, and tell you a little bit about the harvest of my garden, this particular autumn. Continue reading “Harvest Time in the 25th Garden…”
There is nothing quite as sweet as arriving home after having been away for a while. Several days ago I returned home after a long road trip. I left a couple of weeks ago to travel with my sister, in her older model Ford pickup truck, empty horse trailer in tow, from another west coast island that she is soon to call home, back to her current abode more than a thousand kilometers inland and away from the coast. Continue reading “Home Sweet Home….”
Wow! I have just created a blog. It has only taken me about an hour, not counting procrastination time of undetermined years, to figure out how to get this far! Being my first ever attempt at the creative art of blogging, it is all a bit of an experiment. I hope you will be patient and bear with me.
Today I am celebrating my 58th birthday! As I set off into the next year it seems like a really good idea to get on with some of the things I have been thinking and talking about doing for the past umpteen decades. Including the creation of this blog, where I hope to jot down some of my thoughts, ideas and observations about my life on this beautiful, remote island off the west coast of Canada.
I came here nearly 25 years ago from the middle of London where I had been living and working for some time. I came here to join my partner and friend, who had made his home on these shores many years earlier. During the past quarter of a century we have raised a family here and made a living in this place. It seems like nothing when written in a short sentence like that, but believe me, it has been a rich and rewarding, as well as sometimes difficult and frustrating, experience.
I look forward to sharing some of these experiences with you, but first it is time for a walk and a breath of fresh air!