My brother Peter moved to Vancouver Island just north of Victoria shortly after I moved away from Vancouver a few years ago. He lives with his partner Pat there and I visited them just over a week ago.
I took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and then drove down the Malahat to get to my brother's place just north of Victoria. It probably would have been quicker to drive through Vancouver to Tsawwassen and take the ferry to Swartz Bay, but I was trying to catch an early ferry and did not want to contend with rush hour traffic through the city. The drive down the Malahat was far more pleasant.
We had a late lunch at a local restaurant on the water and then drove to Mount Douglas to catch the view.
Peter and I went kayaking on Brentwood Bay the next day, it was similar to the last time two years ago. Good weather, calm water, lots of jellyfish. Peter saw an otter in the water.
The jellyfish are neat to see, small and white floating at different depths in flocks? schools? clouds? What do you call a bunch of jellyfish all floating along together? We paddled around in the little inlet looking for them, they were not spread out evenly but in a kind of jellyfish river through the bay. There were also a couple of really large jellyfish, more than a foot across and two feet or more in length swimming along by themselves. Maybe the big ones aren't interested in company.
The last day I was there Peter's partner Pat took me on a little tour of the local farm markets. The area is full of small farms, and many of them have their own produce stands. One place sold honey and honey-related products (beeswax candles, honeycombs, and such). They had different kinds of honey and the saleswoman let me sample the flavours of the different kinds of honey they sold.
This particular place has been in the local news recently because the province has had a ban on importing bees but that ban was recently lifted and this honey producer was the first to take advantage of that. This was controversial; some were saying that lifting the ban would allow bee diseases to enter the province. Pat asked the woman about this controversy. She responded that it was true that they had imported bees, but they imported them from one of the Prairie provinces, i.e., not across the border. And, they sent their own people to the seller to inspect the bees before bringing them back to Vancouver Island.
She said that experienced beekeepers can tell how healthy honey bees are just by visual inspection. Plus, she said, all their hive sites are at the north end of the island far from any other honey producers, so even if the bees they imported turned out to be diseased, they were in effect quarantined by distance from other hives.
She felt they were acting responsibly and the recent media attention to this transaction was unwarranted. She was quite unembarrassed or upset by the question and happy to fill us in on her perspective on the issue.
We also visited markets that sold a variety of local produce, Pat did a little shopping at each place. I picked up a few items as well, all that fresh produce was really tempting. I was impressed by the variety of what was available.
At one market I saw an arrow sign saying To Animals. I followed the sign around the back of the market building. It was raining and I could see no pens or cages, just one duck and one chicken standing in the rain by the driveway. The chicken was trying to stay dry under a small tree, the duck was less concerned about getting wet. Its face was covered in some red structure that made it look a bit like a rooster or turkey, and it had a few white feathers on its head that stood up in a crest when I approached it. I could tell just how nervous the duck was by the movement of its crest, if I stood still the crest relaxed and if I moved it rose again.
I took the afternoon ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen to return to the mainland. That put me south of Vancouver right at rush hour and I was treated to an almost two hour drive through the city to get home. Pat thought I should avoid the Malahat in the rain, but driving back to North Vancouver from Tsawwassen during rush hour is no treat either. I think I would have preferred to take my chances on the Malahat.
Getting antsy, waiting on Slow-Moe2
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