Saturday, August 3, 2019

Lions and tigers and bears oh my, or, how my son went to sea

I took my son and grandson to the airport yesterday, we made a day trip out of it by going into Halifax a little early and strolling the waterfront to see the International Buskers Festival. My son tells me it is one of the best in the world. We stopped to watch a couple of performers, my grandson requested a balloon creation of a dragon from a ten foot tall man in a red suit and top hat (he was on stilts I think), and we had potstickers, egg rolls and naan rolls at the Farmers Market.

We happened to see the HMCS Sackville moored at a dock with a big sign saying it was free to tour ("by donation"). It is a decommissioned corvette veteran of three wars. My son said it was similar to a ship he served on when he was in the naval reserves. So we went on board and my son gave us the tour. He explained in detail how everything worked, showed us the sailors quarters, the engine room, the helm, the guns and a host of other things. Since my son was the helmsman on his ship when he was on board (in the reserves he did "contracts" of four weeks or so out at sea) he was able to explain in great detail how it all worked. Everything was mechanical, almost no electronics or electrical components at all. They communicated with each other via bells and speaking tubes.

He told us that they did duty in four hour shifts and the shift from 12AM to 4AM was known as "mids". When he was on mids he would sleep leaning on the wheel. The compass ticked whenever it changed direction by a degree, the ticking woke him up and he would adjust the course of the ship. He said he was very good at it and every time he went to sea they always put him on the helm. He sailed up and down the east coast of North America from Labrador to the Caribbean. He said he felt privileged to have had that experience.

In this ship the sleeping quarters and the mess were the same rooms. There were racks for hanging hammocks from the ceiling and below the racks were tables and benches for meals. The hammocks were very narrow and each rack held four hammocks in a space of about six feet in width. Pretty tight! My son said that on his ship they had bunks not hammocks, and the bunks were in a separate room from the mess. But it was still pretty crowded.

Before that we spent some time in Prince Edward Island at a cottage that belongs to my son's inlaws, near a beach. The whole area is mosquito infested, you pretty much had to stay indoors or be thoroughly bug-doped-up to go outside. At the beach were deer fly. The water was warm and the beach quite shallow for a long way with a series of sandbars that you could swim to. Some people sat on the beach in the sun and never went in the water. I quickly found out why: if you went in the water and came out covered in salt, the deer fly zeroed in on you. It was impossible to sit still once you got wet, the deer fly saw to that.

I took Hapi there with me and she quite enjoyed the beach. She went out as deep as she could while still keeping her feet on the bottom, then wandered up and down the beach to check out all the people and kids in the water. She kept a close eye on me and when I went out in the deep water she tried to follow. She did actually swim a bit but mostly she walked on her front legs and dogpaddled her rear legs. The kids at the beach quite enjoyed her.

After a few days of that I was thoroughly insect-bitten and just wanted to go home. Hapi does not travel well and she was glad to go home too. We spent a couple of hours cleaning up the cottage before leaving, one of the owners arrived the day after we left and was impressed at how clean and tidy we left the place. Back in Nova Scotia we mostly just hung out. My son is training for a marathon in the fall so he did some running, we took Hapi to the Reservoir every day and on one day we went to the zoo. It is a really nice zoo, just the right size for an hour or two of walking around looking at the creatures without burning out on too much zoo.

It is a private zoo, run mainly by one family who live on the premises. All the animals have names and little placards saying when they were born and how long they have been with the zoo. Every year they sell off some of their animals. Last year when I went they were selling guinea pigs and pygmy ponies, this year it is piglets. The llamas are in a large pen that you can walk into and pet them. Last year they let the peacocks run free but this year they are penned; someone said it was probably because they were losing them to local coyotes.

There's a resident bald eagle who is injured and can only hop-fly. There used to be two bears now there is only one; the jaguar, siberian tiger and half a dozen lions were all sleeping. One lion slept on his back with his legs in the air! Lots of gibbons and macaques, fallow deer and goats, and one very noisy cockatoo. Of course there was a corn feed dispenser for hand feeding various creatures whose pens clustered around the dispensers. Two huge pythons slept entwined with each other in the reptile house.

Today is my first day of getting caught up on chores and whatnot since the boys left yesterday. Pulled up all my garlic, picked and froze a bunch of green beans, pulled up all the pea stalks and weeded, weeded, weeded. Cleaned out the shed in readiness for stacking the firewood which is currently piled in the driveway. With cold and wet in May and June and then a heat wave for most of July, the garden is not doing so well. Two packets of basil seeds planted and none survived, cucumbers barely surviving, peas so-so and half the potato plants look ill. The blueberries did not do as well as last year and I've been lazy about picking them so the birds are doing it for me. The birds also planted sunflowers all over the yard and they are not doing well but they are flowering. The daylilies are happy though.

Now that the garlic is done I'm thinking about planting carrots and a fall crop of peas. My beans take a breather and then produce a second crop later in the summer. I used to replant them but I don't think I will this year. The tomatoes reseed themselves, I just transplant all the ones I like into one garden bed and pull up the rest as weeds. My strawberry bed has had the biscuit and hardly any of them came up this year, however tomatoes have taken over the strawberry bed so I just let them be.


1 comment:

Wisewebwoman said...

I sure do envy your energy. You had a grand time with your family and I didn't know that about PEI. I guess when I went there it was different seasons.