Sunday, June 30, 2019

Summer Cabin Visitors

Winter is very quite up the lake at our float cabin home. By late spring, birds and critters start to return. Then as summer starts to settle in, so do they. They come to eat from the abundance in our forest and to raise their young to start a new generation. Two of my favourite visitors are the chipmunks and Oregon Juncos.

An Oregon Junco eating seeds on the bridge to shore

The chipmunks and Oregon Juncos have a symbiotic relationship. The birds flick seeds from my feeders that they don't like down onto our bridge to shore or into the lake.

One of the two resident chipmunks enjoying a snack.

The chipmunks (there's a pair) feast on the fallen seeds in two ways. The easiest is to eat the ones that land on the bridge. They also run along the breakwater logs floating nearby to scoop up the tasty treats that cling at the water's edge. They are so much fun to watch.

Do you have any special animals around your home? Which are your favourites? -- Margy

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Flowering Dracaena Spike Plants

Repurposed BBQ planter in 2010.
In 2010, I repurposed a BBQ into a planter to put under the kitchen window at the cabin to give the side of our home a bright focal point.

I planted geraniums for colour and wanted something to give it height. I picked out two small grass-like plants at Canadian Tire.

Over the years, those spiky little plants (you can barely see them in the picture on the left) grew until their roots took over the whole planter.

The Spike Plants take over in 2015.
Consequently, in 2015 I relocated them to deck pots of their own.

I went back to Canadian Tire to talk to the nursery expert. She wasn't sure what I had, but thought it might be a plant called Dracaena. I looked it up online and that made sense.

The Dracaena indivisa plants get pots of their own.
I believe mine are Dracaena indivisa also known as a Spike Plant. It's commonly used in planters and gardens to provide height and interest. Websites say to bring it indoors for winter, but mine survive outdoors without extra protection even here in Coastal BC.

One Spike Plant developed a floral spike in 2016.

Flower cluster closeup.
In 2016, I was surprised to see one of the plants develop a large central spike. It opened to a massive bloom. It beautiful, fragrant and provided bees with a source of nourishment.

Branching Spike Plant.
Each time a Dracaena blooms, it causes the plant to branch. The plant that bloomed in 2016 now has three branches, and it's partner that started blooming in 2017 has two.

In 2017, I transplanted my Dracaena Spike Plants into larger pots and moved them down in front of the float cabin on our new deck.

2019 plant with two flowering spikes.

This year I was very surprised to find that my late bloomer is trying to catch up. It has two floral spikes rather than one.

2019 plant with one flowering spike.

The Dracaena Spike Plants continue to give us a beautiful focal point. Who would have guessed that those two small grass-like additions to my repurposed BBQ planter would develop into such interesting specimens. -- Margy

Monday, June 03, 2019

"Becoming Wild" by Nikki Van Schyndel
When I learned an author I've read was going to be on the History Channel Alone: The Arctic TV series, I went to my personal library and got her book out for a second read.

The book is Becoming Wild and the author is Nikki Van Schyndel (Caitlin Press, 2014). I knew it would be a book I would enjoy and wasn't disappointed either time. It's a memoir, it's by a woman who challenged herself to live in a remote location, it's about a region fairly close to where I live in Coastal BC, and includes detailed descriptions of "experiments" and "learnings from Coastal First Nations people" she used to survive.

Nikki, Micah (a man she met during survival school), and her feral cat Scout planned and lived a survivalist lifestyle that spanned two island locations and more than a year in the coastal rainforest of the Broughton Archipelago. When a dilapidated trailer at Native Anchorage on Village Island turn out to be uninhabitable, they erected their own primitive shelter. It was a struggle to find enough food that first winter.

A typical Coastal BC rocky shoreline.

Nikki and Micah had a rowboat they used for transportation, fishing, and to get to Echo Bay on Gilford Island once every month or two to get mail and reconnect with family by phone. After meeting Billy Proctor, a well know resident, they took his suggestion and left Native Anchorage to set up a rustic cabin structure in Booker Lagoon on Broughton Island. Life wasn't easy, but Nikki was able absorb the natural spirituality of the land and sea, ultimately transforming herself into a better person.

Coastal BC has lots of private places to explore.

When the adventure was done, Nikki and Micah parted ways. Nikki and Scout returned to the city, but life there was so foreign after living in nature. She returned to remote Echo Bay, bought property from Billy Proctor and built a log cabin of her own. Billy is a prominent figure in many of the books written about the region such as Full Moon, Flood Tide by Bill Proctor and Yvonne Maximchuk and Heart of the Raincoast by Alexandra Morton and Bill Proctor.

Becoming Wild is available in both print and e-book formats at Amazon and other online booksellers.

For your information, Season 6 of Alone: The Arctic on the History Channel premiers on June 6. Nikki, another Canadian woman named Michelle Wohlberg, and eight other contestants will test their solo survival skills near Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories.

You can see more of the The Arctic trailers on YouTube by clicking here. Then check your local television listing to watch it live. Click here for Canadian History Channel information and here for the States.

Also check out her website The Magic, Master and Madness of Wilderness Living where she uses the moniker Daisy Crockett and her YouTube Channel Becoming Wild.

Do you have any off-the-grid or women's survival memoirs to recommend? I'm always looking for a good read. -- Margy