LATE SUMMER IN B C – August 21, 2014

See ‘Green Fig Chutney Recipe” in Food & Recipes section!!!


Picking Bowen’s Blackberries – competing with other creatures for Mother Nature’s bounty!
There is no end to MN’s bountiful offerings – fish, corn, potatoes, all manner of green veggies, tomatoes – this has been one of the best summers for eating local or homegrown produce because the sun has been plentiful…after a wonderful swim in the Bay, my neighbor Abby and I picked blackberries along the path from the water and alongside the road home. We didn’t get back to prepare the evening meal until 8:00pm, so obsessed were we with our picking…we were not the only ones at the scene…with blackberry stained hands, we picked busily with the bees, wasps and spiders whose webs were everywhere amidst the millions of berries – no easy feat leaning into the prickly bushes, trying to reach for the fattest, ripest, blackest berries. After awhile we became inured to the scratches and prickles that are part and parcel of berry-picking.  Mr. Spider gave me a good fright as I leaned in to a particularly black and ripe bunch, right behind his web!  This was a rather large spider, in fact!!!


What’s happening in your garden currently? Here on Bowen, in the peak of the summer, watering your lawns or gardens is a no-no. Maybe you can get away with watering your hanging baskets and planters, but lawns are left to go straw-colored. Once everything has flowered, the only color remaining comes from the mighty evergreens, the blue sky and the last of the season’s flowering plants such as hollyhock, hibiscus, dahlia, zinnia and sunflower. As far as food growing goes, the precious water here on the island is designated for the harvest – cabbages and carrots, beets, potatoes – the peas and beans nearing their end. Now the root vegetables, squash and pumpkins get the last of summer’s sun and heat.

IMG_6715If you ‘don’t give a fig’ about figs, think again! The neighbor’s FIG tree here on the island has yielded a magnificent crop this year, setting up a contest between man and wasp to collect the plump and bursting green figs, dripping their sweet juices onto our heads as we reach up into their beautiful foliage to pluck the plump and oozing green orbs. What to do with so many figgies? Check out ‘Food and Recipes’ for ways to deal with your figs before they explode on the ground!  A recipe for fig chutney (SO DELISH) is on the horizon!





2 months back in beautiful British Columbiait is SO LUSH here, that my bok choy has already gone to seed and it’s not even June…what’s new?  A recipe for Funghi al Forno, my take on a Terroni favorite, a few new poems, and some drawings, and the rest is yet to come!  This is the season where the many chores just JUMP OUT at you…and even the smallest tasks can be satisfying if you get them off your JOB LIST!  Today’s BIG accomplishment has been to clean out the KEY cupboard and get rid of keys that no longer fit the locks, make sets out of the gazillion extras we’ve had cut for friends, guests etc. and tidy the whole lot up so that it doesn’t take a lot of running around inserting keys to see if they fit or not…feeling very happy about the fact that we are all ‘keyed’ up!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ CYCLONE LUSI HAS BLOWN HERSELF OUT IN NORTHLAND After 32 hours of high winds and a mixture of weather including several inches of rain Cyclone Lusi left Northland with little damage caused.  Because of this, it is relatively safe to say that most of us enjoyed watching Mother Nature show her stuff.  The house we are staying in is a pretty standard NZ bach which means that it is of basic construction, poorly insulated and reliant on rainwater for a water supply.  Most farmers were happy to have the rain,  but I can imagine the winds were quite daunting. The people happiest with the weather system were surfers and kite boarders. It was astounding to see what kinds of conditions these folks were willing to be out in. A trip to the surf beach proved that indeed a few crazies were determined to catch some awesome waves.  After the storm, we were out in a friend’s boat and were able to see the size of the waves from ocean side, and watch them rolling towards the shore – this of course after the storm when the water was relatively normal with the full moon. Here are a few pics to show you what it was like!

There is no end to beauty in NZ…for instance the beaches are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever ‘combed’ – uncrowded, unspoiled for the most part, clean, with dunes and sea birds being protected – so they don’t disappear  before the next century. Check out PHOTOGRAPHY for a taste of Kiwi life at and around the beach… image The NZ Dotterel (Charadrius obscurus) is a native NZ shorebird found on beaches, in sandpits or feeding in tidal estuaries along two specific areas in NZ. On the west coast, from Kawhia northwards, or along the east coast of Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel and Bay of Plenty. There is a small population of these on Stewart island, (200 birds) and they build their nests on the mountain tops. Once common on NZ beaches, the Dotterel is now an endangered species, as there are only about 1500 of these left. Up at Tauranga Bay, we saw about 10 or 15 pairs nesting in the dunes next to the estuary…dunes that are being recovered after extensive erosion and human interference. The area has been cordoned off by locals and the birds are very protective of their habitat, often chasing after you if you walk anywhere near to the cordoned-off area. Dotterels are mostly pale grey on their backs with off-white underbelly which becomes a russet color in winter and spring. They have a prominent head with brown eyes and black bill and are sometimes hard to distinguish because they blend in well with their habitat of sand and dune grass…they seem quite unafraid of humans and will chirp chirp a warning if you come too close. According to the NZ Department of Conservation, in late summer the Dotterels “leave their breeding sites and congregate in post-breeding flocks at favoured estuaries for the autumn and early winter. These flocks are socially important for birds which have lost partners during the breeding season as they can find new partners and young birds can pair for the first time.” Maungawhai is host to one of these flocks of approximately 150 birds and it would be nice to seem them again as they are lively and quite bold! image The estuary at Maungawhai Heads is an incredible feeding ground for all kinds of sea birds…the tidal flats laden with shell fish laid bare when the tides stream out.


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Tauranga Bay – is the FAR NORTH of the North Island of New Zealand and a small community of people on the larger Whangaroa Bay…the closest large town, Kerikeri, is South of Tauranga Bay..which is considered part of the Bay of Islands and approximatley 236 kms. or a 3 hour 20 minute drive from Auckland. This area was first visited by Captain cook in 1769 and he aptly name it Bay of Islands. Heading along Hwy. 10 North, and past Kaeo and Whangaroa is Tauranga Bay, where our friends have a typical ‘KIWI batch’ facing the beach…the water is a wonderful aqua color, and it is not unusual for the weather to be a bit of everything in one day. The water can be dead calm or great for boogey or body surfing. The school holidays are now over and the family traffic of the summer is down to a dull roar. In otherwords, it’s pretty peaceful out here in the wop wops! Soon we will head south towards Auckland and settle down in another popular beach town known as Mangawhai which is where I’m hoping I will get to bring out the drawing pad, water colors and camera and pursue my dream of creating artwork that will be appealing enough to give as gifts or to sell…practice makes perfect…there are plenty of beautiful walks to do, Kauri trees to visit, and birds to watch.
Our friends have a fishing boat and regularly go off to areas around the Cavalli islands or just off Whangaroa Bay to catch fresh Snapper, Kawahai or even a Kingfish…we have been eating
fresh fish from the sea, nothing can compare.
Happiness is time out at the beach. Kapai!