British Columbia

Posted by Ellen

In the middle of Fairy Lake, near the remote town of Port Renfew on the west coast of Canada's Vancouver Island, sits an old Douglas fir log, partly rotting where it's exposed to the air but mostly submerged in the still waters of the lake.

On the rotten tip of the log is another Douglas fir tree, alive and growing but not exactly flourishing; its roots struggle to maintain purchase on the log and to pull nutrients from the rotting wood. Without soil to grow in, it is stunted, a natural bonsai tree, starved but somehow much more interesting and impressive than all the millions of ordinary fir trees growing fat and happy where trees are meant to grow.

Posted by Ellen

The climb must have been going pretty well, straight up the wall of Mt. Gimli, in Canada's Kootenay Rockies. And then Hank stopped for a moment and looked down.

We might speculate that looking down would be a terrible thing to do. But all the evidence suggests that Hank just calmly snapped a picture of his own right foot and then went back to climbing on up.

He and Pat, his climbing partner, summited, rappelled down, hiked back out to their car, and drove into town to find something to eat.

For the record: They wore their helmets and harnesses and utilized their ropes and stuff. No mammals were injured in the making of this photograph.

Posted by Ellen

Last weekend, Hank, his climbing buddy Pat, and their other climbing buddy, the orange-footed yaller guy, summited Mount Gimli, a 9,000-foot spire of gneiss in the Valhalla Range of southeastern British Columbia.

Posted by Ellen

Tadpoles swarm amongst the lily stalks in a Canadian pond, in a photo submitted to National Geographic by Campbell River underwater photographer Eiko Jones.

Posted by Ellen

Almost nothing is known about this photo, which apparently showed up recently in a secondhand store in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Dominion Photo Company, which takes credit for the picture, operated in Vancouver for about fifty years, beginning in 1914. The fashions on display here, in clothing and music, not to mention the light fixtures and potted palms, suggest the 1930s?

We would imagine that when all those dozens of lap guitars got to strumming, the sound of the islands would have really filled up a room. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, master slide guitarist Johnny Pal shows how it was done.

Posted by Ellen

About twelve summers ago, we made it to Idaho Peak, above New Denver, British Columbia, in the Selkirk Mountains. That meadowful of flowers up there is as good as it gets for flowers.

The trail isn't as sketchy as it might look; it meanders gently around the bend up ahead toward a fire tower that overlooks Slocan Lake and the tiny lakeside towns of Silverton and New Denver. All the settlements in this neck of the woods were late-nineteenth-century mining towns; when the silver and gold gave out in the early to middle years of the twentieth century, the towns struggled, and some vanished. A revival began in the 1960s with U.S. draft dodgers and Canadian and U.S. back-to-the-landers, who were attracted by the scenery and the lack of twentieth-century sprawl.

Best thing about the flowers on Idaho Peak: it's always summer up there. The flowers are always in full bloom. I can't remember it any other way.