Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Even if you didn't notice the days were getting longer, warmer, and even less rainy than normal, one of the surest signs of summer is when my friend Ken shows up with his metal detector.  With all the hordes of sun-worshippers lying around on the beach at English Bay, there are bound to be coins and other lost treasures to be found in the early morning hours before everyone returns to their favourite tanning spot.  Even better when there's a low tide and the ocean has also left a few things behind.

Ken & Nelson - photo by Junie Quiroga

Low tide also brings another summertime regular, Salty, a character in Skantana the Whale, my children's story, and one of the many great blue herons that make English Bay their summer vacation home as they raise their newly hatched families in nearby Stanley Park by the tennis courts and Park Board office.  While the wives & kids take in the tennis games and take care of the condo maintenance, the fathers like to get away for a little quiet time and some fishing.

Salty and friends living the beach life - photo by Junie Quiroga

There are also a pair of bald eagles who like to keep an eye on things, particularly if things get fishy or if there is a swimmer out in the bay.  The morning seems to be their favorite time and, when I swim out to the Q41 navigational buoy each day to check on the currents, they are often there ahead of me directing traffic.

Bald Eagles on Q41 buoy

While they are usually found in the Park or along the Seawall, the Vancouver Police horses also like to check out the beach scene in summer.  Soft sand and cooling ocean, what's not to like?  It all adds to the ambience of the waterfront and posing for pictures is one thing they love to do.

Police horse in English Bay - photo by Junie Quiroga
Police horse in English Bay - photo by Junie Quiroga 

But of course my best reward of all in June is when the seals start coming around and the frisky young females want to play.  I'll be swimming along and suddenly feel something bumping my feet as if to say "can't you swim any faster?"  I will see a seal swimming underneath me, usually upside down and looking up at me, and marvel at its perfectly designed torpedo shaped body.  If I stop it will usually pop up close by to give me the eye and circle around waiting for me to start swimming again so she can go back to bumping my feet. A delightful way to start the day.

Liane the Harbour Seal
The Vancouver Aquarium runs a rescue & rehabilitation centre for marine mammals and each year uses a unique naming convention for the animals in its care.  One year it was scientists, other years it was candy, precious stones etc., and this year the theme is astronomy.  Because there has been a particular little grey harbour seal that greets me most mornings I've decided she needs a name and so I'm going to call her Liane, which means daughter of the Sun and sunshine = summertime.

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