|You can't see them, but trust me, these fields in Saltspring's Duck Creek Park are full of flying insects, especially dragonflies.|
|The park is full of shallow pools that serve as natural birdbaths.|
|The birds are ignoring the nice clean birdbath in my garden. I think they prefer the natural kind.|
Insects: City streets and groomed city parks seem almost bug free, but at Duck Creek, the air is full of tiny flying things. Bees at the blackberry blossoms, various coloured butterflies everywhere, but mostly there are hordes of dragonflies -- little helicopters turning the air above the baking grass fields into a busy airport. Dragonflies have curious wings; viewed at a certain angle, they seem to have square blocks on each corner. Dragonflies belong to a child's rural summer, when there is time to watch them rise and rest, and to sneak close to see how they work. Are there dragonflies in Vancouver?
Birds I: Crows, I know. They spent years digging up our city lawn for chafer beetle larvae, then eyed me with immense disappointment when we finally got rid of the bugs. They make a racket in the back yard and chase us away from their nests when we get too close. On Saltspring, it is smaller birds, songbirds, that you notice. They sing and scold. As Mr. Darcy skulks around the yard, a loud chittering chorus follows. Wherever he goes, so goes the chorus. In the park, birds dart and swoop and call to each other. They have a life that has nothing to do with humans.
Birds II: The park's creek flows over a brown creekbed, stopped here and there by sticks and stones that separate it into shallow pools. On Tuesday, a fat red-breasted robin fanned his feathers into the water, splashing, then sat on a branch to groom. The sun sent shafts of light and shadow around him. In my garden, the birdbath was filled with winter detritus when I arrived this week. I cleaned it carefully and filled it with fresh water. So far, no birds have paid any attention to my nice clean concrete birdbath.
Kids: "Hello, I'm Chris," he says. "And this is Casey." Chris is about 10 years old, thin, dark-eyed and walking his dog Casey in the park. Alone. He expects a polite, adult conversation when he catches up to a stranger walking on a park trail. He lives nearby, he says. The dog is a goldendoodle. Its white-gold fur, which lies in thick tufty curls all over its neat body, is too hot for the summer, and is to be clipped later in the day. Chris walks with me awhile, talking dogs and summer, then draws ahead to catch up to Casey. He turns and waves goodbye. "Nice to meet you," he says.