Yesterday had blue skies, sun and the land was beckoning me to go out for a spring ramble. How could one refuse? So I got in the car and headed out to a local park called Aylard Farm.
Well actually it’s called East Sooke Regional Park, and only a portion of it is Aylard Farm.
It used to be a thriving dairy farm and you can find a few stones around that use to be the foundation and there are still the remains of fruit trees and flowers.
The reason I like the park is that you can find open fields, coastal trails and deep green forests.
As it was once a farm, the open fields are divided up like the actual fields use to be. There are hedgerows along where the fence line was and trees have now grown in along the edges.
The fields went right down to the ocean where there is a row of trees that would have been a wind break for the farm.
You can see the care and magnitude of what it use to be like, and I’m so appreciative that so many of us get to enjoy it now.
The robins were out in full force, but I didn’t see very many other birds, although I could hear them singing. But the first sound that caught my ear was that of a tree buzzing as I walked by. It was a bitter cherry tree and was alive with bees.
As I walk a little further through the field I came upon this wonderful patch of moss. They reminded me of a forest of trees and I could almost picture a fairy garden in the middle.
The field ended on an old corduroy road where it looked like they took supplies up from an inner harbour and then along a path connecting the inner bay to the outer ocean.
My eye caught a glimmer of white and I realised that the fawn lilies had burst into bloom. I see them every spring and they are beautiful in a sea of green and browns.
As little further on the sunlight was streaming through the trees, alighting upon a downed tree and begged for a picture.
What could I do?
It was cool and moist in the woods and I could hear an eagle calling overhead and a kingfisher as it flew from tree to tree. Always keeping out of sight, except for a glimpse now and then through the branches.
Passing through the forest the path opens onto the ocean. You are standing high above the waves below and the sun was shining on my face.
Off to the left, there was a hole in the rocks caused by the millions of waves and hundreds of years that have sculptured our coastline.
When you walk along the shoreline it is lined with arbutus trees or what are call madrone tree. You can tell it by its reddish bark that is normally peeling at points and green leaves. The limbs can twist and turn in a tangle of arms as it grows along the windy shore.
At the base of one, was a hole and it made me wonder, what or who was living there.
The wind had started to come up and the old man’s beard was blowing gently in the breeze. Old man’s beard is also called Usnea. It is a greenish lichen which grows on trees and branches and is called an air plant. It doesn’t take anything from the tree, it just uses them as a place gather.
It is also said to be very susceptible to pollution and won’t grow in areas if there is poor air quality. We must have great air quality here as it thrives in this environment.
Walking back out into the sunlight of the fields, small purple and white flowers danced in the sunlight as I made my way across the grasses to the other side of the old pasture.
I could smell them before I could see them, but the skunk cabbage was making themselves known in the small pond below where the house would have stood. They are so pretty in their bright yellowish green cloaks and their picture is at the top of the page.
There is a natural knoll in the middle of the field, covered with cedar, fir and arbutus trees with large rocks for adults and children alike to play on. It’s like a miniature park within a sea of fields and you can hide in the woods or sit on a rock and watch the ocean.
I have yet to watch a sunset from there, but they would be spectacular.
As I came around the knoll I could see the parking lot off in the distance and as I started heading towards it as bright green object caught my eye. Not a tree but a florescent green tent and a man pulling a black cloth over his head.
What as a girl to do? As inquiring minds wanted to know, I ambled in that direction where I could see a woman laying on the ground.
I watched for a while not wanting to disturb them, but what I saw next was unexpected. The girl arose and the man came out from behind the black cloth that was covering him.
I asked if it was okay to walk through as I didn’t want to interrupt what they were doing, but I was dying to see and they were more than willing to explain.
He was taking pictures with a plate camera. One of the ones you see in a movie or museum where the man puts a cloth over his head and looks through the plate at the image. The plate is actually the negative and ends up being an 8×10 picture which is the same size as the plate.
The reason he had the dark room was so that he could emulsify the plate with chemicals that will allow it to take a print and then once he puts the plate into the camera he needs to keep the light off of it hence the black cloth.
Then the lens cap is taken off and the plate is exposed to the light via the lens. It can take up to 15 minutes depending on the light and it’s best to take pictures on a cloudy day or in the shade as opposed to direct sunlight.
Once the picture is taken he then takes in back into the darkroom and puts it into a bath of chemicals that reveals the photo. Very cool.
He has used 35 mm, digital and all other cameras from this era but found satisfaction in using this old model. Took him a year of training to be able to get the pictures he wanted and he’s hooked.
What an unexpected ending to a perfect day.