Of Flora and Floating Food Courts

I was working on getting this posted around 2200 this evening when suddenly the lights went out – all over the Island. It brought home a few unsettling truths including the fact that because the Landline is hooked up to a set of wireless phones it is basically useless. Fortunately the blackout only lasted two hours but I couldn’t sleep so finished this post.

Wherever we have lived there has always been a “garden”. Sometimes it was a large – very large – affair other times no more than a few pots on a balcony. This time around it’s no more than six pots on our small balcony/deck and with the southern exposure it’s been quite the show this year.

Our friends Don and Umi gave Laurent this little rose bush for his birthday. It had small yellow roses on it in March but has produced one large orange flower on the balcony.

I had never heard of Gazania Daisies or Treasure Daisies but when I saw them at a local nursery I was struck by their vibrant colours. I didn’t realize that they open and close depending on the sunlight. Known as nyctinasty it is considered a highly evolved way of protecting pollen from dew and damp. These are on their second growth – the first flowers were larger but these are just as brightly coloured.

I don’t think I’ve ever had begonias grow quite as lush as these two boxes. A friend got his from the same nursery and has had the same abundance in the borders around his house.

In our first house we had turned what was a small rectangle courtyard of scrub grass with a neglected Persian lilac in one corner into a very pleasant garden. When we finished with it the lilac shaded a cedar deck, a stone lantern lit a small stream and the borders were filled with roses, bee balm, fox gloves and nicotiana. The memory of the fragrance of flowering tobacco in the cool night air accounts for this small box which only recently started to thrive after weeks of less than glorious blooms. No the foil is not some gardening secret – it’s to stop Nicky from sampling the soil!

A week or so ago I mentioned Nimrod’s the pizza shack on the dock down at Peake’s Quay. It is one of three food stations on our floating food court, a busy place with good food, local craft beer and wine. Caron’s Chip Shack (soon to be featured on the Food Network) serves up the best fries in town and though I’ve yet to try Zak’s hamburgers reports are pretty good. It’s a busy place with locals and tourists. And it moves – not just side to side with the odd wave but up and down with the tides.

The first pictures was taken yesterday morning at around 0730 when the tide was high.

The second one was taken around 1530 when the tide was low – though not at it’s lowest. Notice any difference?

August 15th is Relaxation Day! Hell that’s an easy one to celebrate.

The Piano in the Park

The walkway leading to the Confederation  Landing gardens and the Hillsborough River with the Park on the left and Peake’s Quay on the right.

It’s strange that you can pass something on a daily basis and not really think much about it.  Case in point the brightly painted upright piano in the open bandstand at Confederation Landing.  Nora and I pass it almost every day – except when it rains – on our walks (more about them later in the week) but it was only this past few days that I have paid it any mind.  Normally all that is heard from it are random series of jarring notes and cords.  Sometimes it bears a passing resemblance to chopsticks but more often it is just a series of random bangings by some five year old to the feigned delight of an exhausted parent.


But as we walked by it Sunday morning there was a young lad sitting on the log stool and playing a Chopin waltz.  Any imperfects in the sound drifting over the bricked walk were the result of the badly tuned piano and not the talent of the young player.   A glorious sunny morning,  a cool breeze from the Straits, and Chopin on the piano.  Talk about your idyllic existence – but lest we get all sentimental there was also Nora staining at the leash and barking at another dog.

100 years ago, Canada produced beautiful pianos. Now we send them to the dump.

Later that morning the radio was tuned, as it is every Sunday, to The Sunday Edition on CBC.  Though I have many bones to pick with our national broadcaster’s sloppy web reporting it is still unsurpassed in it’s radio documentaries and interviews – particularly those on weekend radio.  Being as it is summer the August 20th edition was a mixture of new items and some repeats.  New were an interview with Leonard Zeskind on the Rise of White Supremacy in the U.S., astronomer Don Hladiuk on the Magic of Witnessing an Eclipse, and a study of our obsession with Stuff.  Then two repeats from earlier in the year: a  thoughtful essay on dealing with dying, and the sad fate of the upright piano in modern times.

The last reminded me of that colourful upright in the bandstand and how it had been saved from the fate that Willow Yamauchi described in End Notes*.


Our Landing piano is an new addition to life on the waterfront and was the brain child of David Sheppard.   In an item on the CBC** he expressed the hope that more “public pianos” will appear around town.

I haven’t discovered the history of this old upright other than what is indicated in the CBC article.  It is identified as a Mendelssohn which means it was made in Canada by one of the leading manufacturers of pianos in the early 1900s.  The company was formed by Henry Durke and David Best by amalgamating a failed piano company and Best’s piano string and hammer factory.  Durke  prided himself on producing a moderately priced piano and advertised it in the Canadian Music Trades Journal as “made in Canada, by Canadian workmen, for use in Canadian homes.”  Between 1900 and it’s acquisition by the Bell Piano and Organ Company of Guelph Mendelssohn produced 25,000 pianos.  Perhaps our bandstand upright was one of that 25,000.

*A right click will take you to the full documentary.

**And another right click will give you some of the background on our “public piano”.

On this day in 1849: The first air raid in history. Austria launches pilotless balloons against the city of Venice.