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" ...the best thing about BC Car-Free is that it challenges the assumption that you have to have a vehicle to escape the city.| "
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Salal
Though not a popular trail-side snack in modern times, salal berries are not only edible, they are quite tasty. Perhaps the "hairiness" of the berries or the grainy texture imparted by their many, tiny seeds is a turnoff to jaded modern palettes. Being plentiful throughout the coast, salal berries were an important component of pre-European diets hereabouts. Aboriginal groups generally consumed salal berries directly from the bush or processed them into a kind of fruit leather for storage. These cakes were then reconstituted with water and served mixed with the omnipresent oolichan grease. An acquired taste, no doubt. The deep purple colouring of the berries found use in dying bakets. Salal berries are presently used primarily in jams and pies. The bright, leathery foliage is commercially harvested for use in floral displays world-wide.
Illustration by Manami Kimura
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09
Feb
2007
argaiv1174
Brant Festival E-mail
(5 - user rating)
Written by Brian Grover   
The first weekend of April is a rite of spring for the folks who live on the mid-coast of Vancouver Island. As early as February small flocks of Pacific Black Brant Geese begin returning to the Parksville and Qualicum Beach areas. [See Getting "Up Island" .] By mid-March the annual "sea goose" migration is in full swing, peaking a month later in the middle of April. By the time it is over in mid-May some 20,000 of the small geese will have passed through, stopping to rest up and feed on eelgrass, green algae and herring roe before continuing their northward journey.

Wintering in Baja California and adjacent mainland Mexico, the brant follow the coast northward until reaching British Columbia. As the Pacific coast north of Vancouver Island is rugged and rocky most brant wing towards the northwest from this last staging area to begin the transoceanic flight to breeding grounds in Siberia, Alaska and the Canadian Arctic. Altogether this three month journey covers more than 10,000 kilometres. Interestingly the southward migration in the fall follows a more direct route across the open Pacific. Only in the spring do the Brant grace the British Columbia coast with their presence. To celebrate this annual return local businesses and naturalists have inaugurated the Brant Festival. Brant viewing areas have been established at Rathtrevor and Qualicum Beaches with telescopes and nature interpretation provided. Peripheral events include art shows, photo exhibitions, a wood carving contest, craft fair, Native Indian-style salmon barbecue, Native dance displays, special children's events and environmental displays.

To be completely honest, unless you are a bird watching fanatic, the Brant Festival is neither awesome nor profound. It is, however, interesting. To make a trip to Vancouver Island simply for this event may be disappointing to some. Coupled with a cycling weekend or a trip to the Pacific Rim area, the Brant Festival could provide a more than satisfying glimpse of one of nature's marvels.

bearpaw

 

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