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    Whitetailed Buck

    I set my alarm so I can open the gate by 6 am. Twice now in the past 2 weeks there’s been a deer waiting on the other side to get into the park in the morning, true, go figure.

    This whitetail is one of them. I thought I’d start this walk in the park with the buck. Velvet antler, golden-red skin, sinewy tendons and taught muscle along with white markings around the eyes and down the nose make for an unusually beautiful deer. He’s a little skittish and I don’t recall him being here before, nevertheless he is. He waited at the gate one morning and this image shows him at the north entrance to the trails, the Wet Interior Trail.

    Cottonwood on trail

    Along this trail and against the Maranda Court neighbourhood is a high concentration of Cottonwood trees. When the wind blows it’s as if it’s snowing in June and by the time most of it falls there are large balls of fluff in clumps and lumps, and balls and bits, of cottonwood everywhere scattered along the pathway. They get caught up in branches, intermingle with the fallen debris and land fluff-first on the trail. I try not to step on them the first few days but after that it’s hopeless.

    Maple Bower

     Next along this trail is a very damp area, sodden dirt and the forest is dense and dark. Bracken fern grown here, but most of all the maple thrive in this environment. They line either side of the path and at one point cross over it to form an archway, a cathedral type gateway into the cedar forest. Early morning or early evening is the best time for this.

    Pileated Woodpecker

    Once through the cedars it’s a short but steep climb onto the dry hillside. Anything can happen here. This male Pileated woodpecker showed itself one day just on the rise and in a stand of fir. This is the bird that Woody Woodpecker was fashioned after. No wonder. The Pileated woodpecker averages a foot and a half in length (40-49 cm), never uses a nest twice and it’s nest cavities are pecked square or rectangle as opposed to circular like other wood burrowing birds.

    Red Ants

    The ants in Woodhaven are legendary. There are, quite frankly, a zillion. They’re red ants and they bite. Just believe me. They are everywhere and have gangs (I know it). They are productive, very well coordinated in their efforts, have  leaders and followers, a system of progress that’s aeons old, and they know exactly what to do when, where and how. Do not mess with these critters, they may be small but they’re diligent and organized. Eek!


    This is one of the first Canadian wildflowers I was introduced to when I first arrived in the Kettle Valley out of New Zealand in the 80’s. Some think of this as a common weed, I know better. This plant is from the family Tragopogon and its roots can be harvested for a yummy nodule that tastes like an oyster. They are native to Europe though are thought to have been introduced in the last 200 years to North America. This salsify was photographed on the flume trail.

    Saskatoon Ripening

    Aha! and Yum. What can I say? I harvested a bucket of these a few days ago off a plant on the outside of the fence. There was enough for desert with ice cream and a pie. These are my favourite wild berries. They also grow up along the dry hillside and are spotted through Woodhaven. Never, never eat anything from the wild unless you are certain that what you think it might be, is actually what it truly is in real terms. People get sick and sometimes get really sick. I can spot a Saskatoon from a long way off and even then I scrutinized the leaf just in case I am mistaken and I’ve been doing this a long time. The First Nations people say there are seven kinds of Saskatoon berries, only some for people  the other for the birds. This is a people year.

    Swallowtail Butterfly

     There are a gadzillion species of butterfly. This is a Swallowtail Butterfly and of course in this category there are yet another bunch of subspecies. I’m guessing this is a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail. There are so many in here right now they don’t even have a particular area. This one was photographed high in a tree along the perimeter trail but really, just stand still for a few minutes and they will come. Anywhere along the dry hillside, and especially in the meadow, there are so many in the meadow I reached my hand out yesterday and one landed on my arm. The butterflies are amazing and delicate and beautiful and graceful and just simply lovely.

    Come for a walk inWoodhaven

    4711 Raymer Road. To avoid the Gordon closure, come along Benvoulin and over Swamp Road to Dehart. Turn left at the lights at Gordon, second left is Raymer Road. It zig zags, stay left when it says slow to 30 km, there’s a T in the road and a gravel drive in front of you. Pull into the parking lot. You have arrived. 


    I would have thought by now that the full Blade Runner effect would be in place on the planet. There is so much I want to taste and touch and smell, yes… smell! that I don’t have access to in cyberspace yet. Take for example these mock orange.  I bet you can’t smell them through the screen. Nope.

    Lovely image but you can’t smell them. And it is their fragrance that punctuates their beauty and aligns it with your understanding of the plant. The smell.

    They’re called mock orange because the flower is similar to that of the orange and lemon flower and the aroma of mock orange is similar to that of lemon blossoms although more so of jasmine. I grew up with jasmine hedges that separated our brick home from the next brick home. There were hedgehogs and wetas living in the jasmine hedge, it didn’t stop us from playing in and around it. Jasmine is the smell of my childhood home and the mock orange that grows in Woodhaven is an elixir and a reminder of where I come from.

    At the core of our essence is the bold reality that we are animals. Our sense of smell is a leader: “follow your nose,” “that doesn’t smell right to me,” “something smells fishy,” “the sweet smell of success.” It shapes and colours our opinion but like touch and taste we can only access it when we’re in its presence. Take the dry hillside for example: bunchgrass, sand, clay, the sweet, sweet aroma of jackpine in full pollination, nothing compares. Unless you’re mock orange of course.

    Come. Come to Woodhaven in the next few weeks while the mock orange is in bloom. This is the most full and luxurious I’ve seen this growth in the years I’ve been here. Walking anywhere in the park is good, but there is a cathedral of mock orange from about midpoint on the flume trail all the way to the parking lot on the north side of the park. Silly to miss it. It’s a public art project brought to you by Nature Inc.  And it’s free. It’s time to commit to a visit here.  🙂

    The Woodhaven Nature Conservancy is at 4711 Raymer Road, Kelowna, BC.

    Fenceline white flowerI am so lucky to have a copy of Joan Burbridges’, Wild Flowers of the Southern Interior. If it weren’t in my home I’d have a difficult time identifying many of the plants that are found here. I know quite a few, but her book seems to fill in the blanks well. What you’re seeing here is White Campion. Joan’s notes indicate that it will grow up to 120cm high and the flower grows in loose, open clusters at ends of oppositely branched stems. She goes on to describe in detail the make up of the flower itself, “Up to 2.5cm across with 5 deeply notched petals which narrow abruptly and form 2.5cm long tube at right-angles to blades.” She then describes the top of the tube and details the difference between the female and the male plant…. our Joan.

    She certainly left her legacy as a champion of the land evidenced in her love of and commitment to preservation through documentation and stewardship. As the beginning of the Woodhaven audio guide narration says, ‘Woodhaven wasn’t supposed to be here.” It was about to be developed before Joan and Jim stepped up to the plate.


    This was a surprise this year. I can’t remember seeing this lilac before and believe me I would have noticed. It’s just a few feet off the trail and to the left at the second divider fence past the woodshed. It seems a strange plant to have in this wild land but I immediately thought of Joan when I saw it. Joan was British and it was the British settlers who brought the lilac to the Okanagan. It seems an irony that this plant would flower for the first time  this year as so much attention is paid to the park. As I walk past it, it feels like a little of Joan has been deposited, safe in the “no-go” zone and as a reminder of how this all came to be. We are so fortunate that Joan and Jim had the foresight and determination to protect this place. It is a reminder that one person or a small group of people can and do make a difference.

    The summer program for the Woodhaven Eco Art Project is scheduled to begin July 17th. Join us on that Saturday at 1:30 for new work that will be presented in response to the park. Artists presenting work for the summer program include Shed Simas, Byron Johnston, Lori Mairs, Nancy Holmes, Nicole Cormaci, Lara Haworth, Michael V. Smith, & Brenda Fiest. 

     Woodhaven is located at 4711 Raymer Road, Kelowna.

     “The touch of their tufts was much softer than silk, and they had the sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk!” … Dr. Seuss

    Clematis seed

     I can’t help it, there’s something so “Seussian” about the look of wild clematis gone to seed.  It makes me want to shout, “I am the Lori, I speak for the trees!”   These are the purple flower referenced in the April 21 blog  titled, “Positively Lush.”  The petal has surrendered to the wind leaving this truffula-type seed in its place.  I told you it was short lived but in truth this is my favourite presentation of this plant, in its seed state. They’ll dry out over the summer and some will drop to the ground but many will cling to the stem and remain like furry skeletons over the winter. Oh! Clematis, there needs to be a song about you.

    The Clematis gone to seed is a clear indicator we’re on our way to summer.  All the recent rain has been welcome juice for everything that thrives here. Bellevue Creek is gushing and in turn that means North Fork Creek, the little waterway that comes through the park, is also full.

    Maple Keys

    Fresh lime green wings of maple keys are also an indicator of the season.  The maple in Woodhaven provides for eye candy all year round. New season stems are thick sangria red right now and the leaf is almost a jade green.

    Wild Rose

    And here, the wild rose.  I notice I want to call it ballerina pink but logic tells me it must be rose pink.  Nevertheless, there is a delicate pirouette like quality to this plant. It’s highly recommended that you lean in and smell this one. This is what a real rose smells like. Check for bees first though because they’re actively pollinating right now. Look for the wild rose growing along the fence line and dotted throughout the interior of the forest.

    “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Dr. Seuss

    The Woodhaven Eco Art summer projects will be launched Saturday, July 17th at 1:30. Mark it on your calender.  

    …another friendly reminder that all photos on this blog are by Lori Mairs unless otherwise noted, please ask permission if you wish to use any image.

    Bear good neighbour

    Every once in a while, particularly in spring, the neighbourhood hosts transients who sometimes get up to mischief. This particular visitor seems to have come and gone in less than two weeks wrecking minor havoc along the way. The bear visited Nancy’s garden first, breaking two sections of her fence and tearing her bird feeder to bits. She said she was disturbed at 3 am and thinking it was the racoons who were regular seed raiders, she marched out onto her deck with the flashlight to scare them away only to be confronted with the steely-eyed gaze of a hungry bear, mouth full of birdseed, caught in the act. She e mailed me in the morning to let me know the bear was headed in my direction. Nancy is not only the lead architect on the Woodhaven Eco Art project,  she is also my friend and my neighbour. Nancy is, however, a good neighbour and doesn’t break fences and wreck birdfeeders.

    That the bear ended up at Woodhaven makes sense. If I were a bear I’d aim for here too. This photo was taken early in the morning following the birdfeeder incident. She or he was perched on the hillside watching me as I watched it. I, however had a camera, the bear didn’t. Every night for the next week the bear made itself at home in my garden. It helped itself to a bag of dirt (must have had some kind of hankering for bonemeal) and made off with a square of beeswax that was left on my work bench. It must have had some left over honey on it, that bear must have thought I’d left it there on purpose.


    I met up with Isabelle on the trails tonight. She’s a neighbour from down the road. She asked if I’d seen the bear lately. I told her I  hadn’t seen it in nearly a week. Isabelle said the last time she saw the bear was on Saturday, she came around the corner and there it was about 20 feet away on all fours, standing in the path. I asked what she did. She said she just stopped and looked at it, it looked at her, for a long time, at least a few minutes then she said the bear just turned around and walked off down the path in the opposite direction.  I asked what she did. “I followed it,” said Isabelle, “for about a hundred feet then it took off into the bush.”   She followed it, I love my neighbours.

    I was able to get significant footage of the bear the first few days it was here while it hung around the house. Many, many people saw it. People walking with their kids and just wandering through. I am always inspired by these human neighbours in my hood. Such a privilige and opportunity to connect with this very orderly world of nature while coming from the haphazard and wild world of the human experience.   

    Just a reminder: All the photographs on this blog are by Lori Mairs unless otherwise noted. If you wish to use an image please ask permission.

    Woodhaven Nature Conservancy is a 22 acre parcel of land managed by the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. It is located at 4711 Raymer Road, Kelowna, BC. Go South on Gordon, cross over Dehart, second left is Raymer Road, it zig zags stay on it, turn left where it say slow to 30km and when you come to the T in the road go directly onto the gravel driveway. You have arrived.

    Puppet Day D.

    Waldorf educator and home school consultant Denise Kilshaw arrived at Woodhaven Saturday with children from Terra Haven Kinderhouse and the home schooled group from Cedar Bridge School in Lumby for their performance, Fairies of the Forest.

    Puppet Day grp

    Each of the puppets was handmade by the children from silk and wool, and painted with plant dyes.

    PD 1

    The story is adapted from a German folk tale by Bronja Zahlingen and centers on the elements of water and fire. The drum, flute & xylophone are played by Kilshaw who also narrates the story.


    Fairies of the Forest  tells the not so far fetched tale of the land becoming dry from the heat of the sun. The Fairies, who are charged with keeping the grass, flowers and the woods moist with water fresh from the ponds, become alarmed and fly into action when the “Fire Man” comes.  The heat that he brings can devastate the forest and threatens to harm the creatures and all living things within it. Here are some of the images ……

    PD C 1

    PD C 3

    PD C 4PD C 2


    PD C 5


    PD C 6

    When all the work of the Fairies was done, it was time to go home.

    And thank you to everyone from the home school program and from Terra Haven Kinderhouse for their gentle walk in Woodhaven and for sharing the story of the Fairies of the Forest. We hope you do more.

    The Woodhaven Eco Art Project is ongoing until October this year. Preparations for the the Summer projects are underway.

    Woodhaven is at 4711 Raymer Road. Up Gordon, over Dehart, second left is Raymer Road, it zig zags, stay on it. Turn left at “slow to 30km” and when you come to the ”T’ in the road just go up the gravel driveway and you are here.

    Deer n Horse sm

    “Fairies of the Forest” a play by Waldorf  educator Denise Kilshaw with children from the spring Puppet Camp and Cedar Bridge School.

    Saturday,  May 15,   1 and 2 pm shows 

    Bring children (count yourself in….)

    “Fairies of the Forest” is presented as part of the Woodhaven Eco Art Project

     Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, 4711 Raymer Road, Kelowna, BC   South on Gordon, cross over Dehart, second left is Raymer Road, it zig zags, stay on it and keep left at slow to 30km, come to a T in the road and drive through the gate.

    Quail egg sm 

    This is not a blog about spring, it’s a blog about noticing, noticing the very thing in front of us that somehow sidesteps our attention. It happens all the time. We get so distracted with where we’re going that we forget to notice where we are. And where I found myself this morning was down at the gate opening up for the day, (I so love that metaphor in my morning routine).

    I pulled the gates open and turned from kicking up the security latch with my foot, took a few paces back toward the house and noticed the egg. Alone, randomly placed on top of a rotted log, in full view and unattended, I’ve seen this before. These solitary eggs are always within about 20 feet of nesting activity and I can’t seem to find any information that will tell me why this happens.

    Quail sm

    The quails are nesting all over the place this year. They are so silly and cute and busy and entertaining I can’t get enough of them and their skittish dash from side to side, their fussing and flapping, pecking and rubbing, bobbing and lurching. The quails have dust baths. When you walk along the trails, look in the dry dirt for indentations about 4-7 inches in circumference. There’ll be loose dust surrounding these depressions and usually you’ll see two or more in the same area. They belly-down in the dirt and shuffle around while flapping their wings. If you’re patient and quiet you can also witness the male of the pair dipping his head forward with his plume to the ground and taking a scurry backward 10-12 steps all the while scraping the ground with that feathered black tuft on the top of his head. There’s a very good reason he does this, maybe Dick Cannings can tell us in June when he visits. Stay tuned for that one! 

    In the mean time, show up Saturday, May 15 1 or 2 pm for the puppet show, “Fairies of the Forest.”

    Woodhaven is located at 4711 raymer road. South on Gordon, cross over Dehart, second left is Raymer Road, it zig zags, stay left at ‘slow to 30 km’ and you’ll get to a T in the road. Drive through the gates and here we are, the quails and the puppets and all that is Woodhaven awaits.

    PS: all the photos on this blog are by Lori Mairs unless otherwise credited.

    Puppet in treeThe Woodhaven Eco Art Project presents “Fairies of the Forest,” a puppet play for and by children on Saturday, May 15 at 1 pm and again at 2 PM.  Set inside the greenery of Woodhaven Nature Conservancy, this is a celebration of the natural world in song, word and movement.  The eleven children playing in the puppet play have created plant-dyed, silk fabric puppets that will tell a story as they dance and work in the forest.  The goal is to create beauty and wonder in the magic of the natural world.  Created by Waldorf educator Denise Kilshaw with a team of children and helpers, the puppet play is suitable for children age 3 to 93.  It is free admission

    I spent three days in March with Waldorf educator Denise Kilshaw as she and the children attending her day camp made the puppets featured in the upcoming show at Woodhaven. True to Waldorf form the children created their puppets from the raw material available to them. Puppet children to the forest

     We met in Denises’ back yard and went down into the gully in the forest behind her house. Each of the children had a basket for gathering grasses and nettle to dye silk, and each carried a sturdy walking stick.

    Puppet listening in the forest

    The grass & nettles were cooked in a large pot over an open flame and when the dyes were successfully infused into the water, the silks were added to soak overnight.Puppets stoking the fire

    Puppet children cooking

    Each silk is taken from the bath and laid flat to dry. The following day all organic plant-dyes are mixed and the children painted their silks. The silks cover the form of the body and create a floating like quality for each ‘Fairy’.

    puppet fabric paintingAfter the dyes have been set, each puppet is given a head and body-form and the silks are sewn on along with dyed sheep wool for hair.

    Puppet learning to sew

     Puppet sewing with Denise

     The making of the puppets was truly a sight to behold. Children fully engaged in the creative process from raw materials to completed form, with natural elements as their medium and intensity and concern with focus and surrender guiding a natural creative venture. It was a privilege to watch it evolve.

    Puppet sewing

    They are due here today for their second rehearsal and I imagine will be at their shining best come next Saturday.

    Please join us at Woodhaven at 1pm or 2pm for ‘Fairies of the Forest’

    4711 Raymer Road  South on Gordon, cross over Dehart, second left is Raymer Road, it zig zags a bit, turn left at ‘slow to 30km’ you’re still on Raymer, at the T in the road is Woodhaven. See you Saturday May 15th.

    Juicy sweet spring rain fell Sunday and I woke Monday morning to sprigs and fronds bursting with life and in want for more.Clematis

    This is wild clematis. You can see it growing along the entrance way near the mailbox and if you’re awake and want to see this one it is interspersed in the lower quadrant along the trail right up until you get to the fork where the Saskatoon trail begins. It is not a common plant, it has a beautiful flower and will bloom only through the end of June then it’s gone. This clematis was happy for the rain.  

    Spring growth

    In his opening remarks for last Saturday’s events, Chair of the Regional District, Robert Hobson, challenged those gathered to identify the many colours of green that surrounded us. We laughed. Quite simply it would be a challenge to make that list right now. The photo above shows the lemony green buds of fresh maple leaf flanked by douglas fir, cedar and jack pine. Off in the distance, and only because I know it’s there, is a great black cottonwood with a green all of its own making and providing yet another tone for this backdrop of greenness.

    Poem Outside the Park

    This what Woodhaven looks like from above. We are the green in this corner of town surrounded by neighbourhoods, Westpoint Village, Crawford Estates, The Quarry and our closest neighbours in the Lower Mission. The Lower Mission neighbourhood still has many tall pine and fir so we blend in quite well here. Woodhaven is cool in the summer when the temperatures get stifling outside and in the winter months is an oasis of quiet and calm and a safe place for critters to rest. Whatever Woodhaven is, today it is green. As many greens as you’ve ever seen and it is changing fast, spring will do that.

    The Woodhaven Eco Art Project is ongoing from April to October 2010. Look for the poetry on the fence line, “Open My Eyes: Twelve Woodhaven Poems” by Nancy Holmes, these are mounted on board with drawings by Tia Mclennan.

    Woodhaven is at 4711 Raymer Road. South on Gordon, cross over DeHart, second left is Raymer Road, it zig zags, stay on it, slow to 30km and keep left. At the T in the road is where you’ll find all the greenness.

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