What’s can you see the distance? On trees, bees & the sun.




   What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and one another.

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~


A week or so ago an amazing event occurred here at the lake, on an unusually warm and calm spring day. At first we couldn’t figure it out. It wasn’t fire or smoke. Nor was it dust from logging or mining. After a bit of puzzling we got it – eureka! Away in the distance at the base of the mountains, an outburst of pollen was rising from the trees. It was as if before us, the earth and forest were making love. Mother nature, re-creating. Giving us life and sustenance…


Pollen flare-up over the lake in British Columbia, April 7 2016 -  bruce witzel photo


“The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”  – Isaiah  the Prophet


 A close-up of the pollen flare…

Pollen eruption at the lake April 7, 2106  telephoto view -bruce witzel photo


Most trees in our local ecosystem are evergreen conifers such as spruce, red cedar, douglas fir, and western hemlock. The only local deciduous broadleaf tree is red alder which grows rapidly and may shade out the more commercially favoured conifers. But red alders have important eco-logical value because their root nodules fix nitrogen in the soil and their leaves create rich compost on the forest floor. They also reclaim slide zones from logging and floods, hence preventing further soil erosion.


So, where did the pollen burst come from?

Although I’m not certain, I suspect it came from the alder trees – from the male flowers or male catkins, to be precise…


A fallen red alder catkin (male)  - bruce witzel photo



            Red Alder catkins (male) on left, and          

        slung over a huckleberry bush (below)


            Red alder male catkin & huckleberry buds -bruce witzel photo
















  Pollen flares at Victoria Lake - bruce witzel photo


As for the future, where is the pollen cloud is heading?


To the female red alder catkins (below), one might accurately surmise.


Red alder female catkin hanging in huckleberry bush - bruce witzel photo


“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


Below is another view of the pollen burst. The lakeshore (left) is lined with broadleaf red alders.

To the left side of the frame are alder branches.


Alder tree and pollen eruption, April8, 2016 - bruce witzel photo



To shift the story a bit (and indeed the paradigm), the next day pollen was everywhere…


Alder pollen on solar water heater - bruce witzel photo


Can you see where I wiped it off the glass of the solar hot water heater?


Alder pollen on my fingers - bruce witzel photo



Usually our solar electric panels need little maintenance. But there was so much pollen I had to clean off the yellow film that was blocking out the sunlight.


31 year old Kyocera Solar Electric cells - bruce witzel photo


It was good I took the time, because for the first time I noticed some discoloration and darkened purple color on a few our oldest panels. These solar photo-volt-aic panels have been producing power for 31 years now. When brand new in 1985 the cells were all bright blue like the center one. Over more time they’ll begin to give us less electricity and in future we will need to install a few more solar panels to make up the difference.


It is also a good thing that solar solutions are rapidly becoming less expensive. Especially considering the harm that fossil fuels are igniting, and on the overall future of the planet.



“We cannot hope to either understand or to manage the carbon in the atmosphere unless we understand and manage the trees and the soil too.”  Freeman Dyson



Apr. 4, 2016 -Alberta Solar Jobs (source - Green Party of Canada)


I think the dream of a solar age is now coming to fruition. In realizing this, it will be good for us to be aware that nature will always provides us with the best most important solar collectors – 

the flora of the earth around us – the plants and trees.



Vancouver Island Lake on a calm day, with red alder trees in bloom - bruce witzel photo


And of course the pollen, and the birds.


Rufous Hummingbird - charles brandt photo



And the bees…


Finding the nectar - bruce witzel photo


Cheers – Bruce



The future depends on what you do today.

~ Mahatma Gandhi ~




Rufous hummingbird photo by Charles Brandt (click here for a link to a new video on the life of Fr. Charles)


                                  (WPC The future – potential of things to come)

25 thoughts on “What’s can you see the distance? On trees, bees & the sun.

    • Ah, David… you too, as always reflecting the true nature of things. I have to admit I’m a bit slow at some things… I only now noticed your adding the video of Thich Nhat Hanh to my previous post, where you ask a him question “how better not to behave as a victim.” Thank you for this gift. This evening I will savor it.

    • Thanks Rosalienne. We never get tired of the view. 🙂 You know what – I hadn’t heard of a pollen burst either, until this happened. I checked in with Fr. Charles Brandt who lives a few hundred miles south of us, and he also was thinking it was likely coming from the red alders. Where he’s at they were getting a heavy amount of pollen from big-leaf maples.

  1. You were so lucky to have such wonderful weather that enabled you to witness this event. Thank you for brilliantly capturing it for us. When I lived on Porcher Island a bit north of you, we had such sunny weather only a few days in a year!

    • Yes we were lucky for the good weather. I notice that Porcher Island isn’t Prince Rupert, about a 16 hour ferry ride north of us. Prince Rupert is probably the rainiest location in BC, so I get what your saying. Here on northern Vancouver Island, though it rains quite a bit we’re inland from the pacific coast so don’t get much fog. Also we have ideal southern exposure. The pollen event was awesome, indeed. Thanks for the comment my fellow solar pioneer.

  2. I love the picture and the reason behind the pollen cloud. I never saw such an event before. Your lake is very beautiful and nature can still enhance it, so easily missed.

    • We hadn’t seen this ever before either Cathy. In a way, it was if we were witnessing a miracle of nature… all these particles of pollen, probably trillions. The yellow film is still visible on different objects and leaves, even after a couple days of rain. I am glad you were able to appreciate it, and thanks for your kind compliment.

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