Geese paddle their way through Witty’s Lagoon

Autumn colours, activities entice people outside

Plenty of things to do in the West Shore this fall

Since moving to the Island more than a decade ago, autumn has become my favourite season.

While other communities across the nation are facing the inevitable frost warnings and the first snowfalls, we benefit from mild September, October and even November months, where a cozy jacket and watertight shoes serve as ample preparation for most outdoor activities.

This fall, be sure to get the family outside and make the most of our stunning surroundings here on the West Shore. Here are some family-friendly possibilities for mixing arts and nature:

• Turn over a new leaf in Goldstream Park: Grab some crayons and paper and head to Goldstream Provincial Park to do some leaf rubbings with fallen leaves. Get inspired by the gorgeous autumn hues of the park’s red alder, big leaf maple and black cottonwood leaves, or invent your own colour palette for your leaf rubbings masterpiece.

• Create a delectable dinner from local farm fresh fare: Take the family to the farmer’s market (the Goldstream Station Market is on Saturdays; Metchosin Market is on Sundays) and choose a few locally-grown items to craft a meal around. Don’t be afraid to get creative: maybe those blackberries would make a tasty topping for that curried carrot soup?

• Get to know nature with a scavenger hunt: The combination of forest, salt marsh and beach within Witty’s Lagoon Park are home to an enormous diversity of plant and animal life. Bring clipboards and paper and pencil, then encourage everyone to draw what they find – a plant with jagged leaves? An animal that lives in the saltmarsh? A shell (occupied or empty)?

Some other great arts and culture events around the West Shore:

• Why watch Dancing With the Stars when you could be shaking a leg instead? New Square Dancers are welcome to join in Thursday, Sept. 25 at View Royal Community Hall from 8 to 10 p.m. No partner needed. Find more information at promenaders.ca/new-dancers/.

If rumba, cha cha or two-step are more your style, the Rainbow Rounders offer classes every Tuesday at Colwood Community Hall starting at 8:20 p.m. Details at: region1.squaredance.bc.ca/1cities.shtml#Rainbow

• It’s Lantern Tour time at Fort Rodd Hill again. Don’t miss this one-night event, Sept. 27 starting at 7 p.m.  by the Victoria-Esquimalt Military Re-enactors Association. You’ll be toured through the fort by lantern light, experiencing scenes from the history of local servicemen and women. Call 250-478-4389 for tickets and details or visit fortroddhill.com.

• What can you create with just one colour? Find out at the Coast Collective’s Black & White +1, a show of black and white art accented by a single colour. Running until Oct. 12, with an artists’ reception set for Sept. 27 from 2 to 4 p.m. at 3221 Heatherbell Rd. in Colwood. Details at coastcollective.ca

Johanna Henderson is a volunteer with the West Shore Arts Council and principal with Shelter Creative Services.