Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

First solo ‘white cane’ outing…

January 19, 2009

The morning started out foggy; the suburban streetscape softened and made mysterious seeming by the enveloping haze. The huge cedars across the street loomed a half-tone grey in the pearly atmosphere. The bus stop sign, directly across from my house, was a marginally visible standard. It was to be my destination upon making my first foray, alone and without companions, into the streets. The objective was to travel the few miles by bus, downtown, and run some errands with a hopeful and uneventful return home within a couple of hours.

At breakfast, Rumpole gave me my marching instructions. These were to move slowly, cross streets with great care paying especial attention to my blind left side and to deploy my brand new cane while doing so. “Give drivers exta time to spot you, before crossing a street,” he cautioned, “and, brandish that cane to make yourself noticed.” Then, he added, “for Heaven’s sake, don’t get yourself run over!”

“Yassuh, boss-man,” I growled at him while unsnapping my cane and taking an “en Garde” position to skewer him, if my depth perception might allow. I made a feint to my left and promptly knocked my sunglasses off the table. “You know very well I am not completely blind.”

“Yeah, right.” He shrugged into his winter coat and braved his way over to plant a kiss on my lips. ” Take care, but enjoy yourself,” he said, smiling, as he let himself out the back door.

I began making preparations for my outing. Dug out the bus tickets from my purse; detached a chit, and put it into my coat pocket. Retrieved my sunglasses from the kitchen floor; double checked the bus schedule; downed half a cup of coldish coffee; readied my carry-all; shrugged into my coat; grabbed my purse and keys and took a final look at the kitchen clock. Only ten minutes to go before the bus would stop across the street. But wait! That allowed just enough time to nip into the bedroom and blast myself over thoroughly with my Elizabeth Arden perfume. Even if I am one of the invisible group of ageing women, people might as well smell me from a mile away! (Lookingforbeauty, whenever she drives me downtown makes hideous gagging noises and covers her nose if I have been the slightest bit spritzer happy with the perfume bottle, or, rather if I had forgotten she cannot breathe in the presence of perfume) I figured by the time the bus arrived, the miasma of Elizabeth Arden within which I moved might be somewhat dissipated by the foggy air outside, so the bus driver would not be overcome by my olfactory splendour.

I left the house and locked up. made my way gingerly across the road at the corner and took up position by the bus sign. To busy myself while waiting for the bus to arrive, I carved little animal footprints into the nearby snowbank with the tip of my cane, and then to leave permanent mark of my passage carved in my initials. This activity occupied me until the bus arrived. It slid to a stop on the icy road; the door sighed open and I clambered aboard. Had a bit of difficulty remembering which end of the bus ticket to feed into the reader. The driver, tiring of my attempts to turn the blasted card this way and that in a confusing and idecisive manner, smartly plucked the ticket from my fingers and fed it in. He grabbed it from the machine and read off for me for how long the ticket might be effective. I had 90 minutes to do my stuff downtown. I sat down behind the driver, figuring that he might appreciate the wafting of delicious smell from behind him; after all, he did not pass out while I was fooling around at the ticket reader. He did not gag, but then maybe he was holding his breath, because he was kind of surly and quiet when I attempted to engage him in small talk. Maybe he was deaf?

Since my last trip by bus downtown, the vehicles have been equipped with a system whereby a woman, who sounds suspiciously like the woman they have on recorded messages for all local utility companies, read out the names of all stops. Very irritating, this. She sounds a bit like a breathless radio announcer. Maybe all the bus drivers in the Bus Drivers Union demanded that a recording spare them from using their voices; or at least maybe this installed system allows the bus company to interchange drivers at will – they won’t have to know where they are if unfamiliar with the routes. Sally tells them where they are.

This driver was in somewhat of a hurry because he took turns as if in the LeMans car race – with great verve and insouciance. It was a fun, but brief, trip to town centre and I felt as if I had survived a wee bit of adventure. I clambered down from the bus at the end of the line and took my bearings. Still the fog; not too many cars going by; not many persons on the street. I pitter pattered my way south in the direction of the mall where I had to do some business. Played with my cane, tapping and testing all and any surfaces along my passage to learn their characteristic sounds – ping, for metal; thunk, for wood; swish, for shrubbery; crisp scrunch, for frozen snow-banks; and finger-nail-file scraping for concrete. The place where crossing became necessary I misguaged the depth of the sidewalk and came down hard and short. Stood there craning my neck in all directions to spot moving cars and waited for them to roll to stop and let me make passage across. The left side vision is problematic for me, so I held out the cane and waited before proceeding. What a bother. No more nipping and skipping across the streets for me. Aargh! I hated feeling so vulnerable.

The walk was not the usual brisk one; it was more of a cautious creeping. The terrain was not familiar, and like all unfamiliar terrain must be learned to negotiate from scratch. No more automatic pilot for this old Gal! The walk, slow as it was, did feel good though, especially since I was independent and alone. The air felt moist and cool on my face; my hands were warm inside gloves; and I was snugly buttoned up in my wool coat.

I did my errands in the mall. Dropped in on a shop-keeping acquaintance, checked out her new shipment of beautiful spring clothes and gossiped a bit with her. Her shop dog, a spoiled Bichon Frise, bared her fangs at me and snarled. Nothing has changed there! Checked out a big sale of discontinued foot-wear, which did not tempt. Went into the childrens’ shop and browsed for books for Mousey. Nothing caught my interest there. I decided to retrace my steps back to the bus loop, if indeed I would be able to return home on my ticket before it expired.

I tap-tapped my way back and noted the metal grating around the trunks of decorative trees planted in the middle of the side-walk. Explored the pattern of the grating with my cane and the music that could be made by riffling the cane tip across the patterns. Very charming sounds! The tree trunks were smoothish, and I dragged the cane around the girths to hear the texture. This way of moving about intentionally gives rise to new and different sense experiences. One’s passage is accompanied by novel (to me) soundscape. The walk took me back to where the bus had ejected me. The time it took to take the walk was immeasurable. For one, I do not wear a watch. For another, I was happily occupied with new sensations.

The bus ride home was more leisurely; the driver more amenable to chatting. We exchanged sightings of Julia Major, a local woman who parades around topless as soon as the weather turns springish, and who is the bane of all public utilities which have to provide service for people with all kinds of ability and disability. She is litiginous in the extreme, and I told the driver of a Julia sighting where she threatened to sue Translink, when the bus’s ramp for wheelchairs broke at the stop she was insisting on getting off via the ramp, rather than walking off as she had walked on. The driver joked, that had Julia been on the bus with me this day, she would have given him an earful of diatribe for him allowing me to climb solo on to the bus without him helping me. We had a good chuckle.

The driver stopped the bus next to my driveway, so I wouldn’t have to stroll across any snow or ice. I thanked him and waved my cane in good-by, let myself in through the back door, hung up my coat and made myself a cup of coffee. It had been a satisfactory first outing with my white cane, and I had enjoyed myself.


January 8, 2009

It may seem ungracious to complain about the presence of snow in our landscape, not only ungracious but also uselessly whiny, but enough, already. Sure the snows are useful to keep vegetation from freezing out at the roots in the icy weather and the blankets of snow obscuring the less than aesthetically pleasing aspects of suburban life may seem to be a temporary boon for the eyes and soul, however its sudden record-breaking presence in a micro-climate best thought of as Mediterranean makes for problematic living, in the short term.
The past few days have seen unending deluge of rain, which reduces the snow-pack, but also threatens flooding. Our municipality has not been able to keep up with the snow-clearing. The plows have left berms almost 5 feet tall, and increasingly narrow roads. The local bus run disgorges its passengers onto our semi-cleared driveway, the only place people can actually get off the bus onto stable footing and without having to fall into deep snow. Once they get off the bus, they move with glacial slowness at the edges of the slushy road toward the relative safety of ankle deep slush on the sidewalk. At the corner, where the main drains are, a huge pile of snow blocks off the exit of the rapidly gathering melt-waters; the water keeps building up and up and cars turning the corner throw up huge tsunamis of water onto passersby. Walking about in my neighbourhood makes for comfortless, and even life threatening activity to pedestrians.
A couple of days ago, I ventured out onto our snow-covered lawn to test for myself the depth of the receding snow. I promptly lost my footing, slipped and took a header face first. The mouthful of snow I spit out was thankfully not yellow snow. I slithered my soggy way back to the relative safety of the walkway and tried to remove snow there. Man, was that snow heavy and water-logged! After digging for three feet or so, I threw in the shovel, so to speak. Visitors would simply have to wade their way into our place through the pile of slush.
Even Jessica, our Scottish Terrier, has a special horror of the current snow conditions. Whenever she goes outside to pee, she linger in the open doorway with a martyred expression on her pleading mug. “Do I really have to go out there to pee?” she seems to be projecting with heart melting glances. Heartless as I am, I order her to get out there and do her business. She bravely swims through the slushy snow, but doesn’t linger long out in it. She comes inside and makes dramatic shakes, as if she had braved sub-arctic temperatures ( in her ample fur coat, yet) and had trekked for unspeakably prolonged MILES, just to comply with her need to use outdoor plumbing. She does get a good rub-down with her towel afterward, and promptly heads to her perch on the back of the couch to sulk. Can’t say I blame her for her attitude as I am in complete agreement with her on it. We are two little old shut-ins, with raging cabin fever.
Yesterday, I phoned the municipality to complain about the rising waters on the blocked up corner, where the drain was completely covered by the snow pack. The woman on the other end of the phone suggested I or Rumpole go out and wrestle with the digging out. I told her, rather nicely, I thought, that neither of us wished to become part of the winter statisctic of older people dropping dead from shovelling snow, and that we had problem enough with extricating the car daily from its parking spot without having to tackle cleanup for which the municipality was responsible. A couple of hours later a Public Works truck parked in out driveway, and two stalwart young men schlepped through the sludge to the corner. In fifteen minutes they uncovered the plugged drain. (Reminder to self: send a letter to the editor of the local rag to formally and publicly thank the municipality for its prompt attention to what may have become a major flooding problem on our street.)
Today, the rain continues to fall, the snow keeps melting. At the rate of melt, Jessica and I will be able to resume our neighbourhood walks within a week. Only, the weather forecast threatens more snowfall in the next couple of days. Blagh!!! Whine!!! We can only hope the weathermen are wrong.

Studio visit with Anarchist/Artist…

June 12, 2008

Flora and I had been planning this trip up the coast for a couple of weeks. We intended to visit Anarchist/Artist, take him for lunch, see his local exhibition and then visit his studio. I was pumped, and not only because for a shut-in, like me, a trip like this is a special gift, but also because I so much enjoy spending time with Anarchist/Artist and see him pull out of storage one remarkable work after another. Prissy german Tourist, who is also friends with him, and I, both consider Anarchist/Artist one of of B. C.’s underappreciated artistic treasures. He is absolutely committed to his work and to living within certain stringent principles which he espouses. A man to admire, in the complete sense of admiration of coherent belief and practice as exemplars in living. He does good, does no harm, and lives gently with great respect for the gifts life bestows upon him.

Taking a ferry to get to his community is such a production. Because Flora is such a fine and intelligent companion, time travelling didn’t seem so onerous. En route, we discussed various points of politics and practice of the publicly funded gallery system. We admired the views from the ferry’s lounge, even though the day was one of lowering skies, greens, and misty greys. We watched a small motor boat struggle to cross the bow of the ferry up ahead, quite nervous and anticipating a small marine disaster. Some operators of small craft have little awareness of the speed of larger vessels. Our coast has a history of many accidents during such attempts to not lay by and let a larger boat have right of way. We were quite relieved to note the smaller boat scoot out of danger, by a hair, it seemed.

Once debarked, we made good time on the Coast road, and soon turned off the highway onto the dirt track where Anarchist/Artist’s cabin and studio nestled among a profusion of Rhododendrons, past bloom, and tall evergreens. An eight foot cairn marks the parking area. A bonsai-ed horse-chestnut tree in a planter stands near the front steps; its leaves perfect and tender green. Sweet woodruff carpetsthe foundations on either sides of the staircase. We peeked through the glass door to see Anarchist/Artist upright near his vomiting skeleton sculpture, happily sipping from a ceramic mug with a temmoku glaze. We tapped on the window. He came and let us in; greeted us with warm hugs and kisses on the cheek.

I invariably feel good whenever in his company. He is courtly, charming, beautifully spoken with an educated British accent. In his mid-sixties, he is aging as only men who have led a healthful and considered life age – gracefully and well. He lives a simple and aesthetic life surrounded by his work, by books, music, and growing things which he propagates for his survival and consumption. On his easel was a recent still-life study of a clutch of beets and their greens. This glowed in jewel-like splendour, made with reverence, vigour and beautiful marks. When asked if he got his vegetable garden in ample time this spring, he bemoaned that he had been reluctant to set out his cucumber seedlings because nights, even in June, have been so cold this year. He is fearful he will not get in his usual crop. He grows an organic cash crop, and exchanges for meats and other supplies. We wondered what kind of crop he might get this year. The weather has been so unusually somber and lacking in hot sunny days.

Flora sked him wher he migh want to go for lunch. we decided to blow the budget and go to a restaurant where there was a good chef. However, after we drove there we found it closed. We went off to a waterfront pub and sat outside under propane heaters ( a most unusual necessity in late spring at this latitude). We ate, drank wine with our pub fare and discussed his long career. Flora demonstrated by her demeanor that she much enjoyed his company. I listened and posed some questions and small observations. After all, our intention in visiting with Anarchist/Artist was to have the two of them meet and discuss further exhibition possibilities of A/A’s works.

After lunch we drove to the local Municpal Gallery, where A/A’s plein air paintings of local industrial landscapes were exhibited. I should hesitate to label them as “plein air” because they are qualitatively much different with what is associated with plein air paintings. They are really direct studies of industrial constructions in the landscape, and as such differ from the flabby, inchoate landscapes that are lately characterized as plein air paintings. A/A has an acute manner of distilling industrial forms, and way of notating the characteristic land, water and sky patterns of our region. As a collection, this exhibition should be bought by a local museum, as examples of a painter’s recording of the economic activities of a specific region. But, by God, there were several I would have loved to have for myself! We stayed in the gallery for a long time. I entertained myself by getting nose-to-painting looks at the marks he had made the paintings of, and studying his truly idiosyncratic use of colour. What a treat!

We drove back to his studio afterward and stayed for a couple of hours more. He pulled out from storage his more controversial and political work, some drawings and studies. We looked at his collection of seed-pods, bones, roots, a remarkable desiccated skunk, stones and dried insects. Much of his graphic work is inhabited by the presence of these objects as part of the symbolic vocabulary he uses. He has obviously developed his visual language over many past decades of consideration and study, and in his work offers permutations and combinations of them much as a poet does of words and metaphors. The energy and control with which he makes his marks is masterful; his skill developed by years of trial and practice. he is a remarkable colourist. While his political imagery is disturbing, it has the conviction of thought and belief, long considered, as underpinning. One may or may not like his paintings, his prints, but they seep into the brain, into memory, under the skin and won’t let go. Flora looked and looked, commented, asked questions. I asked to buy a book of his prints and one of his more anarchist print images for myself. But there is one remarkable painting i am going to save my shekels for, now. I know Rumpole wont necessarily like it, but usually he assents to my decision to acquire art that means something to me.

Flora and i realized after a time that we were almost going to mis the ferry home. So we said our goodbyes to and appreciation of the time Anarchist/Artist had given us. On the trip home we discussed how Flora might be able to raise funds to have an exhibition of Anarchist/Artist’s work at our Municipal gallery. We brainstormed over coffee and muffins and filled paper napkins with copious notes of our fundraising ideas. We agreed it had been a day spent in the best possible way.

Today I am exhausted, but happy at having had such a wonderful experience and opportunity. I just hope Anarchist/Artist doesn’t feel like we have wasted his time. And I am hoping that a local exhibition comes about from the meeting between him and Flora.

Victoria-Day weekend, 1972 and 2008

May 18, 2008

It is the first day of this Year’s Victoria Day weekend. It is also the first scorching Spring day we have had, so far. We have decided to stay close to home, take out the garden furniture and putter about the place. It has been a wool-gathering kind of day. i have rested my eyes as they are sore. The bright light hurts them. We are waiting for the cool of the evening to stroll around the neighbourhood with our new, seven year old Scottie, Jessica. When she goes out into the back garden she doesn’t stay out in the heat. The heat almost seems to rise from her compact black body and she tries to take refuge from the heat by digging a shallow trench to lie in. Like us, she doesn’t do well in heat.

Man of Science came to take a cup of coffee with Rumpole. I decided, that since the sun was well over the yard-arm, I could treat myself to a glass of red wine. Man of Science made a hilarious declaration which caused me to sputter and spill the damn stuff on my fresh new white cotton pants.

“I told you white is not a good colour for you. You didn’t waste time in staining those pants.” Rumpole always has to chide me for being a wee bit of a slob. He handed over the Tide stain remover, which upon application to the stains caused them to turn bright blue. I dragged out the lemon juice and salt and did the salad treatment on the stains. That did the trick, and I changed into a blue pareo and hung out the pants in the afternoon sun.

Man of Science has been a friend since 1970. He has seen me at my best and worst. He has no illusions about my feminish capacities. “Once a slob, always a slob!” he intoned. “But you are a good shit.” (Gee, thanks MoS)

I promptly withdrew to my room, wine in hand and lazed about sipping wine and half-listening to the guys chatting in the kitchen. A memory of driving away from Man of Science and Ardent Feminazi’s University housing at UBC exactly 36 years ago flashed in my mind. Then, Man of Science hoisted two year old Renaissance Man up to the open car window to kiss me goodbye. He and AF were looking after RM while a friend and I drove up North to the small community where we had both been hired as art teachers a couple of weeks previously.

Then, as today, the weather was hot and sultry. Lauren and I had done our final practicums at the same Vancouver high school, and discovered during one lunchtime that we both had been hired by the same school district. She, for the senior high, and me for the junior high. Right then we decided we would make our first trip up to meet the principals and see our schools on the upcoming Victoria Day weekend.

We dropped Renaissance Man at AF and MoS’s place, waved our goodyes and began our journey by car, of 465 miles. Lauren’s car was a small Toyota sedan. It didn’t have air conditioning. The drive was hot and long. We stopped outside Hope, and rolled all the windows down. Cranked up the radio to whatever local station it might recieve in the mountain valleys, and sang along on the road. Our hair flew freely in the wind; the windshield spattered with many dead bugs. We raced transport trucks on the passing lanes but kept our eyes peeled for the local police vehicles lurking behind tall stands of trees to nab unwary speeders. At nightfall we arrived at our destination, windswept, sweaty and dust grimed. We found a cheap motel and bedded down for the night laden with local newspapers to check out the housing situation, and the concerns of the locals.

While Lauren washed off the road grime in the bathroom, I perused the “Apartments for Rent” section in the paper, consulted the town map and tried to figure out the best places to contact the next morning. Then it was my turn to use a lot of hot water. Lauren spent her time looking for apartments nearest her school. Before we turned in we primped our hair and put in rollers to set up decent looking hair-dos.

The following morning, we phoned our respective Principals and arranged to visit our schools in the early afternoon. Then we began the earnest telphoning to set appointments to look at apartments in the evening hours. before lunch we drove around the whole town. it took only 30 minutes. The town had one main street, two stop-lights, one hardware store, two grocery stores, several small banks, a small hospital, funeral home, an RCMP detachment office that was easy to miss, post office, two hotels and several gas stations. It was a lumber and pulp town and boasted of a brand new pulp mill, several saw mills as well as novel structures neither of us had seen before – bee-hive burners attached to the saw mills. The town, situated at the confluence of two rivers sat in a valley the slopes of which were covered in mixed conifer and birch and aspen groves. It was a little jewel of a place, and we congratulated each other on having our first teaching jobs in such a lovely setting.

 In the afternoon, Lauren dropped me at my school for my appointment and drove off to meet her own principal in the west part of town. My principal was a gracious and friendly, almost fatherly man of early middle years. He walked me through the whole school and showed off the facilities for teaching Agricultural sciences which he himself had brought to fruition and manned as part of his teaching schedule. He was very proud of the Science labs, the Industrial Arts  workshops and then showed off the art-rooms and their adjoining storage areas. I was surprised at how well equipped my rooms were. There was a general studio with good tables and stools, good light, adequate cleanup and storage facilities. As a bonus, there was a fully equipped ceramic studio with four kick-wheels and two electric wheels, a large kiln and a small enamelling kiln, pug-mill and clay-recycling tables.  I felt like I had dropped into a dream art class-room. The nice principal said that although I was going to have a tiny budget to work with, he would ensure that there would be enough for me to get by with for the year, and that he was willing to help me forage for local clay bodies for the pottery program. I was thrilled.

When Lauren returned to fetch me so we could go off to look at apartments, she looked crest-fallen. She reported that her principal was a stiff and formal man, her room, in the brand new school had no equipment nor supplies and that she would have to build up her program, teaching supplies and equipment from scratch on a minimal budget. She expressed concern about the wisdom of taking on the job.

On the plus side, she managed to find a pleasant apartment across from her school, while the only apartment that would take me and a two-year old child as tenants was a basement apartment across the river from my school. We drove to a local diner and commiserated on the less stellar aspects of our upcoming adventure living and teaching in a small northern town. We determined to share teaching resources, and I assured her I’d ask my principal if she could have the two electric wheels from my school on loan to her for a year.

The following morning, the last day of the long-weekend, we drove back to Vancouver, largely silent and entertaining our own thoughts and concerns in privacy on the tedious hot drive.

So back to today; here was good old Man of Science, sitting in my kitchen 36 years later, sipping coffee, talking laughing and sounding very much like his earlier self. I like the constancy of old friendships,  shared history and knowing how life has changed us in the intervening years. Then, we were young parents; now we are grandparents. But we still are curious, vital and up for anything life throws at us.

It was pleasant to have his presence today with us as a reminder of how long a life we had in parallel with each other. I hate to see him with his white hair, but his keen blue eyes are as lovely and acute as ever, and he is his sweet, opinionated, questioning and fiercely loyal self.

This is going to be a good Victoria Day weekend, full of visits with the rest of our family, and good friends. But boy, is it ever a scorcher!

The changing fabric

February 13, 2008

Up, ahead

the winds have raked the sky

 with whistling, fine, teeth.

Sooty, combed,

loose weft strands undulate,

and twine distant in soft rows

toward the horizon.


the teased moisture tendrils

against blue zenith transparency,

the new pattern portends

a change

on the warp of the firmament.

GM – on a glorious sunny day, February 13, 2008, that looks about to change; a front is approaching.

a loose wft

Anniversary on the land-locked cruise ship…

November 28, 2007

Rumpole has ever been a man reluctant to separate himself from the Law. Thus on the day we were to drive to Harrison Hot Springs he was poring over some tomes in the downtown Law Library. He breezed in at 4pm and proceeded to argue his reasons for why he should not bring a formal jacket, on this, our 30th Anniversary. He cleverly won by reminding me that way back when we tied the knot, he had not worn anything but sweaters and jeans, and the ever so necessary rain-slicker. So why would we not do the romantic thing and dress down in remembrance of our youth? Naturally, he neglected the fact that after thirty years we could both do with considerable spackle and polish, to fill our numerous cracks and bring our tarnished lustre to a dullish glow.

Suitcase in the trunk and digital camera on the front between the two of us, we drove off in beautiful sunshine of the late November afternoon. It was a scenic drive. We found a good rock station with golden oldies rock and sang along, admired the gorgeous views. We were delighted the weather was not a reprise of our honeymoon torrential rainstorm, and high-fived our good fortune. As the twilight settled we had arrived at Harrison Mills.

“Look,” Rumpole mentioned, “The mountain up ahead is on fire.”

I had my sunglasses on, as my eyes were again infected and sore. “Where’s the fire?” I just couldn’t see it.

“Oh, for God’s sake, take off your sunglasses,”said he with an exasperated tone. “See the lights up ahead, the smoke? There – straight ahead.”

Well it looked like fog to me, the kind of low-lying stuff that wreathes the bottoms of mountains this time of year. The lights were the usual foggy star shapes that might indicate an electric light on a pole. But then I don’t see at all well nowadays, and rather than incur a long winded argument between us, I concurred. “Ah yes. I see (fingers crossed, liar liar pants on fire)Do you think it might be campers?”

“Are you kidding? In November? Nope – probably a slash burn.” He didn’t see fit to report it and we drove on.

In dark of late afternoon, we arrived at the lakeshore and drove around looking for a parking spot, near the resort. No joy. Rumpole is an independent sort of fellow; doesn’t like maps, nor signage. So we drove around some more. He was becoming quite irritated. After I figured he was thoroughly fed up, I gently suggested we drive up to the port cochere and ask the attendant where we might park the car. As it turned out, parking was at some distance, and Rumpole didn’t want to drag our suitcase for that long a walk. He let me wait inside the lobby for him, with the bag.  This suited me just fine. I got to scope out the lobby.

Directly in front of the wheezing automatic doors, inside, a large painted chainsaw-sculpture of the cigar-store Indian variety greeted visitors. So far, so bad. Hasn’t it yet dawned on German and Japanese tourists that these artifacts went out of fashion when cowboy movies did? A couple of Japanese business-men in casual attire, both sporting neck-slung cameras took turns gaily posing with the Indian. Brother! Talk about cliche! Political incorrectness, eh?

Rumpole arrived, with reddened cheeks from exerting himself on the long trek from the parking spot, and took a double-take as he spotted the Japanese men checking their digital pics. The Indian was gazing, quite oblivious, into the distant lake vistas. The guys decided to do retakes, and Rumpole threw them an amused glance as he looked about for me. The Indian didn’t twitch a muscle, but I was snerkling under my breath, trying to smother down a loud laugh which was threatening to erupt.

Booking in was a breeze. We were given a detailed map of the premises, key-cards and sent on our way to find our room. As Rumpole grasped my elbow and led me around the Indian  to climb a few stairs, he noted a bunch of older men, wearing white bathrobes strolling toward us. “These guys must be on their way to the lake to practice for their January Polar Bear swim,” he conjectured. We stopped and looked at the map. Yep, either they were on their way out of the hotel and down to the beach, or they were visiting Miss Daisy’s Cafe located slightly to the east of the Indian. Shrugging with relief that dress code here was so informal, we proceeded up the stairs. More people of all ages and physical condition, lounging and strolling around in bathrobes. HMMM.

“Don’t look now – there’s a cop behind you.” Of course, Rumpole just had to look. Leaning against a pillar was a 10-foot tall stuffed toy Grizzly bear in formal Mountie dress uniform. It had its palms upturned as if seeking donations. Very natty,but oh so cliche! He was guarding the fireplace/piano/lounge room where a couple of men in bathrobes warmed themselves by a crackling gas fire, and a mother watched in irritation as two ten year old boys played video games on their laptops.

We looked around for the elevator. After consulting our maps we and 6 people in wet bathrobes got on the elevator which made herky-jerky progress to our floor. By the time we got off, my glasses had fogged over. Rumpole had to lead me by the hand to our room.

First things first, I just had to find our bathrobes. Yep, they were in the closet where the coats and clothes would hang. I unloaded our suitcase and stashed our stuff while Rumpole, ever mindful of rules and regulations perused the Resort Information Booklet. “Get this,” he announced. “They charge for each phone call made to the desk, for wake-up calls, for concierge help…. haven’t found where it says ‘for breathing’, yet.” Of, so it was going to be like that, eh? “Oh, no” he complained.”It says here I have to wear good casual wear to eat dinner at the Copper Room.” We had arranged the tour package -room for two nights, breakfast for two mornings and our anniversary dinner at the “Copper Room”.

“Maybe they have a “rent-a-jacket” place on premises,”I said. “Or you can go down there tonight in the sweater you plan to wear to dinner tomorrow and ask if that would do? Alternately, we can do a nice drive home tomorrow morning to get your jacket.” Rumpole chose to do a walk about the place, find the hot-spring pools, the gymn, the spa and then casually drift by the Copper Room and ask the Maitre D’ whether he would be acceptable in sweater and good pants. After finding out we didn’t have to drive home to get a jacket, we strolled around trying to figure out with the help of the site map how to get to the Lakeshore Room, where we decided to have supper.

The Lakeshore Room had a huge waiting room with a crowd waiting for seating. We signed in and held up a wall. People there were trying to stave off their hunger with the dough-nuts provided to ease the long wait. It was good people watching opportunity. There was a family with two little girls and a rickety pair of grandparents in tow. The little girls sat in the only two available armchairs with their feet up on the seats, ordering the mother and father to go get them juice and doughnuts, while the doddering grandparents swayed on their feet, almost about to topple over. There was something very wrong with this picture. I waved my hand in their direction and gave Rumpole a disgusted sneer of disapproval. He pursed his lips and looked at this crew over the top of his glasses, looking very professorial. I’m certain he had not failed to notice that no-one waiting here was in bathrobes. Thus we did not fear being overdressed.

Dinner at the Lakeside Room was buffet style. On this occasion it might have been called “buffett” style. As I was raising the tongs to transfer some spinach salad to my salad plate, a Japanese lady of middle years hip-checked me and grasped the tongs out of my hand, filled her plate, smiled nicely and proceeded to do a number on Rumpole. We were so stunned that all we could offer by complaint was a weak, Canadian expression – “Sorry” and watch in bewilderment as the lady continued to make her way backward on the line butting in front of everybody.  About this, I am proud of our Canadian tendency to say “sorry” whenever we have done nothing to be sorry about. Perhaps the English-Japanese guide book needs to make it clear that when we say “sorry” we are not really saying “go ahead, do whatever pleases you”. I noted that was going to be a point I made clear when filling out the visitors experience report after our stay.

“Don’t look now, but that Pushy Japanese woman is sitting right behind you,” whispered Rumpole. And of course, I looked.

“I should just dump my dinner plate on her after I go get my salmon and vegies, and say a cheery “Sorry”,” I hissed back.

“G, now don’t start something you can’t finish,” he admonished. “Just give her an elbow if she crosses you at the trough.”

Sure enough, I had just got my salmon, rice and vegies and decided to go with Rumpole to the Prime Rib area and augment my plate with a Yorkshire Pudding (never mind that’s not taditional accompaniment for salmon, who cares?) and voila, she reappeared again and much to the server’s controlled amusement bunted Rumpole aside and held out her plate for the piece of prime rib the server was about to place on his plate. “Sorry,” said Rumpole, automatically. He didn’t feed her an elbow. I admired his restraint and grinned at him with approval.

Back at our table, we ate and chuckled at the vagaries of travel to foreign places, at misunderstandings of manners. I jokingly told him that the resort should have a Buffet Etiquette book, translated in several languages in every room, and while they were at it might post a rule about people schlepping about all over the place in the near altogether in soggy white bathrobes. Seeing all those bloated bodies with bad hair, wet hair, hairy legs and poor posture might turn people off from eating altogether, never mind they had an obstacle course to follow at the buffet, with tourists nearly snatching morsels from proffered plates.

After dinner we went for an evening constitutional on the lakeshore, went back to our room and read in bed.

By morning my eye had swollen and took on the bright colouration of a sailboat’s port light. And it was sore. After breakfast buffet at the lakeshore Room, we had our eyes peeled for the Japanese lady, lest she come near us to snatch our croissants from our hungry grasp, or scrape butter pats from our plates. No such adventure to be had. She was most likely soaking in one of the hot pools, bless her.

I was concerned about my eye, as after we returned home from the weekend I was slated to go for surgery on Tuesday morning. Here it was a Sunday, so where could we find a doctor handy? Rumpole went off to bring the car from parking in the boonies, and I went off to the concierge desk to find out if there was a local medical clinic open. The concierge called around to Hope, nope, the clinic there was closed. The nearest clinic, in Aggasiz, was also closed. But, Bingo! The clinic in Chilliwack, a mere half-hour drive away, was open. She made us a good map, and by the time Rumpole arrived with the car at the porte cochere, we were good to go. Only it was raining really hard, which kind of ruined the scenic aspects of the drive.

The clinic in Chilliwack was not full with patients, so we got to see the doctor quickly. She took a look at my eye and said to Rumpole “You’ve got to stop punching this poor woman.” I took an instant liking to this doctor; however Rumpole didn’t seem to approve of this light-hearted, put-the-patient-at-ease banter. He sat looking quite crest-fallen as I hastened to encapsulate the medical history of my eye over the past 8 months and made it perfectly clear that it was not result of a wife beating. The doctor was adamant that I cancel the upcoming Tuesday operation, gave a scrip for antibiotic drops and sent us on our way. We filled the prescription at a nearby pharmacy and went back to the resort.

The rain was pouring down in earnest. Rumpole decide to parade around in the resort in his white bathrobe while I took a nap. Much later in the afternoon, with him refreshed from his soaking in hot mineral water and me in a warm bath in our room, we decided to explore thoroughly all the amenities of the hotel, and do a long indoor walk, interspersed with climbing many stairs. On the way back to our room to change into our finery, we stopped in at an expensive ladies wear shop in the lobby, where I admired the lacy, gauzy and beaded confections that were more suited to women under 40, than to a woman of my vintage. Rumpole found a lovely metallic grey silk shawl that brought out the highlights of my gun-metal grey hair, wrapped it around my shoulders and said to the clerk “This, my wife will wear to the Copper Room for our anniversary dinner,” and bought it for me. We nipped upstairs and changed into our fancy duds. We looked pretty good together, we thought.

Off we went to the Copper Room, holding hands on the long walk there, severely overdressed compared to the bathrobed figures flitting here and there. We were seated at a table with good view of the dance floor. The band was good, in a cheesy Las Vegas kind of way, the singer had the mellifluous voice of a younger Wayne Newton/Englebert Humperdink cross and the food was delicious. We drank no wine, just water, and watched the dancers and sang along to old standards. There seems to have been a recent resurgence of ballroom dancing, because many couples on the dance floor strutted their stuff. Rumpole does not dance. He feels about dancing as cats do about being immersed in water. But he made an exception for this occasion; he would dance to a song I requested in honour of our anniversary. I perked up – goody, I get to dance a wee bit. I asked the Maitre D’ to send my request to the band, Eric Clapton’s “You look wonderful tonight.” Soon, the band made the announcement. Rumpole took my hand, and I dragged him to the dance floor. The band began to play “Yooo loook boeetifoool too meee….. can’t yooo seeee….” Gag, Barf, Ick….. the song both Rumpole and I absolutely loathe. Rumpole was helpless with laughter, so much so that he couldn’t keep rhythm and lead. Not that he could anyway even when concentrating. So I led us around the dance floor, and we giggled as we stomped around, trying not to interfere with skilled dancers. Well, we were the oldest people on the dance floor, and the worst dancers, but we had an excuse – we came from a generation where ball-room dancing was the antithesis of cool.

So cool were we, that after watching the antics of some really fine comic ballroom-dancers, we started yawning and decided to repar to our room to read in companionable collapse. My eyes were sore, so I managed a page before dozing off. I was suddenly snatched from blessed oblivion to find Rumpole sneakily easing a couple of pillows from under my head. “Go back to sleep,” he groused. “You’re such a pillow hog. I need some extra pillows for reading.” Ah, loving, romantic words from my husband of thirty years.  He never said that thirty years ago!

The next morning, a horrible windstorm accompanied the torrential rains. We had to leave this land-locked cruise ship experience and return home to daily routines. But first, Rumpole had to brave the elements to go get the car and bring it to the front of the Resort. Of course, being British Columbians from the Lower Mainland, we need umbrellas as winter accessories. But being us, we left them in the trunk of the car, so poor fellow made his way in the downpour and arrived back with the car, soaked to the skin and with the windows badly fogged up. After loading up, we waited for half an hour until the car’s heater could deal with his evaporating clothes and our moist exhalations.

We drove home, singing and chatting and listening to the weather reports. Shades of our honeymoon trip thirty years ago!Trees were downed everywhere, power outages beset a large number of people, the ferries were not running on schedule and hundreds of people were stranded on either side of Georgia Straight on the last day of this Remembrance Day weekend. About fifteen miles from our town, we came upon a road block, were rerouted on unfamiliar back roads and arrived home two hours later than anticipated. Our luck held. No power outage at our house, and it was nice to be back in our comfy digs.

It occurred to us as we were drinking coffee in the kitchen after unloading the car, that we had not taken a single picture of our weekend, or had another tourist take our picture grinning and mugging in front of the cigar store Indian, or the Grizzly in Mountie uniform. But then this comes as no huge surprise, we have not one photo from our honeymoon either. But we do have memories to share. That’s what counts to me,


August 9, 2007

The Horn of Plenty – cornucopia.  

If I owned a shipping line these days, maybe Cornucopia Ltd. would be a good company name. So much of what we, here in North America (and elsewhere in the world), use and consume come to us transported by ships. These ply the oceans and seas, trafficking in exchanged resources and goods.

If I owned a grocery store chain, I’d be tempted to have Cornucopia as my corporate name. Somehow obtaining my food at a store called Cornucopia would be more attractive to me than shopping at, say, Thrifty Foods or Overwaitea or Safeway. The name sounds somewhat more promising of plenty.

If  necessity dictated a smaller commercial dream for me, as in a road-side fruit stand, or a small corner grocery store, a sign identifying my place of business might very well read “Cornucopia”, or for those less inclined to Latinisms, “The Horn of Plenty”.

In  a recent conversation, Lucky mentioned that her cousin, a blueberry farmer in the Fraser Valley expects to have this year’s blueberry crop to be 60% less than in previous years. Because of rains during June and much of July, the berries didn’t mature as expected, and those that did split during intermittent hot sunny days.  These split berries are useful mostly for making jam.

Our local back roads have many small kiosks selling blueberries.  The quality of the berries is dependent in which weather they were picked.  The berries are much more expensive this year.  More than likely, the better quality berries are earmarked for shipping elsewhere. No “Horn of Plenty” roadside fruit-stands this year for us locals.

Then, too, not all blueberry producers use organic farming practices. People who wish to only buy and consume organic blueberries have to pay a hefty premium. Generally, the large local grocery chain stores sell sprayed blueberries, and even these are more costly this year.

There are not many growers of organic blueberries in our community. One, who has been in business for over ten years, had his fields cut in half this past year, so that a highway approach on to the proposed new bridge over the Fraser River could be built through his bisected farm. The decision to sacrifice good growing land so that commuters in cars have reduced travelling time shows short-sighted policy-making on the part of our politicians and planners.

I live in a fertile valley of British Columbia, which during the past 40 years has seen major reduction of productive lands. Much of this land has gone to build golf-courses, subdivisions, industrial parks. Yearly there is increasing pressure to have lands released from the Agricultural Land Reserve for other uses than food production.  Our Valley, our own “Horn of Plenty”, is fast dwindling. Increasingly we can buy food-stuffs from far-away places more easily than we can buy food produced in our region.

At what point does sense kick in, or realization, that we must return to being primary producers of that which we consume?

Casting off… Lesson 1

July 15, 2007

My friend Carol laughed when she heard we had decided to take up sailing.  She said that we could probably duplicate the whole experience without paying out large sums of money or expending much time and effort. “Just put on your warmest clothes, your rubber boots and stand under a cold shower in the bathtub. While there, rip up a number of $100 dollar bills”, she directed in a sarcastic tone. There was some wisdom in her suggestion.

On a bitter March morning, rain poured. I assembled my foul-weather gear, loaded up the Datsun and drove to Granville Island for the first on-board lesson.  On the way there I kept my hopes up for a minor change in the weather, but the rain didn’t let up.  This was not exactly an auspicious start to sailing lessons.

On the island, it was unusually easy to find parking near the Market, a short walk to the docks. The weather kept shoppers at home. On the grey wooden walkways to the docks seagulls huddled, miserable, balanced on one webbed foot, their necks hunched down into their bodies.  They couldn’t be bothered to move as I squeaked by in my loud yellow slicker, bibbed overalls and flashy gumboots, trailing rivulets of water in my wake. Up ahead, my fellow students – the lady pathologist, turned out in a fashionable red outfit, and the gay couple, natty in blue one piece rain gear – were gathered, dripping, near a white fiberglass sailboat moored at the dock.  Somehow it was appropriate that the four of us were clothed in the Primary colours –  red, blue and yellow, for our lessons in mastering the basics of sailing.  We introduced ourselves and chatted in a low-key fashion , and getting even wetter while waiting for our instructor to show up.

Shortly, a young chap bounded down the dock toward us.  He seemed totally at home in the rain. ” Hi! I’m Bob!” he called out. “Let’s get going.”  He unshackled the lifeline near the cockpit and ushered us aboard the boat. (Good! I thought. He is going to take us down into the cabin and get us out of the rain.) He took a seat at the tiller and invited us to sit on the lazarettes. (What? He’s got to be kidding!) So he began to quiz us about the various parts of the boat, pointing here and there and asking how the designated part functioned.  (My glasses kept getting fogged up; rain was making steady inroads through my slicker and down my neck. I knew exactly how those wet seagulls felt – discouraged, miserable, soggy!)

After quiz time Bob unlocked the cabin, reached inside and hauled out four white fenders.  Handing one to each of us, he instructed us to check out how the fenders had been attached to the side of the boat next to the edge of the dock.  He then had us attach our fenders using the correct knot and obtaining the right height to keep the edge of the boat from chafing the dock. We squelched our way to our positions trying not to slip on the wet deck, grasping onto the lifeline. Bob was not satisfied that we could do this little chore adequately until we had repeated the task over and over numerous times.  The rain didn’t let up.  We might as well have jumped into the water because we were as wet abovedecks as we would have been were we fullly immersed in the ocean.  The fenders sure looked clean and glossy white, being as they were slick with rain! (My sweater under the slicker was getting wet near the armpit area – yuk! The lady pathologist looked quite comfortable and she didn’t squeak every time she moved, unlike me.  The gay couple looked quite snug.  They also didn’t squeak.  I wondered if their armpits were getting soggy yet.  Nah! But I didn’t dare complain!)

Next, we climbed back into the cockpit. Bob showed us how to start up the inboard motor and explained the mechanism of the tiller. ” Now go and pull in the fenders and we’ll practice leaving the dock,”  he announced as he stepped off the boat to unmoor.  We each had to take turns undoing the mooring lines on the dock and handing them in to boatmates, then step back onto the boat.  This looks easy, but to someone with balance issues this can be slightly problematic.  I absolutely hated to get on and off the boat, while my boat-mates seemed not at all tentative in doing so.  When it came to my turn to cast off and hop aboard, I did so very awkwardly and caught the red and blue sailors rolling their eyes.

Then Bob steered the boat out of the dock area and took us into False Creek where he had us practice turning the boat, steering, slowing down, stopping, backing up.  There were not many boats out on the water so we had ample room to manoeuvre and even got our chance to bring the boat into a dock on the other side of the inlet.  We practiced coming into dock at the correct angle and speed, took turns reattaching the fenders, stepping off and tying the mooring lines correctly.  I really liked to bring the boat in, using the tiller and feathering the engine, but the stepping off part continued to be problematic.  (In fact, standing up in the boat was a problem for me as I couldn’t manage to stay upright and would bash into the winches whenever not creeping about on deck like an octogenerian – a wet one!)

Our lesson for the day was soon over and we headed back to our berth.  Here we got opportunity to practice, yet again, proper docking procedure.  Bob bid us goodbye and bounded away from us into the misty reaches of the dock. My fellow students expessed a desire to repair to the Granville Island Pub to decompress, dry off and bond with each other.  My sweater, by this time had become wet right down to the waist at front and back, and the prospect of being sociable while sitting in soaked clothes was not particularly attractive, so, expressing my regrets and need to go home and dry off thoroughly I bid my companions in fun and misery goodbye. 

On the drive home it was difficult to keep the truck windows from misting up in spite of the heater going full blast.  My glasses also kept fogging up, but at least the rain was outside where it belonged. It occurred to me that learning sailing on a day like this dreary, unrelentingly wet one was a special form of Hell. But at least I didn’t rip up any $100 bills.

Hot and Cold…

July 12, 2007

It promises to be yet another scorcher of a day today.  Yesterday a number of records for high temperatures in British Columbia have been surpassed.  It is odd that as little as a week ago the temperatures were so chilly that Rumpole insisted on turning on the heat for a couple of evenings. Water conservation rules have been put into effect, and there has been discussion about water metering being instituted.  This is timely as many people here in suburbia insist on washing their driveways and hard landscaping, which to me is a phenomenal waste of water.

I toddled next door to Looking for Beauty’s yard and watered her many plants in pots she is to transplant to her new garden as soon as she moves out here.  Wore a long-sleeved shirt, floppy hat and sunglasses for the traverse across her tarmac to her back yard gate, and the paving was so hot that surely it could have fried an omlette.

I had got up yesterday morning after a poor night’s sleep, coughing and hacking, my head stuffed with cotton wool, nose red and running and feeling very chilled.  It is weird to be going out and about on such a blasting hot day and feeling chilled.  It just seems that just after getting over another eye infection that necessitated two visits a week with my doctor, that this dratted cold got me.  Am I whining?  You bet!  Summer colds are not much fun.

It is Glasgow Girl’s birthday on Saturday, so it is unlikely that I will get a visit in with her, Renaisssance Man and Mousey.  If Rumpole doesn’t come down with this cold also, he can go and celebrate, whilst I languish here in my nightgown.  Well, what the heck!  It wouldn’t be doing the young ones any favours to infect them too.

The one good thing about this hot weather – the lawns are not growing fast, which means that the weekend will not be noisy with the sounds of lawnmowers, weed-eaters and leaf-blowers – so blessed silence will reign!

The neighbours across the street have spent the past two weeks constructing a skookum tree-fort for their growing little people.  Soon there will be the sounds of chatter from the young residents of the tree-fort, which is always amusing as kids discussions can be quite entertaining, and eavesdropping on them is one of my favourite summer past-times.  The twins have moved from next door, and our complement of children has dwindled.  Last summer they kept me in stitches playing at being CIA (in Canada) and arguing about who was to be head honcho.  They spied on the neighbours and made a running commentary on their activities, suspicious and otherwise.  The girl twin always got to be the underdog who noted on paper the movements of the people they were spying on, and her complaining was really quite eloquent, but usually to no avail.  The boy twin scanned the neighbourhood with his mother’s bird-watching binoculars, making terse commentary which he expected his sister to note down carefully.  I sure will miss these two, they were most amusing to hear chattering in the background.

Off to make some lemonade from tap-water – and thank God we have plenty of potable water from taps here.  I have already resuscitated my wilting hydrangaea, and hope to resuscitate my dry throat with some cool lemonade.

I realize that south of us in the Western States there have been horrendous hot spells, not to be compared with this minor one of ours.  However, it is really odd to be experiencing such a heat wave here.  What can this augur?

Waiting… will the river flood?

June 11, 2007

Prissy German Tourist arrived early on Thursday afternoon, bearing his kit and gallery visiting clothes on hangers. He installed these in our spare bedroom while I made a pot of chai tea for our refreshment. He came out into the kitchen muttering about how foolish he felt having left his camera at home.  He and that camera are inseparable!

We sat sipping tea, conversing, while waiting for Barb and Lucky to call and say they were ready to get rolling  and go downtown. We were looking over brochures of the Getty, and other LA gallery bits and pieces when Barb called and announced she could not go with us as her 17 year-old daughter was having an anxiety attack and she felt uncomfortable leaving her.  Then Lucky phoned and said she had run into a snag on her shift in the hospital and she would not be able to be ready before four thirty pm.  PGT and I conferred and decided that we might as well pick up Lucky at her house since she was so keen to go to the gallery opening with us. Lucky returned to her duties and we sipped more tea and looked at some examples of contemporary LA art.

At the appropriate time we drove down to the dike road where Lucky and her family lived, on the river side of the dike. No TV crews and vans today there, no onlookers parked along the dike to get views of the swollen river and in their imaginations project images of the large houses there being deluged by a dangerously rising and voracious waters.  We parked, rang the door-bell and walked to the lawn overlooking the river bank. Lucky joined us there in her stocking feet, and the three of us discussed a possibility of flooding.

Mark, Lucky’s husband, and their son, Brad, had filled many sand bags which were piled high in the only opening where the encroaching river might flow into their basement. The river had risen to the lower lawn of their property, was rushing by there, and their dock and its walkway no longer slanted down to river level.  A family of Canada Geese were relaxing on this lower lawn – mother and father standing sentinel on three fuzzy goslings lolling on the grass.  They seemed to have a sense of the dangerousness of the rushing water – the babies would have been separated from the parents – and they were waiting out this dangerous period!

Lucky felt sure enough that her home was in little danger this evening.  The water level would fall with the outgoing tide.  We piled into PGT’s little car and began the commute to the downtown gallery fairly confident that no major disaster would greet Lucky on her return later.

It rained on and off all weekend. For June, it has been unseasonably cold. Obsessive/Compulsive Shopaholic arrived at our house on Friday evening and complained how cold our house was.  Rumpole turned on the furnace, in spite of my protestations. PGT and OCS received their extra blankets and repaired to their bedroom. I stayed up late and turned the furnace off.

In the morning OCS prevailed on Rumpole to drive her to the BIG Mall for her shopping spree. PGT and I set up the laptop in the dining room and looked at 300 photos of his trip to LA.  Boy, is that place ever dry looking, and smoggy! A couple of hours later, PGT went back to bed to rest up for his expected foray to the BIG Mall to join OCS and engage in the sparring that always took place whenever they were negotiating what she could and could not purchase.

Martha phoned. “Let’s go down to the little wharf and see the state of the river.” Martha is also concerned about the height of our river, and how it might impact on all living in our neighbourhood. She brought some goodies for us to chow down on while we did our inspection, and off we drove.

There was a Scotch Mist kind of rain falling when we arrived at the wharf.  A few people had also gathered there, curious. We picked our way carefully across the wet-slicked railroad tracks onto the wharf and huddled there in our rainjackets.  The river had swallowed the Provincial campground directly across from where we stood, had flown between the trunks of trees there. It rushed by at amazing speed, carrying logs, branches and dangerous-looking snags.  We watched for a long time as a police vessel struggled upstream against the raging current, the only vessel  to be seen on the water. This boat seemed to make very little headway against the power of the current, sometimes it appeared to be going backwards, and we watched its strained progress upstream in the silty yellow-green river.  We stayed, slightly wet, for some time more and gazed at this powerful unconstrained force.

Once back at my house, we roused PGT and dried ourselves while drinking tea. OCS phoned and demanded PGT’s presence at the Mall, and off he went, grumbling and complaining about having to spend another two or three hours wrestling with his wife’s penchant for buying what he calls “useless stuff”. Martha and I debated further whether or not the river would breach its bank on our side. “Call Mark and get an update from him” she demanded.

So, I phoned Mark. He has made his living on the river for the past 25 years, and seemed pretty calm about its current status. He explained that with the tidal in and outflows on the river it rose in the morning hours, and then its levels fell toward the evening.  “I think we will be all right tonight”, he reported.

The Fraser River is a long river and is fed into upcountry by the Skeena, Bulkley, Nass and Thompson Rivers. The Skeena has flooded out some people, and  it is the added volume from these rivers that threatens communities downstream – Prince George, Quesnel, and the farming areas of the lower Fraser Valley: Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Matsqui, Langley and Pitt Meadows.

Today, it is raining here, and yet the immediate danger of flooding has abated, for now.  However, for the next three weeks the flood watch will be maintained.