The Clearing

After that hailbomb we walked up…

I like it. A lot of land has been cleared up here. The exposed soil is a cedar brown. There’s a lot you could do with this big new patch of ground although I can’t think of a single thing right now, mostly because of where this big clearing is. So I presume there will be a reforestation effort across the curve of time. There’s nothing like big wide open spaces and new vistas to make you think.

I like it. It’s always a learning experience. It’s after the battle. The trees are down and gone away, the earth has been churned up and all the woodland creatures have run off. The world up here as it was is ended and it’s new times.

The land has really been ripped up but it’s not anything different from what I’ve seen elsewhere. Vast tracks of ground have gone through the same thing for all kinds of reasons for many moons. I’m not shocked or feverishly wringing my hands and weeping for all the terrible devastation. I like it. It’s different. It’s business.

Impressive towering pyramids of slash have been built up and they’ll make for some cozy barbecues when fire season’s over in the fall. It’s quite an easy “show” really, just rolling lumpy land unlike some of the hairy sidehills I recall, logs tumbling down and bonking off each other like ten ton toothpicks.

That reminds me of something funny. Saturday Creek. The Super was standing on the road looking up the hill and something like what I’ve just described was happening. “What the hell’s going on up there?” He said, looking at me. “You the hooktender here?”

I was green as grass and it was my first morning in camp. Any camp. I was standing on the road a few feet from this guy who’d just pulled up in his pickup. If I was standing around it was because I was waiting for somebody to tell me what to do. There were four sides going at that time and I guess it was hard for Finnerton, his name was, to keep up with who was doing what where. He had a beautiful daughter. I never worked a side as tough as Saturday Creek the rest of my time in the industry.

Please. Please. No more logging stories. A heavy steel swing gate, locked, blocks the entrance to this new logged-off land on this new punched in road off the main drag not far from home. Other people now I hear are using that expression, my expression, “punched in” and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Am I a force for good or just another glib hacker? The gate is solid but could use some paint. What’s left of the original paint is a vomit yellow, frittering away, but it’s a fine, solid gate and it feels good.

One note about woodland creatures. I never saw “Bambi” before. I mean there was “Lady And The Tramp” and “Pinocchio” and “Dumbo” which is probably the greatest movie ever made, not the remake, the original, and “101 Dalmatians”, but I never had the opportunity as a kid, I guess, to see “Bambi”. I always thought Bambi the little deer was a girl. I didn’t, for the life of me, know Bambi was a boy until two nights ago.

Years, friends. Decades. Eons out here in space. The ravages of time. I didn’t know and the realization comes at last. I’ve been taken down by an assumption, long held. It’s like you’ve made up your mind forever and you think you know what this movie is about. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never seen it. As it turns out you don’t have a clue. You feel like a fool but finally you’ve learned. And you feel stronger.

Don’t worry about forgetfulness. I don’t. I want forgetfulness. I do. It helps me relax. I have a lot of complicated things I deal with every day and relaxation is vital. It’s self-interest. And self-interest appeals to everybody. I’ve seen it.

 

They Made A Wasteland

Great to see it’s over, or almost over. I hope so anyway, whatever’s next. I must say I haven’t seen a log truck loaded like that since I left the industry myself. I was on the point of getting all misty-eyed with the memories I was so blown away with such an awesome sight. Cedar, all of it, fine good-sized red cedar logs.

I did a lot of second loading myself, happy and proud to do it dodging around the claim with the loader in our own pickup. Boomer was a master and I thought it strange, in a way, that I’d come this far in little more than a year from a rookie setting beads to second loading for Carl Boomer, city slicker and gentleman amateur that I was.  I must have been good.

We loaded eight trucks one day. Most impressive, The Woods Foreman was content. Boomer could pour you a cup of tea with the grapple on his loader and spill nary a drop he was that good. Always a pleasure working with someone who knows what they’re doing. I wish it happened more often. If you’re still out there somewhere, Carl—Avanti!

It’s 2019.  It’s all good.  I loved being a logger.  It’s a lot of logs later. I don’t know what’s happening in the Alberni Canal and have to say don’t much care. But it was important to me once, it was a job. All of it. I wanted the work. But it’s 2019 and do we still need the wood? What really was of absolute necessity here? Deforestation as an issue hasn’t gone away anywhere.

Human beings are great. They will justify the unjustifiable forever. Why? Pride. As the Tsawout Edler explained not too long ago in the spirit of reconciliation, “We can’t get rid of you and you can’t get rid of us.”  It’s all good.

Someone’s got to do the esplanin around here so there it is. That’s why woodland massacres happen like the one that unfolded out here on the rarely visited, wild and woolly lands to the east on this mysterious island.  Maybe it was the belief that no one would notice.

I couldn’t help it. It was the first thing that came to mind as we motored past that new road off the main drag to the east, way out past the Winter Cove Road junction, mud from the new road splattered all over the pavement.  It certainly looks like a purpose-built road for logging hacked out and built up with one thing in mind.

Uprising

A clearcut by any other name is still a clearcut. And those few lonely, tall deciduous trees left standing in the middle of this big patch of decimated woods are left to represent what? Conservation? Some people have odd senses of humour.

I couldn’t help it. “They made a wasteland and called it peace.” They made a wasteland and called it progress, initiative, getting our own back, it’s ours and we can do what we want with it. But apparently what’s gone on is also, to some, looking a lot like a fiasco, with, you guessed it, unintended consequences. Perfect. I don’t have the details in front of me. Who needs details when you can see for yourself?

I had an affliction once that fortunately I was able to outlive—a weakness for Penguin Classics. I’d buy them at the drugstore when I was supposed to be reading other stuff during my mis-education at university. Tacitus. Agricola. Stand back here it comes.

Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

They made a wasteland and called it peace. I know. My Latin’s a tad rusty too. I don’t concern myself too much with it and you shouldn’t either. Don’t worry about it. Times have changed.

My Latin was as non-existent then as it is now which is why I was reading Tacitus in good old English provided by a couple of fine old English scholars when I should have been reading my psyc textbook which I quite naturally found an agonizing bore. Psyc had the days, Tacitus had the nights.

I liked the Romans, thought they were cool. They got by without a lot of stuff we take for granted today like power saws and log trucks. The use of slaves wasn’t cool but the Romans weren’t without their good qualities. Aqueducts. What’s cooler than that?

And they had some pretty good writers and some pretty lousy emperors. The question remains even now. Why wasn’t I in “Classical Studies” as they were called, at the great university? Because, like so many humans, I’m contrary.

Everything’ll be okay. That’s what Nana always used to say and Nana was always right. Almost always anyway. I can go on making my dubious distinctions and  doubtful, arcane references and the rest of the wood on the ground will be taken away and the future will unfold. Nana was brilliant. Of the making of controversy there is no end, Nana used to say. Eat your porridge. Try it with some Roman ruins. Yum…

Temple of Artemis, Jordan. David Bjorgen/Wikipedia

Pansies courtesy CS Nicol

The Ferry III

Nobody thought there’d be a remake of the remake. Today nobody even remembers the word “remake” it’s so passé. There are no remakes, only series until I don’t know how much more I can stand, even Game of Thrones. I wish I knew what it’s about. It’s not that bad. Mostly I get it. Mostly because I’m not overly interested in what other people are doing, I’m only interested in what I’m doing. So I don’t watch it. Whatever it is.

Those aren’t bad words to live by, as if anybody could live by words when that meaningless expression “words to live by” was invented, much less now. But actually lots of people have lived by words which would have had no connection to whether they believed what they were writing or how they were living or what-not. I’m going with what-not.

The living is occasionally good and more often bad to non-existent. That’s why there’s other jobs. The Ferry III is a job like any other. It’s an all volunteer crew of one. Sometimes that’s all it takes. And I know nothing about the actual work of running the actual ferries, those boat things that float and go on the water. All the cute little BC Ferries. Even the big ones are cute. No one and nothing can help it if they’re attractive.

There’s no way forward in all these multitudes of fantasylands but there is a way forward right here with The Ferry III. Join me and get stranded on Ferry III. Oh, that darned wind.

I wish I’d been on the Queen of New Westminster. I mean for the experience. I’ve never had ferry plans ripped to shreds before my eyes and thrown away in the wind, completely destroyed like they were nothing. They were something to me! So it’d be kind of good for research.

I read the Queen of New Westminster took shelter in “calmer waters near Pender Island” after taking a look at Active Pass and declining the nomination. That has to take extraordinary circumstances because the Queen of New Westminster’s a tough old bird and doesn’t back down easily. I wouldn’t want to be up against it.

The news feed, the only kind I eat, didn’t say if it was North Pender Island or South Pender Island that provided the shelter of calmer waters. Doesn’t matter. North Pender likely unless it was way off course, the ferry that is.

I’ve taken the shelter of calmer waters near Pender Island myself and can’t say for sure today whether it was North Pender Island or South Pender Island and not only have I taken shelter near Pender Island I’ve taken shelter on Pender Island and that was definitely South Pender Island but we did a lot of partying on North Pender Island as well. Just thought I’d throw that in there.

The Queen of New Westminster returned to Swartz. Probably a good idea, better than running out of fuel spending hours idling away, taking shelter near Pender Island. Something like that would really put the pickle in the pot.

But trapped on the ferry! Were babies crying? Babies don’t like taking a lot of crap, especially from ferries. They show their displeasure early and often. I think everything must have been okay though. A cancelled trip is better than dying.

The ferry, for all it does, has an enviable safety record.  Nobody’s died since the  “Queen of the North”.

I missed the excitement on the “Mayne Queen” too. Of course I did. I was nowhere near a ferry last Saturday morning. I’ve never been on that museum piece when it did a u-turn and you’re back on the island you just left because of a weather event. That darned wind. I can only imagine it’s the normal stages: rage, grief, acceptance. Even if it means you have to sleep in the dirt tonight. The ferry can be a great source of wisdom too.

The Ferry II

I knew this’d happen too. I’m back in a line up waiting for a ferry again. Why do I do it? Why does anybody do it? Why? There has to be a reason and it can’t just be the understandable desire to wait in a lineup. There has to be more to it. This week’s column seeks to determine why people keep doing this to themselves.

Let’s start with myself. I like it here. I do, strange as it sounds. And the only way to get here is by sea or air. You can take a boat, get really brave and arrive in a canoe or kayak or you can fly. For that you will need an airplane. It would be possible to parachute into the island. I don’t know if it’s ever been done and undoubtedly there would be some legalities attached to an exploit like that.

“Gran, Gran, sky-soldiers are coming down all over Winter Cove Park! The invasion’s on!”

“Sissy phoned and they’re hitting us at East Point too! Jenna, sweetheart, run and tell Gramps the redcoats are coming! Time to saddle up!”

They never made that movie. It would have been great.

Yeah, it’s not bad here, if you can get here. In small or large doses, it depends on your preference. This island earth. We’re swirling in a vast cosmos, little understood.

For the people who live here full time the issue’s usually more about getting out of here when you need to. When’s it going to happen? I need to know so I can get in line. It’s what islands are like. It’s sort of the definition of “island”. A patch of ground, big or small, water all around deep enough to drown in.

Conversation overheard on the ferry:

“The second leg is non-stop to our island. It’s not really ours, but we think of it as ours. And the hours we’ve spent getting here, and getting away from this darn place. I didn’t mean that. I’m just feeling a little emotional this afternoon.”

“What about the first leg?”

I think the other guy was making a joke.

Because to my eternal credit, right? Me, you, I? It’s like therapy. As soon as you get out of this “darn place” as the gentleman put it, it’s almost as if you can’t wait to get back. I’m always torn. When I’m here I want to be there and when I’m there I want to be here. Everybody carries a healthy dose of neuroses.

Don’t lie to me you know it’s true. The session is concluded. You owe me $500. And then after all the fantasizing’s done what am I stuck with? A ferry. Yuck. Same one I came in on this morning. It’s okay though. Of course it’s okay. In fact it’s wonderful.

I, just as you, am a realist. I believe in fairies. It’s the only way to be when you’re waiting for one. But let’s get back to riding the ferry. Do we still “ride” the ferry. I think I sort of remember doing that. I think pretty much these days it’s “take” the ferry.

“We’re taking the ferry. Don’t try to stop us.”

That would be a good one too. A couple of desperadoes hi-jack the “Mayne Queen”. The queen is affrighted.

Taking the ferry, if practiced, can become fairly routine. But that doesn’t mean don’t be ready for surprises. Fortunately a surprise, at least recently, is quite rare. I hope it stays that way. Nobody’s died.

I had the opportunity to sail on the “Queen of Coquitlam” recently. I was curious when just a few days later it got into a dispute with it’s berth at Langdale and there was some inappropriate contact between the two. That sort of thing must be very difficult for the captain.

The “Island Sky” on my own second leg of a nostalgia-drenched excursion to Lund I thought to be a tight, well run ship. These things just happen and things change, as everyone knows.  It was probably the weather.

We do it, we ferry taking public, because we luv it. Does anybody actually think anybody’d get on a ferry if they had no hope? What if all the ferries suddenly disappeared? We’d be crushed.