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.


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

Money Road

Welcome to Siberica. You’re gonna love it here.

Sounds like a book of financial advice. Personal finance some call it. I’ve read “Millionaire Down the Road” but only because a guy I know wrote it. I’ve never seen “Money Road” the book. It may well already be out there somewhere. Doesn’t matter. I’m not interested. I’ve got all the financial advice I need. “Pay yourself first,” they always say, but there’s never any information on what you do if you can’t afford that, like, financially it’s just not possible? This world’s pretty expensive. But there’s no end to the possibilities in a name like “Money”. So we need to be on the money here.

I never read “The Wealthy Barber” or “The Motley Fool” or “Money Is My Friend”. Money books are a dime a dozen and you can take that to the bank. “Valuation: Measuring and Managing the Value of Companies” by Copeland et al. had potential. A standard work across generations of businesses looking for information. I avoid anything “standard” most of all. That’s just me though.

I remember Money Road and I remember the Money family. Kind people and good writers. They’ve accomplished a bunch of other excellent stuff but that’s not why I’m here today. I don’t now why I’m here today and that goes for every other day but now we’re veering into philosophy and religion which is a definite no-no. Sometimes you just have to walk it back.

Parents still say that to their small children, right? Some parents? I guess it’s how you’re raised. “No-no, don’t put your finger in the socket. You’ll get an ow-wee.”  Zzzt!  “It’s okay, darling. Don’t cry.”  You can’t tell anybody anything and it starts with kids.  No one’s listening.  That’s how it looks a lot of the time.

See how tough it is what I’m trying to do here? Something you’d never tell your infant is, “Stay on message.” Especially when they start to talk. Maybe if you’re just joking around you can get away with it. Act like you’re serious and a child just laughs at you. There’s more to this and we can get into it later but I’ve got work to do.

It must be weird to have a road or anything in the public realm named after you, that is, after a forebear in your family. There it is and there you are, the Money family member, turning the corner onto it, onto Money Road. I guess you get used to it pretty quick. What else are you doing to do if you live around here and the road is, like, just along the road or whatever? You can’t help it if your name is famous. Quite likely there’s nothing you’d want to do except just drive on it if you have to like anybody else.  You may have never given it much thought. No issue.  It’s only someone like me who thinks about this stuff.  I’ve got all day and not everybody does.

I have a friend whose forebear’s surname was the same as his, Dinsmore, and that forebear had a bridge named after him in Richmond BC. It never seemed to affect his ancestor, my friend, too much. It’s something to take pretty much in stride, I imagine. My friend is already a little weird himself of course. Who’s isn’t? If you’re friend isn’t a bit weird it’s almost like it’s too bad because it’s good to have weird friends. Non-weird ones are just fine too.

I know of a Brown Road and I’m sure there’s more than one across the world but no matter how many there might be none of them have anything to do with me or my forebears. Be careful in the woods. Don’t let a forebear get you. So for the sake of this argument I’m out. It’s of no consequence.

It’s terrible but they assigned a number to the Brown Road I’m familiar with and it must have been in the pure minds of the interested bureaucrats to try and homogenize everything in the name of progress, and development, by dropping the old, time-honoured names of not only Brown Road but every other road in this one particular entire rural or semi-rural area.

Turned into a number. Thanks a lot. How romantic. I’m a number now. We’re just numbers, fellow roads. History-less. Story-less. When you hear your number, Brown Road, just get up and step forward to disappear. All there is to it. In my view this is something to be guarded against.

If there’s ever a faction anywhere around here desirous of switching out the name of Money Road or any other road for a number I’ll pay a thousand dollars for an extra spanking courtesy of me. Some things are just wrong. Wouldn’t it be horrible if nobody cared?

I love that curvaceous swing in Money Road. You can rear down in your gigantic vehicle past the store there and swing that hard left or coming up from the other end it doesn’t matter. This road’s got sass. It’s a nice road. Stable. Predictable. It doesn’t change much and is far from being some long, lonesome highway you just wish would end because how much further is it?

Sunset clause. I remember when a cliché like that was bandied about quite a bit. If the deal don’t work out this whole money thing’s got a “Sunset Clause” meaning good-night. It’s over. It’s been long enough and us and yous is done.

First Nations Logging Show

Was it predictable?  Human beings involved  =  a shambles?  Hein? Blockades.  Injunctions.  Division, acrimomy, obfuscation, spin?  ill-informed non-participants who don’t know where the island is and couldn’t find it on a map without a clue as to what’s really happening shooting their mouths off? Of course!  Welcome to the show!  Experts all!  Take a seat at the table and I’ll put the coffee on.  Have a piece of wood.  Help yourself.  Real tasty.  Fresh!

Scilla – Siberian Squill courtesy CS Nicol

Gaines Road

I didn’t want this. To come up here because I’m supposed to write about it now. I did Gaines Road. I thought I was done. There’s nothing here. It’s just a road, a short road heralded by a sign post. Next they’ll be wanting me to write about Money Road. That’ll be the day. And soon. I often wonder why there’s no “Crooks Road” because I thought it was “Crooks Gaines Money”. What happened to that?

“Crooks Road. What do you know about it?”

“Nothing. Same as you.”

“We need answers now. Who were you up there with?”

“Up where?”

I shouldn’t say that. My mother-in-law was in the car too when we drove in that day. You want to see a lot of nothing in anticipation of you don’t know what? Take that journey. Bear dens. Winter bonfires. Safety crew. That may be today, but none of that was happening then. Just the three of us. Security in numbers. But what we didn’t know is there’s no security in numbers. That was the movie we watched the night before at camp but now we were facing reality. I hate reality. Ving Rhames was in it.

It’s not important now. It’s in the cloud. I didn’t need the actual LP so to the free store with it. I knew somebody’d give it a home. It depends what you’re looking for but if you’re looking for gold, even if it’s fool’s gold, you never know what you’re going to find down there and everyone’s different. It’s good thing.

My inner voice is talking to my imaginary friend. Settle down. We’re in this together.  We have to do this. It’s important. Gaines Road lit up the board this morning. We always check the board over coffee and pancakes or bacon and eggs to see what’s going on. I always enjoyed hash browns in camp at breakfast too but nobody else’s into it these days so they’ve fallen off. Too bad. What’s the big board got for us today?

So I knew I’d be coming up here. Plus I was drawn here. I know it sounds like a contradiction but it came to me in a dream the night before. I could feel “Gaines Road”. It was like a living thing and we were touching each other gently, trying to understand each other as if we were both blind.

It was weird. We were both things. We knew we were alive, we existed, but we weren’t like you and me. We were entities of some sort. We were different and we could tell  we both liked things that were different. I remember feeling almost hypnotized with excitement but I was okay to drive.

But now I’m driving in by myself because it’s another day and my mother-in-law’s in a nursing home. Why she went and did a thing like that I have no idea. It was time, I guess.  That’s what everyone says. Time is a killer.

It’s her daughter I’m concerned about. She’s wandered off again. It’s a game we play. And I’m supposed to find her and maybe Gaines Road is the place for this heartfelt reunion. I hope so. There’s nothing else to do. We’re stuck here.  I shouldn’t say that either especially when it isn’t true, but that’s the way I am sometimes.  A pain.

I’d rather burn down the cabin than the house, but that’s me.  Tear it all down what’s the use?  I’m in a reckless mood. How would she like that, eh? I’ll relieve you of those flowers now, Grandma. You’re out. We make the decisions now. Welcome to double-cross island.

I was thinking about some of this stuff and I’m driving up Gaines Road. Aging and everything. The kindest person I ever knew. Otherwise I’m without a care in the world. It feels good. And not a whole lot has changed. And there’s nobody here. Surprise surprise. It’s not really a dead end. It’s more a no more to explore thing, the work of a few seconds. Blink and you’ll miss it.

Thomson Park III

It’s a state of mind when you get to the third in the series and at the start you didn’t even know it was going to be a series.  Is this one any good? Does it suck?  Is there too much animation, cardboard plots and bad acting? What is it?  As a professional critic we get paid to get out to things otherwise we might not go.  We might do something else. But this one is pretty good.  It’s right up there with the others.

Thomson Park III is a hit!  Get down!  Get down there and get all over it!

By the strangest coincidence, the most bizarre concatenation of events all too common when you get right down to it, there’s an article in the current Saturna Scribbler about this selfsame patch of ground Thomson Park. Just when I’ve got another movie coming out.  That’s great.  Syncronicity is still out there.  I believe.

There it is in the distance, the “Thomson Park shelter structure” which needs to be improved, apparently, “so it better reflects the historic, social and even spiritual values of this place.”

I just wonder what that can possibly actually mean?  It’s looking like a bomb-proof heavy steel pavilion structure on a concrete pad with a bunch of big, solid picnic-type tables under a pyramidal green metal roof.  With barbecue. There’s no improving on that. But we understand that it’s all volunteer. That’s what we’re doing ourselves.

Thomson Park is a “site” apparently.  It has a “spacial configuration” and a “functionality over time” and a “broader context in which it played a role”.

I must pause to ask the author of the article what is meant by “deep history”?  Is there “shallow history”?  Is there “not too deep history”? There’s one kind of history.  But that’s enough of this.

Wild speculation that the population of the region may have been “one million” just sounds like bunk.  I’m sorry.  And on to the concept of “settler”.  I’ve seen this before.  This was invented, this idea of “settler” or “settler communities” by one person, somewhere, somehow, in a dark, bureaucratic hole of bureaucratic bs.

There is no “settler” and no “recent settler community” and never was. There are no “settlers” around here and never were.  It’s an academic invention with an agenda and time it was exposed.  It’s heartbreaking.

We need first of all better writing about “Thomson Park” and what it is and what it was before it was “Thomson Park”.  You can’t have lousy writing talking about a special place. It diminishes.  Everything is turned into highly unsanitary mush.  Let’s get with it.  My opinion.

That isn’t what we’re talking about here.

First Nations Logging Show III

Oh deer, what is happening to my habitat?  Make them stop, mother.

We left Bob Stanley in good shape at the foot of Fiddler Rd.  We said “hi” again and told him we had to head back to civilization.  Everybody laughs at that joke and Bob was no exception.  Practically overnight he’d become like a diplomat and a diplomat trying to stay warm standing around all day in this beautiful cool, clear skies week.

He’d had to interact with all sorts of wonderful people with different, wonderful opinions on what was going on here and he was getting through it.  He was okay. He seemed to be a man of many moods, all of them good and the feeling emerged he’d been exactly the man for the job. Good on him and good on good old Campbell River where Bob’s from. Woo woo!

Valley Drive

How can you just go driving past the enticingly named “Valley Drive”. It’s easy. I’ve done it and anybody can. Many times. Secretly I wish I knew what valley we’re talking about. This one? I’m in a valley here? It’s not a big one like the Fraser or Shenandoah. I’d use an iron off the tee.

I haven’t played a lot lately so how about a four iron? You can’t see the green from the tee but it can’t be far away from the look of things, so it’s one of those valleys. I played Thompson Park and it was like that. But what really happened is Thompson Park played me.

The Park’s a tough course and this wasn’t looking any easier. After everything that had been going in my life I didn’t want anything like the Park happening to me again. I was shriven. It was six over. Disgrace. How would I face my critics this time?

I can’t bring my car down here. I feel like an intruder. I left it in a ditch opposite Sunset Boulevard. I don’t know what happened. It just drove itself in there. I’m not much on autonomous vehicles. Their time, which seemed barely begun, is already winding down. My opinion. Worry about it later.

Maybe Derm can dig it out, the mythical mechanic, if such a man actually exists and can be found, which, in the past, has proved impossible. I mean we tried. We tried to find the brother but he just wasn’t around. And after a while it didn’t look like he was going to be around. We had to get to the store or die. Great looking garage.

He could probably do something with that chain of his. The man is legend. And the heritage moment would be worth it, like finally coming up with something instead of the usual nothing. Or what seems like nothing until you think about it.. So I’m wandering down looking for answers. I need them today. If I don’t get some answers I don’t know what I’m going to do. I need something to hang onto here.

Frankly, and I don’t know how people feel about this, it looked to me like Valley Dr was more like a trail. Wagon cart yes. Driving the drive for a nice excursion roaming round the valley and taking in the views on a fine day in your shiny new “Fiesta” no. No no no. One car is too many, as the old man said, and a thousand aren’t enough. I always hoped he’d stop saying silly things like that but he never listened. I hated it. Wait a minute.

We’re getting off topic. Valley. Drive. We’re on the Drive here and look at all the grass. I guess part of my thing is how things used to be and all of the influences across the span of my life and how things are now. Let me displain that for you. This way to your table.

Things change. Can you imagine if everything always stayed the same? Chaos. It comes as a great relief to me that there isn’t a soul in this valley, such as it is. It’s lazy of me but I like it this way because it’s less complicated. I think it was Alice Munro who spoke of, “the pain of human contact.”

I hear something. I’m on a fool’s errand. No. That rustling sound through the long grass. What is it? A friendly dog! Merciful hounds! What is going on here with this magnificent hairy, tail-wagging beast? What is this?

It’s like a brick of burning rainbow. The radiant beast I seek.  It’s just ahead. The apotheosis of cliché. What’s up with that hound? I imagined he was leading me on but he’s disappeared back into the grass. I never thought it’d be like this. If I can get through this I can get through anything. Onward.

Lipstick Lichen Courtesy CS Nicol