Salal Road

It’s just weird that anybody thinks they can get away with this. But it couldn’t have been just one person. It took a whole lot of genius brains to put this act together. This is the shortest road in history. And they call this a road? What’s next around here?

I didn’t know I’d lost my mind because I’m so old but I read the story at the Postmedia site starring the so-called Vancouver Sun newspaper. There’s nothing bright about the Vancouver Sun to light up your day. Darkness blots out the sky, but that’s not what I’m talking about. And that’s not my whole opinion. Postmedia through senility or whatever still employs a few good writers. Despite itself.

It’s about according to the experts my brain disappeared a while ago. And I did my best work in my twenties. How I profoundly wish that had been the case because I did no work in my twenties. I lazed around enjoying my twenties and work intruded hardly at all. If I’d worked harder I’d be even more famous today than I already am. I just didn’t need it. My opinion.

I’m not sure what I’m driving at but it makes about as much sense as Salal Road. There isn’t even any salal on it. I don’t see any salal anywhere around here and I’m a pretty good salal spotter. I’ve been around. I even know what it is. It’s green.

It’s alive, unlike my brain apparently. By my forties I’d already tailed off significantly, according to the experts and their expert study. Now it’s really over. If you read it’s true it must be true. It’s just that nobody wants to admit it.

Why at that time didn’t I wonder more why I still walk the earth at all? Why didn’t it occur to me then that it’s over for me, I need to die. Because, they’re right. I don’t remember losing my mind which, according to them again, just proves what they’re saying. I lost it a long time ago. I’m glad I know about this now. It’s about time because I’ve been thinking, even now, with the advancing years, that I’m such a smart person. So brave. Pretty incredible.

That’s how hard the truth hurts. My “cohort”, the most recent stupid concept of what group I supposedly belong to, my legion of doomed legionnaires, my generation except I don’t have a generation and never strived for or wanted to be part of anything resembling anything called “generation”, it sounds so dirty, makes me wonder why we many, we who apparently are so many, in our elderliness and confusion in still being here after forty, if that was really the case and we knew we were finished, then obviously we’ve sucked it up because we function yet. We’re getting used to it and we’re not forty anymore. We timed the market. The way I have to about Salal Road.

We walked away with the picture, upstaged everybody and left town at midnight. I wouldn’t change a thing even if I didn’t have a brain, which, and now I agree with the experts, was in retrospect pretty much the case. But I was brains enough to survive and I’ll get through this news too, that my brain died a long time ago. I’m okay with it.

The days get shorter and you get longer. That’s the bit of wizardy and wisdom communicating itself to me now at Salal Road. I won’t say on Salal Road because from everything I’ve seen we’re down to a pretty much sort of private short driveway here. I need to know more about this sign. Forgive us our press passes but what is your name, please? I said to the cop on the phone, “I’m not walking past the door. I’ll come down Alder.”

The road sign. The highway to nowhere and that’s what I kind of like about it after all. Perforated steel post and a ten by six inch or so or whatever in metric metal sign, ivory white background behind block capital letters in black. Same old. Beautiful. Walking back everything is great. My mind is a basketball and I’m bouncing it around on the road and doing a little dribbling. It feels good.

Last in a series

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.


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.