At least it’s light now when I walk along the shore to our weekly chin-wag, I stopped by our storm damaged wharf which is getting fixed, thanks to a strong local community which came forward with cash, art and music. In fact there is a ‘Raise the Wharf’ fundraiser on Saturday, 16th March at the Gibsons Public Market.
“We live in a fantastic and immediate world,” I said to Campbell, Camp as we all know him, when I saw him fold the newspaper he was reading.
“Yes, it is so instant that today’s headline has a half-life of 24 hours before it decays into opinions and then further into non-sequiturs,” Camp said.
I saw her the first time at Cuddy’s rum shop on the corner of Mainstreet. She wore a red and yellow plaid dress, a Redsox ball cap and large, golden hoop earrings. Her shoulder length hair was frizzy and stiff and twisted into dreadlocks. On her feet she wore plastic sandals that had seen better days. Her hands were like roots and her face was like Sonny Liston after his fight against Cassius Clay, with amber teeth and a flat nose. Her charcoal eyes looked into the distance and her head nodded to the incessant beat of the jab-jab trucks rolling slowly up and down Mainstreet, followed by gyrating partiers dressed in colourful carnival costumes.
It’s been another wintry week but today the sun broke through, the air is cold and crisp and the blue sky looks freshly washed and clear. The days are getting longer and I can feel spring just around the corner. Camp, my cohort and weekly sparring partner over a couple of pints, was already in place at our usual table. Obviously business was slow at the bookstore.
“Did you know that Insects are dying at a catastrophically and unprecedented rate,” he said as soon as I sat down.
We often can be found liming – that’s lounging in Caribbean speak – at Mama Joy’s beachside restaurant and bar on Paradise beach. Her establishment is a simple, open-air, planked platform with brightly coloured railings, covered by a corrugated tin roof. It features a wooden bar at one end, shuttered for the night, and a simple kitchen off to the side. It seats about 20 people on an odd collection of chairs and tables. The turquoise water laps the white beach just steps away where a couple of brightly coloured local boats are always bobbing on the gentle swell. It’s called Paradise Beach because that is what it is. We meet there to play cards, drink beer or rum punches and just hang out.
“How was your holiday? Bring any sunshine back? Any good stories?” Camp asked when I sat down.
“Here is some sunshine in a bottle,” I said, handing over a bottle of Rum. “Cheaper than wine. And yes there were a few interesting stories. Looks like old man Winter came by for a visit here.”
We spent some time on an island paradise where the most precious commodity is water and during the dry season – half the year – the most common fear is running out. The island has a desalination plant but when the government sponsored piping project failed within six months — because somebody tried to save some money by downsizing the pipe – the plant now sells and delivers water only by truck. The big houses have big cisterns, the small houses have small cisterns, mostly just black plastic tanks and they are the first to run dry. Of course the poorest people live in the smallest shacks and they don’t have money to buy water. Also the desalinated water still tastes salty and is no good to drink. And sometimes the water delivery guy is not available or off island or just doesn’t pick up the phone. People every year have to borrow and beg water from their neighbours or public places.
It was a wintry walk along the shore, cold and monochromatic. I spotted a couple of seals cavorting and despite the sub-zero temperature I thought once again how lucky we are to live on the Pacific west-coast , on the edge of the rain forest. The winter so far had been mild, except for the Nordic blast the past few days, which pales in comparison to the deep freeze back east and the mid-west. Minus 40 degrees is just no temperature for any living thing and neither is +40 degrees on the other side of the world where roads are melting and animals and people are dying in the furnace of Australia.
“In an interview, Karin Kneissl, Austria’s Foreign Minister, said that the horizon is full of black swans, portents of trouble and the nascent west-east split in the EU is much more troubling then Brexit,” I quoted, as I sat down with Camp who arrived at our watering hole at exactly the same time as I.
Campbell or Camp to everybody, was already seated at our usual table, reading something on his smart phone which he quickly pocketed as soon he spotted me. We have long ago agreed that phone or screen devices do not drink or talk of their own accord and are therefore not invited to our Thirsty Thursday chin wag over a couple of pints.
I’ve just read an article in my Swiss paper that I was eager to discuss with my cohort and lost no time while the subject was still fresh in my mind.
Havana is a ruinous city, like an old prostitute covered in too much makeup to hide the pain and suffering, but yet resilient and full of life. The crumbling facades of the wedding cake villas and opulent palaces of the former sugar barons and casino moguls, of the corrupt regimes before the revolution, bear witness to the ravages of time, decay and lack of money. Sixty years of neglect, coupled with numerous hurricanes and the salty fecundity of the climate is not a recipe for a well functioning infrastructure.
It’s been a mild winter so far here in Gibsons; no snow, no freeze ups, no icy roads. Mind you, winter isn’t over yet but so far so good, as the saying goes. The days are getting longer, about two minutes per day which translates into an hour per month. Our small town is pretty well shuttered and most of the xmas decorations are coming down to be stashed for another year. I leave our gable lights up for the whole year and just unplug them.
Clare and I have been on an unusual holiday to Cuba
The holidays are over, the Christmas trees are tossed aside; some still with a forlorn strand of tinsel tangled up their spent and brown branches. The relatives have left; the empty bottles have been recycled, the Visa bill has arrived. It’s called the January blues but I feel relived and content to get on with the day without the pressure of presents that nobody needs, the overabundance of food and drink, the cards unrequited and the lugubrious outpourings by the politicians and pundits. I’m glad it’s back to normal and was looking forward to my weekly chat with my friend Campbell, or Camp as I’ve always known him.
As I walked by our storm ravaged wharf in Granthams. I could not avoid the fact that in over a hundred years this was the first time this dock, jutting out into the waters of Howe Sound, had taken such a beating. There were storms before, high tides and driftwood logs jamming up against the dock but never had it been battered and damaged in such a fashion. Was this part of the rising sea levels, or just a combinations of a high winter tides, fierce winds and a lot of driftwood swept loose? Yes, our dock is a disaster but it can be fixed and it’s damage pales against the Anak Krakatau eruption in the Sunda Straight, that caused a tsunami to crash into the coast on the islands of Sumatra and Java killing scores of unsuspecting people, including members of a rock band and their audience at a beach concert. I felt suddenly grateful for the rain and wind here and I had other things on my mind that I wanted to talk to about with my friend Campbell – Camp as we all call him. Continue reading
Two young lovers are forced apart by their different social strata and years later find themselves on opposite sides of a proposed nuclear plant near a pueblo in central Mexico. He forms an activist group while she is a reporter for a conservative newspaper. It’s a fight for a way of life and the environment against the insatiable need for power.
I walked along the stormy shore watching in awe as the high winter tide was hurling big driftwood logs against the beach like sticks in a pond. This unleashed force of nature was a serious reminder of how tenuous our existence is in this world. Such were my thoughts as I walked towards our watering hole. I made a pledge that today I would only discuss good news with my friend Campbell, Camp to all who knew him. For this one time I promised myself that I would not gripe, bitch, complain or otherwise vent my frustration at the unhinged world of Trump or the chaos of Brexit woes or the looming civil war in Hungary. No, for this one occasion before Christmas, I would only confine my weekly chat with Camp to positive themes and events. Let joy and happiness rule supreme.
“Happiness is for pigs and wishes are for children,” Trevor announced to all and sundry. His deep baritone cut like a foghorn through the smoke and noise at Oliver’s Pub, which is located just across from Holly’s Beach and right around the corner from our bookstore. It’s a pleasant place to conclude a day’s work over a pint or two.
“That’s not true,” said the pretty young woman who was standing at the bar, beside where Trevor straddled his favourite barstool. “Happiness is there for everybody and wishes can come true,” she declared with conviction. “Isn’t that right, Jack?”
“Did you hear that the new Mexican president, Lopez Obrador, put the presidential plane, a Boeing Dreamliner, up for sale and prefers to travel like everybody else, by commercial, scheduled flights,” I asked Camp after Rosie set down our first pint.
“ I just hope he stays alive, driving his own Jetta to work, sometimes with his wife and just one security guy,” Camp said, obviously aware of the changes.
It’s been a glorious week of sunny December weather, cold and bright and the reflection of the sun is sparkling off the waters of Howe Sound. The tops of the mountains are frosted and the only sounds are the screeching of the gulls and the crunch of the gravel under my feet. I hold on to moments like this but I know there is trouble in this vale of tears and laughter and my friend Campbell, Camp to all of us, didn’t disappoint.
“Black Friday, Cyber Monday, national shopping holidays next?” I said to Campbell as I sat down, shaking the rain from my hat.
“I take it shopping is not your happy place.”
“I know you run a bookstore Camp and you rely on people shopping for books but what kind of a world is this relentless consumer driven existence. We shop until we drop goes the clichée and unless we participate we perish,” I lamented.