Walking along the quiet shore here in Gibsons it’s hard to believe that in Alberta 800 square kilometers are burning, displacing over 4000 people and it’s only May. That’s about 16 times the size of Bowen Island or 2½ times the size of Texada Island. It’s going to be a hot summer, bad for forest fires, good for breweries.
Everybody and their dog heard by now about the BC governments report on money laundering. I asked my friend Camp about it but he seemed to be a tad distracted because he looked out at the harbour for a moment before he sat down at our usual table on the still sunny veranda, just steps away from the pebble beach.
It has been a stellar week as far as the weather goes. Not a drop of rain and balmy warm days. It stays light until 9 o’clock and all the flowers and birds are in full spring mode. I rejoice and luxuriate in my good fortune. I’m doing all right but is the rest of the world doing fine? My friend Camp, who is much more cynical than I, doesn’t think so. He believes we’re doomed to failure because we’re too successful as a species and instead of living in harmony with nature we are abusing nature’s finite resources through over consumption and thereby putting us all in peril.
Camp is back and looking relaxed and he had some extra zip in his step. ‘How was the road trip?’ I asked, as he sat down.
‘Fantastic country,’ Camp said, ‘this province is such an awesome place. We went from an urban environment into rugged park land, then across the Okanagan desert up into pine forests, along the pristine Kootenay lakes and rivers, rimmed by snow capped mountains. Most importantly we had time to talk.’
‘Sounds wonderful,’ I said. ‘Better then yoga and beer. Well I’m for one am glad you’re back. As you know the world kept turning in your absence.’
Camp is away with Muriel this week on a road trip to the interior. I’ve volunteered to shop-sit the bookstore for him, since after Easter it’s a pretty slow time of year. I actually enjoy it and get to chat to all kinds of interesting customers. And I get to sit and read for hours while at the same time feeling useful and engaged. Not such a bad life. The bills and ads I just file away for Camp to deal with.
Despite the persistent rain I walked by the Granthams Wharf today and marvelled at how efficiently and quickly our small community was able to rally and get it fixed and even improved. Donations of money, time, materials, music and art made the swift reconstruction possible. A true testament to our community spirit. The pier was practically destroyed in a perfect combination of high tides and gale force winds, which washed tons of driftwood off the beaches and drove the watery logs into our wooden jetty. Disasters unite people, goes the saying. Just look at Paris and France and how the nation and its people, indeed the world, came together as one community, mourning the fiery devastation of Notre Dame Cathedral. Within one day enough donations were pledged to rebuild it. I vowed to raise a glass with Campbell in honour of community spirit. Also I had an interesting topic for tonight’s discussion, sure to raise an eyebrow or two.
When I arrived at ‘the pub for our weekly peeve session over a couple of pints, Campbell or Camp for as long as I know him, was scribbling away in his Moleskin note book while checking back to his phone, obviously doing some Google-research.
‘What’s up Camp, checking your investments?’ I asked, knowing full well that all his eggs were in one basket, his ‘non-profit’ bookstore.
‘Yeah, I wish. I’ve read a book ‘How Democracies Die’ by two Harvard professors and it’s got me worried.’
‘Never mind world politics,’ Camp said to me, holding up a hand to stop me from even thinking about anything outside of our small peninsula community. ‘I don’t want to hear about the Brexit fiasco or Trump closing the Mexican border after he cut foreign aid to Central America and we can’t do anything about the whole of China acting like one big company or the rise of fascism throughout the world. But we have plenty of local issues which divide and engage people, we have our own politicians whose motives and allegiances are questionable and once in power toss former convictions out the window and we also have misinformation and differing opinions on every conceivable subject, public and personal, right here at home.’
‘What do think about the ferry ploughing into the dock last Tuesday,’ I asked my friend Camp who was no friend of the ferry system. He has over the years bitched about many unpleasant incidents with the ferry as most of us coasters have. Like constant delays, the ongoing game of chicken trying to wiggle and slalom into the left lane from the parking lot across three lanes of oncoming traffic or being cut off at the ticket booth while the boat was still loading.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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
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.