Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's all about the traffic today.

The summer season is beginning. With the weather projected to be beautiful this weekend, it seems as if everyone on the continent is coming over to Bowen. The ferry had a huge overload last night, and it seems a little early to start to avoid the Friday afternoon runs, but there you are. Ever proud of my fellow islanders, there was some beefing about how early summer seems to have started, but it was all taken in stride. Seems a lot of people just called ahead to Tuscany and ordered a pizza.

You cannot live on this island with sanity and not grow to appreciate ferry overloads and delays. I actually love them now. There is nothing else to do when you are stuck in one. Fuming at BC Ferries is futile and anyway, you can't blame them if thousands of people choose to take the same boat as you and you show up after it overloads. If we're stuck together in an overload, please don't come to me with tongue clicking and veins popping out of your face. Come shrug your shoulders and we'll share a laugh instead. The best strategy is always to appreciate the delay, take a book or some good music and chill out or visit friends and neighbours. Perhaps the Friday regulars will resume the occasional practice of carrying a bottle or two of wine and some glasses to share with fellow strandees. There is nothing more fun than a friend walking up to your car and splitting a beer with you in the shed in Horseshoe Bay while you wait an hour for the next boat. An hour is also the perfect amount of time to head over to the Troller for a pint of Guinness. Foot passengers only of course!

And also on the traffic note, the gas station has closed I think now for good. This situation has been going on for 18 months now and the landlord finally terminated the lease. There is a nicely clearcut piece of land by the entrance to Artisan Square that was intended for the gas station relocation but something fishy has stopped that whole process. Wish we could have those tress back. Someone should at least let the kids get started on a skaetboard park down there.

Anyway, the owner got what he wanted, which was some allowances to build a little inn at Artisan Square sans fuel pump and the rest of us are stuck without gas which is a huge pain in the ass now that it has finally come to fruition. It's made worse by that fact that, rushing to make the ferry overload, we neglected to fill up tonight and so we have fumes for the weekend, or another trip to town. Can't blame the principals in the dispute for that, but it doesn't seem very community minded all round that they guy with the land is holding up a relocation of the gas station. It would be a sour irony if he ran out of fuel or if the builders working on his project suddenly got stranded. Not that I would wish that on anyone...

The lesson here, especially for newcomers or those of you thinking about moving over here: living on an island is never going to be tailor-made for convienience. So come on over and join the chorus of those of us who learn to cheer ferry mishaps, power outages, cougar sightings, gas station closures and fine arts performances held in gyms. Contribute to the positive vibe of being dependant on many, many outside forces and help make things better anyway. Always look on the bright side of life: it makes it easier for everyone.

And anyway, the first time you sight a killer whale off Tunstall Bay, you'll forget everything you thought you should be mad at.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The salmonberries are loaded with blossoms and the huckleberries look loaded as well. It appears as if a good berry spring is in the offing, similar to last year's. Last year the thimble berries didn't fare as well, so we'll keep an eye on them.

With this new life springing out, comes news of the death of Gordie Begg, the appliance man. As only a small community can, he is being remembered with lovely stories of his service, kindness and humour at Bowen Online. Gord was all that and more. The flag at the Cenotaph is at half-mast as he was an active Legion member and volunteer fire fighter. But he was mostly a big warm guy who, as some have said, did well with dogs and small children watching him work. My kids always peppered him with questions when he came by to fix our stuff and he let them hang out with him and watch and never shooed them away or said an unkind word. That is a lovely legacy to leave in the world.


Friday, April 7, 2006

The weather has been balmy all week. Cherry blossoms are appearing in obscene densities. I have been travelling into Vancouver everyday and each trip I gaze up Howe Sound at the snow rimmed mountains and the calm blue sea and ask folks: "Do we REALLY live here?"

Breathless headnodding is the usual response.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Yes has been quiet around here. But the only reason I haven't written about Bowen is that I haven't really been here.

In fact, since I hit the road for an extended series of engagements around March 14, there has been a major change in the Cove. The Oven Door Bakery burned to the ground, nearly taking Docs and The Boss with it. In fact, if it hadn't been for the firewall between the buildings, there would have been a five alarm block fire in the village.

The cause of the fire was electrical but more information isn't going to help the community salve the loss of this institution. It was one of the oldest businesses on the island, having run 25 years and was the de facto labour hall around here too, where folks met in the early morning to get set for a day of building, logging, hauling and chucking. It seemed like the place was populated in the morning by folks who did the good work of lifting, hammering, binding and cutting, while those of us who talk, type, manage and write for a living get our morning joe at The Snug.

But it was more than that...long time islanders had a religious loyalty to the bread and baked goods there, and the place boasted a few specialties like the world famous Bowen Bar, and the pizza slices, which were soul food.

All that is left of the bustling little business is a hole in the ground half filled with glass and charred wood. It'll be missed.

And in other news, tonight I sang for Council. Seems that these days our local council begins its regular meetings with a song from an island artist. This week it was my turn and I offered a song about Cape Roger Curtis and the challenge of leading in uncertain times. It was a funny room to play, with folks who were there to hear about council's three year strategic plan politely applauding before turning their attention to "the real business at hand"

But, cyncisim aside, I'm going to stick to my feeling that this kind of thing is actually important. In a room covered with gant charts, binders of assessment information, power point presentations and maps, admitting a moment or two of poetry and melody into the proceedings can have no bad impact, and hopefully our warbling at the beginning of these proceedings can at least have the effect of reminding folks about the deep connections we all have to the beauty and spirit of this place, before they channel their passions into receiving the transportation committe report and approving the Snug Cove plan implementation process.