Monday, June 30, 2008

Ross Carter passed away yesterday.

I first met Ross when he and his wife Lois shared a B&B with us on Gabriola Island in 1998 during the Gulf Islands Celtic Music Festival. He was there with his wife Lois, who plays fiddle. They talked of Bowen over breakfast with us and those conversations were among the many that eventually brought us to this island.

Ross lived here for more than 45 years I think. He served the island as a municipal councillor and our rep to the Greater Vancouver Regional District as well as in the capacity of a patron of the arts, an artist in his own right and a gentle but influential voice for the community. I have two stories of Ross that stay with me, both of which speak to the kind of roots he set down here, and the kind that I have since set down as well.

The first was a couple of years after we moved here. One non-descript fall day, as we were travelling on the ferry, I came across Ross gazing out the window at the view up Howe Sound. "Look at that," he said. "Isn't that something?" I was struck by the fact that he was still taken by our landscape even 40 years after moving here. He never took the beauty of this place for granted, and I often tell that story just to reinforce the incredible luck we have to live in this stunning inlet.

Another time I was working with a group of citizens looking at sustainability and change. There was a lot of handwringing at the time over the huge changes to the island brought about by a lot of new people coming to live here. I was curious about change in perspective, and I asked Ross what the reaction was on Bowen when the first painted lines on the road. He chuckled and said something about people predicting the end of the world.

This island constantly changes, and with each small change we take a step in a different direction. Like Ross and Lois, I am committed to this place, regardless of the changes that come. There is something about staying in it, witnessing it as it were that seems to be an important role to play.

Now seven years after I moved to Bowen and started this blog, we are faced with another small change: the loss of another of our community elders. I will miss his warmth, his quiet reflective voice and his way of seeing this place.

My heart goes out to Lois. We'll have a tune or two for them at the next session.