Saturday, December 27, 2008

Back in 2002 my friend Avner Haramati and his family were visiting Bowen Island from Israel. He asked me if everyone was always so nice to each other here. Caitlin replied that, no in fact people were sometimes quite angry with each other and that just the day before, a yelling match had broken out in the Cove over some ferry marshaling issue. She offered to go get the newspaper to show him.

"Wait a second," Avner said. "Two people yell at each other and it makes the news?"

Well, yeah. It's a funny place.

We're usually pretty politic to each other around here, and skirmishes between neighbours are sometimes the only news going. At least it's the news you WANT to hear about, which is why gossip is the high speed internet of small towns.

Today, the weather has warmed up and if it hasn't exactly started raining, everything is melting. And then freezing again somewhere else. What was yesterday a fluffy three foot high bank of joy-snow is now an immovable pile of hate-slush. Getting through it is hard and slow and wet work.

This morning I desperately tried to dig the car out in time for Caitlin to make an 11:00 am water taxi to Vancouver. I couldn't get out in time, so Caitlin hitched a ride to the Cove and made it off the island. I continued on and with the help of a friend - thankfully a former pro basketball player and member of the Slovenian national women's team - I got out.

Turns out Caitlin was one of the few to find an escape pod from Fortress Bowen. The ferry isn't running today due to a problem with the ramp on this side - almost certainly to do with the melt-freeze-melt-freeze dynamic that is all the rage. We did finally make it to the Cove and it's a mess there. Cars everywhere, piles of snow all round, people trying to liberate one from the other with small shovels and strong backs. If the last few days was otherworldy and downright magical, today is some kind of shadow version of hell, where everything is frozen and wet, and it's not looking like things will be clearing up any time soon.

All of that perhaps explains why there is much grumpiness and just pure asshole-type A behaviour this morning on our fair and happy Island. For example, the caretaker at Village Square, who I don't know, was going ballistic at people trying to shovel out cars. He screamed something about trying to get the place ploughed, but people kept driving in and parking. I don't know what his problem is this morning, but taking it out on folks who are just trying to do their best is not the way to go. He put a damper on the whole mood around the Ruddy Potato and Phoenix. In general, mean people suck, but mean people yelling at random strangers for no reason takes you from "mean" to "prick" in an instant.

So we transacted some basic business in the Cove and climbed back in our car to head home. Not sure whether I would be able to get back in my driveway, I parked on Miller Road with my hazards flashing and took a run at shovelling out the bottom of the driveway so I could get the car off the road.

Now don't get me wrong, I have nearly unending admiration for the job our plowmen have been doing the past two weeks. But I discovered the end of my admiration this morning. As I am gamely trying to hack away at the foot of frozen slush that the plow left, who comes barrelling down the hill but the plowman himself, resplendent in his big yellow truck with gaily flashing light atop. He leans on his horn, swerves around my car heads straight at me and coats me from waist to boot in ice mush. Nice. Merry fucking Christmas to you too.

So if you are on Bowen, stay home. If you are not on Bowen don't come here today, unless you are coming over to hang out with the Manns at Seven Hills B&B. The island has awoken from a lovely week of indulging itself in winter, and the hangover isn't pleasant. We're not at our best, so please move along and come back later, when the snow is gone and the rainforest is awash in new year's light as the fog hangs in tendrils on the douglas-fir canopy of our peaceful Island home.