Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Out in the wide wide world, Bowen Islanders excel at many things. Until today, I had no idea that one of the world's best trap shooters lives here. Today Cynthia Meyer won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in singles trap shooting, which adds to the silver and the bronze she won with her partner Susan Nattrass of Edmonton. A complete set.

Monday, July 29, 2002

This summer weather and the new pastime of going to the beach at every chance is creating a strange feeling for me. Tonight we ate dinner at the dining room table for the first time in about a week and a half. We have been eating on the deck or at the beach for what seems like a long time. Finn won't go into his high chair now. I think he's forgotten what it is.

And the sleeping outside thing is also contributing to the strange feeling.

So what is this feeling? Well, it's about being a little bit ungrounded but in a good way. I feel like the past few months have said" live in the moment" very strongly, and with all there is to do and appreciate on Bowen - and much of it unscheduled- this is the correct attitude for the summer. Winter requires so much more planning and consideration. You don't want to be too spontaneous or you'll get soaking wet. In the summer, everyone seems to let their schedules go. Sometimes the phone rings and we're off to the beach with friends at the drop of a hat. Or sometimes we just go on our own and run into people there.

I don't remember ever feeling like this in the city, even before we had kids. In the city there is so much to do and see and it all STARTS at a certain time, so one has to plan every evening. Not so many city folk just let go and surf the moments full of late sun and air that brushes your skin like an embrace.

This is what living on an island is doing to me. It changes a person very deeply.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

In another vein, our evening rituals are changing with the weather. It has been hot here lately, with highs in the high 20s/low 30s every afternoon, bright sunshine and no wind. We have taken to packing a picnic supper and heading off to the beach for sun and sand. The water has been outstanding, almost soupy warm. For the past three nights, as the moon has become fuller and risen later it has appeared ruddy emerging from behind Whytecliff in a sight that has literally stopped us all dead in our tracks.

It's important to remember these dog days when January rolls around.
My comments on development and sustainability elicited this comment from Mark Groen, who almost moved here, but who maintains an "out of Bowen" Bowen blog:

"Interesting quote from RS; I know that some people will make a lot of money with the development going on at Bowen, but is anyone figuring in the cost of that many more people? Besides the obvious profits of increased traffic for the ferry, restaurants, et al, what kind of price are your Municipal leaders going to charge for the peace and quiet, clean air, and lost fawns running through your camp looking for Mom? Surely that has more value than 200 new chunks of land - it simply does. Are the present island dwellers going to be compensated for their loss of serenity? A large piece of serene land on the British Properties would run you 1.5mil+ undeveloped, divide that by ten years and tell 'em that's what you want for your future losses.

To which I replied:

"There are folks looking at the sustainability issues of cramming that many people on the island. So far they aren't having a lot of success in pushing a wide spread sustainability agenda, but in some ways more people might make that easier, as I've noted. That is due in part I think to the fact that, like the rest of Canada, a sparse population in a large land thinks it can live forever. When we start to get crowded and the water supply starts becoming unreliable and the fawns mewl at night, it has a way of convincing people that maybe there is a price to pay.

But we'll see. That's what makes this point in time so interesting, and why it is important for me to blog it. I'm noting the changes and every day is a benchmark. It's like taking note of what temperature the water is so that when it reaches boiling it'll be a little more obvious that I haven't let myself get poached..."

Just thought I would note that.

Monday, July 22, 2002

Things are about to change on Bowen Island. And fast.

If you look over the documents at the Islands Trust site you will note that lots of by-law amendments are being proposed relating to how development is proceeding on our little island. We cuirrently have two major developments underway, one on Cates Hill overlooking Snug Cove, and one on the southern slope of the island at Cowen Point, which will include a golf course, a dock in pristine Seymour Bay, and a little community services development like the one that hosts the Ruddy Potato and the Post Office in the Cove.

All of these developments will bring a further 200 families to the island which could mean another 1000 people or so over the next few years. Our official community plan caps the carrying capacity of our vessel at 7000, which is about double what we have now. But so far I don't think that any development has happened as quickly on Bowen as what we are about to witness.

It's hard to comprehend it. We try to imagine what it will be like with twice as many people at the beach, in the ferry line up, at Doc's on a Friday night. It still seems manageable, but at a human scale a community of 7000 is a lot different from a community of 3500. And that again is different from the community of 1500 that was here 20 years ago.

My fellow Bowen blogger Richard Smith has written recently:

How big is a community? Seems an odd question, sort of like the famous say, "How long is a piece of string?" But the implied question -- how big should a community be? Is interesting. Especially in the virtual world, where it is possible to build communities at an optimum size. If you knew what an optimum size was. I am thinking about this partly because I live in a small community (approx. 4,000 people) and enjoy it. I also study the social side of on-line technologies, and one of the people I interviewed recently observed that "everyone is trying to build the biggest online community," but the magic lies in having the community that is the right size -- the one that is the most compelling, the most interesting, the most dynamic. And that might not necessarily be the one that is the largest. Especially in the on-line world of virtual communities.

His comments about the optimum size of online communities apply to real ones too. There is a server side scaling issue, as the techies put it, and also there is the challenge of sorting out the circles to find the crowd that you want to run with.

In theory more people, and more diversity, should make for more robust and self-sustaining communities here. And people choosing to live on an island will always share a desire for introspection to some degree. So maybe we'll be able to keep the evensong chorale going with a full tenor section, and the sustainability committee will be able to find a critical mass to create sustainable sustainability.

Regardless it will be interesting to watch over the next few years how this all sorts itself out, and what the implications are for ths potato shaped chunk of volcanic rock poking out of the clear blue waters of Howe Sound.

If you want to see what we could use to becnhmark our progress, I would recommend a tour of the Bowen Island geolibrary which is available on CD ROM, but also in beta form at bowenisland.info.

Friday, July 19, 2002

The morning soundscape is changing.

Back from our annual trip to Cortes Island and back sleeping on the front porch, I awoke the other day to note the disappearance of the robin section from the morning avian symphony. It was really quiet without them; only the rattle of the jays, the chipping of towhees and the high tweet of a flock of kinglets greeted the sunrise. There are still robins about, although not as many as there have been. Is it possible they have started moving south already?

Sunday, July 7, 2002

Yesterday we were at Sandy Beach, perhaps the most popular beach for tourists, as it is on the south shore of Mannion Bay, a few minutes from the ferry dock and within easy access for boats who moor in the bay. While we were enjoying the last light of day with maybe a dozen other people scattered across the beach, a strange thing happened.

From around the little point by the CNIB camp a small fawn came bounding. As it was high tide, there was very little beach between the water and ourselves, but this little deer was determined to get along it. It had a look of slight panic in it's eyes and was being driven by some strong instinctive intent, becasue even Finn's attempts to scare it away did little to dissuade it from traipsing through our little camp. Nervously moving back and forth, the deer at once shot in front of us all, oblivious to the people around it and headed into the sea. It swam across Mannion Bay to an otherwise fenced in house on the other side of the water where it made a b-line for a stand of delphiniums. The occupants of the house put a quick stop to that endeavour by scaring it back onto the foreshore where it wandered for a while, wondering where the beach went, and how tides work, and where mom could have got to.

Funny to watch a young deer learn about where it is.

Thursday, July 4, 2002

Once a week on Wednesday, BC Ferries runs the dangerous cargo run for gas trucks, propane tankers and other things. People often get stranded by these runs and try eagerly to plead with the ferry workers to let them on ("Ok, if my cargo isn't dangerous then *I* am dangerous...grrrr).

So take it a step further and imagine how the bear got here. Maybe even write a skit about it. Or as Adam Taylor wrote:

"I would love to see the 'bear' expaining to BC Ferries workers that it is allowed on the run. Continue as a satire on the various island issues and have the bear elected mayor / to council on a platform of no waste leaving the island, the bear will then live at the island garbage dump of course..."

Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Two nights ago we had a huge thunderstorm. It began with a lightning strike atop Mount Gardner with a boom that echoed around Howe Sound for what seemed like 30 seconds. Then the rain started falling and the sheet lightning took over. It was loud and raucous and refreshing. I had my heart in my throat when it started, awoken from a deep sleep at midnight by the loud blast.

The bear has moved back towards our place and seems to be ensconced in the meadow. She is bigger than previously thought, weighing in at around 300 pounds.