Friday, August 30, 2002

“Islands attract two obvious groups: workers who settle there to make some sort of living, to build a community; and others who come to escape, to find some sort of refuge but are ultimately disappointed. So there’s this collision between small-town politics and disappointed idealism, those who welcome new business and those who view it as an invasion of all they’ve left behind in cities….

Island make up seven per cent of the earth’s land surface, so they’re by no means insignificant. On the West Coast, thousands of islands shape, obstruct, and adorn the Gulf of Georgia and the Inside Passage; you can’t turn around or swing a cat without seeing or bumping into an island. And islands – Lesbos, Eeelba, Bikini Atoll, Skye, Alcatraz – are central to the mythologies of love, politics, religion, and justice that we have constructed.”

- Gary Geddes, Sailing Home: A journey through Time, Space and Memory, pp 125-126

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Last evening was one of those times that makes me wonder why I didn't move to an island sooner.

We had supper on the beach at Tunstall Bay, swimming and hanging with whoever happened to be there. The water was amazing, just like a bath, and floating in it was an astounding experience. I don't know why, but all of a sudden, I've become addicted to swimming.

Later, the sun set behind Pasley Island and the colours seemed much more intense than normal. The sky was a deep luminescent turquoise and airplane contrails shone silver. As the sunset waned, a cloud on the horizon turned the most intense shade of pink I have ever seen. It was as if someone had shone a light through a rose petal.

Breathtaking late summer days here on the coast.

Monday, August 26, 2002

From the "How Bowen Celebrates" file...

Saturday was Bowfest, the traditional culmination to the summer season with a full day of food, music and activities in the picnic filed down in the Cove. The most amusing part of it is that the tickets are deeply discounted if you buy them prior to the day, meaning that the tourists get bilked, in a kind of good hearted "welcome-to-our-community-event" kind of way.

This year featured the perennial teen lip synch contest, which was won by a trio of youngsters doing "It's a Hardknock Life" with all the moves from the musical. A surprise appearance was even put in by the Three Tenors, consisting of Bowen Office System's Richard Goth et. al. It was a stunning impersonation of Pavorotti, Domingo and "the other guy" (Carreras...).

Some things were different this year. The tug of war didn't happen becasue there was a large wooden singletrack bike structure dominating most of the filed upon which four cyclists rendered heart stopping stunts every hour on the hour. World class local talent, these guys defied logic and saftey standards by plummeting from a sixteen foot drop onto a wooden ramp and barrelling at high speed for the VONIGO pottery display. Not one mug was cracked on the day.

The slug races somehow never got going, and the United Church folks eschewed two weeks worth of pie baking for a fish and chips operation, but the event still had the air of tradition about it. As they have done every year for decades, the teen agers huddled together in little groups occaisionally bombing each other with water balloons or creeping off into the forest together. The beer tent was packed and the Tir na N'Og theatre school did a brisk business off the grill in their annual fundrasier. As the evening progressed, the Legion got the salmon barbecue running and several victims of sun and lager attempted to run the gauntlet of six - count 'em SIX - RCMP officers as they tried to find the straightest line home.

Bowfest is a must attend for Islanders. You are almost guaranteed to see people you haven't seen all summer, catch up on what's going on and have a good time. It's one of those big days in the life of a small community.
It hasn't rained for a month. As a result the deer have started getting desperate for fluids which has made them venture further and further out of their comfort zones in search of moisture. Last week they stripped a honeysuckle which would have required them to go up the stairs, on to the back deck and down another set of stairs UNDER the house. This week they went one further, continuing under the house to my office door where they ate the nasteriums. Amazing. Those who know less than I do now say that deer will never ever walk over wooden stairs.


Deer will do ANYTHING to get what they want, even if it's something no one has ever seen them eat before.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Living on an island means living in a closed system. For example, all the fresh water that is used on Bowen is water that the clouds drop upon us. A huge amount of that water makes its way quickly into the sea through creeks that spill it off the mountains almost as fast as it falls. There are five lakes on the Island which store water, but other than that most folks don't make an effort to collect what falls on us for seven months of the year.

It's a big issue of course, because being surrounded by salt chuck means we only have a limited supply of fresh water. Limited in the sense that we can only use what falls here. By international standards, we are literally drowning in it.

As the Island becomes more developed, and there are no flat places to put more reservoirs, and conservation seems a last resort for most of us, the issue of water becomes a tricky one. On the Bowen Island forum, fresh water use has lately been discussed along with a variety of alternatives, such as desalination, a process not without it's own costs, both financial and environmental.

Recently, people have made the comparison between Bowen and Bermuda. Bermuda is about twice the size of our island, but supports 60,000 people. It has limited groundwater, tapped by special shallow wells that draw it off the brackish water that dwells beneath it. Water is collected on roof tops and stored in cisterns and if you run out of fresh water, you have to pay for it dearly.

There is very little water collection on Bowen although some folks are good at it. We may be a long way from running out of water here, but we have to start looking at alternatives that reap the bounty that cascades from the skies every year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

More bits and pieces that tell me summer's drawing down:

Winter is inherent in August, because a huge number of plants are going to seed. The promise of next year's crop is dropped on the ground awaiting the rains to activate it. In the case of foxgloves, from which I collected several thousand seeds yesterday, it is the promise of bloom in two years. I have scattered them about our land and hope to have the meadow in front and a few of the beds in the back blooming with them in 2004.

We spent a couple of weeks in Ontario, on the shores of Georgian Bay and a couple of days in the Gantineau Hills in Quebec. When we came back on Saturday, on the 8:30 sailing, the ferry workers were busy putting the covers on the wndows to prevent light from impeding the captain's view. This immediately stuck me, because this time of year, the days begin to lengthen faster, and now it is almost dark by 9:00.

Sunday, August 4, 2002

A few little changes are afoot.

Sarah Allen, the proprietor of the Breakfast Cafe and Tuscany has had to close down the BC on Saturday mornings. It's only open on Sundays now. The strain was too much, and according to the circular that she sent around this week, she was having trouble finding staff, after her regulars all opted to work nights at Tuscany.

Sarah is a genius. When Tuscany opened she met the Bluewater commuter bus at the ferry dock with a couple of free pizzas. They got passed around inside, and according to a friend, hardly anyone actually got OFF the bus. They just chewed away on the pizza and asked the driver to drop them off on the way back to the Cove. God knows how much business she got from that move, but it is true that her pizzas speak for themselves. Especially the brie, pear and caramelized onion one. ESPECIALLY that one.

Other little changes: high speed internet arrived , Madame Rose's used books is going out of business leaving us without a bookstore on Bowen, a new coffee/gelato place opened up in Artisan Square (very nice one too), and just down the hill from it is Bowen's first roundabout, at the junction of Artisan Lane and Roocroft Lane. Crazy. What next? A traffic light?

The mergansers in Mannion Bay which were babies for so long have suddenly become adolescents. I tasted my first decent handful of blackberries today. It has been a great year for berries, and the blackberries will be no exception.

A new enterprise has sprung up on the island and it’s one I really love. Behind us is a tract of land called Collins Farm which is about 70 acres, currently divided into 6 2 acre lots with a bunch of common land. It was originally pre-empted by James Collins at the turn of the 19th century and he farmed it for a while. He called it Collinsia farm. His granddaughters (or they might be daughters) still live at the entrance to the land and have begun encouraging a market garden there. They have resurrected the name “Collinsia” and tonight we had our first salad with lettuce grown right over the ridge.

The Dock Dance is tonight, an annual event down in the Cove that raises money for the volunteer fire department (bless them!). Doug and the Slugs are currently rocking it up down there. Summer chugs along, and the nights are becoming just a little bit cooler. Foreshadowing the return of the storms. Even as we sit in the middle of the annual drought, it is clear that things have turned and that fall is a distinct possibility. Still a good month to go before the jetstream swing south for good and the pineapple expresses start gearing up, but living out here, it's a little easier to sense it.

Friday, August 2, 2002

Last night Aine and I paid a visit to our spring evening stomping grounds at Hood Point West. During the summer, the tide peaks around supper time and that makes the rocks at Hood Point West disappear leaving only a small rocky beach and a few logs to hang out on. But these days the high tide comes later at night and so the rocks and tide pools are still around.

Mostly last night we watched rain showers head up the Sound, mostly along the mountains of the Brunswick Range to the east, with another shower falling on the lee side of Gambier to the north. The rest of the sky was grey, and so was the sea.

River OtterThere was no sign of the seals we had seen there in the spring, but we did see a family of river otters swimming in the swell. They scuttled up on to the beach at the base of the cliff to the east of us and other than some little squeaks, we didn't find any other sign of them. They must have taken shelter in a little cave or crevasse where the rocks meet the water.