Monday, October 21, 2002

And just as a little cool exercise, when one types "lives on Bowen Island" into Google, you come up with this amazing collection of people:

Cool, eh?

Bowen Islanders in the news:

Islanders have been in the news lately, whether it was Commonwealth Games multimedalist Cynthia Meyer or part time resident Michael Ondaatje, or newcomer Wade Davis.

But Michael Henderson takes the cake for the most grandiose Islander to date. At least that's what some are calling his vision of a Las Vegas casino called "Moon":

Somewhere on his way to becoming a medical-business tycoon, Michael Henderson suddenly found himself sitting on the sidelines, exiled to his gated, ranch-style home on Bowen Island, some 30 kilometres west of downtown Vancouver. It was mid-2000, and for the previous—often stormy—20 months, Henderson had ruled Lasik Vision Corp., the fastest-growing laser vision surgery company in the world, with an iron fist. After a flurry of lawsuits, management infighting and a bitter proxy battle, however, the board turfed Henderson as president and CEO, effectively sending him off to “retire.” For the first time in his working life, Michael Henderson had time to think. A lot of time.

Two years of nonstop reflection can do funny things to a man’s head. Especially a self-made man like 40-year-old Henderson, who has been grasping for something better since dropping out of high school at age 16. Daydreaming amongst the roaming deer and thick evergreens that surround his fenced-in island retreat can even make a man think he’s capable of wondrous things. Like flying to the sun. Touching the stars. Selling the moon. And that’s precisely what Henderson now has in mind. No, not the real moon. His Moon. A hotel resort casino and entertainment complex so grandiose it’s boggled the minds of those who’ve worked on the project so far. A development so enormous that the model alone covers 96 square feet and took 4,000 man-hours to build—at a cost of well over several hundred thousand dollars. (more)

Sunday, October 20, 2002

When the lights go out everybody notices. from Here on Seven Hills, all the way down to the Cove and up Dorman Point Road to where my friend Mark Groen sits on Hummingbird Lane. In fact the whole island lost power last night around 8:00pm due to the a tree falling on a power line. BC Hydro had it back in time for bed time.

It's a more autumnal weekend now. The weather was summery this week, with temperatures in the low 20s. The record run of dry nice weather continues.

Randy and Dave came over to play a gig at La Mangerie, which received a nice review. We played to a small but appreciative audience. I'll take that any day over a bar full of a hundred people who aren't listening to a note.

And last on Thursday I went out canoeing with Aine and Ian Thompson and his boys on Killarney Lake where among other very cool things, we saw a water skiiing spider. This is one way spiders get around, by spinning a thread of silk and letting it catch the wind. Then they stand on the surface of the water and let the slightest air currants carry them. The Lake itself was flat as glass, but when you are a tiny spider attached to a thin strand of silk, a sneeze is all you need to cross large bodies of water.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

In another vein, the history of a writer's colony called "Lieben" that thrived in the middle of the last century here on Bowen is being assembled and disseminated far and wide. Recently, the Toronto Star published an article about the retreat saying:

Einar Neilson, the son of a Norwegian sea captain, whose working life had included driving a tour bus in Banff and selling carpets, purchased 10 "unimproved" acres on Bowen Island.

Although not an artist himself, the tall and handsome Neilson had experienced his own epiphany in the beauteous landscape. Using his savings, his own considerable building skills and the salary from his new job driving a taxi on Bowen, he rebuilt one of two derelict cottages on his land, inspired by the open-concept designs of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Overlooking the Strait of Georgia, the much-improved house became a magnet for the artists and writers he'd met through his wife, Patricia, daughter of painter Lemoine Fitzgerald, who was principal of the Winnipeg Art School.

The Lieben guest book reads like a Who's Who of Canadiana: Earle Birney, Alice Munro, Dorothy Livesay, Margaret Laurence, A.J.M. Smith, Jack Shadbolt, Eric Nicol.

The whole article is a very beautiful and moving description of life on this little rock.
The weather is gifting us over this Thanksgiving weekend. Crystal clear blue skies, warm in the day, getting colder at night. The stars are brilliant points of light after the moon sets, which is early in the evening. Not a breath of wind, not a hint of rain, nothing to complain about. Aine, Finn and I went walking in the now bear free woods today, looking at straight branched corals, alcohol inky caps and oyster mushrooms and other flora and fauna.

Yesterday my friend Carol Mackinnon and I and the folks from the Bowen Island Lifelong Learning Society and the Bowen Island Sustainable Community Task Force ran an Open Space meeting around the theme of Bowen Island 2042: Why we STILL love living here. The gathering was intended to kick off an extended process aimed at looking at sustainability here on Bowen and designing some strategies to take us down the right path for the next forty years. About 30 people came out an talked about everything from governance to transportation to agriculture to storytelling. The proceedings are online and make for an interesting sourcebook of ideas, and touchstones for why people love this community. It seems like people had a pretty good time.

In the closing circle I remarked that the day had reinforced my enduring belief that great success derives from invitation, and that one of the stories of Bowen Island is the story of invitation. For years in the early part of the century, the Union Steamship Company invited people to come here to party on "The Happy Isle." Scattered around the island, especially at places like Doc Morgan's and The Lodge at the Old Dorm are mementos of that time period: brochures, posters, guides and pictures, beckoning people to come to Bowen.

Today that spirit of invitation is embodied in the fact that at our major 4 way intersection (we really only have one), one whole corner is given over to a space for community events to be annouced on sandwiched boards, large and small, elegant and simple, hand drawn and professionally designed. They are a constantly changing bulletin board of invitations, everything from golf course donations to community choir practices, to signs about salmon and tuna for sale at the government dock. That we have given 25% of our prime four corners real estate over to invitation says a lot about Bowen.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

El Nino is on the way for this winter, meaning drier weather and warmer temperatures here on the coast. It could be a disaster for the prairies where they have already suffered a long drought this summer, but generally El Nino gives us pretty tolerable winters on the coast. There is not likely to be any snow and we probably won't get a killing frost even, meaning that I can try to overwinter my osteospermums.

Anyway, you wouldn't know it tonight where the rain is falling heavily now, but the air is warm and there is no wind. It was quite mild today and seemed a little unseasonable. The winter is coming for sure, but it seems like it'll be one of those special ones.

Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Sitting in my office, looking out over the grey water and the grey sky, waiting for the first cold rain of the autumn to move in from the outer coast today, I caught a glimpse of a pine siskin bouncing around on the deck eating the husks of seed where I had fed them last winter in the snow. There is an eerie stillness to the air right now, a chill at night and the ominous sense of anticipation brought on by the cloud deck building down rather than in.

Last night the barred owls were at it again (yes, I'm still sleeping on the porch!), this time down in fromt of our place probably on the edge of the clearing of houses on David Road. One was calling for about 20 minutes until another joined it, and possibly a third one too. They hooted and growled for a while and then went off somewhere at midnight, probably looking for something to eat.

I noticed last night too that the crickets are getting fewer and are chriping less vigourously. There is a well known relationship between colder temperatures and slower cricket chirp rates. Counting the number of chrips in 8 seconds will give a fairly good approximation of the temperature. Last night it was about 7 degrees out.

And so with the cooler weather, we have got the wood stove humming again. I took a delivery of 5 cords of mill ends last weekend, which should last us about a year and a half. Not bad for $300. If anyone wants to know, I got them from Eric at 604-533-9663. He's out in Langley and is a great guy. He delivers in loads of 10 cords or 6 cords and the wood is almost all hemlock, untreated and kiln dried. It burns like anything. Tell him I sent you.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

The sunrises are beautiful at this time of year. There is a lot of moisture in the air, which turns to fog as the dawn breaks, and the sky is brilliant yellow and red in the minutes before dawn.

Chet Raymo, writing recently in the Boston Globe captures the glory of aumtumn sunrises in this column.

Surely there is no more godly hour than the dawn. Mist pools in the hollows of the meadow. The water in the brook slips under the bridge with a dreamlike languor. The stillness of fading night is broken by the tip-tip-tip of a nuthatch...

This is the hour when the mushrooms shoulder up in shadows, flexing their caps in the early light. From the top of a distant pine, a red-tailed hawk assumes its morning patrol. As I leave the woods and step into the meadow, there is always the possibility that I'll see a grazing deer or two; they bound into the underbrush at my approach, white tails flashing.

The world holds its breath.

A waning crescent moon joins Jupiter in the eastern sky, its ''unlit'' side made visible by a faint glow of Earthshine. A day later, the moon will be only two days from new, and eyelash thin. A thinner moon is almost impossible to see.

At dawn, the atmosphere empties out its bag of optical tricks - reflection, refraction, scattering - to great effect, spilling sunlight over the horizon, parceling out components of the sun's white light in pale washes of color. The reeds along the pond and the trees at the back of the meadow are daubed like stage sets, eerie tints of rose and violet ...