Friday, November 29, 2002

This morning, sleeping on the front porch, nestled in a down sleeping bag, I was awakened by the sound of an eagle whislting in the tress below our house. When I opened my eyes, and turned to see him, my head was filled was the most astonishing light. The sunrise was turning the altocumulus clouds blood red and the sea was the colour of a pale rose. This lasted for nearly twenty minutes, the colours growing more and more intense and the washing out as the sun finally rose and shone brightly through the small gap between the bottom of the cloud deck and the horizon. We had sunlight for ten minutes before it rose above the grey clouds, and the sky and the sea returned to the colour of steel.

The eagle, the grey, the coming winter, especially when contrasted with the unreal colours of the sunrise put me in mind of a poem by Denise Levertov about settling in to life on the coast:


I was welcomed here—clear gold

of late summer, of opening autumn,

the dawn eagle sunning himself on the highest tree,

the mountain revealing herself unclouded, her snow

tinted apricot as she looked west,

Tolerant, in her steadfastness, of the restless sun

forever rising and setting.

Now I am given

a taste of the grey foretold by all and sundry,

a grey both heavy and chill.

I've boasted I would not care,

I'm London-born.

And I won't. I'll dig in,

into my days, having come here to live, not to visit.

Grey is the price

of neighboring with eagles, of knowing

a mountain's vast presence, seen or unseen.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Here on Bowen we have a pretty funky little alternative school called Island Pacific School. Every year, the Grade 10 students there have an opportunity to create a Masterworks project, which is essentially a thesis developed over the course of the year with an academic advisory committee and community mentors. Every year the Undercurrent, our little local paper publishes a list of these theses as a call to community mentors to help students learn in their chosen fileds. Every year the community gets blown away by lists like this:

A Voyage Of Faith

Buddhism: A Cultural Study

An Analysis of Social Morality in Modern Society with Reference to Lawrence Kohlberg

Black Holes: Theories Then and Now

Britannia Mine: An Environmental Issue

An Overview of Developed World Automobile Emissions

Power to the People: A look at anarchy and it's implications in our lives

Mission Impossible

Messages in the Ice Cubes

Greek mythology in our world

Nationalistic views surrounding Israel

Haunted Heroes: The Reason for Military Ethics

Fractals and Chaos: Exploring Reality

Now how scary is it that we have 15 year olds running around studying these things AND community mentors who don't even bat an eyelash at the prospect of helping out?

File it away in the "Reasons I love this place" folder....

For a complete list of the IPS Masterworks projects, have a look at their site.

Friday, November 22, 2002

It's a beautiful day out there right now, lots of low cloud and fog on the Sound which is currently drifting and breaking up in the morning sun. We've had two dry days in a row now, which has compensated for the wet start to the week. Over a 30 hour period on Monday and Tuesday we had 210 millimeters of rain fall. That's something like eight inches. Take a piece of letter sized paper and stand it on its side. That's how much rain we had.

The result is that the creeks are flowing again, and how! The salmon all moved when they had the chance and apparently on Wednesday the fish were thick on Killarney Creek heading into the fish ladder past Bridal Veil Falls. Across the channel, on the continent, there is snow on the tops of the highest peaks: The Lions, Mount Harvey and Mount Brunswick are all white capped now. A high pressure system that came through after all the rain forced some strong Squamish out winds on Wednesday, but the last two days have been calm and really warm. It'll probably be +10 or higher today. We're expecting a cold front later to day and temperatures will drop to below freezing tonight.

It's all a sign that winter is coming here in the Sound.

Last year when I started this Journal, it was suggested to me that doing so would have real value for me as I reflected on what it was like to first move here. Later, as I shared news of this site's existence with people, it became clear that one role of this writing is to document life in a peaceful place, and to hold it there for people like my friend Avner who lives in Israel and facilitates dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians who are searching for peace.

Now there is another reason to write. Last weekend my brother got married in Toronto, and his new wife is the daughter of Albert Plant, who spent a lot of his childhood in the late 1930s and early 1940s with his family ensconced in No. 5 cottage on Snug Point. Meeting Albert and his sister Elva was a delight, and, despite all the pressures of a wedding and entertaining, I managed to spend a couple of wonderful hours with them reminiscing about what Bowen was like sixty years ago. Every time Albert came into the room where we were talking he had another comment or story about Bowen, his "Paradise Island" as he called it. He told me of days spent starting his first business, recycling the beer bottles that party goers left strewn around the Cove after the famous dances at the Union Steamship Company resort. He shared stories about lashing together logs into a raft and sailing around Mannion Bay, or falling on the rocks on the Cove side of Snug Point and wandering around Deep Bay confused by a concussion. Alva and Albert used to sneak into the Sunday school picnics that came to the Island every weekend. They would enter races and try and sneak a hot dog or two before a bemused Minister would recognize them as not of his flock and shoo them away.

In the midst of our whirlwind story telling session, Albert produced a reel of film that his father had shot in 1943, which was the last year the came to visit. By that time, the USSC parties were too much to bear for a young family and they took a place in Crescent Beach instead, where Elva now lives. Albert promised to transfer the film to video. I'm dying to see it, see what life was like here back then, and I'll be sure that a copy gets to the archives.

So here's another reason to keep writing this little log. For Albert and Elva and anyone else who stumbles across this piece of Bowen in cyberspace. I heard some great stories last weekend in Toronto; it's the least I could do to share some of mine.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

The election results are in and our purple booted mayor won re-election. The work certainly begins now for the new Council, who, among other things, have to deal with water, the Snug Cove plan and offloading provincial responsibility for policing and roads.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Bowen in the news:

We may be the first place in Canada to sell "biodisel", a fuel made from reprocessed vegtable oil. Geoff Hill, a young UBC graduate is currently producing the stuff and running his car off it. And as this article tells, it may not be long before our new gas station is offering it for sale.

There is talk in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, of which we are a small, small part, of amalgamating several of the 21 municipalities into four or even one mega city. A recent poll has shown that many Lower Mainland residents are in favour of this, but it remains to be seen how Bowen Islanders feel about joining Lions Bay, and North and West Vancouver (from whom we sort of split in 1999). Funny the things that come to light during municipal campaigns.

And leaving aside the noosphere for a moment and peering at the geosphere (many new weather links on the left), we have just come through our first Pineapple Express of the year. We had more rain in the past two days than we have had since the early summer. More is promised all week. But what has really signalled the harbinger of fall is our first windstorm that happened last night and this morning. We had winds gusting at 70km/h, and up on the northern part of Vancouver Island they were gusting at hurricane force. My friends Chris Robertson who lives on the west side of Howe Sound on the Sunshine Coast watched as a maple tree lost all of its leaves in one sudden gust this morning. The leaves enveloped his neighbors house like a yellow cloud.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

Somehow our own little village got a website. came online this week. Take a peek around. My favourite part is this picture:

Ooooo. Ahhhh. That's one of the nicest photos of our little inlet I've seen anywhere. You can see Point Atkinson on the far right and then the mainland curving around to Whytecliff. Directly above Whytecliff, that tall triangular peak, is Mount Ellesemere. Below Ellesmere to the right in the haze is Anvil Island and to the left is Gambier, and next to that is Mount Collins, on Bowen. At the far left edge of the photo is Dorman Point rising to Mount Apodaca which juts out in front of Mount Collins and forms the southern promontory of Mannion Bay (usually, but not officially, called Deep Bay). Little Passage Island lies at the entrance to the Sound below Dorman Point.


Monday, November 4, 2002

We have an election on and the silly season is beginning.

Bowen was incorporated three years ago after many years of discussions back and forth on the issue. The first Council had a lot on their plates, getting a municipality up and running, staffing it and making it work. And now here we are at Bowen's second ever election, with a slate of good candidates and two folks running for mayor.

Go Lisa! How can you not vote for a mayor that wears purple boots?

Wow. It's been a while since I have blogged about life here. Maybe that's because it seems like nothing has changed much over the past little while.

The fact is, that I think a huge part of my motivation to to notice and write about things here on Bowen is tied to the weather. The more changeable the weather is, the more I notice. And right now we are sitting in a period of incredible continuity. In all of October we had only 18mm of rain. That was an all time record for this region. For the most part the month was sunny and reasonably warm with frosty nights just beginning in the last week. With the exception of a moderate Squamish wind a few nights ago, it has been very calm. We are basking under some kind of freak high pressure zone that just keeps delivering unseasonable beautiful weather.

But while the weather has been gorgeous, it hasn't been without cost. Notably water levels are very low, and with the dry summer we had, there are creeks on Bowen that are still dry, a never seen before phenomenon in November. Killarney Creek, which boasts a coho and a chum salmon run has only a trickle of water in it, not nearly enough for the salmon to even get a taste of their homestream let alone move up it. Without significant rainfall in the next few weeks, the salmon will weaken and their breeding liklihood will decrease.

But salmon aside, no one is complaining, and the Douglas-firs on Mount Gardner seem to be raking barely enough moisture out of the sky to keep the forest moist if not ideal for mushroom hunting. The water resevoirs are low all over the coast, and hopefully we'll see them top up soon. At least no one is needing to water their gardens too much, this being November and all.

The nice weather was welcome on Haloween, which is a very special time here on Bowen; it's pretty much the national holiday. The community pulls together to puit on a number of events, the centre piece of which are the Haunted House and the fireworks display. The Haunted House is more of an interactive theatrical performance than a simple trick or treat gag. The whole of Collins Hall and the grounds of the United Church were converted to a very creepy set of scenes, featuring a labyrinthine passage through the Hall and past scenes of frightening surprise and pure horror. The actors, set designers and sounds techs who all make Bowen home were all over this project and it did not disappoint. And good of the the United Church to let the community use it's facilities for a faux-Satanic pagan festival eh? Only on Bowen...

The Haunted House was followed up by trickortreating (all one word) in Deep Bay, the oldes neighbourhood on Bowen. Literally hundreds of kids from all over the island descend on the houses of Deep Bay in a Halloween equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. The demand is so overwhelming for the residents that helpful parents from other parts of Bowen always bring bags of candy to replenish dwindling stocks. And so, for a few hours every year, Deep Bay becomes a centre of whirling madness, the little streets clogged with flashlight toting dinosaurs and witches, walking corpses and Vancouver Canucks wannabees (same thing?).

All of this if followed by 20 minutes of pyrotechnical madness hosted by the volunteer fire department who discharge loads of very serious fireworks into the ari above Mannion Bay. Thousands crowd around the beach cheering and applauding and ducking the odd stray rocket and bits of shrapnel. Hot chocolate is served on the Causeway and everyone goes home happy. It's an amazing community event.

This year Finn declined to take part. He made it in the gate of the Collins Hall grounds, but was too spooked by anything else to go further. So he and I went home to watch the fireworkds from our place, which worked out fine, except that he exhibted a previously unknown deep fear of explosives. Instead of truly enjoying it, he shook like a leaf on my lap for tenty minutes and then refused to belive me when I said they were done. Even three days later he still peers suspiciously out the front window at the lights of Whytecliff across the channel and babbles incoherently about the experience. Poor traumatised guy. He turns two years old later this week. I guess we have to think seriously about not putting sparklers on his cement mixer cake.