Saturday, December 28, 2002

Apparently we're not the only ones out looking for mushrooms today. The recent rain has been good for sprouting mushrooms and today Aine discovered another kind new to us: Mica cap. This particular mushroom was covering a large cedar stump near the hatchery, very beautiful in it's glory, dusky brown caps, grey gills and slender pale stem.

The weather has turned cold and wet now, and a walk down at Cape Roger Curtis a couple of days ago was mostly along the path-cum-streambed. When we got to the beach there were loons and seals to watch out in Tunstall Bay. On the way and back there were friends and neighbours all enjoying a Bowen Boxing Day ritual: being in the woods.

Yesterday we had snow and rain and sleet for some of the day. Nothing stuck here, but today there is snow on Mount Gardner, the first of the season. Tonight the stars were amazingly sharp in the cold clear air. Jupiter rose high above Whytecliffe, followed later by Venus and the waning crescent moon, only a fist width apart.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Christmas Eve and the typical Bowen response to these kinds of high holidays is, of course, music.

We had a beautiful Choral Evensong at the United Church on Sunday night. Just me, Alison Nixon (our director) and Carol MacKinnon, as beautiful an alto as there is. We sang our usual repetoire of chant but we did a twist for the anthem. With only the three of us there, Alison and Carol sang a duet while I filled in on flute and Alison added some on violin. It was great. Must have been a strange thing for our little audience of five to hear, the choir suddenly becoming a band and then going back to being a choir again.

If you're on Bowen, I hertily invite you to spend every second and fourth Sunday evening from 8-8:30 with us at the United Church. The service is all music with one reading and generally the people that come out get into a meditative state pretty early and stay that way until well after we finish singing. Our repetoire is a mix of Gregorian Chant (from the Missa de Angelis), contemporary chant (some from the Iona Community) and classical liturgical anthems.

And in the true spirit of do it yourself music, it seems that carolling broke out down in Deep Cove this evening. Beautiful. We have no snow but we have the voices of the people rising into the cool night air, breath swirling by the light of the waning moon, bringing on a deeply reflective season.

Merry Christmas to all...

It's coming on Christmas

They're cutting down trees

They're putting up reindeer

And singing songs of joy and peace

Oh I wish I had a river

I could skate away on

But it don't snow here

It stays pretty green

I'm going to make a lot of money

Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene

I wish I had a river

I could skate away on

-- Joni Mitchell

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Today the clouds become much higher and thinner and a trip across Howe Sound in the teeth of a moderate Squamish revealed peaks dusted for the first time with the first snow of fall. And only a day before winter begins!

As I was cruising the web, I found a nice description of mountains, from a blogger in Japan at Notes From Pure Land Mountain


These mountains, like all mountains, are written up by ecologists in a scientifico-pretentious kind of way, sort of like accountants talking to each other, in a distancing style that has by default become the way people talk about natural things now when they want to sound authoritative, which is a damn shame, in view of the fact that there is so much more involved than science and sounding authoritative. I like the old mythological mystery ways, in which one could actually talk with mountains, as being more real, and far closer to the point, which is to unite us with our surrounds. Or sing the mountains. A mountain is a helluva lot more than rocks and trees, as everybody knows in their hearts; yet that is what we are told to save. As if this whole thing were a Saturday matinee serial in which we were the heroes in white and the mountains (or the entire earth, no less!) a fair damsel in distress tied across some railroad tracks as the great steaming black juggernaut of civilization roars nearer, when of course it is the big black juggernaut that will be the one to go off the tracks into the abyss...

...and other fantasies. But when the mountains look like this, they really do sing, a song of cold pure tones and long notes of unrivalled clarity. There is no harmony in them at this time of year, only the thin single voices that ring across the inlet, more vibration than tone, like the metal of a temple bell that has just been struck.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Well the talk is turning to BC Ferries and a bunch of changes they are making to their fare pricing system, among other things. Not just here but on the less populated Howe Sound Islands of Keats and Gambier as well.

Basically, the new direction for BC Ferries, as summarized in this document will see the Corporation become privatized, but highly regulated.

As usual the Liberal government's reasons for doing this are a little contrived:

After extensive review, the new structure emerged as the optimal solution to the challenge of ensuring a sustainable future for coastal ferry services. This structure resembles the Vancouver International Airport Authority.

It meets the objective of creating a modern, safe and reliable ferry system that provides superior service while removing the financial risk for British Columbia taxpayers.

Whatever that means. One thing is for sure, and that is that there was an appallingly small amount of consultation done on this. That alone is typical of this government, and especially our invisible MLA, Ted Nebbeling who is more concerned with padding his bank account from a successful Whistler Olympic bid than engaging his constituents in any kind of meaningful discussion about really important issues, like what they want their ferry service to be like.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

It's been busy around here lately but here's an update. The weather has changed and the last few days have seen heavy rain and high winds. Our chimmney cap blew off today and is hanging from the top of the stovepipe rather forlornly flapping in the wind.

Tonight was our community choir concert and we all had a ball singing everything froma jazzy version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town to serious Bach. Lots of fun, and a great community event. As we were about to begin our set tonight, the heavens opened on Cates Hill Chapel where we were singing and the rain literally thundered down. The first piece we were singing was very quiet and subtle and the rain was an amazing bed in which to lay down the music.

Hopefully the weather will clear fairly soon. I have a good friend visiting from Chicago and he hasn't seen the mountain tops in five days.