Sunday, February 23, 2003

Mark Groen does us all a favour and begins a collection of Bowen Island Links. Get over there and add yours. I'll add the page to the noosphere resources on the left.

In other news Mark reports the deer trimming his crocuses. No such problem here with the daffodills. The buds have formed and probably within a couple of week, we'll have flowers.

Ahhhh. The life of a Lotus Eater.

..."Our island home

Is far beyond the wave; we will no longer roam."

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Cody Clark from Texas blogs a conversation we had on Sunday at The Snug, and shares some nice observations about Bowen Island.

Nice to have you visit Cody...come back anytime!
Somehow the description "light rain" doesn't quite describe what is happening outside today. I prefer to term "herring rain." I seem not be the only one...

My first introduction to the west coast was in March 1989, when I spent a week on the west coast of Vancouver Island, at the north end of Clayoquot Sound in a little community called Hot Springs Cove. It is the home of the Hesquiaht First Nation one of several Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations sprinkled around the outer coast. The Hesquiaht people used to live north of the present day village site at a place called Hesquiaht Harbour, but the tidal wave from the 1964 Anchorage earthquake washed away the old village. The new community lies in a protected cove, reachable by an hour long water taxi ride from Tofino which ends by crossing almost open ocean before pulling into the cove.

I was there in herring season. The commercial fish boats were all gathered at the head of the cove awaiting the opening of the herring season. We dipped a gill net in the water, tied off of one of the fish boats at the community dock, and we took in a few hundred pounds of small silver herring, which we spent the following day gutting and butterflying. Butterflying is the technique used to clean and prepare a herring for the smoke house. To butterfly a herring, the first thing you do is cut a large incision from its throat down to its anus and open the fish up. Next you clean out the guts, dropping them into the water beside the government dock where the gulls fight over the floaters and the crabs race for the sinkers. After that you cut a hole in the herring's back near its tail and you twist the tail inside the fish and thread it through the hole. Now the herring is essenntially turned inside out and you can slide it on to a stick with dozens of others and hang it up in the smokehouse.

We spent the better part of a Saturday evening fishing, and most of a Sunday cleaning. All that time it rained a light rain, a thin coastal spring rain. It's hard to describe this rain except to say that it seems to combine the characteristics of the hard constant winter rains, with a certain lightness that makes it seems as if you can spend all day out in and never get wet. And the sky is not a dark grey, but a kind of radiant white, because the sun is a little higher than it has been and the cloud cover isn't as thick. And there is no wind, so the rain falls straight down.

This is what I call "herring rain" and that's what's been happening outside all day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

A Literature of Place

Barry Lopez reinforces the manifesto for this blog:

"Over time I have come to think of these three qualities--paying intimate attention; a storied relationship to a place rather than a solely sensory awareness of it; and living in some sort of ethical unity with a place--as a fundamental human defense against loneliness. If you're intimate with a place, a place with whose history you're familiar, and you establish an ethical conversation with it, the implication that follows is this: the place knows you're there. It feels you. You will not be forgotten, cut off, abandoned.

As a writer I want to ask on behalf of the reader: How can a person obtain this? How can you occupy a place and also have it occupy you? How can you find such a reciprocity?

The key, I think, is to become vulnerable to a place. If you open yourself up, you can build intimacy. Out of such intimacy may come a sense of belonging, a sense of not being isolated in the universe.

My question--how to secure this--is not meant to be idle. How does one actually enter a local geography? (Many of us daydream, I think, about re-entering childhood landscapes that might dispel a current anxiety. We often court such feelings for a few moments in a park or sometimes during an afternoon in the woods.) To respond explicitly and practicably, my first suggestion would be to be silent. Put aside the bird book, the analytic state of mind, any compulsion to identify, and sit still. Concentrate instead on feeling a place, on deliberately using the sense of proprioception. Where in this volume of space are you situated? The space behind you is as important as what you see before you. What lies beneath you is as relevant as what stands on the far horizon. Actively use your ears to imagine the acoustical hemisphere you occupy. How does birdsong ramify here? Through what kind of air is it moving? Concentrate on smells in the belief you can smell water and stone. Use your hands to get the heft and texture of a place--the tensile strength in a willow branch, the moisture in a pinch of soil, the different nap of leaves. Open a vertical line to the place by joining the color and form of the sky to what you see out across the ground. Look away from what you want to scrutinize in order to gain a sense of its scale and proportion. Be wary of any obvious explanation for the existence of color, a movement. Cultivate a sense of complexity, the sense that another landscape exists beyond the one you can subject to analysis."

Quoted in yesterdays Globe and Mail:

"A mild day in January is a break, a momentary relief, a chance for a man to catch his breath, but when February relaxes for a day or two it is a promise. It warms a man's heart as well as his hands and makes him think of March and April."

-- Hal Borland in Twelve Moons of the Year.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Another beautiful weekend has come and gone. The weather is unreal, warm and relatively dry, although now the clouds are rolling in and last night we had rain.

Yesterday was a day of meeting bloggers. It began early in the morning with Cody Clark, from Houston Texas, who was on Bowen on holiday and who, through a remarkable series of coincidences explained in HIS blog, ended up meeting with me.

Then the family headed down to Cpae Roger Curtis for a walk, but not without inviting Penny along, so she grabbed her two big dogs and we sloshed through mud and stream to picnic at the lighthouse.

And on the way down there, who should we run into but Richard Smith, out with his kids and dogs. He even took a bunch of pictures yesterday of the lighthouse and the point. Meeting on the trail, we both agreed that this was a "bloggable" moment. So we've both blogged it!

The collision of online identities with real people. And they are all just as interesting in real life as their writing makes them out to be.

Sunday, February 9, 2003

Ah me. Complaining that Penny isn't blogging enough, and now here I am, a whole week later, challenged right back by her to write.

The truth is, there is something interesting to write about. We are on course for the dryest February on record. Although this comes with a bunch of attendant issues, such as stressful impacts on wildlife and flora, it works out okay for humans who don't like the rain. As I write, we are sitting under a huge pregnant high pressure bubble which is bringing sunshine and fog in equal parts to the coast and deflecting Arctic air down over the rest of the country. There is no wind to speak of so the air sits on top of us, condensing every night into frost and lifting off the ground during the day to form huge fog banks, which today are actually low clouds.

There is no rain in the offing. They say that El Nino is dissapating, and that it wasn't as strong this year as it was in 1997, but the winter has been a delight anyway.

Sunday, February 2, 2003

Have I mentioned Penny Scott's new blog? Ah yes, I see that I have. And here I am mentioning it again. Why?

Because it's really, really good. And it's only a weekly thing so far.

So this is my plea to Penny: MORE!

And YOU there, reading YOU have a blog yet?