Monday, March 31, 2003

We have ataxi service on Bowen Island, consisting of a van and a Surburban that shunts people across the island. Only time I use it is when I arrive home on the midnight water taxi, too tired to walk the mile home in the dark. Five dollars gets me a lift up the hill.

The other day Caitlin and the kids were stranded in the Cove without the car. As they climbed into the taxi, they were greeted by a little dog. Turns out the dog had just come off the ferry and had been delivered by its owner to the cab driver. The owner needed to return to the continent so she got back on the ferry and left orders to deliver the dog to its home up at Hood Point, at the northernmost tip of Bowen.

So Caitlin, Finn, Aine and the dog made for the most unlikely of cab passangers, motoring along Miller Road on a Thursday afternoon.

Friday, March 21, 2003

It's official if it's announced on the Bowen Forum. Bowen has it's first set of triplets!

Pam and Brian are adding three kids to their family of one. Toby now has two new sisters, Abigail and Megan and a brother, Oliver.

This is great news. Pam has been in hospital since early January on bed rest. In fact she went to town the day after we had them over for new year's day brunch, leading us to wonder for weeks whether the hollandaise sauce on the eggs was too rich. She rode out the months of bed rest and even made it through a spell of Toby's chicken pox, where she didn't get to see him for a couple of weeks. She's an amazing woman, and all three of them are just the right people to nurture these little ones.

I can't wait to see them. I think Brian said that they need to stay at the hospital for a week or two and then they can come home.

Three little people changing three other lives in a big way.

Monday, March 17, 2003

On an early morning commuter ferry the other day a friend of mine leaned over to me and whispered "I've got a really good piece of gossip about someone."

"Oh yeah?" I said.

"Yeah. But I can't tell you what it is becasue he probably has a really good piece of gossip about me."

I laughed. He went on. "Don't you find that this island is kind of poised on the edge a little? Everyone has piece of gossip about everyone else. If one person were to spill the beans, the whole place would probably come unstuck."

I laughed again. "Yep," I said. "I think it's like that old Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction. It's what keeps us together as a community."

He smiled and sat back in his seat.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Twenty four hours of strong winds and heavy rain. Finally a winter storm.

I was in Whitehorse last week and returned in the middle of our firsta nd probably only, snowfall of the year. An inch or so of wet wihte stuff that got quickly transformed into a snoman by the kids before getting washed away on Monday. Tuesday, the air warmed up a lot and the cloud descended into Howe Sound, sticking in layers to the mountains and generally casting grey light everywhere. Yesterday, with the approach of a super low to the north of us, the winds picked up and the rain started and we have been living through a pineapple express until just now, when it looks like things are calming down. At one point today, when the wind was near it's strongest, the clouds started breaking up a little and patches of sunlight when scudding up the Sound, flashing bright silver.

The crocuses have fallen over, and one daffodil somehow managed to flower in all the wind and rain. The little underfed rhododendron bush at the bottom of last year's new bed burst into flower two days ago and has been sitting there gasping ever since. Seems once we had the little wee cold snap, everything got into spring mode really quick.

Monday, March 3, 2003

On a walk today:

A small wren darting amongst the bamboo next to my back deck.

A flicker on a snag drumming so hard that the ground was shaking beneath my feet.

The first butterfly of the year, small and orange.

Floatplanes crisscrossing the sound, carving up the air with their buzzsaw whines, tilting over the mountains, hugging the ramparts across the channel.

Crocuses and snap dragons in full bloom, radiant purples and whites.

A white cherry from an old orchard sproting wild blossoms in the alder grove near the Cove.

One young bald eagle circling over the house, riding the gentle thermals.

Everything is on the air today, rich blue air, resting over the island with a hint of fresh cold in it but enough substance to carry the heat of the sun.

Saturday, March 1, 2003

By the way, you can donate to a relief fund for the residents of Badger at the Canadian Red Cross Badger Flood Appeal page. Join us in sending some cash their way.

In like a lamb. Not unlike last year when the weather was similar, warm and sunny and full of promise and the smell of wet mud.

I was on the road last week and before I left for the colder winter-bound parts of Canada, I took with me the picture of a family of bald eagles circling high above the house, with the adults calling to one another as they rode thermals up off the sea. The weather is so still at the moment, so slow to change that time almost seems to have blurred into one long cycle of graceful transition from sunrise to sunset and back. Nothing appears too suddenly. Clouds seem to form and build in and then gradually dissapate. Winds come up slowly and blow a little and then recede. Rain comes on and then eases off.

What has been so striking about this winter has been the lack of the meterological discontinuities that usually mark winter life on the wild coast. So few strong wind storms with their attendant rainfalls, no instant snow accumulations, no weeks of rain and darkness followed by a day of glorious sunshine to induce the sanity saving amnesia that keeps us happy through the winter. This season has been like a long dream, merely a pause between summers. A heretical season for the north, where a long winter typically prepares us for the pleasantries of summer. This year it has felt like we should be 20 degress further south than we are, at latitudes where winters hardly matter, where they play no role in marking the space between fairer seasons. Where they lack the presence required to form the psyches of their residents.

Such a winter lulls us into complacency, gives us no steel to truly enjoy the fair weather when it arrives. We forget the suffering of six months of rain and instead lean on the promise of that which we have not forgotten. I'm sure this summer will be lovely, but we may not notice. And then when November rolls around again and the winds bring buckets of rain and the darkness closes in, we will have been conditioned away from our typical responses to that season and will see it instead as embodying more agony than it truly does. Everything will seem worse, becasue this year winter passed us by.

I hope your winter has been more meaningful, wherever you are. Here it feels like what we have just come through is somehow almost "uncanadian," especially when I see what is happening in places like Badger, Newfoundland or Beresford, New Brunswick. We have escaped the tragedy of that kind of winter, thankfully, but we are different for it.