Thursday, January 29, 2004

The ever shifting world of Bowen Island eateries is in for another change. La Mangerie, a nice spot at Artisan Square, folded up their tent in the fall and the building, which has the nicest view of any restaurant on the island has been sitting dark since then.

Losing La Mangerie was big for me becasue they were both a bakery and a live music venue. Their bread was phenomenal: huge loaves of multigrain, one slice of which was enough for dinner. And for a couple of years the restaurant played a valuable role in promoting the vibrant and eclectic live music scene on Bowen, with Friday night performances.

So last week, the loaves appeard at the Ruddy Potato, Bowen's natural food store. Upon investigating further, it seems that the room on the hill is getting a facelift and a new name, and although they are baking bread, the new restaurant under the name of "Bowen Bistro" is yet to open. SHould be exciting when it does, and hopefully live music will follow.

Down in the Cove itself, Lily Hooper's Teahouse has also changed hands, sold by Liz Fincham to daughter Sam. Liz and Sam have been running it together since it opened, and Sam is an amazing talent with the soup pot. The most amazing soups have come out of the tiny kitchen in the back, the smells wafting out to mingle with the scent of dozens of jars of loose tea. Sam made a Laotian coconut noodle soup a while back that blew me away. I can't wait to see what else she has up her sleeve.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Robert Brady at Pure Land Mountain is chopping wood again:

Doing the firewood-splitting extended meditation today I was feeling how good it feels to actually be physically involved, flame-for-flame as it were, in the heating of your own home, as opposed to working 40~50 hour weeks at a desk in an office to pay an oil truck to now and then come and dump a few thousand gallons of anciently gathered nonrenewable solar energy into a very expensive oil tank to run through a very expensive central heating system at prices that will soon be skyrocketing, as we slurp up the last of what the sun laid far down in the earth hundreds of millions of years ago.

I know in my body, with my muscles, the actual cost of the heat I get, the ergonomic cost of every kilocalorie. I know how much breakfast it takes and how much energy it takes (my own and the firewood's) to heat my house for an hour or a day, and what my own muscles have done and must do to make it so. That knowledge (physical, spiritual and mental) keeps me warm on several levels.

And by respecting and fostering the source, and doing my own best to minimize general waste (which this intimacy makes patent), I am fully and directly involved in maintaining a broader aspect of my life. Who drilled your oil/gas? Where? Off the coast of California? The Alaskan wilderness? Have you ever seen an abandoned oilfield? An oil drum dump? Soon your oil/gas may be coming from Yosemite, or Yellowstone, or following more unexplained wars in the Middle East.

In any case, oil/gas is energy borrowed from the past, and one day it will all run out. If we are still around despite our depredations, what will a bit of heat cost then? Best to keep our bodies in good shape, with natural exercise, so that our children can see the worth of it. For total fluidity of movement and use of every muscle while being pleasantly productive, nothing in a gym can touch gardening or firewooding, a couple of good natural routines.

I love this too, being connected to the sources of heat that keep us warm. This winter we are heating with alder from the south part of the Island and primarily hemlock mill ends from a mill in Langley, on the continent. A lot of them bear the stamp of the now defunct CLMA, The Cariboo Lumber Manufacturer's Association. That means the wood came from the central plateau, was trucked to the Lower Mainland, sawed, kiln dried and trimmed. The trimmings were piled up on a wood lot, scooped into a large dump truck and driven to my house in October of 2002.

In carefully burning mill ends, we are using a waste product that would otherwise be allowed to decompose, get chipped or be disposed of in landfill.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Community Review of the Snug Cove Village Plan is rooted in some citizen driven processes that some of us put together in the summertime. It's intended to be a citizen-based collaborative response to the Snug Cove Plan. If you are a Bowen resident, you should have a look around the site and add your two cents.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Bowen Islander and big dreamer Michael Henderson has launched the website for The Moon Resort and Casino, a project that is looking for a home.

It is BIG thinking personified...

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'm back to blogging with the Ecotone community who are looking at Coming And Going this week.

Our regular ferry, the Queen of Capilano has gone for her annual refit, and in her place we have the smaller and much older Bowen Queen. The Bowen Queen was first pressed into service with BC Ferries in 1965 and she mostly fills in as a replacement vessel these days on the islands. Unlike the "Cap," the Bowen Queen is a much more utilitarian looking vessel. Walking on the car deck is hazardous, as there are pipes and spigots sticking out all over the place and the headroom means ducking and weaving between cars to get the passenger lounges. There are two lounges on either side of the first level and one lounge up top. When the blinds are down over the windows in the early morning or in the evening, it feels a little like the inside of a box car.

She's actually a faster boat, but because she is smaller, there are often overloads and delays and the schedule can get pretty messed up. Inconvenience aside, I like her because it feels much more like we live on an island when we sail on the Bowen Queen. The Cap is a luxury liner in comparison, and it's easy to take that boat for granted.

Coming and going gets more challenging this week, but also demands that we become more mindful of the act of getting to and from the continent and that's never a bad thing.

Think of the Bowen Queen as our annual dharma teacher.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Warm southeasterlies last night eatig up what's left of the snow. It's really warm here now, and the thaw seems to have extended all the way up Mount Gardner.

Finn, Caitlin and I went for a walk around Killarney Lake yesterday. The lake froze over last week and apparently there was skating there, a once in a decade opportunity, and I missed it. Around the lake there were some impressive maples that had toppled under the weight of the New Year's ice storm and shattered into thousands of pieces. They leave big clearings in the forest which will help the undergrowth to get going then to be followed by Douglas-fir saplings.

A shattered maple is a awe-filled thing to behold.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Almost all the snow is gone now. Yesterday a haze of vapour hung over the island as the land shed all this moisture into the much warmer air. It nearly hit ten degrees.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

I took a walk through the woods in Crippen Park today to see what effect the thaw was having and I was pretty surprised. On New Year's Eve the rain and freezing rain brought some trees down and some larger branches. Some of these landed on salmonberry bushes, and broke the canes. A couple of the patches of bushes are ruined for this year, but they weren't highly producing anyway so the regrowth will probably be good. One patch that delivers pretty juicy berries on an annual basis was pretty heavily bent over too, but we'll have to wait until spring to see how it affects the berries.

Lots of prints in the snow too, deer and squirrels as well as trampled patches where the juncos have been chasing seed. That's something I miss from living in a place with winter. I love tracking animals.

The snow is more than half gone now and it should be asll washed away by the weekend with the exception of the large piles by the sides of the road.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004

Raining today. The snow is leaving and so too is winter it seems.

Temperature is getting up near five degrees and the world is covered in a foot of slush.


Tuesday, January 6, 2004

It's snowing heavily again today, all kinds of different snow. We are expecting 30cms or so and perhaps some freezing rain after that. It may be a very nasty couple of days until we get a thaw.

Last night, just before the storm clouds built into the Sound, I stepped out into the night to relish it. It was calm and clear and the fullish moon lit everything up. There is lots of snow already underfoot, crunchy and dry after having all the moisture sapped out of it by a few days of -10 at night.

Now the roads are covered again and the trees are starting to wear a dusting. This snow is much dryer now than the last one so it isn't sticking. It's easier to move with a broom.

It feels funny writing about snow. When I was a kid in Ontario of course it snowed every winter, and I never thought much about it. I always loved it when it snowed, but it never completely absorbed me like it does now. I can spend hours peering out my window at the grey light and the grey sea watching flakes drift to the earth.

Emily, at Stinky Cat, posted some memories of being a kid on Bowen when it snowed. Lovely reflections.

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Today's weather, shamelessly ripped from Markus and Emily's blog

I realize that this is not the hardest place in Canada to spend winter, but we are in the middle of what would pass for normal winter conditions in the rest of the country, but which are really unusual for the south coast.

For a start, it's sunny.

The temperature has dropped, and is hovering around -8 right now. But the Squamish wind is incredible, gusting around 80 km/h out in the Channel which drops the windchill to -19. The snow is all frozen now and what is left of it on the trees is falling like small rocks from the heights as the wind blows it down. In the forest behind the house I can hear branches snapping off and plunging to earth. It's crazy.

I haven't seen the waves in the Channel look like this ever. Yesterday morning you could have surfed on the gale. Apparently in 1990 there was a similar encounter with wintry conditions and high Squamish winds that knocked the power out on the island for a week in some places. The grid is more stable these days, but the power goes on and off like clockwork. Every night we lose it for a couple of hours and then it's on by 7:30 or so in the morning. That's fine for us, but my 70 year old neighbour heats with electricity and last night she was up at four in the morning trying to get a fire started with some wet pine she has for firewood. I cut her a bunch of kindling and brought a box of kiln dried mill ends over to her this afternoon.

This has been a freaky year for weather. The predictions for the winter have already come true. Forecast says it'll warm up early in the week, so all this stuff should be gone by next weekend. In the meantime, it's nice that we get the reminder of what it's like to live in Canada in January.

Thursday, January 1, 2004

New Year's Eve was spent at home, watching a video and eating homemade pasta. The snow continued and was changeable , sometimes becoming a light rain, and sometimes becoming big fat flakes. There was a lot of weight being added to the trees, and around 11pm things started to give way. Several bombs of snow, ice and fir needles landed on our roof, shaking the whole house. Predictably, the power flickered several times and then went out at about 1:00am on New Year's Day.

At the stroke of midnight, I stepped out on to the deck and took in the auditory soundscape. The snow was silent, but from far away a din rose from Vancouver where every boat in the harbour was sounding it's whistle. It was eerie hearing it drift across the water in the silent snowstorm. There has been no wind to speak of and the cold air carries sound with crystal clarity.

After a good's night sleep, we decided to spend New Year's Day in a traditional Canadian manner, by putting on swim trunk and driving over to Bowen Bay for the annual Polar Bear swim. At the stroke of 2:00pm, Aine, myself and about thirty other Bowen Islanders headed QUICKLY into the frigid North Pacific for a swim. It was freezing cold. After getting out and drying off, we warmed ourselves around a huge beach bonfire and sipped Shaftsbury Ale and caught up with friends.

Happy New Year to all.