Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Perhaps in the grand tradition of naming years after the things that happen, this year should be called "the years things got paved." It would be more true to say that, starting in this past summer, parts of Bowen heretofore previously composed of gravel and potholes got a good coat of black top. It started with the sidewalks in the lower Cove and then around Christmas, the parking lot at the United Church got a coat of pavement too, and a curb and a fence to stop people backing out on to the blind corner on Miller Road. Now today, home after nearly two weeks on the road, I see that the parking lot at the Catholic Church, where the residents o Deep Bay stop to collect their mail, has had it's lakes and rivers filled in with sealed asphalt. Ah progress...

And in related "improvement" news, it seems that he Bow Mart renovations are proceeding along. The Bow-Mart was a Bowen institution, an exclusive preserve of a certain generation of island men, who each claimed a stool at the lunch bar and were served coffee and conversation until they died - some of them actually dying right there on their stools. It was the kind of place that defined an older island mentality - open and embracing of long time residents, but suspicious of newcomers, meaning anyone who had arrived in the past generation or so. That kind of thing is largely gone noe, although it survives to some extent in public meetings about zoning issues (!) but with it went a part of the island's character.

Now the Bow-Mart, under whose new ownership I cannot say, is sporting new, brighter coat of brown paint and a new deck around the outsides. It looks like it will reopen as a diner and it seems like the name s being kept and the plastic, occasionally illuminated sign on the post out front seems to be staying, a heritage marker if ever there was one.

It does seem like throw back week around here. The Queen of Capilano has finally gone for her refit - an event that usually happens every year, but didn't happen in 2006. She's off to get herself tuned up and refitted so that she doesn't take logs into her props and suffer the kinds of damage that has sidelined her the past couple of years. At any rate it means that the Bowen Queen is on duty until the beginning of April. She's a smaller and much older boat, having been built in the early 1960s, and whenever I ride her, I have a lovely sensation of actually living on an island. The Cap is nice, but she lacks the charm and inconvenience of the older boats that serve most of the inner islands. This one is rusty and cluttered, with pipes and cables exposed along the ceilings and a powerful diesal engine rumbling beneath decks. Her shabbier appearance belies the fact that she is actually a faster boat than the Cap and when the crew needs to make up time, you really feel it.

My work these days carries me far and wide and around this continent, but I am discovering that such sojourns make me eyes clearer and my heart sing more sweetly when I return here, no matter how fleetingly.