Just a word of warning: folks with delicate sensibilities may find the subject of this post somewhat unsavoury. If you are on the squeamish side, you may want to give it a miss…. Continue reading “The Long Drop….”
December 31, 2016
Less than half an hour until the next year begins to unfurl. C. reminded me today that we first bumped into one another at a different New Year’s Eve celebration with old friends on another island 34 long years ago. It is already nearly 25 years since I came to live on this island with C. What I want to know is, “Where does the time go?”
…and snow all over
Winter has arrived. Snow covers the ground like a duck down duvet. Snow hangs from the boughs of the trees and snow is beginning to fall again. It is a winter wonderland out here on the islands.
C.’s brother N. is visiting from the city. He came up to the island to help butcher the big mule deer that C. brought home from the last hunting trip of the season. Three days ago it began to snow and now N. is stuck here for the moment, trapped by the snow-obliterated road on the next island that leads to the outside world. This morning I called the fellow who maintains the roads there. He cheerfully told me that he had just got the grader repaired, and that he probably would not be able to get plowing out to the end of the road until Monday; too much snow to be dealt with first on the south end of that island. He had already been part way out by truck and had removed a fallen tree that was also blocking the route. Continue reading “Black and White…”
….home from the hill
Yesterday afternoon I went down to the end of the road in the skiff to collect C. and his mountain of winter-camping gear. He was coming home from his annual hunting trip to the Interior of the province.
Ever since I dropped C. off two weeks ago I have been holding the fort here at home. The weather has been wet and mild, until a couple of days ago, when the season turned the corner to reveal winter coming down the pipeline. As I write, an icy wind is beginning to stir, a storm is brewing.
C. has been going off on expeditions like this every November since I came to join him on this island nearly 25 years ago. He has spent the last two weeks camping in a canvas wall tent, complete with a wood-fired heater, along with his brother and adult son, quietly hiking around the hills of the Interior of the province, looking for mule deer that live in that region.
…for all areas
It has been one of the wettest autumns I have ever seen anywhere. I think. These days my memory seems to play tricks on me, so perhaps I’m just not remembering a wetter October and November in any of the places I have lived, in several places on this planet, during my lifetime.
The other morning the weatherman on the regional CBC morning radio told his listeners that there was “a chance of showers for all areas”. I was looking out the living room window at the time, watching a veritable wall of water descend from the heavens above as a solid stream of water poured from the broken gutter onto the ground below. “You don’t say?”
of a remote island dweller…and chronic tea drinker!
People who live elsewhere often ask, “What do you do all day long on your island.” How do I begin to describe a typical day in this place I call home? There are seasonal differences and a day in my life as a remote, off grid island dweller depends a lot on the weather, among other things.
Let’s take last Tuesday for example. I woke up earlier than usual with the sound of C.’s alarm clock chiming. Still dark outside, I could hear the incessant rainfall on the roof. C. had plans to leave for his annual winter camping and deer-hunting trip to the interior of the province. I needed to get up too, in order to take him and all his gear, in the skiff, down the channel, to the end of the road on the next island where our car stays when we are at home on this island. Have I mentioned that there is no ferry service to our island?
While we ate breakfast the rain stopped, temporarily, for the first time in many, many days. C. was able to load his gear into the skiff without it all getting soaked. We both got dressed for the open boat ride; layers of warm clothing topped off with heavy duty rain gear and rubber boots. From home, it’s a fifteen minute run, in a fast boat, to the end of the road. Continue reading “A Day in The Life…”
…and the home fire burning
The past few days have been a bit of a nightmare. The gobsmacking conclusion to the long, drawn out drama to the south has left a grim cloud hanging over the world as we knew it. I have been trying to calm the “fight or flight” sensation that I woke up with the morning after the U.S. election. Thinking of something warm and cozy and closer to home seems to help fend off the sinister, dark thoughts, and this made me think of the good warmth within our island home. Continue reading “The Heat…”
I have been away for a couple of days. It was my first trip to town on the Big Island in over a month. We were down to our last 20 pound tank of propane gas, which we use to operate the kitchen stove, so it really was time to do a town trip.
The trip to town for stocking up on fuel and provisions is a much loathed ordeal, and is fodder for a proper, longer story. Today I was not planning to write about town trips so I shall save that for another time.
I wanted to mention another, much nicer story, before any more time passed and the subject became totally irrelevant; while it was still fresh in my mind.
At the beginning of this week it was Halloween, the first dry day in about a month as luck would have it. Halloween is a much celebrated occasion in neighbourhoods across the country and beyond. When we were kids we used to love getting dressed up in funny costumes. We used to go out just before dark and parade around the streets, knocking on neighbour’s doors and calling out trick or treat, holding out the inevitable old pillow cases, begging for sweet surprises. Continue reading “Trick or Treat!”
The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking about writing yet another little story about making edible food products from excess garden produce. As usual I had the VHF (very high frequency) marine radio turned on, monitoring channel 16, the emergency Coast Guard channel. I thought the following story was more important than the question of what to do with all the green tomatoes sitting on the back porch.
It was around 2 pm when I heard the radio come to life with a man’s voice calling from the fishing vessel, the Proud Canadian. He was hailing the Victoria Coast Guard radio station. The vessel was not far from here, a seine boat I think, that may have been fishing for chum salmon or was perhaps on its way to deliver its load down south.
I listened in alarm while the caller calmly told the Coast Guard that a member of the crew, one of five on board, had just been hit in the head by a tow line and was now lying, unconscious, on the stern deck of the seine boat. As the minutes passed, I heard the caller mention that the injured man was coming to. The radio dispatcher replied. Would a medical evacuation be required? Did the seine boat have a telephone? They had two, a cell phone and a satellite telephone, but there was no signal for the cell phone to work, and later when the Coast Guard tried to call the seiner back they said they could not get through on the satellite phone either. So the call continued on the VHF radio phone.
I listened carefully to the real life drama through the receiver of my own marine radio telephone, located on the shelf above the kitchen sink. As I did, many thoughts raced through my mind. I have lived and worked on or near the water in remote locations for a large part of my life, and I understand how important good communication systems and protocol are in emergency situations like this. They can be a matter of life and death. This is a fact. Continue reading “Sending Out An S.O.S.”
a few more details about the process…
The harvest continues here on the island as the temperatures gradually drop and the season changes before our eyes. Summer is really over now. The maple and alder trees are dropping their autumn leaves and the baring limbs stand in stark contrast to the deep green backdrop of the thick coniferous forest behind our house.
I’ve been busy putting the garden to bed for the winter. The last of the tomatoes have been picked, despite still being as green as grass. They will ripen gradually over time, set out on the counter in the cool laundry room at the back of the house. The garlic has been planted in between the rain storms and I finally got around to picking the last of the apples yesterday, filling a large box with lovely crisp, tart-sweet, yellowish green apples from our orchard.
Garlic being planted with organic fertilizer in shallow trenches.
In my last post I wrote about my drying experiments using excess produce from the garden along with the heat from our woodstove. At least one reader indicated interest in the process, so I thought I would share a few more details of my current pastime. Continue reading “More about Drying”