Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Salt Spring Island AA Round Up 2012

Again and again the Salt Spring Island AA Round Up has proved to be the best destination for sobriety in August. This year I sailed my off shore yacht, SV Giri, to Ganges Harbour with Laura and my cockapoo, Gilbert. It was a long day Friday with a false start because of the need to replace the Yanmar diesel engine starter. After that we connected with the passes perfectly enjoying a marvellous motor under clear skies and long over due summer sunshine.

When we arrived in the evening we were just too tired from the sun and sea to go ashore. In the morning though we were up and refreshed and dinghed ashore tying up the tender at the dock before hiking up past the school to the farmer institute.

Immediately I saw Donny, my motorcycling buddy who took me off to the Oyster Festival Biker Rally a couple of years back with a number of other sober riders. What a day that was! He was looking great and just a delight to see. So many folks one meets over the years and then we connect again at these rallies and round ups.

Pre registered, Laura and I hurried in to hear the Al Anon speaker. She was real. A beautiful woman sharing her experience strength and hope. A profound tale from the very heart and soul. One minute we were laughing and the next we were crying. The human condition unfolded as she told of her journey and the man she'd travelled through life with. It reminded me of Lois, co founder of Al Anon, wife of Bill Wilson, cofounder of AA.

Another speaker spoke right from the heart with such inspiration and hope that the room seemed to resonate love, the agape kind, that which binds people and community. Then, after the applause died down we stood and said the Serenity Prayer together. The sound of birds outside could be heard as renewed in spirit we stopped to chat with old friends. Murray's tale of Kaffkaesque beaurocracy was hilarious.

What a gift it was to see Brian again. He'd been RV'ing for the last 3 months across Canada and proceeded to tell us of his adventures in Newfoundland and meetings in the prairies. We'd hugged on meeting and then he said, "This Saltspring Island Round Up is one of my milestones. I come to it because it seems to sum up the passage I've been on the year before."

He introduced me to his friend who had over 40 years of recovery and we talked of a mutual friend who will be having a cake in Palm Springs this year to celebrate his 50 years of continuous sobriety.

Laura and I headed down the hill after that, walking back to town where I got Laura some earrings to replace the ones she'd lost on the boat. We had coffee and the breakfast sandwich at TJ Bean's. Gilbert was able to sit outside by the table where he didn't fail to beg for tidbits.

Then we made our mandatory stop at the incredible bookstore. The Market has banned dogs so we considered that off limits. They have someone dog sitting from the SPCA but Gilbert is too precious to be left with strangers while we shopped. As it was the main stores of Ganges welcomed Gilbert. Mouats had the boat part I needed. We both got jacketshells at the luxury clothing store next to it. Clouds had come up and we'd not come prepared if it rained which it did for just a bit later. We were glad for them too that evening as the clouds turned a hot summer day into a cool breezy evening.

We were back in time for another Al Anon speaker who was thoroughly entertaining with a remarkable tale that began in Europe and wove it's way through the fabric of Canadian history. This scooter riding elder was a delight to hear and so uplifting.

After that we all congregated outside to wait for the lamb roast. They have lamb and pork and vegetarian chillis. Brian joined us and we chatted up a storm about RV's and travelling. Margaret appeared too and was looking so healthy. Standing in line every now and then I 'd see someone I knew and be thankful for another year together.

Then the plates were being filled to overflowing with salads and roast and just the best makings of baked potato, sour cream and bacon bits with buns and country butter. What a feast! Not much talking happened from the moment we sat down till our plates were finished. Gilbert was happy to have a taste but settled right in to cleaning the paper plates. I was off for pie and ice cream then. I was was able to carry one for Laura and a coffee for myself.

After that the Saturday night speaker came on. A troubled man indeed who told a twisted tale that made us all thankful he was here and not there. We sat outside at the back with Gilbert on a leash as required. Occasionally a 'dry' dog would go by without a leash and no master in sight.

It was dark when Laura, Gilbert and I walked down the hill, the humans swinging pen lights to let the rare passing car better see us. Thanks to Laura we found the dinghy at night. She'd taken a better fix on our proximity to the little island. The boats we'd anchored by had gone and new ones had replaced them so I was confused and glad to follow her proposed course which disclosed the GIRI nestled behind a new arrival. Good to be aboard.

Great to talk about the meetings and chatter on about old friends and reflect on previous round ups. This was Gilbert's third. I'd come many times, by car, van, motorcycle and a few times sailing over. The last time we'd tented whereas some times I'd stayed in bed and breakfasts. The funniest time was when Bill and Brian had come and Bill had forgotten to put the fly on his tent and been thoroughly rained out. Then there was the great night Bob played guitar and sang into the wee hours. It's great to be sailing but camping with the couple of hundred other people tenting certainly is a real community level of coming together.  This year there'd been some really good musicians jamming in the campground.  I was sorry we'd miss the morning spiritual speaker and the incredible music that is so much apart of Salt Spring Island.

But then it was good to weigh anchor and head up Trinicomalli Channel to catch the turn at Porlier Pass, cross Georgia Straight in a chop and arrive home in Coal Harbour late afternoon. What a great combination, sailing and a round up. But most of all it was wonderful to see such marvellous friends and hear the stories of their lives since last we'd shared.

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