Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lillooet, Gilbert and the Godkids

I just returned on the Sea to Sky Highway, having taken the Duffy Lake Road from Lillooet to Pemberton through Whistler back to Vancouver and Burnaby.
Heading out Friday with the Palomino Maverick truck camper on the Ford F350 with the KTM690 on the front rack for the first time I stopped for the night of a logging road near Lytton.  In the morning I drove onto Lillooet where I hooked up with Kevin and Anna, Kendra, Izek and Alex.  They’d come the other side of the great circle route stopping short of Pemberton.
We arrived simultaneously in town and met at  Cookhouse Restaurant in the Reynold’s Hotel. .  They’d had breakfast but we all had drinks and  I had a perfect bacon and cheese burger.  We also had the delicious home made gravy and fries. The staff were terrific.
Kendra, Izek and Alex really like policemen for some unknown reason.  Kendra even thinks her jacket which has a badge is a police jacket. .  They all jumped up and down on their seats waving and cheering when a somewhat pleasantly surprised RCMP officer came in.  They greeted Gilbert, their friend, the same way. Gilbert couldn't stop his tail wagging and squirmed and licked all of them at once.
The Bustards are fisher folk.  Most every weekend we enjoy Kevin's pictures of them all catching rainbow trout.  This day Kevin caught a lovely rainbow and damned if I didn’t too.  Meanwhile Gilbert, Kendra, Alex and Izek were in heaven messing in the dirt.  It was raining.  So what.  Fish were biting.
We parked by the river and decided rather than going on to a campground just to stay there. It really was a nice wilderness spot a little off the highway.
I’d brought steaks but we had enough rainbow for everyone coupled with the corn, potatoes and herb butter and sour cream I’d brought. Kevin cooked up the fish and beans while I boiled the potatoes and Anna barbecued the corn.  The kids and Gilbert played everywhere in the camper and around the grounds. The meal was heavenly.   We had plums and hot cross buns for dessert.  With kids meals are a more rewarding communal rite especially when we hold hands and say grace at the beginning.
Later while I answered an endless stream of questions from the kids, “what’s this for?’ ‘what’s this.’   Anna and Kevin put up their tent.  The adults had tea and coffee and talked about adult things with the three kids sneaking across from the tent to the trailer to listen at the screen door repeatedly until Kevin finally said a boogeyman would get them if they didn’t stay in the tent. They are afraid of bogeymen.
We had all attended St. James Anglican Church and reminisced about Father Mark and our time there. I told them how Father Mark had welcomed Gilbert to the church but said he wasn’t sure about me. His two big dogs had joined us and  became Gilbert’s church friends.  We discussed the Christian revival all over the world, especially in the former USSR, and Poland,  the persecution of Christians in Islamic nations, especially the Coptics and by the Atheist Communists in China. The place of family and values and challenges to the faith, were all part of the discussion.   Kevin had started as a Pentecostal,   I’d started as a Baptist,  Now we'd all become friends as Anglicans.
Kevin and Anna left to join their kids while I and Gilbert bedded down in the  camper,  During the bouts of rain it had served  as a terrific dry haven with running hot and cold water, a working refrigerator and an indoor toilet Kendra had earlier become enamoured by.  She used so much soap in the sink my grey water was full of bubbles.
The night before had been a full moon but this night was intermittent rain,  a good thing given all the forest fires BC had been plagued by.
In the morning  I awoke and put on the expresso coffee and boiled water for Anna's tea. The three munchkins had slipped out of the tent first and were shortly followed by the parents  thankful for the cups of hot coffee and tea I handed them.   The kids liked the tangerines, plums, ham and cheese croissants and yogurts I thought to bring.
Family and food.  I was surprised 3 adults and 3 kids fit in the camper booth but we did.  Prayers and meals .  Then we were breaking up the camp  to go to another a fishing hole Kevin knew.   I never did get my motorcycle off the rack but we had to shovel away some gravel to get it clearance for it to get back onto the road.
The evergreen scenery, mountains and streams and Duffy Lake, the twisting turning Duffy Lake Road was all such a joy to travel along. Given all the  times I’ve travelled this route, either on motorcycle ,or in car or hunting in a truck, I never tire of it. It’s truly one of my favourite  drives  of all times.
At Pemberton, another favourite town, we all got MacDonald’s Burgers  including an Angus paddy for Gilbert.
The next fishing hole included  quite the climb down to the roaring river.  The kids and 4 wheel drive Gilbert had no difficulty but I had to go down on hands to avoid falling.  Unfortunately I’d broken the tip of my rod so was just along for pictures.  The fisher folk caught more rainbow.  Kendra  was ecstatic when she caught her fish, doing a little dance while Anna extracted the hook and bonked the fish with a rock.
A great family weekend.  I was reminded of fishing with my mom and dad my brother Ron watching Kevin and Anna helping the kids with rods and hooks and worms. I remember Mom and Dad having the patience of saints with the tangles I’d get my line in.  
What a wonderful tradition.  It was  so much fun for me  to be apart of this fisherfolk family weekend.    Gilbert thinks he’s one of the kids. They’re just great with him.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Story - Lovers at the end of the day

She lay immortal in the mere sheath of a body. Aged to the very lightness of being, her heart beating like a feather on a very old but true drum.

He lay beside her in a separate bed, crisp white sheets over the now withered hulk of so many dreams and adventures.  

They reminisced together in the twilight reminding each other of forgotten friends and rare moments of tears and laughter.

Now and then a young man or woman in pastel uniform would come with a tray or medicine.  

Then their conversation would continue and they’d smile. There were tears in her eyes and his too.  The conversation was so rich.

“They’ve not spoken now for  days,?” The nurse told the doctor as he made his rounds.

  “But they’re still smiling.” He asked.  


“No food or fluids.” 


“It won’t be long now. Unusual that they should go together.”

The conversation continued as they rose and walked to the light leaving the noise and worry behind.  She was radiant as was he. Two children, like when they’d met. Lovers on a playground.  How soon they’d forgotten.  Now it was all coming back as they joined friends and family.

Their bodies were removed and buried beneath happy trees. The grass was thankful.  Few stood around remembering.  

The laughter in the light was louder now. The hugs and smiles and touches on the cheek from light fingered hands melting together in an envelope of love.  Too precious.  And still they talked.  As only old lover can.  With familiarity and respect and a little bit of sacred wonder.  

How long has it been that you’ve loved me now, she asked.

An eternity. He replied.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Salt Spring Island Rally 2018

It’s an annual prilgrimmage of the very best sort. Murray told us this is his 13th year in a row.  It must be nearly a dozen times for me.  I told Laura I love going because Harley Murray and Forestry Brian are always there and I love those guys.  Deeply spiritual men who really take service seriously.
Saturday morning  Laura and I walked into the Old Farmer’s Institute and were caterpulted into the 4th dimension.  Forestry Brian was serving coffee and Harley Murray was cleaning up tables. Murray had come on his Harley and was tenting.  Brian had brought his Big Foot Camper.
We’d come over on Friday night on the 8 pm ferry to Fulford Harbour before driving through Ganges up past the school to the Farmer’s Institute. The air was thick with smoke still smelling of burnt toast. Not nearly as bad as Vancouver. Vancouver with the surrounding forest fires, some lightning, some terrorist was rated the worst air quality in North America. All outdoor fires were banned. 
Lots of folk who would normally come didn’t because of the fear of fires.Half the tents and campers normally there. I set up my little North Face in the head lights of the Ford truck.  Behind us was the new trailer of a lady with an endless group of young ladies she said.
Laura wasn’t happy with tenting as we’d planned to bring the camper.  Gilbert, the blind cockapoo, however, thought this was perfect. He involved himself directly in all dressing and undressing maneuvers since tenting we were always at his level. Through the night, I learned later, he fought Laura for her pillow while I snored.  
 In the morning we walked up to the communal septic system toilets. None broke down this year so no line ups. The shower system was equally successful with lots of hot water and everyone happy with the flow. Laura wasn’t enthusiastic with communal facilities and waiting in line for a shower. No training in military or prison with harsh memories of catholic school. She did meet a big dog and his lovely owner once when Gilbert accompanied her and the neighbours big dog wanted to play with Gilbert in her stall. 
Wanting to cheer her up, “I reminded her there were no bears tenting this year.” She found the grizzly warning signs disconcerting when I’d told her there were no bears where we were camping then. 
Personally I loved the coffee and muffins. After her shower and a muffin I could tell she’d moved forward at least to humming the Monty Python song, Always look on the bright side of life”
 I love holding hands in a large circle for those brief moments of communal prayer. It’s not something very popular in the DTES. But there we all were out in the country, no traffic sounds, birds tweeting and us all talking to God. In Government circles that’s a downright dirty word. Yet here we were all full of gratitude and praise.There’s so much to be said in touching hands and bowing heads.  I really am blessed to be a part of something as deep and universal. 
The speakers were the best too. Sharing their experience strength and hope while having us all laughing at the dastardly shenanigans we all got up to in some form or other. Egomaniacs with inferiority complexes. What inspiration. What tales of transformation. Caterpillars, butterflies and saints. 
I loved the music too, always an unforgettable part of the Salt Spring Island Rally experience.. The band was spectacular. How do young people get so accomplished so quick. The dance was fun. Laura had gone to bed not having slept the first night. I just looked on nostalgic for the years of dancing all night long, the television shows and competitions. Now It was past my bed time too.
Near our tent a group of musicians were jamming over the weekend.  At first I’d  wondered why someone  stopping the cd and playing it over again. Only when I looked to looked over did I  see these were real humans. What talent!Fabulous.  
What a fabulous weekend. So much talent and such comraderie.  Not only were Brian and Murray there but a whole lot of folk from up and down Island and Vancouver.  
When they did the countdown it seemed like half the place was over 20 years while the other half was under 2. Quite the spread.
Iloved meeting Zack who was at his first Salt Spring Rally.  Anne Marie and a whole group of beautiful women were there roughing it.  Lots of guys and couples on motorcycles.  We met Kate and she was just visiting Ganges never having heard of the great secret of the Salt Spring Island Rally.  She promised to come back next year if only because she’d fallen in love with Salt Spring Island.
The spiritual speaker was the best.  Wow!  She was from Winnipeg. She knew Rev. Bruce Myles.  Names from the past. Brian who was also in Winnipeg years back had the same nostalgic joy hearing her story.   Great names of people and places that touched her and all of us who knew that part of creation back in the day.  
Laura and I went into Ganges in the truck for hot dogs at the outdoor stand. Later I rode the electric bicycle in to pick up tent pegs, half of mine having gone awol with the socks from the laundry.The sun was surreal with the smoke in the air. 
I love the organizers of Salt Spring Island Rally. Every year they do this wonderful service to the community, organizing the place, ensuring all the permits are done, arranging for people and food to be there, then cleaning up.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The famous Salt Spring Island Farmer’s market was on on Saturday packed with tourists and locals. Laura got some rhubarb scented soap. Other years we have bought jewelry and art and tomatoes.  The town was packed with happy people. I love Mowats, where I got the tent pegs and Laura found a lovely nautical dress.  No time for our favourite Black Sheep Bookshop this visit though. Other times we’ve been lost for hours there.
Kirk, my friend from childhood, now lives on Salt Spring so lunched on the deck of the Oystercatcher overlooking the vast array of yachts docked and anchored in Ganges. My SV GIRI had been there dozens of times.
This day Kirk and I reminisced about Fort Gary after I told him our spiritual speaker had been from the Peg and knew Rev. Bruce Miles. We reviewed the lives of family, and some childhood friends. I was pleased to learn the Laidlaw’s still owned the Minaki cabin I’d been invited to as a kid. It’s funny to me to hear us now old guys talk about the nephews and neices of our our older siblings remembering events fifty years ago. Who would have guessed. Namaste.  
All round, as always, The Salt Spring Island Rally weekend was a truly wonderful spiritual experience. 
 When I am with so many people walking upright sharing in the celebration of wholesomeness,  I feel so much closer to my higher power. The laughter is infectious. All of this wonderfulness happening on Salt Spring Island my all time favourite of the Canadian Gulf Islands, itself a centre from creativity, artistically and musically. 
 Also the lamb and cheese. It’s a farming island and the lamb and cheese are the very best.  Our lamb roast supper was as always the best too. Talking with Brian about his retirement and spiritual journey was one of those unforgettable gifts, like Murray,  who shared his early days and later years and doing service volunteering in prisons.  
 I’ve know Brian and Murray more than a decade and we converse little different from the way Kirk and I talk and we’ve know each other half a century.  Childhood friends are so very special but in the spiritual programs of community we are blessed to meet some who remind one of loved brothers and sisters of family and child hood friends.That’s a part of the spirituality and the sense of synchronicity and flow. Living in the sacred.  Everything despite the smoke in the air a bit brighter and surreal.  
I love this and live for this sense of prescience.  The band played Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in Ganges square that day.  That last Sunday morning we all sang, “Make me a channel of your peace” in unisonand harmony. Let me bring hope. Thanks to all.