A Long Dry Spell

It’s been twenty-four days since I’ve done WordPress clicks.  Not so long ago, I faced a similar, if shorter, dilemma.  I just didn’t want to write.  I’m tempted now to look back and see what I expressed last time, and not to repeat myself.  But that would be silly.  I’ll just say what’s true in the moment.

I’ve been busy doing this and doing that, going here and going there, watching electricians, plumbers and bricklayers doing their thing.  But none of that is an excuse.  And I really don’t need an excuse.  I’ve simply done what I’ve done.  My small brain says that it’s better to write but a larger perspective allows all of life to unfold.

I’ve had nothing to say.  And in the times when that’s not been true, I haven’t had the oomph to say it.  Both are beyond the realms of good and bad, I feel.

I’d like to write that today’s post marks a resurgence in Bruce’s interest in communicating online, that I’ll return immediately to my rhythm of blogging about every two days out of three.  But that would be dishonest.  I simply don’t know what will draw me tomorrow.

I’ve just spent five days in the heat of Chicago, and four more of the same in Toronto.  The first was a marvelous experience of women’s golf – the top eight countries in the world and the top four players from each one, battling in head-to-head duels.  Then it was men’s tennis – some fierce matches between top echelon players.  Stunning moments in both locales, worthy of writing about.  I found, though, that all was coloured by the humidity … some physical and much emotional.  And so no words passed these fingers.

Enough for today.  Maybe more in days to come.

Becoming Home

I went to the site of my condo today.  Two days ago, the cement foundation was all there was to see.  As I walked towards 12-132 Robin Ridge Drive in Belmont, there was wood!  The base floor was laid and one of the walls of the garage was up.  Oh, Lordy.  I’m just a bit excited.

As I rounded my neighbours’ home, there sat the crew, enjoying a lunch break in the shade.  I asked if I might join them and was welcomed in.  Five young men, happy to talk and happy to share my newspaper.  We were just folks, playing differing roles in the erection of my home, but all needing some respite from the power of the sun.

Soon it was time for them to get back to work and for me to resume gazing upon my emerging kingdom.  Except that the sun’s rays had found their way to our sanctuary.  I looked across the street at a condo that was for sale.  The porch was in shade, and soon my lawn chair and I were too.

The guys had arranged a bunch of 2×4’s on the floor and were soon power stapling to beat the band.  My home … appearing before my eyes.  Those young men were working hard for me in the heat.  Thank you, gentlemen.

Number 12 was no longer just a flat expanse of grey concrete.  That one vertical wall would soon be joined by another.  I decided to record this on my laptop in real time but even in the shade I couldn’t see the screen.  So I got up from my throne, left it sitting there, and drove to … here – the library.  Soon I’ll return to the scene of the action and will no doubt resume my state of ownership bliss.  I’ve never had a new home.  I’ve never seen it take shape.  And I’ve never been a Belmontonian.  Soon.

Haida Gwaii … Whales

On a wilderness shore sits the remains of a whaling station which operated in the early 1900’s.  Our group landed at Rose Harbour in the Zodiac and explored the beach, including intertidal life.  Perched above us were two rusting boilers, huge sentries of the whaling industry.  I got to poke my head inside and imagine the carcasses dropped into the top hole, the oil that was saved at the side, and the bones which filled the floor.

I thought of the whales, fifty feet and more, who gave their lives to feed man’s desire for lamps and soap.  And I was sad.  But I also thought about the families on Haida Gwaii who depended on these animals for their livelihood.  Scratching out an existence so far from civilization must have been a monumental task.  So little in life seems to be black and white.

I saw the ancient ramp that served as the resting place for these beings, and the spot where their flesh was carved up in preparation for the boilers.  And I felt back in time … to the whales and human beings of a century ago.

Later that same day, Captain Greg told us about a whale who had died last October.  It was washed up on a beach and was decomposing there.  Did we want to go?  There would be a horrible stink to the place …  We all wanted to be there.

As we came ashore and walked towards the big brown shape, the wind at our backs meant the experience was just visual … so far.  But then we were ten feet away and I’ll never forget the smell.  Part of me wanted to run away but the bigger part wanted to be in the presence of death.

My late friend was probably eighty feet long.  Its flesh was falling off its bones and puddling in the hollows.  Huge vertebrae were bleaching in the sun.  And we were transfixed.  I moved closer.  I could have reached out and touched him or her.  It was a communion.

Some of us talked.  Many of us didn’t.  There was really nothing to say in the presence of such grandeur and sadness.

Hundreds of whales near Haida Gwaii remain free, lifting their tails high as they feed on herring.  May it ever be so.  And may we humans continue to receive the nourishment we need.

Haida Gwaii … The Best Ten Minutes

From June 12 to the 19th, I was a passenger on a 90-foot wooden ship which was built in 1904.  The Maple Leaf took us to wondrous spots amid the islands of Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands).  We were an hour-and-a-half north of Vancouver by plane.

There is much to say, so why don’t I start at the end?

The last evening on board, Captain Greg invited us into the wheelhouse for a slide show of our trip.  That’s why he and First Mate Ashley were taking all those photos!  We cozied up and watched our moments together .. so many smiles and cheers!

As the last slide showed its face, Greg asked us to think of our favourite ten minutes on board or on shore.  Someone next to me started.  I wasn’t a good human being right then.  Instead of listening, I prepared my oration.  I would talk about a time when we were in our Zodiac inflatable boat and Greg took us into a cave opening.  It was sublimely green and quiet.  And so were we (the quiet part, I mean).  Okay, I’m ready.

“Why don’t we go in this direction.  Bruce?”

Inside, the voice said “No”.  No to the cave.  Yes to … the log.  I protested to myself a bit.  “Nobody wants to hear that.”  >  “The log.”

And so I began.  “My favourite ten minutes was a time when I was terrified.  We were walking through the forest.  I was last in line.”  As we rounded a luxuriant corner, there sat a log across a creek.  It was a big log, with a one foot flat part shaved off the top for walking.  I gulped inconspicuously.  I’m afraid of heights.  Whether the drop is six feet or six hundred, my brain puts me in trouble.

“It’s okay, Bruce.  Just walk assertively.”  The journey was maybe thirty feet.  I was about ten feet on when our mother-daughter duo (Jenny and Miranda), made a joyful decision to sit down amidships for a photo op.  Trudy, our naturalist, was ready on the far shore with a camera.  The three of them were all giggly.  Such happiness in the face of disaster.

There I was, nowhere to go.  My muscles tightened.  I froze.  I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and walk off the way I came.  “Say something, Bruce.  You need help.”  >  “But what will they think of me?”  >  “Speak.”

“Trudy, I have big balance issues.”

In a shot, Trudy put down the camera and splashed across the creek.

In a shot, Miranda leapt up from the log and was walking towards me.

Miranda reached out for my right hand.  Trudy reached out for the left.  We held tight.  And there was the union I long for in life.  Timeless.  The three of us walked back to the safety of the trail.  And then we crossed the creek on a few stones.

Caves?  Eagles?  Humpback whales?  All marvelous.  But none of them was the best.