2018 has been an adventure for us. Selling our condo, living with relatives for 2 months (eternally grateful for the hospitality and getting to make up for all the years of not seeing enough of a dear sister), travelling all over British Columbia like a couple of gypsies in a Westfalia, and finally buying our fixer-upper house in Vanderhoof and starting the ground-up restoration … literally. Somewhere in there we have found a little time for our writing and a smidgen of time for visiting with mother and other relatives and experiencing small-town life, northern style. We sincerely hope that 2019 will bring more of all that to us. We make plans, but life rarely follows them. Like I said, it’s an adventure.
To those dear friends we left behind, to new friends and followers in the blogoshere, to far-flung family we don’t see often enough and to the ones who have always been dear but are now also near . . .
Or more accurately, today we make history! October 17, 2018, recreational marijuana is now legal in Canada. Wherever you stand on the issue, I’m just pointing out the fact. And then I’m saying that I think this is an appropriate move in the right direction. But that’s all I’m saying (On that subject. For now!)
Today is also one year since we lost Gord Downie, a Canadian treasure. Not just an amazing talent, but a truly remarkable human who took every opportunity to throw his full weight behind issues of social justice that he believed in. He brought considerable attention to the travesty of residential schools in Canada. We need to make right with the survivors of that horror, we need to take a very close look and see how something this awful could come about, and then we need to make sure that something like this can never happen again to anyone in our great country. Because I think we can be a truly great country if we commit ourselves to being great for each and every citizen. That’s my opinion and this is my blog, so I get to spout it. You can disagree with me (or agree!) in the comments. But let’s be polite – this is Canada, after all!
(I have a great Tragically Hip story of my own, but I wrote it and lost it … I’ll rewrite as a post some time!)
Less earth moving, but still important to me on this day, we gave SweetEsther a good and thorough scrub and once-over, winterized and parked her for the winter. As we scrubbed away the bug guts, wildfire ash, and tar splatters of the summer, we talked about what we could do over the winter. And the consensus is that we need to work hard now on the house renos, get those finished early enough so we can spend the spring getting the Westy pimped out for Summer 2019. We have parts waiting for installation, and plans to work on the lighting, upholstery and replace tables, engine rebuild (hopefully!) But all of that will have to wait until the snow falls and subsequently melts … until then, we plan and dream. And reno. And explore life in a small northern town. All part of the adventure!
The view from my deck at 4pm today. The ash covers everything. My eyes and lungs sting. The region of Bulkley-Nechako in is a State of Emergency, Nearby towns are under evacuation orders. And nothing but hot dry weather in the forecast.
The air is very heavy, both literally and metaphorically. I’m trying to unpack the rest of my kitchen today, but it’s hard to find the spirit to do it. I want to send up positive vibes and prayers for those fleeing their homes, both the humans and the wildlife, but it’s hard to find the spirit to do it. I should probably be readying SweetEsther just in case we too get an evacuation notice. Weirdly, I’m roaming distractedly in my little WWII era house, feeling a bit nostalgic (not in a good way.) Maybe this is a little of what if felt like back then. Maybe this is what it tastes like when you first start to understand that you are at war with a force much to strong for any one town or region or even nation to defeat on their own.
The army has been called in to help. Teams from Australia and other parts of the world are here to reinforce our front line. Almost as soon as the evacuation notice went out for rural areas of neighbouring towns, Vanderhoof people stepped up, offering up pasture land for displaced livestock and trailers to haul them in, feed to sustain them. It’s encouraging. We are good people and we will all do what we can. We will pull together and fight to stop the destructive force. And when it is all over, we will rebuild what was lost.
But I hope that we will not go back to the status quo. I hope that we will, as a citizen, a town, a region, a country, take some time to assess why this is happening. Think hard about what we have done and are doing to our planet that feeds this kind of unnatural disaster. Because it’s not normal, it’s not ‘natural’ (forest fires are, but not on the scale that the world is seeing in recent years.) I hope that we will not just offer up our thanks like empty platitudes and walk away unchanged by the lesson that Mother Nature is handing us. Because as we rally together to defeat this foe, we need to remember that the outrageous wildfires are just one of the inevitable results of our own indulgent human actions.
We are our own worst enemy. Let’s decide to be our own best solution.
Today I turn 52. Typically, just saying that sort of thing would freak me out a little. Typically I would have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it, getting all existential about it. So in my head.
But this year is different. This year, nothing has been ‘typical’, it’s all been one big adventure and things change from moment to moment. This summer I’ve been selling a condo, buying a house, travelling all over BC with Randy and SweetEsther. Now I’m up to my elbows in work at the new house. Who has time for reflection (other than an occasional blog post.)
When Randy reminded me that it was my birthday today, I was surprised. I had forgotten. I had failed to get all introspective and worried, and now it was too late, the day was upon me. I guess I’ll just have to do this birthday without the angst. I think I’ll be fine!
I’m told this (Saturday, July 21) is day 10 of our odyssey. My husband tells me this and I choose to just believe him because, honestly, I’ve lost track of time. (This morning I realized I had screwed up my vitamins seriously, but I’m not going to worry about it. I had 14 days worth, it’ll even itself out in the end.)
We are camped at Klahanie RV Park in Squamish, BC. Randy is cleaning the dinner dishes and I am writing – we decided that we would alternate writing/internet days so we both get a chance to post (providing the wifi works!) Today is my day. Day 10. Saturday. I’m trying to stay focused.
This morning we left Port Hardy and after a brief interlude in Coombs (Goats on the Roof. Seriously, you have to check this place out!) we caught the ferry in Nanaimo, headed for Vancouver, BC. Something unexpected happened to me as we climbed back into our Westy to disembark the ferry…I felt a real wave of sadness. It felt like I was going home, but the West Coast is not home anymore. I felt anchorless, adrift, and longing. None of the friends we had hoped to connect with here were available. We both felt bummed, neither one of us saying anything, but it was obvious.
Then as were driving off the ferry, Randy suggests ‘maybe we should go to Squamish.’ And he didn’t have to ask me twice. I’d never driven the Sea to Sky highway before and that’s kind of become my thing, places I’ve never been before, things I’ve never done. What a beautiful drive! I mean, every inch of this highway is breathtaking – mountains, trees, water. The view from a Westfalia is like nothing I’ve ever experienced; you sit high and the windscreen is huge, so you almost feel like you’re just out there in the middle of whatever you see.
We found a great campsite, just the perfect balance of seclusion and amenities for us today. We claimed our spot and then went across the highway to hike up to Shannon Falls – crowded with tourists, but we were feeling pretty good by then and nothing was getting to us. Even SweetEsther being down a litre of oil, whatever. I cooked dinner, Randy cleaned, I wrote (writing) while Randy set (sets) up the campsite for a perfect picture…..we’re having fun, we’re staying in the moment, and looking forward to the rest of our adventure.
We have a plan, we have a loose schedule, I also know that when we have veered from the plan and made navigational changes or stops on the fly, that we have had a lot of fun. We’ve ended up in places we hadn’t previously considered and I’ve loved all of those moments. And in just a few more days, we will be back in Vanderhoof. We will pay the money, sign the papers, and we will have a home again. But for now, SweetEsther is home, and this moment is enough. I will try to remember the past fondly, I will look to the future, but I will be in the present moment and cherish each one!
(I have some pictures, but I haven’t been able to get them to upload. Might add them later if I get the chance.)