Blaise Cendrars Speaks

A Victoria imprint releases a collection of interviews with the extraordinary, one-armed, under-heralded, Swiss-born, French writer who travelled the world and brought modernity to French literature. FULL STORY

#58 The world is full of predators

Whales, bears, cougars, nasturtiums, neighbours and politicians. Drive slowly and always have your air horn at the ready.

September 05th, 2016

Hi Darlin’:

We might call it the summer which almost wasn’t. July was a wash-out; the first three or so weeks of August were lovely, then… not so much. We’ve just had a week of wet. Some of it was drizzle, and some of it was spotty, but it was all wet and chilly, and the best we could say about it was, ‘Well, at least I won’t have to water anything.’

Those who go fishing tell me this season was a bust. They seem to blame it on the increased numbers of humpback whales cruising our inlet. The idea put forth is that the cod, salmon, and halibut are staying way down deep to avoid the whales. That almost makes sense. Except whales are predators who can easily go way down deep if they want to.

Regardless, the tourist sporties have all finally, blessedly, headed back to wherever they come from and now that our Village and our waters are our own again. Reports indicate the fish are starting to come up to spawn.

My garden was a non-garden this year. I think there are two beets out there and the other day I dug up five small (very small) spuds. The bush beans got invaded by, and eventually smothered by, nasturtiums. I have no idea how they got in there but they’re so bright and cheery I didn’t much feel like yarding them out. Even if they are predators. I don’t know how I got the poppies, either, and I don’t know what kind they are; the same bright orange as the California poppy but not the same flower or leaf.

Next year, (if I’m still here next year) I’m going to just let the poppies and nasturtiums have the non-garden and I’ll contribute to the gross national product by buying my salad stuff down at the village co-op market. Nasturtiums and poppies have demonstrated a wonderful ability to take care of themselves so it seems only fair and right and just that they be given the opportunity.

The earth has been getting further and further away from my fingers anyway. With only a bit of trouble I can get down on my prayer bones to weed and fuss, but then it takes several men and a strong young boy to get me back upright again and it doesn’t seem to me to be worth it.

I’m recovering from surgery but not as quickly as I had expected. It’s probably a sign that I am not as young as I used to be, and a sure sign that I never was Wonder Woman; it was all masquerade.

Good job I drive slowly because I came around a slight bend recently and a black bear came racing out of the bush alongside the road. I had to spike the brakes or I’d have been wearing it as a hood ornament. It went across the road and down the bank to the river while I sat and trembled. I do not want to tangle with a black bear.

A few nights later I heard rustlings on my porch. I thought it was my cat, Dustbugger, coming home from whatever devilment he gets into when he’s being an outdoor cat. I switched on the light and opened the door and there was the bear.

His nose was as big as my fist. I don’t know what the world record speed is for slamming shut a door but I suspect I’m a contender for runner-up. I ran for the air horn my daughter gave me, then raced to the side window in time to see the bear slowly saunter down the wheelchair ramp.

I shoved the cannister out the window, almost in its ear, and let loose a blast. Those huge, seemingly ungainly critters can move like stink! It ran off, moving so fast his back legs went past his front ones and almost to his ears.

I moved to a big chair and sat, scared and shaking.

It didn’t occur to me until much later that it might have dropped by to say thank you for not hitting it with the car.

Meanwhile, my neighbour’s snarly tortoise-shell cat hasn’t been home in three weeks. She’s never before been gone for more than two days, and the fact she vanished at the same time the cougar was spotted not far from us seems telling. A few years ago my calico “Slipper” didn’t come home and I’ve been told several other cats are missing.

The world is full of predators. We have to be careful.

Junior Trudeau, for example, is off in China. He has walked on the Great Wall and watched a basketball game. He even tried to give China a gentle nudge about human rights. Anything the boy wonder says about human rights would probably ring more true if he’d done anything at all to clean up the national disgraces which are the First Nations reserves. The fact that people in this nation don’t even have safe, clean drinking water is a sin.

The Chinese seem to have been polite enough not to point out this hypocrisy but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t snicker when they got home and were out of camera view. Justin likes cameras. Justin seems to love cameras. Sometimes he is so busy preening, he might forget there are predators.

Well, never mind the bears and the cougars. Right now, some of the neighbours are feuding. I don’t know the particulars, nor do I want to know. I would hazard a guess that alcohol has fuelled the flames but I can’t swear to that. One particular guy, whom we all called “the arstle,” has suddenly done an about-face. I suspect and hope he is on medication and if so, I hope he stays on it. Maybe they should just drop some of it into the public drinking supply.

Anne Cameron grows pussywillows on the western edge of Vancouver Island. She received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia in 2010. Her 23 books include Daughters of Copper Woman, the bestselling work of fiction ever written about B.C. and published from within B.C. She has banished herself to Tahsis, a small town not far from Friendly Cove where the shenanigans called British Columbia all began.

One Response to “#58 The world is full of predators”

  1. Cait says:

    …wonderful to read about the dailiness of your life, Cam. I particularly appreciate your turn of phrase as you observe the ways it’s wrapped in the lives around you, animal, vegetable and mineral both near and far. Good you have that air horn; I know you’ll use it with wild abandon to keep next year’s poppies and nasturtiums in their own beds.
    XOK8

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