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

#63 Bounty hunter

October 19th, 2016

Hi darlin’:

Today my son drove me to Gold River to get insurance on my old Jeep “Snowdrop.” Probably paid more for insurance than Snowdrop is worth, and I never drive her anywhere outside of Tahsis.  All I use her for is to go to the Clinic, to the post office, or to take the dogs to the river.

I tell people I don’t take Snowdrop out of town because I can’t afford the tow truck bill to get her back, but the truth of it is, I hate to drive. I don’t drive well, probably because I am easily distracted. I might see something interesting and decide to stop, right now, which is hard on the nerves of the guy behind me.

The Three Sisters waterfalls were in full glory. I couldn’t begin to estimate how many hundreds and even thousands of gallons of water pour down them every hour. And they’re only one such glory, on either side of the road there were waterfalls spilling down to gulleys and culverts which directed all that water to the creeks and rivers which take it out to sea.

Such bounty.

I’ve given up trying to get a photo of any of them, the camera never captures what I see. I can fully understand why clean running water was considered sacred by my Celtic ancestors, and I feel sorry for people who never get to see water in its natural state doing it’s timeless race.

We went directly to the Insurance place, I did what I had to do, we stopped at the SuperValu to pick up a few groceries, then headed back again, but not directly. One of the joys of travelling with my son is that he never hesitates to leave the road (such as it is) and head off to have a look at something which might or might not be interesting.

We stopped at several rivers and watched the fish. Some of them are starting to look a bit battered. One poor guy, a Chum, I think, has had a rough go of it; part of his nose is missing and he’s got a great gash and a big chunk taken out of one side, but he hasn’t forgotten why he’s here, he was trying to court a female who seemed no more interested in him than she was in the other three suiters trying to impress her. And they weren’t bashed-up like he was.

In the Leiner we saw at least four different kinds of salmon, including some sockeye which have turned red and seem small when alongside the coho.  Local legend says there aren’t any fish further up the Perry because they can’t make it up the waterfall… I don’t believe that… it’s not as if that’s a huge waterfall, nor is the river particularly wild.  And if fish can make it past Hells Gate and the fierce canyon beyond, they can surely make it to the upper Perry.

Even five years ago there weren’t many fish in these rivers. Not like now. I attribute the increase to the Salmon Enhancement efforts and to the Conuma hatchery. It’s beyond “nice” to see so many fish coming back now.

I remember my first sight of returning spawners years ‘n’ years ago when I first came to Tahsis and, yes, you could have walked on their backs from one bank to the next.

Such bounty.

Then, for years, it was heart rending to see how few came back, and more than once I’ve stood and just let my eyes leak thinking of the horrible loss.  I even feared my grandchildren would never get to see the spawners return. Are we going to have to have the same reaction to our trees?  We need to bring in legislation to protect the old growth before it is all sacrificed on the altar of greedy profit.

Last night was potluck birthday party for Frank, long time Tahsis year-rounder and one of the loyal volunteers at the Salmon Enhancement facility here.

We had more than 41 people show up for the potluck; we didn’t exactly count heads but the Seniors society has forty chairs and the last few to arrive couldn’t find a place to sit.  Those of us who got there early enough to score a chair took pity on them and as soon as we’d cleaned our plates we got up to allow the late-comers to sit to eat their meal… but we made very clear we expected to get our chair back once the eating was done.

I suspect ‘everyone’ tries to out-do ‘everyone else’ at potluck, some of the dishes go beyond what you’d reasonably expect in some of the priciest restaurants in any city.  Someone brought a huge scallopped potato dish and it was one of the best of its kind I’ve ever had…and I always make a bee line for the scallopped spuds! There is something so comforting about them.

And we had roast beef, and we had sweet and sour pork and we had… you name it and some version of it was there. And one table of desserts including Nanaimo bars and, of course, the birthday cake, a mammoth chocolate creation just barely big enough for everyone to have a small piece.

Such bounty.

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 “#63 Bounty hunter”

  1. Hi Anne, I so enjoyed this letter, you addressed things dear to my heart, returning salmon or the lack thereof, and community rituals, brought tears to my eyes….what with Echo bay so diminished and no children here anymore and few enough of us to even fill half a dozen chairs…hope to see you again in Tahsis some day,
    cheers Yvonne

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