Vera Manuel and her Indigenous lit

Daughter of George Manuel, Vera Manuel (1949-2010), actor, playwright, poet, drama therapist, and healer, has been honoured with an anthology of her varied written work. FULL STORY

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#77 Stay on the high road, Horgan

February 21st, 2018

I can only hope Premier Horgan takes the high road and lets Albertans know they’re quite welcome in B.C. if they decide to ignore their premier’s pique.

I guess some people have short memories. Someone seems to have forgotten when Fort McMurray was under threat from wildfire there were truckloads of donated food and supplies heading their way to help, and firefighting crews paid their own way to go lend a hand.

Seems to me I remember the Martin-Mars water bombers went, too.

I guess it’s hard for some people to understand how some of us feel about this coast. When we say it is our home we aren’t talking about the houses in which we live, we’re talking about the elk, the trumpeters, the swarms of returning spawners, and even the pregnant does.

We’re talking about the realization that all these years later the mess caused by the Exxon-Valdez still hasn’t been cleaned away. We’re talking about knowing the oil barons won’t have to pay the bill, they always manage to slither out from that part of things.

They talk of jobs-jobs-jobs. Are they suggesting their workers are too stunned to benefit from job re-training programmes? Are they saying their work force is too stupid to learn a newer, cleaner job?

We get scads of Albertans during fishing season. Somehow, I don’t expect they’ll stay away. They want to go fishing, and I’m sure many of them will pull to the side of the goat track, clear of traffic, so they can watch an elk herd or try to count the feeding Trumpeters.

After all, they’re people like us.

Stay on the high road, please, John Horgan! Let’s not play tit-for-tat; that’s a game the little kids play in the sandbox, and surely to heaven some of us have outgrown it.

*

People frequently ask me, “Why Tahsis?” and it’s difficult to explain.

There are all these “conveniences” we don’t have and probably will never get, but some days it’s easier to answer that question.

Take today, for example. It’s cold. My hevvins. There is so much fuss and cross-conversation about the climate, about weather, about “change” these days. It gets confusing. A neighbour said our local cold snap was a sure sign of global warming. I dunno for sure.

When I was ten I had a paper route and I clearly remember struggling through hip deep snow to get the newspapers delivered. My dad met me about halfway through my route and tromped ahead of me to break the trail and kept me from bursting into tears by singing Jingle Bells…of course he changed some of the words. My mother would have had six kinds of a fit if she’d heard some of what he was singing.  The year my youngest son was born we got a dump of snow for New Year’s that was so deep it hid the fence posts.

Regardless, I gotta go out, like it or not, to get car insurance. I don’t know what it is about me and car insurance. At least a half-dozen times I’ve suddenly realized, ohmygawsh, insurance is expired! Then the rush and run around to get someone to drive me to update my coverage. I know ICBC mails alert notifications, so I guess I should check the pest office box more regularly.

Insurance on “Snowdrop” was expired so my son and I headed off to Gold River to rectify my recurrent stupidity. What a day!  Sky was too blue to be believed, the sun was shining, the snow glinted and glimmered, and the trees looked darker, bigger, and more beautiful than they usually do. The snow hid the sad evidence of the crappy logging that’s being done, so that improved the view.

We took a slight detour up a logging access road and there was no hiding what had been done there. The entire valley had been clear cut. Not one tree left standing. The logs lay on the ground, some stacked and waiting to be loaded and trucked away, others still scattered every which-a-way. Several miles of pickup sticks.

This used to be a route the elk took to move from one feeding ground to another. I have no idea what the poor beasts will do now. Maybe, once the pickup sticks have been taken to market the valley will start to try to recover and the elk will find food here, but that’s going to take years.

What’s the rush? Why do we seem determined to chainsaw down mile after mile after mile of bush which we, obviously, can’t take to market as fast as it drops?

Oh, right, “jobs”.

We continued on, and saw a very fat doe picking her way carefully through the frozen snow. We talked, and even joked, about the shock her baby is going to get if she drops it during the cold snap. To go from the warmth and comfort of Momma to the frozen snow is going to be a rude welcome. Well, one thing is probably sure, baby is going to gasp! That ought to help it start breathing.

Got the insurance, went for lunch, started back and then pulled over to the side of the road to watch at least a dozen elk feeding on the other side of the lake. They looked very furry and fuzzy but the herd master wasn’t there, just some young males, maybe two years old, not yet competition for breeding rights. None of this year’s crop of babies, but several half-grown from last year.

We were well off the goat track, watching the elk, commenting and WHOOOSH, this white pickup went roaring past us. You’d have thought he was at Indianapolis Speedway! Slushy mud and muddy slush spraying, he fishtailed a bit and was gone, and we both cracked up laughing because there’s no way the driver caught even a glimpse of the magic on the other side of the glittering lake. He probably has no idea there were a dozen elk feeding peacefully on last years’ grass.

Eventually, we moved on, then had to stop again. The surface of the lake had patches of thin ice, so the Trumpeters had moved from the lake to the river. They seemed to be feeding in family groups, four of them here, five over there, several clustered upstream a-ways. We estimated twenty-some, it’s hard to count them when they’re busy.

Got home, made coffee, put the decals on the license plate, and Snowdrop is legal again.

Driving out today just to insure the bazoo seems a lot more interesting and a lot more fun from here than it would be if I was stalled in city traffic.

Not many elk in the city.

__

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.

 

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