A blood-red Christmas sunrise! Really. Look! “Red sky in morning, shepherds warning.” The forecast is for a stout sou’easter to blow up this afternoon and hopefully push this damned cold air away. ‘Seafire’ is ice-bound at the dock despite the kindly ice-breaking efforts yesterday of Keith and his little steel dozer boat. The Prime Minister has issued his Christmas “Statement.” Yep, that’s what they call it on the Environment Canada website. Isn’t that just so warm and fuzzy? Even the old British Queen, despite a severe cold delivered a Christmas “Message.”
A Russian aircraft bound for Syria with a load of entertainers has crashed just after takeoff from Sochi. Ninety-two dead on their way to entertain the Russian troops in Syria. The question is, of course, what the hell Russians are doing in Syria. Neither they, nor the Americans ever learn. Afghanistan? Vietnam? Ukraine? The missionary complex of world powers seems to be an irresistible compulsion. The concept of staying home and cleaning up ones own mess has always eluded we humans. Sadly, I am sure the Russian song and dance troup was fantastically talented. They always are. Part of the group was also known as the “Red Army Choir” I actually have a recording of them and I especially like their traditional renditions of the “Vulgar Boatsman.”
Oh, “Volga” not vulgar! Сожалею! .So sorry! I know, and I’m not making light of a tragedy, but then that’s what they were on their way to do. Mr “Put it in” has declared a day of national mourning; quite unlike the aftermath of his repeated bombings of Syrian civilians. Now we are about to have Commander-In-Chief Trump joining the mix, with his already eager pro-nuclear rhetoric emerging from his itching twittering fingers. Happy New Year.
At the same time a 7.7 earthquake in Southern Chile had everyone on Tsunami standby. It never arrived there, but might show up here and hopefully, it’ll get rid of the ice. There’s something to look forward to. Enough! I’ve shut off CBC radio with all the dark news I can do nothing about, as well as the damned mutant Christmas carols. Where do they find them? Somehow a blues version of ‘White Christmas,’ left me craving for a little Tibetan throat singing. It would be a tad more Christmassy. A week later both these events are nearly forgotten, although up to a million Chileans are homeless.
Jill arrived back in Canada a few days ago from a quick visit home to Scotland. On the connector flight she contracted a severe bout of the Queen’s own snifflis and has been honking and coughing drastically ever since. Maybe my wife was aboard with a cargo of immigrants from Europe and what she has, and I’m getting, is an exotic strain of camel virus from Syria. I was south for a few days which involved surgery to remove a creature with no eyes that was growing in my plumbing. I’m sure it’s not the dreaded C-word, I’m too damned fat for that, but the recovery is a bit miserable. So we’re having a low-key Noel.
The brilliant red sunrise of this morning was rapidly pushed inland by a mass of warmer air. A stormy night is forecast with heavy wind, rain and snow forecast. A heavy ominous overcast has arrived. The cabin lights have been on since 2 pm. As darkness settles flags are beginning to crackle and the trees are flailing. It seems that yon virgin went south in search of a silent night. Meanwhile, in the midst of all this doom and gloom, we have a loaded barge with, among other things, a beautiful new crane, slowly listing further and further to one side. The freshening wind may capsize the whole rig but that’s life.
On Boxing Bay, the barge is listing badly and there’s a vicious variable wind blowing. Apparently instructions are to leave things alone, but it frustrates me to not try and prevent an apparent inevitable tragedy. No-one will be injured but the old adage of a “Stitch in time to save nine” seems appropriate. Finally a local working mariner gave in to his compulsions. Rob went out after finding a working pump, levelled up the barge and drove some wedges into the worst of the leaks. There are some great folks here.
Rain and sleet are pelting in the swirling, gusting wind. It is a miserable winter day. Jill and I are confined to the boat. Friends invited us to a wonderful Christmas dinner yesterday but now we sit like two rats trapped in a small cage as the boat lunges and rolls at her lines. I feel badly that Jill has come to endure this. We are both ill and miserable. She will have an indelible impression of Weirdwater and I doubt it will be positive.
The next morning yields a grudging release of blackness just after eight o’clock. Barrages of ice pellets and thick rain drops have bulleted the boat all night. Jill is not eager for the boat to leave the dock. This is the first full winter I’ve spent here and I find myself marvelling at how the Heiltsuk and other coastal nations survived millenniums of winters. How did they stay warm? Fed? Sane? I can’t imagine sitting around in cedar-bark long johns for months with the incessant taste of fish in my mouth and a permeating dampness everywhere. We can romanticize the “Good Old Days” all we want, but clinging to select parts of an ancient culture does not seem to inspire anyone to return to a fully authentic aboriginal existence. I certainly do not have any interest. I like warm insulated rain gear, dry feet, electric and diesel-fueled heat.
I extend my speculations to being a pioneer on this coast. Not only did you have to live with, and learn from, the indigenous folks, yet felt compelled to implement white man methods whether they worked or not. If you wanted a little farmland each tree had to be felled by hand, then removed or burned. Considering that one tree might contain nearly enough wood to build a barn it was a lot of work. Then you had to deal with the stump. There are photographs of hollow stumps so big that people built homes inside them.
Many folks must have worked themselves to death. In many places along this coast, where people worked so very hard to carve out farms, or even whole communities, there is little or no evidence remaining of these human dreams. Perhaps a small feral fruit tree is the only monument to a hard and futile existence. That’s depressing, but then, how many of us will leave something of value to succeeding generations? The population on the central and north coast once supported a large fleet of coastal steamers and supply vessels. Now that population has dwindled to a tiny fraction of its former numbers and getting supplies in is an ongoing problem despite the availability of modern aviation.
The weather is dreary. Rain, wind, snow and clear skies can occur all withing twenty minutes. Our daily walk devolved to a 20 minute drive on sleet-slick roads and then checking my spam. First I was warned of a sexual predator in my neighbourhood and then someone from Mahé in the Seychelle Islands wanting to “Date me” tonight. I didn’t realize that Shearwater was so close to the Seychelles. I feel no warmer. I’ve managed to inherit Jill’s flu and have coughed myself to a near-death feeling. There are some residual effects of the surgery and every minute for the past few days has been misery. The weather is bleak and raw, at best, we have about seven hours of light. I fear Jill will never want to see this place again and I certainly understand. Today she flew home. The taxi operator in Bella Bella was not answering his phone and we began the long uphill walk to the airfield. A very kind lady summoned a relative and Jill had a ride. I am repeatedly amazed with the spontaneous kindness of many folks in Bella Bella and am cheered with the hope that provides. The airfield was fog-bound for most of the day. Late in the afternoon Pacific Coastal airlines sneaked in through the fog banks and Jill is now hundreds of miles to the south. It is one lonely night. I have a few more days to recover from my infirmities and adjust my head to the new year ahead. The daylight is supposed to be slowly increasing and there be more adventures ahead . Happy New Year.
“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” ….Albert Einstein