Old Friends

Winter forest dawn. It’s not the cold, it’s the damp. My old bones ache for southern latitudes.

Now then, where was I? Oh yeah. I’d had a long telephone chat with a dear old buddy and then gone and refilled my big coffee mug. I reached for some paperwork on the back of my desk and sploosh! How does one mug of coffee suddenly become what seems like more than a litre? What else can run everywhere and cover everything like hot coffee? (I sometimes refer to it as the hot oil laxative) Laptop, cellphone, note pads, an important e-mail I’d printed. I grabbed every piece of cloth and paper towel within range and began mopping; hauling my desk out to sponge up beneath and trying to save the phone and computer from catastrophic collateral damage. “Oh gosh” I thought. Yeah right! Of course in the middle of that there is the overwhelming urge to rush to the bathroom as the hot oil kicks in, and in the middle of that, Old Jack came to remind me that he was plenty ready to go for a walk. Then the phone rings again.

Dad! You sonofabitch!
He used to love the snow, but the look in his eyes this morning says it all.
Pretty? Not! YOU sleep in the bushes.
Yeah! Right here will do.
At least with Covid they don’t have to worry about where to hang the mistletoe. This is a housing reality for many.
Remember this? Booted from the back porch of the old food bank, a tent was set up in the soggy back yard. Now the tent is gone. Booted again?
The new old box. Leaks and interior repairs complete, my old camper looks pretty luxurious compared to an old pallet and a scrap of building paper.
The rebar rooster. a little beauty in the gloom.
Then there’s this. He seemed like a nice sensible older fellow. but with gloves, a zipped-up winter parka and shorts?? I don’t understand the costume of choice. I’ve blanked the fellow’s face for obvious reasons. It wasn’t something he was wearing. Well, these ARE strange days.
More geezer jocks. Can someone explain this? A rite of passage used to be when boys started wearing long pants. My knees ache just to see this. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I just don’t understand. Flash we now our fluorescent shanks.
Cold and fuzzy.

Well now that I’ve buried the dead, I can see how funny it all is. Where’s the hidden camera? And, I’ve been meaning to give the desk a good cleaning! I smugly thought that the laptop had been spared and my mobile phone as well. Driving toward where we would walk my mobile phone began to ring. This old recluse sometimes doesn’t receive a call for weeks. This morning the thing wouldn’t stop. I could answer but no-one could hear me nor could I call out. Later I’d take it apart tiny screw by screw. Out came a few drips of coffee. I rinsed it in clean water and now it sits in front of a small electric heater. Are we having fun yet?

The Garage, Duncan. One of the first car dealers on Vancouver Island it is now a cafe, health food store, bookshop and a favourite place for me. A sunny winter day to savour.
Behind the garage. There’s a bit of beauty everywhere…if you care to look.

At the hatchery where we walked the streams were full of bright red sockeye. I can’t recall a spawn this late in the season but I’m sure that it is not unknown and has nothing to do with covid nor global warming. Not much in nature happens by any human calendar no matter how arrogant we chose to be about our role in the natural scheme of things. Fish happen and I, for one, rejoice to see them. One dufus with two lovely brown dobermans allowed them to charge freely into the stream and chase the spawners. He thought it was hilarious. I flung out a few harsh words and realized what a good thing it is that Canadians are not allowed to carry hand guns. I really want to be tolerant of my fellows but how do you accept wilful stupidity. A quick look in the mirror works well for me. Dufus I said? Yep.

What’s behind that door? Actually, there sits a Baldwin steam locomotive, stored in its original shed.
Not far away sits a logger’s steam donkey. This one was built by Tyee in Vancouver.

A short e-mail appeared in my morning bin a few days ago. It inquired if I was the same Fred this lady had known fifty years ago. It turns out that I was. (Well no actually, I’m an old fart now)I was amazed and flattered that she had sought me out and the reminiscing has been sweet indeed. How the hell did half-a goddamned century go by? Here’s a YouTube link to Guy Clark’s song, “Old Friends.”       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0OmFK38_ZU

Screaming Meemee
A young bald eagle watches the salmon and protests first rights on his fishing hole.
Fishing for jumpers
There’s one! It’s darned hard to catch one in mid-air, even when picking it from a video clip like this.
Oy you! Get to the front of the pool, or is that school? It’s an amazing congestion of fish, eventually they turn back downstream a bit to find a place to spawn. One coming in and one trying to get out.
Smells like fish, tastes like fish.

Well it is our first Covid Christmas and what more is there to say? We’d never heard that word a year ago and now we’ll never forget it. Hopefully in another year it will be spoken in the past tense and we’ll have other lesser challenges to face. Meanwhile it’s Bumhug and deck the halls with coloured face masks. Take it easy on the gagnog, turn your face to cough and hug a turkey for me.

By the way, that cellphone…I’ve got it working again. There IS a Santa Claus!


The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. (or because of covid) They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.

Jay Leno

Author: Fred Bailey

Fred is a slightly-past middle age sailor /, writer / photographer with plenty of eclectic hands-on skills and experiences. Some would describe him as the old hippy who doesn't know the war is over. He is certainly reluctant to grow up and readily admits to being the eternal dreamer. He has written several books including two novels, 'The Keeper' and 'Storm Ecstasy,' as well as 'The Water Rushing By', 'Sins Of The Fathers', 'The Magic Stick', as well as an extensive inventory of poetry, essays, short stories, anecdotes and photographs. His first passion is the ocean, sailboats, voyaging and all those people who are similarly drawn to the sea. He lived aboard and extensively cruised the BC Coast on 'Seafire' the boat he refitted to go voyaging, to explore new horizons both inner and outer. This blog was about that journey and the preparations for it. Circumstances prevailed which forced the sale of his beloved vessel. Now on a different tack, the voyage continues. If you follow this blog your interest may provide some of the energy that helps fuel the journey. Namaste Contact me at svpaxboat@gmail.com

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