A Scent Of Apples And One Lucky Duck

The Bomber CF-YVR Some lovely, funny sculpture hanging in Vancouver's South Terminal

The Bomber CF-YVR
Some lovely, funny sculpture hanging in Vancouver’s South Terminal

The driving rain is relentless, cold and stinging. The Shearwater winter weather, where you can wring water from any handful of air, has followed me all the way here to Ladysmith. I’ve come south for a few days to take care of business and medical appointments. It also turns out that my beloved dog Jack needs some surgical attention at the veterinary clinic. I’m anxious about that, as if he were my own child. If you don’t understand the affection and healing that can occur between a person and a dog; well, you have my sympathy.

Jack in the Woods, A happy morning after three month apart...Bliss!

Jack in the Woods,
A happy morning after three months apart…Bliss!

So here I am standing in the rain, worrying about Jack when I’m overwhelmed by the aroma of ripe, red succulent apples. I follow my nose. It turns out to be a bin of apples in front of a feed and garden shop across the street. I am amazed to be able to smell the fruit so far away and suddenly understand how it is being a creature like a deer or a bear near an apple tree. Perhaps my acute sense is due to being in the Northwoods for so long but as always, the sense of smell is a great memory stimulant and suddenly I am taken back to my childhood. For a while my father worked as an orchard keeper and we lived in cottages at the edge of. orchards. The aroma of that single apple bin brought install recall from over half a century ago. There is also a sweet tang of smoke from my mother’s wood cookstove and that leads to memories of another little black dog so long ago. I’m suddenly blinking back tears and shake myself free of the moment, all brought on by the scent of apples. Bloody hell, have I gone round the twist?

Unhappiness is. One very unhappy dog on the day of his surgery. Two days later he had the funnel and his bandages off.

Unhappiness is.
One very unhappy dog on the day of his surgery. Two days later he had managed to remove the funnel and his bandages.

There are months of this bleak weather ahead and I wonder how I will survive it. The boat is over three hundred miles north and I’ll say that, for me, home is where the boat is. I’ll be back there in a few days but it seems very far away and I desperately wish the boat and I were somewhere far south. I see all the consumer convenience and gratification here, and yet despite the incredible pervasive dampness on the North Coast I miss the solitude and natural richness such as the humpback whale that swam by the docks a few days ago, with the howling of wolves in the background. That was a moment which will last a lifetime. I can concede that my aching bones feel much better down here, even when it is raining. I do find it fascinating that things I would normally take for granted, like the colours of autumn leaves, a near-infinite diversity of shopping, restaurants and stores with profuse inventories of food for sale, all of that leaves me slightly overwhelmed. I do not miss the frantic rush of nearly everyone, the sound of sirens and at the moment, the tsunami of Christmas marketing. Give it a rest! Bloody hell! Bumhug!

I wonder how I’ll feel about it all once back in Shearwater.

November roses at the corner of Seemore and Do-less. Actually it's the mainstreet of downtown Ladysmith.

November roses at the corner of Seemore and
Do-less. Actually it’s part of the main street in downtown Ladysmith.

Robert's Street Pizza. Almost world-famous, folks come from miles around for the succulent fare.

Robert’s Street Pizza.
Almost world-famous, folks come here from miles around for the succulent fare.

The highlight of this Southern jaunt was attending a performance by my hero, Billy Connolly. A Glaswegian musician, comedian, actor and philosopher (in my opinion) he is world-renowned. Now in his mid-seventies, he has various health issues yet stood his gig on stage, non-stop, for nearly two hours. The entire sold-out audience was doubled over with laughter at his apparently impromptu ramblings. I suspect it’s the only chance I’ll ever have to see him live. If you’re not familiar with this brilliant character, there is a lot of his material available simply by googling up his name. You’ll love him or hate him.

In the dark room beneath the street Where in came sounds of laughing children And Tramping feet There lived a little boy Who knew no light or joy He possessed not even one small toy.

In the dark room beneath the street
Where in came sounds of laughing children
And tramping feet
There lived a little boy
Who knew no light or joy
He possessed not even one small toy.

Time passed As the boy grew The window slowly sank Until as a man Hew was the foundation of the local bank.

Time passed.
The boy grew
As the window slowly sank
Until as a man
He became the foundation of the local bank.

Ladysmith, where everyone has one leg longer than the other.

Ladysmith, where everyone has one leg longer than the other.

At the Duncan Farmer's Market, all seasons, rain or shine. I can't explain how good fresh produce looks to a guy from Shearwater who's groceries come bi-monthly by barge

At the Duncan Farmer’s Market, every Saturday, all seasons, rain or shine.
I can’t explain how good fresh produce looks to a guy from Shearwater who’s groceries come bi-monthly by barge

It ain't Mexico but it's bloody good...especially on a cold, rainy day

It ain’t Mexico but it’s bloody good…especially on a cold, rainy day

The Duncan Farmer's Masrket

The Duncan Farmer’s Market

Somewhere there goes a naked clown. A clever use for outgrown children's clothing.

Somewhere there goes a naked clown. A clever use for outgrown children’s clothing.

Town Hall, on one side of the Duncan market square

Town Hall, on one side of the Duncan market square

Rolls Royce in the rain.

Rolls Royce in the rain.

Autumn mobile

Autumn mobile

Maple treasures for a guy from the land of monotonous conifers

Maple treasures for a guy from the land of monotonous conifers

Natural Composition

Natural Composition

A Cowichan Acknowledgement as a fountain beside the Duncan town hall.

A Cowichan Acknowledgement as a fountain beside the Duncan town hall.

 

I’ll be returning to Shearwater tomorrow. That will on be Remembrance Day. I’ve previously expressed my polemic views on the incredible stupidity of the military and the mindless waste of war and how all enemies think God is on their side. I’ve offended some people deeply and inspired others to look at the whole picture and think for themselves. I hope that this day is taken as an opportunity to see ourselves as the potentially naturally nasty creatures we all are and what a concerted effort it is necessary to avoid violent conflict. I know I’m a dreamer but I believe it Is possible for us to become creatures of a higher level. That is a personal and individual endeavour, which requires massive introspection and sometimes painful growth and I’ve said enough. Just imagine if everyone stayed home and cleaned up the mess in their own yards. What a wonderful world it could be!

I’ve stood stiffly at attention in a military uniform in the cold, cold November rain and wept as the Last Post was played but now the most poignant sound for me is the 1942 BBC recording called Nightingales And Bombers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_MHqW5KVds

This is a spring recording made in the woods of Southern England. The objective was to record the spring songs of nightingales but as the tape reels turned, squadrons of RAF bombers were climbing overhead on a bombing raid to Germany. It is the sound of sweet peace juxtaposed against the ominous thunder of young men going to kill and be killed. If the recording doesn’t shiver your timbers, I truly hope you have no sons or daughters to send to war. Have a very nice day.

Something really odd occurred today. I’ve been trying to search my inner self for answers to some personal issues and have been sceptically looking for a sign. Well today I think I got it and I’m not sure what the hell it means. Jack and I were having a morning walk along the banks of the Nanaimo River before I went to my final round of appointments. There was a sudden raucous sound ahead and then veering directly toward me, about twenty feet high, was a large bald eagle carrying something which I first assumed was a fish. Pursuing the big bird was another eagle. It was an incredible sight. I furiously tried to extract my camera but before I could, the second eagle knocked the treasure free from the first bird’s talons. It fell with a thunk immediately beside Jack who, startled, was suspicious of why it was raining ducks.

WTF? It's raining ducks!

WTF? It’s raining ducks!

LUCKY THE DUCK!

LUCKY THE DUCK!

It proved to be a Mallard hen lying on its back. My first thought was that “Verily, verily the gods doth provide a succulent duck for dinner from the heavens above.” I bent to pick it up and noticed it was breathing and so I flipped the lovely wee quacker onto its feet. It was alive despite a punctured breast and, for some odd reason, appeared to be in shock. I decided to wrap it in a blanket of maple leaves. A few minutes later its head popped out of the covering and then it waddled off into the safety of a patch of blackberries. Now that’s one very lucky duck! And, I’m sure, there’s one very pissed off eagle. What is really interesting is that this old farm boy was once easily able to bonk any barnyard animal on the head with sledge hammer when it was time for butchering. As a hunter, I’ve been remorseless about the countless creatures I’ve dispatched for their meat. Once I proudly blew ducks out of the sky and now I’m proud at having done something to try and save one humble duck.

I don’t know how to interpret this one as an omen other than a moral which has something to do with never giving up. And that’s the whole shituation. In the morning I’ll be winging my way back to Seafire and the next adventure.

A Simple Beauty

A Simple Beauty

Progress is man’s ability to complicate simplicity.”

…. Thor Heyerdahl

4 responses to “A Scent Of Apples And One Lucky Duck

  1. just a quicky. The picture of the rolls royce brought back memmories, i used to make these front wings, (the bits the lights go into.)

  2. Great post Fred! Hope Jack is recovering nicely from his surgery. FYI, this Friday is, according to my computerized calendar, World Kindness Day. Worth celebrating, methinks – and a good followup to Remembrance Day. Certainly our sorry species could use all the reminders we can get to be kind to each other and to other critters. On that note, I’m glad you saved that duck. Stay warm and dry.

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