After a few days south I’m back in Shearwater, cold and damp and tired at the end of my first day back at work. I miss my wife Jill and my old dog Jack. ( He rolled in some dead rotting salmon while on a walk during the ride to meet my return flight. I can’t blame him for being a dog, but then it was Jill who had to bathe him.) The sunken tug is now gone and the masses of people surrounding that grounding are slowly dwindling. We’re getting used to the idea of Trump, and all puckered up for what comes next. Snow is creeping down the mountains and I’m hearing folks making plans for Christmas. Some are moving south; permanently.
I love this country, it’s people and it’s secrets and the wonderful light when the sun shines for a few minutes. That is a rare event at this time of year and when it occurs, the air is usually cold and drier. Being cold and dry is not much better than being cold and damp. There’s a chill in the air at all times and living in this California- built vessel is nippley, especially in the morning. I guess it is winter and when I hear the weather reports from the interior I’m happy enough where I am although Mexico is always on my mind. Jill will be joining me here for a few days at Christmas and I certainly wish for some rare fine days of calm and sun.
Meanwhile dull daily routine is the course followed by dull evenings and long dark nights. Sometimes I can hear wolves howling in the surrounding forest. This morning, as i write, the last quarter of the super moon rises in the east. It is a thin scythe and accompanied by Venus, which I sometimes call the Muslim moon. At least the sky is clear. A thick coating of frost sparkles on the dock.
A week after I began to write this blog it is again Saturday morning. The docks are slick with a greasy pre-frost coating. After a long sleepless night, the cold-damp has seeped into my bones. My first sips of a morning coffee descend into my innards with a welcome spreading warmth. I’ve just reviewed a blog from friends in South Africa loaded with incredible wildlife photos. I wonder what the hell I’m doing here. Despite the beauty here, despite my sincere desire to be happy wherever I am, I ache for southern latitudes. Warm sand under my feet, palms rustling in a fragrant breeze…oh shit! This won’t help me make it through this day, here.
I’m building and installing a small air exchanger which will help dehumidify the boat and I’d best get to work. It is not raining, at the moment; no time to waste on a day like this.
Fidel Castro died last night. His passing truly marks the end of an era. I remember the Cuban missile crisis, the air raid drills and how we all expected to be nuked. My fundamentalist parents knew that he and Khrushchev were the Anti-Christ and that Armageddon was imminent at any moment. I wonder now who the fundamentalists believe is the devil re-incarnate. Trump the fornicator? Putin perhaps?
I’ll end this short blog by using a lengthy quote from a book I found on the shelf in the local laundromat. Isn’t it wonderful how the gems of life turn up in moments and places least expected and are often not realized at the time? This pocket book is called “The Wayfinders” by Wade Davis. CBC co-sponsors an annual series called the Massey Lectures. They are, in some ways, a fore-runner of Ted Talks. Their content is profound and cerebral. This series of lectures explored “Why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world.” Davis is an explorer who has travelled the backwoods of the world. He writes here extensively about the future of resource-based industry in his home province of British Columbia.
“Environmental concerns aside, think for a moment of what these proposals imply about our culture. We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and by the very nature of their enterprises leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated. What’s more, in granting such mining concessions, often for trivial sums to speculators from distant cities, companies cobbled together with less history than my dog, we place no cultural or market value on the land itself. The cost of destroying a natural asset, or its inherent worth if left intact, has no metric in the economic calculations that support the industrialization of the wild. No company has to compensate the public for what it does to the commons, the forests, the mountains, and rivers, which by definition belong to everyone. As long as there is a promise of revenue flows and employment, it merely requires permission to proceed. We take this as a given for it is the foundation of our system, the way commerce extracts value and profit in a resource-driven economy. But if you think about it, especially from the perspective of so many other cultures, touched and inspired by quite different visions of life and land, it appears to be very odd and highly anomalous human behaviour.”
Phew! In review of my recent blogs about the local diesel spill, this book really hit home. We are all trained in our culture that our prime purpose in life is to make money and then consume voraciously. How do we de-program a lifetime of that indoctrination and learn tseparate need from greed?
The air exchanger is now complete and installed and running. It is intended to perform as a maintenance-free dehumidifier. Hopefully the boat will be cozier inside with drier air. By morning I’ll know.
Finally, a note of inspiration. I’ve just listened to a report about an incredible sailor named Jeanne Socrates. She’s made two attempts this fall to set out from Victoria on her sailboat for her next solo circumnavigation. Jeanne has already sailed around the world alone a few times. She’s had to turn in for San Diego due to heavy weather. That, in itself, at this time of year, is a considerable feat. Her boat, ‘Nereida’ is a 38′ Najad, which can be a handful in heavy weather for a full crew. Jeanne sails alone. She is seventy-four. Her website is svnereida.com. As I posted the following photo, my weather station began bleeping out the latest gale warning. The barometer is at 990.6 mb and plummeting rapidly. Have a nice day.
“I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.”
… Fidel Castro