I know I’m a recluse but I don’t need my computer to keep telling me that my “social tab is empty.” This morning I checked my email as usual. I receive a daily e-bulletin board from La Manzanilla in Mexico with a post from someone named Rebecca. “Does anyone know of a beach town in the area without so many gringos?” Uh Becky! Mirror? Just leave my social tab as it is.
Last blog I promised new adventure and this isn’t it; but it’s an interesting little story. When our daughter passed away nearly a year ago, we inherited her little dog Arye. It’s taken us that long in our continuing grief to each find a balance and a way to live. That little dog has taught us a lot. When our daughter’s close friend also passed a few months later the shock of that news came with a request that we consider adopting her little dog Libby, a miniature daschund. At first we said no but by next morning we knew what we had to. The two dogs had been buddies and their mutual company would help ease everyone through whatever lay ahead. In the moment that I was picking up Libby, Jill was being rushed to a Victoria hospital in an ambulance. That’s another story. She is recovering but we’ve had a very long dull winter and thank the gods for the blessing of those two wee dogs. Libby and Arye are “thick as thieves” and help to make our house a home.
Somehow five months have passed since Libby joined us. Based on the veterinary records we have it was time to take her for a checkup, an ID chip and the necessary vaccinations. For some reason we both went with her. I waited in the lobby while Jill took wee one (4.7 kg) into the examination room. I waited and waited. A RCMP constable walked in to the back of the clinic. I waited some more, wondering what in hell was taking so long. Then Jill emerged with a stricken look on her face and beckoned me in with her as Libby came pelting out and hopped into my arms. I walked in to find the constable there. A hairball of emotion popped into my throat. “Who’s died now!?” was my first instinct.
It turned out that our vet clinic had phoned Libby’s previous vet to learn if there were any interesting details. There were. A few weeks ago, the former boyfriend of Libby’s previous owner had appeared at that clinic after all those months, to claim that the little dog had been stolen from him. We do know that he’s not a savoury character and not the sort to care one fig about any dog. However Libby could produce valuable pups. Bastard! We’ve learned that the vet thinks it is best for Libby not to have pups, it could be devastating to her if not fatal.
There is a legal protocol that requires the veterinary clinic to do as they had and I understand why we were kept in the dark until the gestapo arrived. (The CIA: Canine Insinuation Agency) This old pirate does not like being told to sit in the corner and just listen. Both the vet and the cop assured us that they had no suspicions about us and that we were obviously loving care givers. I must say that both folks were quite supportive in the end.
Fortunately Jill had kept all of her texting records which confirmed our story. We’ll consider the matter closed but will employ reasonable caution in future. After all we, and especially Jill, have endured in the last year it was reasonable to assume there were no more lumps to hit the fan. For a while at least, we’ll have to shoulder a burden of paranoia. Leaving the wee ones to wait in a locked vehicle for even a little while has a new perspective. Gee thanks. I do prefer to trust folks ….but!
Never trust a person who doesn’t love dogs.” anon.
Last night the light of the waning half-moon glowed through an overcast which continued to rain. This morning the precipitation had ended, here at least. The day seemed bright despite the overcast, perhaps in contrast to days of deep gloom. Doggies and I went for a walk in a local park named Hemer, after a local farming family who donated the land. It is a delightful network of trails sprawling through second-growth forest which blankets broken ground sprawling between a few small lakes and swamps.
Today the woods reverberated with the peculiar croinking grunt of tree frogs. I have spent many hours through the years stalking these tiny reptiles. I have yet to see one. As you approach the apparent source of their call, they fall silent. You dare not move or make a sound if you want to hear them call again. It is a waiting game which I invariably loose. No matter how hard I methodically scan the branches, trunks, leaves and plants I never see one.
It’s frustrating. I love their call and how they herald the distant spring. Today there was yet another loud proclamation of the changing season. Through the echoing woods, from over a mile away, the roar of sea lions filtered over the distance. They inhabit the log booms just north of Dodd Narrows and have come to await the arrival of the annual herring migration. Those fish come here to spawn in the spring, according to their own mysterious timing. Like a symphony orchestra everthing is on the same page, playing its part perfectly and right on time. We’ve just got to sit back and enjoy the music instead of trying to be the conductor. Da da dum!
The winter gloom of another rainy overcast provides almost enough light to take photographs that are often unfocused because of the low light and slow shutter speeds. Colours are drab but we do our best. Photography is a way of forcing myself to take an interest in the world around me. No matter how dismal, there is beauty and an effort to reach out for life. It is a deep mystery at times, but sometimes you have to accept things you do not understand. Bloom where you’re planted. Shed a little light in someone else’s eyes and you’ll find some for yourself.
“If you know you can do it, why go in the first place? ” Iohan Guearguiev
Say something; anything. I’m telling myself that as I sit here and stare at a blank screen. Really! Nothing to talk about. Me? Of all people! Write something, make a start, there must be sprouts in your fertile mind.(fertile=fertilizer=manure) Rants come, then go and so do silly anecdotes but I have nothing to change the world or even make anyone laugh. Empty wagons rattle the most I remind myself so I keep my big fingers away from the keyboard. The world tragedies are horrific, political bungles continue, miseries and darkness the same old fodder; and those are the ones we are told about. And frankly, I don’t give a toss about poor Prince Harry.
The Christmas “stuff” has been stowed away. This year our total decoration was a single tiny live cedar tree about sixteen inches tall. It was bowed over with a copper wire wrapped around it and a red ball hanging from its tip. There was sprig of festive decoration poked into the pot which was wrapped in a vaguely Christmasy bag. The whole little rig was frozen solid on a rack with several others. They were on sale for $6.50 each at the Home Despot which was clearly trying to dump them. I employed my usual argument with myself, “You didn’t need it until you saw it.” I shyly packed it home under my arm actually feeling a bit embarrassed at this pathetic specimen. Then, I discovered that the wire binding was actually a string of microscopic lights but the battery case was filled with frozen rain water. It needed new batteries. Bastards! Ripoff! Think I’ll go get my money back.
Two new AAA batteries and it sparkled magnificently, the frozen rainwater melted and dribbled for two days and we had a miserable little Christmas all things considered. But we had one! And we had a tree. I was not astute enough to take a photo but here’s one since I have de-festivized it. Some day it may stand tall and proud, an arboreal giant. Squirrels, children and perhaps monkeys will cavort among its branches. Eagles will perch in the gently swaying top and environmental groups will dance arm in arm around the broad base. All because a cheap grumpy old fart bought a discounted ornamental tree. Bumhug! By the way, individual small cedar trees one would use to plant a hedge sell for $35. each. My bargain tree chucked out of the house, I turned my attention to stowing away the Christmas cards. There were about a dozen and it took a minute or so. Christmas…over!
When I was a child Christmas cards were a huge part of the season. We’d tighten a string along the four sides of the living room wall and hang our cards on it. Handfuls came in the daily mail. Sometimes we would have to hang more cards in the kitchen. They were a traditional part of the decorations and began arriving in late November. There could be over a hundred of them. Postage was two cents for an unsealed envelope and we’d often sneak in a photo and a letter. My father had become a mailman and he hated the season. Relief workers were hired to cope with the overload and he worried that they would receive his Christmas gifts from the customers along his route. Some folks gave cards with cash inside, others provided bottles of booze and some offered cartons of cigarettes. Dad neither drank or smoked but bartered the gifts off for other treasures. Yet gifts were never expected, we were poor enough to understand. Imagine that going on today!
Just think. At today’s prices of $200. for a carton of smokes, $40. for a cheap jug of hootch, and $1. for a postage stamp, plus the cost of the card, and the time to write something in each one, Christmas could be a very, very expensive ordeal. As for snow storms, they were a regular part of the season and did not make headline news. We plodded on, it was winter, it was normal. Buffalo always got six feet of snow, Lake Ontario often froze a great distance from shore. Most folks were smart enough not to go out on the ice. Kids would shovel driveways for a quarter and were expected to show up for school no matter what the weather.
I’m now reading these wee scritchings a week into the year. The cold January rain is hammering on the skylight over my head. The little doggies don’t want to leave their beds. They’re smarter than I am. Once again I’m stuck for words. I started this blog ten years ago to share my travel adventures. What a dismal failure! I’m still here. It rankles me to mention someone else’s videos of their adventures but it would be immoral not to share this particular and incredible work.
This is the work of Iohan Gueorguiev. There are over seventy videos which he has posted. They are absolute masterpieces of outdoor film work. He documents his travels by bicicyle from the Canadian North all the way to Patagonia. The link above is a feature-film-length account of his 1000 km, 45 day trek through the Argentinian Puna, a high altitude desert. It is stunning and mesmerizing. I found it a life-enhancing experience and I sat mesmerized watching this unique work. What an expression of the joy of living in balance with the natural world! Sadly he is with us no more, his demise a poignant end to his amazing achievements. How many other inspiring people walk among us, quietly living their lives and we never learn about them?
Doggies and I have been out in the rain for some fresh air and are back home drying off and warming up again. Next to my desk is a leather couch with a broad soft top on the back. The dogs like to sit there at times and are wonderful company, albeit a bit demanding and distracting. Libby, the mini daschund is there at the moment producing some amazing snarts. (sneezes and farts all at once) I guess the caviar pizza didn’t agree with her. A nice thing about having a dog is that you can blame them for your “stuff.” Seriously, these two beasties have helped us through each day in wonderful ways. I’m still a big dog guy but I must concede that these two mini monsters are whole and complete dogs. Their love is as big as any dog of any size can offer.
And so the year is wearing on, only 355 of these days to go. Grey, wet, foggy, I’ve got all the enthusiasm of a garbage can. This too shall pass but it is time to go find some pleasant adventure to write about. Last night we programed the new “smart” television so that we could explore the delights of Prime TV. I think we were the ones being bent into shape. With all the wizardry available, why is nothing straight forward? Download and transfer codes, find a password, then another, that the “app” likes, start the process over and over, all the while working out the dynamics of three different remote controls. Finally, for some obscure reason, the same old process works! WTF? I feel I’m an idiot and know that there are millions out there who have no problem with this stuff. I just can’t wrap my weary brain around any of it.
I can’t recall how I spent long winter nights in my younger years but neither do I recall rolling into my bunk in abject frustration, overwhelmed with a sense of uselessness. There’s a lot to be said for a woodpile and a chopping block. I never did read a firewood manual. I just split away and I’ve got both arms and legs.
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Albert Einstein (How long ago did he say that?)
Some times when I’m poking around YouTube I stumble onto something special. I came across a performance on America’s Got Talent which is a live audition of selected acts. What I saw was a woman named Jane Marczewski aka Nightbirde. She was skinny as a rake and incredibly beautiful, even seeming to possess an aura. She sang a song she had written called ‘It’s OK’ and brought the house down as they say. She was fighting terminal cancer and she said some amazing things. “I’ve got a two percent chance of survival but that’s a lot more than zero.”
She also said “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore until you decide to be happy.” Wow! Isn’t that warm and fuzzy? Jane has since passed away after inspiring millions. Her appearance has inspired so many other lives. It got me thinking. Head happy or heart happy? It is indeed a mighty challenge to make yourself feel happy by choice but to be happy is very different. I cannot even define that very well. I suppose it has to do with living within a sense of well-being no matter what happens to you or those around you. Then I thought further and wondered if folks like Mr Putin have inner peace. Suddenly I was exploring madness. Religions offer a promise of that, for a price, and a lot of folks have written books and make speeches about living in a state of divine nirvana. I once heard a therapist describe clients who all wanted to be happy and his perspective was that it can be achieved when one gives up expectations of bliss. Who ever told us we deserved to be constantly happy. There’s a headful!
Perhaps simply being content in the moment, at peace with a current reality, knowing that nothing is forever and that all things pass, both the good and the other. For years, on the bulkheads of each of my various boats, I installed a framed black and white photo of a storm-wracked rocky beach. I had written on it “A storm always ends, enjoy it while it lasts.” Good advice if only I would pay attention.
One of my excuses for being tardy with my blogging is that I’ve been busy re-editing my second novel. I pushed it to the back of the shelf many years ago, having given up on the notion of ever getting published. This has been an especially tough year for me, emotionally it has been an all-time low, where I have often found myself simply staring at the wall. I decided that I had to do something to affirm my existence, perhaps find my “inner peace,” and so I began the odious task of correction and punctuation of every jot and tittle. Hey, it’s a pretty darned good read! Oddly, it is set here on the coast of the Pacific Northwest and is about an austere loner who can’t exist away from the sea. I don’t know what to do with it when I’m finished but the affirmation is wonderful. The sea and being on it is my passion and reason to be. No amount of denial can change that.
When I stepped off of my beloved ‘Seafire’ I wrote that if owning “stuff” defined who I was, then I was better off without it. Well, for me life is awfully dry without a boat. Most of my friends were seadogs as well, and so we have drifted apart. A boat is a tool to live my life where I do feel content and whole and somehow I must get back there. It is who I am.
My old truck, camper and trailer will continue to be part of my life and remain part of my plan. One of the intentions of the recent trip where I took my rig along some very rugged logging roads was that it would be a true “shakedown” trip. Anything that was going to fail, has. Guess what I’m up to these days. I’ve been sorting out the wiring for the lights and brakes. Nothing can humiliate a man quite as well. The builder of this trailer hired someone right off the farm. Wire colours meant nothing to them, nor did sharp corners. Twisting wire ends together, soldering them and wrapping them in tape seemed to be their protocol, unless…someone else down on a farm has since had a go. No worries, now I know what I’ve got. To add to the challenge my strata council has forbidden me to do repairs in any of our parking and storage areas so I’m sneaking around in public places to find an obscure corner to go tinker. Damn! I miss my boat.
“A sailor is an artist whose medium is the wind. Live passionately, even if it kills you, because something is going to kill you anyway.” ―Webb Chiles
After a continuum of applications, fees, phone calls to yet another number, then another, emails and dictums ad nauseam (Computer wanted to respell that as nutcase) I am officially accepted as the BCbogtrotter.com. It’s signed, sealed and delivered. Now here I sit on the first Saturday of June, and yes it’s raining a little more. I wonder where to go from here. Funds have run out. I’ve done some repairs on the truck and am trying to set up the new old trailer for my specific needs.
Meanwhile there are moments of delicious hot sunshine before the next front creeps overhead. The media is determined to predict massive flooding and devastating wildfires. I just want to get out there and perhaps get flooded out for a few weeks. At home, life is a wade through suburban mediocrity. Ayre the wee beast is in my lap as I type. The din of a small town waking up is amazing, if you listen. There is the hum, roar and howl of the highway passing below the town. There are often sirens. Often we don’t even hear them they are so common. Is it an emergency or another run to Tim Hortons? A large murder of crows nearby argues over some point of bird decorum and then the neighbour fires up his lawnmower. In the distance an excavator with a chattering rock hammer gouges out the footings for another million-dollar bungalow and from that white noise emerges the clatter of a passing helicopter.
Doggy now sits in the window of Jill’s office howling like a little wolf trying to will her Alpha human to come home again from her day’s work.
Well now! Near-silence. Several days after I began this blog I now sit on the shore of Johnstone Strait at Naka Creek Camp. If you have enough out-of-town savvy to find this place, you too deserve this little piece of heaven. I’m sipping hot mint tea at noon after a lazy morning and a late brunch. A US Coast Guard cutter powers its way southward against the last of the morning ebb. The throb of its engines is clear above the mild clatter of my tiny generator, charging up camera and laptop batteries. Soon there’ll be only the twitter of birds, the lapping of water on the shore, the gentle whisper of the wind in the trees, and the eternal hope of seeing more whales.
This place is an old logging camp. The forest is trying to take it back. Slowly it wins. It is essentially maintained by the users and although much loved by these folks, the jungle is creeping back to claim its own. I can see the progress since last year. Jack, my old dog, loved it here and I miss him dearly. I remember his joy exploring here and visiting with new dogs and their owners. This was a place I held hope of bringing my daughter but that is never going to happen. My wife is busy with things only she can do. I try not to feel sad or lonely but I watch couples and families and groups and yes there is an ache. Thankfully, the area is occupied with few this weekend and those folks all seem to hold a reverence for this oasis of peace and sanity. Kindred, even if we never speak.
At night the camp fire burns reluctantly, the wood is damp. The sea air seems to suppress any defiance to its eternal shroud of dampness. Still I nudge the fire, my feet to the warmth while holding a partial mug of rum.
There are worse ways to spend an evening.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” —Lao Tzu
Over the past month of shock and emotional devastation after the sudden loss of our daughter, it has occurred to me that grief is simply a massive attack of self-pity. Now then, I am one of those who prefers the company of dogs to people so value my opinions at your own peril. I can certainly tell you that dogs do grieve but they have also found a balance of living in the moment and getting on with simply being. The little dog Ayre which we have inherited from our daughter has endured a massive trauma from the loss of her prime human unit but she has attached herself like a limpet to Rachel’s mom. She is learning to trust me (a male human unit) and allows me now to show her affection without employing her piranha teeth. She possessed a natural dread of men in general and we have climbed a steep and slippery slope in the past weeks.
Each day is a triumph in the development of our relationship and we enjoy long pleasant walks on the wonderful trails here around Ladysmith. I’ve reluctantly allowed her to wander along off-leash and she is proving to be quite trustworthy. I also find myself scanning the sky for eagles, I’m sure she’d make a nice light snack for them. We also have cougar, coyotes and other predators so I’m constantly playing father goose as I allow my wee hound the full parameter of being a dog. I learned long ago that to establish a full and lasting bond with any dog is that you must demonstrate your trust in them. I don’t pick her up whenever another dog approaches so that she can develop confidence in her abilities to socialize with her own kind. I focus on the other dog’s owner and I may pick Ayre up if I can detect any darkness. I’ve watched these creatures in action in their native Mexico and know how well they can fend for themselves. She has to learn that too.
Speaking of darkness, my website designer, in whom I had placed my trust, suddenly announced that she would go no further with my account. She had put together a proposal of how to develop my talents and provided a quote. The quote seemed reasonable and the proposal was exciting. I did mention to her that I had no money pit and operate on a very tight budget but accepted her terms. I also asked to meet her for a few minutes, just to hang a face on the voice. Our working relationship has been amiable and complimentary. I know that I have a social skill-set of a badger at times but I don’t know what brought on this prompt flush. Strange! Folks these days develop intimate relationships with each other although they are on opposite sides of the planet. Someone five minutes down the road wants to have an arm’s length interaction. I am one confused bog-trotter on this one.
WANTED One local web designer.
So suddenly, my little home-made stealth/transformer trailer needs some major attention. I was quite proud of my clever fold-up design and it has impressed many people. However, I made it with bargain-priced plywood from Chile. It was beautiful but after a couple of our winters it’s falling apart like old cardboard. To complicate my Fredondrum I’ve just bought a tiny motorcycle which requires a partial dismantle and a full set-up of the trailer every time I want to load or unload. Yep, here I go again, rip and rebuild. I’ve decided that maybe always being to stand up inside, the full length of the trailer is a good thing. Not having to erect and assemble my contraction is a good thing too! Some sniffing about turned up a few old truck canopies, for FREE, and so here I go again. Now I have a solid top with sides and windows and all (yeah right) I have to do is fit it to the trailer base and make it look like something which did not come from Clem’s garage. Stay tuned as once again I try to reinvent the wheel.
More on the new motorcycle next blog. I drove it home from Nanaimo to Ladysmith today through and hail. Yet I live. I just can’t feel anything. Thank goodness for the face mask I just bought. I was worried about catching bugs in my teeth. “Haar Billy, back before global warming we used to have insects. They were all crusty on the outside and gooey in the middle. Some didn’t taste so good.”
“Every morning I wake up to perform my one and only character. A Rising Phoenix in spite of it all.”
― Michele Bell,
A friend and reader responded to my last blog with a note about a CBC story she’d seen. A Canadian veterinarian and his daughter have gone to the Ukraine to help out. I checked it out. Kudos to Dr. Cliff Redford. At great personal risk you are making a positive difference in an unseen corner of this humanitarian tragedy. So far, two people have died while transporting rescued animals out of the war zone. There is a huge population of dogs, cats and other creatures which were abandoned. Some are injured, some suffering from acute hunger and thirst and illness. And, I don’t recall anyone ever being shot at by a dog.
It is horrible. What a terrible decision to have to make. You can only take what you can carry and so often the pet just has to stay behind. Other folks have chosen to leave their stuff and bring their pet. I know the choice I would make. Then I stumbled across stories about hungry Russian troops raping women and eating dogs. I recall accounts from German civilians at the end of the second world war as Russian marched into East Germany. The civilians had already endured a horrific ordeal and the war’s end brought them no liberation. I have also heard accounts of how we, the good guys, are just as capable of the same atrocities. Some things never change, we’re still the same beasts we always were. I began to research an avenue for adopting a Ukrainian dog but all the online contacts I’ve found seem suspicious to me. There will be legitimate means established to adopt dogs eventually but in the meantime I’ll just have to keep looking.
I continue to look for a local dog who needs a fresh start. Charity begins at home, right? There are dogs available, but most are too big for life in the camper and any extended travel. There are also plenty of pit bull terriers with which I have no problem but there are plenty of people who do. I don’t need an incessant hassle. Most dogs have a huge monetary price attached and I’m suspicious of folks who claim to be looking for a good home for their canine charges and then mention “Oh by the way” they have a huge adoption fee. I know caring for a dog and providing shelter for more to come costs money but every dog I’ve had cost nothing in dollars and were wonderful friends. The idea of paying for a furry soul mate just seems wrong unless the expense is explainable. Then there are the rescue folks who simply don’t answer your inquiries. Nice!
And so our reluctant spring grinds on. The ongoing dark saga from the Ukraine is dragging us all down. The weather seems to echo our sentiments. We have moments of spring between the massive epilogue of winter. It is mostly cold and wet and gloomy. Still! It seems to be all I’ve written about for a long time. Photographing spring flowers trembling in a wintry wind beneath the dull light of grey clouds is wearing thin.
I’ve hired a lady who is helping me set up a marketing program for my writing and photography. It’s all over my head, suddenly I find myself with business pages on Face Book. As things were linked up, ten random blogs selected from my archives were posted on Face Book. While in the process these blogs appeared together in a blizzard to all my subscribers. I apologize sincerely to all you folks for the nuisance. I was also forwarded the following which may be soggy cookies but it moved this old flower who has felt guilt about looking for another dog so soon after Jack’s passing.
A DOG’S LAST WILL & TESTAMENT
Before humans die, they write their last will and testament, give their home and all they have to those they leave behind.
If, with my paws, I could do the same, this is what I’d ask…
To a poor and lonely stray I’d give my happy home; my bowl and cozy bed, soft pillow and all my toys; the lap, which I loved so much;
the hand that stroked my fur; and the sweet voice that spoke my name.
I’d will to the sad, scared shelter dog, the place I had in my human’s loving heart, of which there seemed no bounds.
So, when I die, please do not say, “I will never have a pet again, for the loss and pain is more than I can stand.”
Instead go find an unloved dog, one whose life has held no joy or hope, and give my place to him.
At the swimming pool a few mornings back, while in the hot tube, I learned of a BBC headline story. I’ve since looked it up. In Yorkshire a kitten was born without an anus. His name (which I chose to find hilarious) is Toulose. He underwent some life-saving surgery and all is well. Imagine the poor surgeon who opened things up!
“How was work today honey?” “T’wer a bit shitty in fact!”
Apparently a tidy sum was raised to help. It’s a happy story, especially for Toulose. and frankly I prefer one about a little asshole in Yorkshire to anything about a big one in London. God knows, we need all the levity we can get.
I buried Jack yesterday morning under the sheltering branches of a large holly tree on the banks of a salmon stream. He is sleeping in soft river sand beside Napoleon Creek, a short distance before it joins Haslam Creek which then runs into the Nanaimo River. The grave is about a kilometer into the forest, beyond the range of the shouting, yuk-yuking shallowites. There is constant music as the stream burbles past. The burial was attended by two ravens practicing their throat singing, an eagle screaming its anthem and a large wood pecker banging passionately on a hollow tree. I did not linger, feeling that I had somehow betrayed Jack, which is ridiculous. It had to be done. He’s gone, he is at peace.
I have received many wonderful notes of sympathy, and empathy. A large number of those have come from you my readers and I cannot thank you enough. It means so very much.
One of the common threads is how it is often much harder to lose a beloved dog than any person. That is certainly so for me and your affirmation certainly raises a doubt than I am not quite as odd as I believed. Thanks. It also occurred to me this afternoon that grieving is not a noble ordeal as much as it is a massive endeavour in self-pity. No volume of tears or dark musings can restore that which is lost. My wife and I were bestowed with the privilege to afford Jack a good life. He out-gave us in every way. He indulged in his days to his fullest and brought joy to all who met him. Who knows what good came from that? I believe that my mission in life is to bring light to other’s eyes, man or beast. There is no merit in trying to solicit tears over success.
So, wherever you are, raise a glass to Jack and a life well-lived. Let’s have a wake. Here’s a link to a video about Jack which I made and posted on YouTube some time ago.
Jack has died. This blog is my way of coping. So many of you good folks said so many kind things to and about Jack through the years, I need to let you know. Thank you.
It is now 12:15 am February 2, 2022. He passed about 11:45. He had done poorly on his walk yesterday. When we got home I carried him to his bed and he seemed to slip into a semi-coma with laboured breathing and a shallow pulse. We moved his bed to the living room and I made up one for myself next to him. I lay beside him, petting him, cuddling him and thanking him for all the wonderful years. I looked out the window through a brief break in the clouds and saw one faint twinkling star. “The Jackstar” I mused and then dozed off.
A short while later I was awakened by three gentle strokes on my arm. He emitted one last breath and was gone. I know what the strokes were but will always choose to believe that he said goodbye. I sit here now in the dark quiet with a stiff glass of rum beside me and type these words through tear-blurred eyes. Jack was a very special character, unique in many ways. He touched many hearts, both canine and human. He had no enemies. He was the son I never had and the reincarnation of a puppy taken from me when I was an infant. I will miss him forever.
We all know that famous quote from Winston Churchill about how it is always darkest before the dawn. I sit writing this morning looking out a window at a thick cone of fog beneath a street light. There is a darkness blacker than the night and that impenetrable gloom smothers all. There is a palpable weight to the pre-dawn world. No bird sings. Jack is in his bed near my feet in what I fear may be his last days. Our deep affection for him is mixed with selfish guilt that he may be in pain. We wrestle with the dark decision we know we soon may have to make. His back legs are now paralyzed, he needs help with his basic functions. He’s a very stoic character and it is impossible to tell if he is suffering. Yet we cling to each minute of his presence and focus our will on keeping him alive and in comfort. I’ve spent hours laying with him, holding him, thanking him for all the wonderful years and trying to let him know that it is alright to let go and fly on ahead to find his peace. There is no catharsis with writing about this. I sure hope old Winnie was right. *
I’ve been reading a wonderful novel. ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers. The book deservedly won a Pulitzer. It is very cleverly written and leaves me feeling completely unworthy as any sort of writer. Among other interwoven themes Powers examines the militant environmental movement, the “Tree Hugger.” One of his persistent efforts is to show how complex and venerable the entire forest is; how interconnected all things natural are. Saving a piece of forest is not just about the trees, ultimately it is about a massive ecosystem called Earth. What is interesting to me is how I once was inclined toward the other side but have slowly evolved to hold a much broader view and respect beyond my own personal greed.
I used to joke that it is interesting how most of our militant and vocal environmentalists come from a world entirely alien to forests and wilderness. Here in BC chances are good they live somewhere in the lower mainland and don’t give a fig for living without all their modern conveniences. Their home environment is the biggest clear cut in the province. Not only are the trees gone, the natural earth has all been ripped up and then smothered in concrete, asphalt, and alien vegetation. Millions of years of natural evolution wiped out for modern ease and personal convenience.
Our watersheds have been re-arranged to suit our current greeds. Rivers and streams have been diverted and channelled, smothered with concrete and culverts, or simply filled in or drained. Lakes are drained, we build on thier dried bottoms then howl when nature puts things back they way they were. Just think about how much of the earth is destroyed to build a highway, an airport or railway, a mall or a golf course, a subdivision or even a church. We then look for someone to blame when our prime real estate is flooded. After we’ve mutated much of our prime land we then import food from somewhere else on the planet instead of growing it ourselves. Let’s not discuss the footprint we leave because of that. Even this old sailor knows that is very bad economics. Being able to feed yourself first comes as a cornerstone of building wealth. I understand the deep need for an idea of wilderness and untouched forest. I don’t understand why the message is always about what someone else is supposed to do.When someone stands in front of a TV camera describing their loses to a natural event, it is always in terms of dollars. So before we get into our plastic electric suv (Stupid Urban Vanity) loaded with cardboard protest signs nailed to wooden sticks, let’s ask ourselves some basic questions. End rant.
Jack asks: “If shitting under a bush on the natural soil is bad, how come it’s OK to go to the effort of putting it in a plastic bag and then leave it hanging in a tree? People! Grrrr.
* I’m posting this blog three days after I began to write it. Amazingly, Jack has rallied. He has found his legs again and can shuffle around on his own. He has his appetite back and his plumbing is functional. There is light in his eyes. He has resurrected himself. This morning there was a brilliant sunrise. Then the fog settled in again. Jack hangs on.
There is something faster than the speed of light: the speed of darkness.