The Dog Has A Gun

The sign read, “DANGER! The dog has a gun and refuses to take his medication.” To me, any expression of humour is an invitation to get closer but in this case it is clear that somebody has a claim on a piece of the earth and wants me to stay outside the fence they built. OK fine!

The longer I live the less I accept this notion of owning a piece of the planet. I do understand the aboriginal concept of respecting the earth and sharing it and thanking it sincerely for resources you need to stay alive and feed your family. Remember the animated film, “Finding Nemo?” All the gulls screamed “Mine, mine, mine!” That powerful metaphor was profound and describes our human nature as well as anything. Our time here is so fleeting. How can we possibly think we have an exclusive right to something which we are merely visiting? Somewhere I have a photo from the Gulf Islands of a lovely sign on a tree announcing a Bed and Breakfast. Spiked immediately beneath it was a larger sign declaring, “Private Property No Trespassing.” With that mixed message I’m not sure those folks enjoyed a brisk trade.

First flowers of spring. January Snowdrops on Gabriola Island
First flowers of spring.
January Snowdrops on Gabriola Island

Many of the Gulf Islands were a haven to hippies and draft-dodgers back in my good old days, the sixties and seventies. They arrived with nothing and I recall their whiny rants about peace and love and “Share the wealth man!” Once mom and dad passed on and they could acquire the turf they had so long squatted on, the “Private Go Away, My Land” signs began to appear on every tree. I’ve heard a capitalist defined as “A socialist who’s found an opportunity” and maybe that’s so. When I see someone with long white hair wearing a headband, and stepping out of their European SUV wearing designer gumboots, I’m really tempted to stroll over and say “Peace man! Share the wealth?”

Elgie Road in the morning, Gabriola Island
Elgie Road in the morning,
Gabriola Island

There are stories about new landowners appearing next to a neighbouring property where llamas or other exotic creatures roamed on that piece of already-cleared land. There were almost shooting wars about the newcomer removing his own trees to suit his needs and changing the view of those who were there first. I recently saw an old Western movie about the battles between cattlemen and sheep ranchers. Both sides were indignant about their “Rights” to overrun the natural world for their own needs. There were times when guns were drawn over the notion of fencing the open range. Of course, we‘re now understanding that “Leave it as you found it” has always been right but the fences won’t be coming down anytime soon. MY LAND!

The pioneers went to great lengths to import European cattle which still don’t really suit their new world. Now some agricultural circles are recognizing that the yield per acre in a given time period, factored in with the ability to be self-sustaining, from calving to finding water and enduring severe weather, indicates that bison are best-suited to live in their native habitat and can produce both profit and minimal environmental impacts. Who would have thunk? Wow! That’s amazing. Fields used to produce grain to feed cattle in feedlots, can be reverted to the natural grasslands they once were when the bison thrived splendidly in massive herds. We won’t need to burn any diesel harvesting the grain. And just think, ruminants were never intended to eat grain like birds. So, we could have “Gluten-free” beef. I admit I’m over-simplifying to make my point but nothing is perfect and nature has never needed our help, or interference, especially if we can be content with our truly simple needs. Now I just have to get my head around the bison being raised here on the Westcoast islands of BC. Shouldn’t we be raising elk here? They’re indigenous. Oh God here we go again sailor!

I often have the television on while I sit and write and sometimes there is something to draw me away from my keyboard. A few days ago there was a BBC program about a group in England who replicate various historical situations and film their efforts. At the moment they are working at the lives of tenant farmers on the land of a Tudor monastery, even complete with authentic costumes. “Hey Cedric, nice codpiece!”

If you were upper class you could afford to eat a varied diet with plenty of meat. The peasants and priests all lived on a near-constant diet of home-made bread and ales. Their concept of time was very different and they would work as daylight and weather permitted. There were few holidays or weekends off. Their lives as bipedal donkeys were usually over at age thirty-five to forty.

Kinsol Trestle Built by the railroad over the Koksilah River near Duncan on Vancouver Island. An amazing piece of engineering, no computers, just blood, sweat and brains.
Kinsol Trestle
Built by the CN railroad over the Koksilah River near Duncan on Vancouver Island.
An amazing piece of engineering, no computers, just blood, sweat and brains.

It occurred to me that their prime nourishment was almost purely gluten and I’m sure there weren’t many obese farm workers. Of course nor were there many geriatric ones. We’ve endured the paranoia about cholesterol, sodium, glucose, trans-fat and now gluten. This is especially poignant to me this week; I’ve just been diagnosed as being diabetic. That came as a shock! Most of those whom I know are diabetic were once chronic drinkers. I’m a bit portly but I stay very active and while I love good food and drink I have also worked on curbing the excesses which I once did embrace heartily. (Or is that heartlessly? How about mindlessly?) In the redneck world I knew for so long being a glutton was a mark of manliness. “Work hard, play hard!” Being overweight largely contributes to the onset of diabetes and one of the symptoms of diabetes is the weight gain it brings on. Cause and effect, round and round. The simple fact is that too much of anything, even water or air, can be a bad thing.

The rebuilt bridge sports miles of shiny sailboat rigging!
The rebuilt bridge sports miles of shiny sailboat rigging!

So the odyssey of Seafire and her crew takes an added twist. I must quit talking about healthy lifestyles. It’s time to do or die. I promote free original thinking and it is humiliating to admit I’ve fallen into a common state of mindless consumption. Maybe it is just the luck of the draw but there are things I can do to rectify the situation. Perhaps this is another example of my mantra about responsibility being the price of freedom. Another documentary titled “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” decries our collective dietary lemming race to the grave and also promotes the advantages of an all-juice diet for weight loss. The narrator also happens to be the owner of Breville, a company which markets juicing machines along with copious other kitchen gadgets. Hmmm! Do the potential plots ever end? Meanwhile my daily intake of pills is increasing and yes, I do have a conspiracy theory about that. There was a time when buying shirts, my concern was finding something my arms would fit into. Now it’s my belly. Yeah, I’ve got a lot of guts. Could you pass the chips please? Wannanother beer? This too shall pass. When I grow up I want to be a flat-bellied geezer.

Coincidentally, I finally saw parts of the famous documentary “Super size Me.” I’ll confess to indulging in fast food and that it is indeed both toxic and addictive. With the growing numbers, of people in poor health and the availability of instant malnourishment, we’re destroying ourselves in a gross and painful way. McDonalds, whom I can recall advertising, “Over a million served” now serves over forty-six million a day! And that’s just the big M. What of all the other purveyors of crap on a cardboard? We love the stuff! The marketing strategy seems to be “Eat shit, a billion flies cant be wrong.” And we buy it.

Koksilah River from Kinsol Trestle. Bungy-jumping? Kayaking?
Koksilah River from Kinsol Trestle.

One of my childhood icons has died. Don Harron was a Canadian actor and CBC Radio personality. Remember the wonderful voice of Peter Gzowski on CBC radio’s Morningside? Harron preceded him. He also developed a wonderful character named Charlie Farquharson. He nailed the mannerisms of an old Ontario farmer almost perfectly and, in his costume, was a dead ringer for my own  Canadian grandfather. His charm was in the way he misspelled things, writing them down phonetically. “Anyways if yer ready, put yer feet in the stove and we’ll git started with my oriole histry of Canada..that jist means it was took down by the wife Valeda, writin’ fast as Billy-jo jist as it come outta my mouth. I woulda writ it down myself, but Valeda says nobody’s gonna read writin’ when it’s written rotten.” Off he’d go about pre-Cambrian Shist and yer Plastocine Period.

He‘d ramble on about esoteric things Canadian, gently mincing it up such as describing the early fur traders as voyeurs-de-boys and if something needed special explanation he’d mark it with an “Astrix” and continue in his feetnotes. “RCMP means Roman Catholic Members Of Parliment and what they was doing with pillboxes, nobody knows”. His humour was dated and parochial and wonderfully innocent. Don Harron is gone, another piece of a lost era. An era, I’m afraid, of which I am part. Yeah I know, back in the good old days. I just don’t get yer CBC 49 and guys like Jeans-on Gomeshme. (Only Canadians have a hope of getting that! And he’s gone from there now because he was supposed to be a nasty piece of work.) Then there’s that George Stompsonalotofus!

My pals Tony and Connie from Victoria have arrived in Sri Lanka after sailing the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal on the way from Phuket. These guys are intrepid and have a wonderful way of mixing journey and destination into equal parts. They take the time to smell the flowers and produce a fantastic blog about their adventures. See the link in my right sidebar which will take you to ‘Sage On Sail’. Between two different boats this pair have now spent over ten years sailing the South Pacific. Other friends, Bob and Deb are somewhere in the American Southwest exploring in their Mercedes van which they did a magnificent job of turning into a modern gypsy caravan. They are apparently having a grand old time travelling in a land where everything is larger than life.

The earth awakes as January ends.
The earth awakes
as January ends.

Other friends are wintering at home in Australia. As soon as Ali recovers a bit from back surgery, she and Rodger will be back to their beloved wooden baby, “Betty Mac” presently moored in La Paz, Mexico. Off they’ll go again. The world keeps spinning ’round.

In a bay called Dogpatch, another old beauty dies a horrible death
In a bay called Dogpatch, another old beauty dies a horrible death

Meanwhile, here on the West Coast, it’s still too wet to plow and I’m laying by the door like an old dog waiting for the mailman. I’ve got some loose ends to tie up and then hopefully, will be soon be posting a blog from somewhere south. I’ll be busy this month preparing to participate in another annual trek to Astoria Oregon for the Fisher Poet’s Gathering. This is a fantastic event and celebration of those who work at sea. You’re all invited. Check out the Fisher Poet’s link on this blog’s right hand sidebar.

Astoria Oregon on the Columbia River looking out to the Columbia Bar and the open Pacific.
Astoria Oregon on the Columbia River looking out to the Columbia Bar and the open Pacific.

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: It would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”………C.S. Lewis