Archive for November, 2006

Surf’s Up, Dude?

November 28, 2006

Ummm, not so much, dude. They have a winter storm like this every few years out here…A definite novelty. No real infrastructure for this kind of thing in Victoria — there’s a half-dozen snowplows on all of Vancouver Island. Brilliant. The heavy, thick snow has stuck to everything and brought down big chunks of trees onto power lines. The sun was warm enough to melt it a bit, but now it’s colder and everything is freezing up again. May actually be here until mid-week. Trippy.

Walked over to the water and the beach…A totally surreal experience. Snow right up to the sea. Seemed a little out of whack. The seagulls were annoyed and disoriented. Couldn’t really blame them…

But I keep reminding myself that it’s OK and a novelty and close your eyes it will all be over soon.

What to do to realize how weird this is in this part of the world?…Watch Monday Night Football tonight. The Seahawks are playing the Packers in Seattle (just across the way here)…And I already know some announcer will say that the weather is more appropriate to Green Bay. He just said it. “A snowy night in Seattle.” Unbelievable.

“A snowy night in Victoria.” Doesn’t really roll of the tongue.

Think we might see a little old Lombardi-like magic out of Favre and the cheesehead brigade. Take the Packers by a touchdown. Hoping the power holds up long enough to find out if I’ve momentarily managed to channel Jimmy the Greek and make a proper prediction. Doubtful. I thought this snow would all be gone by tomorrow. Not so much, dude.


November 27, 2006

Woke up this morning to a sight that I never particularly missed — that heavy, big, flaky, first snow of the season. There was a light, fluffy dusting up on the ridge I hiked in Goldstream yesterday afternoon, but mixed in among the trees and green it was just magical. Looking out standing on the balcony at the parking lot behind my apartment less so, and really a horrible reminder of the feelings that overcome you when the weather changes. But it’s not going to stay, the winter will be over tomorrow, maybe Tuesday, and this is one of the coldest snaps around these parts in a while. The snow is a novelty — it’s a feature of little human interest stories at the end of the local news. It is, I have to remind myself, not the beginning of the end. The long-term forecast suggests a warming trend after this week’s cold snap — wet, as usual for this time of year, but up around 12-13 degrees…and I know there will be sunny bits here and there, because it’s Victoria.

Today I’m really thinking “mediterrainean climate, my ass” — but I guess the kids around here have to learn to have a snowball fight, rare as it is…hey, otherwise it wouldn’t be Canada. Tomorrow morning I’ll either just face up to the temporary aberation or hope it bloody melts. Quickly.

Can’t believe it was unseasonably sunny and warm in Montreal yesterday…universes are being unwound, the cosmic balance has gone awry. Egads.

BC in Black and White

November 25, 2006

Some shots from the sojourn up the west coast of the island this week. With the minor exception that everything is obscenely green around here, the greys just seem de rigeur for BC this time of year. Doesn’t make it any less incredible…

The Dead Kennedy

November 23, 2006

Yesterday was the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of JFK, an event few people contemplate much anymore. To say nothing of the theories of his assassination. Too bad. The events surrounding the death of this ever enigmatic American president provide a gateway into the underbelly of the country’s history. And it is a dark past in so many ways. Texas is very much on the map in the modern American political scene, but in 1963 it was a relative backwater…Not a place where the scion of eastern elitism trod lightly. He was warned, of course, in an ad paid for by the John Birch Society in one of the Dallas newspapers. In many ways the city, emblematic as a bastion of right-wing conservatism even then, still bears some of the historical stigma associated with this strange, ominous day in American history. Curious to recall that one of the backgrounds to the Kennedy visit to Dallas was the whole U.S. membership in the UN issue. There were many in those days who wanted to say no to U.S. membership in the UN — they were the most characteristically western isolationists. Or, in some cases, were they merely visionaries, who perhaps didn’t want to see any arbitrary limit placed on American power and world influence? Some of these men labeled Johnson a traitor and a communist merely for associating with Kennedy. Who were they? Where are they now?

It is questions like these that keep the torch of meaning regarding JFK’s assassination burning. There is, in a sense, no end to it. The tendrils of the novus ordo seclorum stretch far and wide.

So let this post serve as an inspiration to theorize and think, question and query, propose and ponder on all the many fascinating permutations of the most important and essential conspiracy theory in modern American history. Please, share your two cents…or if you’ve got it, an American dollar bill. The symbolism of that alone could provide years of stimulating fodder.

Highway 14

November 23, 2006

Was out the door chasing the sun early this AM, deciding to head west on Hwy 14 out towards Sooke, Jordan River and the coastline along the Juan De Fuca. The first stop, just as the clouds predictably came in a little, was Roche Cove, a sheltered spot along the road towards Sooke. A pretty mix of wooded areas surrounding a quiet and secluded little marine cove. Trails were numerous and we wandered somewhat aimlessly…Some of the houses in the area are stunning. Such beautiful places to live.

After about an hour of hiking it was back on the road and west past Sooke, a cute little town at the water’s edge, to French Beach. The tide was high; the sound of the surf crashing up on the beach, dragging the rounded stones out with the ebb and reminding me why they are all so smooth, was wonderful. Driftwood and even a strange washed up sea creature (probably a sea slug) that had been eviscerated by some predator. There was a whole tree, roots and all, a little further along the shore. This beach was special — an amazing feeling being there.

Continued west along the lovely winding road — up and down through valleys cut by streams running out to the strait. One of these points is Jordan River, where an actual river meets the sea. It’s a sleepy little hamlet, about 70 km outside of Victoria, but the waves here are respectable because of the fresh and salt water meeting, and there were some surfers braving the cold November waters. Stopped at a funky little surfer-cum-hippy snack shack and then headed on our way back, Jack.

On the return voyage we stopped in Sooke proper and walked down to the water…There was a little dock out on the sheltered bay that Sooke sits on. You look out of the narrow mouth of the bay out to the strait and to the everpresent Olympic peninsula. Was mostly cloudy, but there was some clear spots up over the mountains. A really amazing view from this vantage…

Yet another awesome adventure, and though it was rainy and cold later this evening it was, again, overcast and about 11 degrees around noon. This is the kind of winter weather I could get very, very used to. To say nothing of going back out that way to try my hand at the surfing when the air warms up a little. Will probably be heading out there this weekend anyway, to do some beach exploring for Irina’s birthday.

Rough life, I know.

Lone Tree Hill

November 21, 2006

Was sunny this morning so it was up early, a sturdy breakfast and out the door to the Lone Tree Hill trail just outside Victoria. Read about this one and was looking forward to it as a nifty spot you’ve just gotta see. The clouds came in a bit heavy when we got there, but it was mild and sheltered at the trailhead, a reasonable 10 or 11 degrees. Couldn’t wait to see what it would be like at the top, since it was up over 1000 Ft. I imagine something spectacular and charge into the bush, up the steepish trail. This was a nice mix of new forest and some alpine terrain. Moss-covered rocks abound. The Arbutus trees, which lose their bark and are a local curiosity, are heavy in number and lovely — slick, smooth and shiny. Finally, after a pretty steep incline for about a half hour, you come out onto the high point of the hill…The rain is pelting down into a little rock pool filled with water beside me, the lone tree on the next rise, and a strange mix of sun and not…The ravens circling below — above the treetops, almost in a cloud. But it isn’t a dream, it’s real. What I imagined and more…I can see 270 degrees, from the mainland mountains mixed in among the clouds, to the Olympic Peninsula and Victoria, shrouded in a spot of concentrated sunlight in among the dark and stormy weather to the west, up towards the Malahat and the rest of the island. At one point I have a brief and clear peak experience. That I am at this place, at this time, in this way, seems a wonderful priviledge. Took shelter under the lone tree, a stubborn Arbutus which actually grows towards the predominant wind up from the sea. As we headed down the hill, the sun shone through briefly before giving way to a light mist. But it was OK. The journey was winding down, and happily downhill. Stopped at Royal Roads University on the way home…Really cute castle is the centerpiece of the school. Then had a coffee down by Ogden Point, watching the sun and rain do battle over the strait. Exhilarating the kind of stuff you can do in a day, or even a morning, around here.

Pictures to come…

James Bay

November 19, 2006

Contentment may be the most elusive state for us to achieve. Rarely are the stars aligned in the crazy cosmos of human existence — a quality that is already so fragile and tenuous — that contentment is even possible, let alone, given our propensity to always insist on struggle, probable. But contentment can be had in portions or segments of one’s life, like career or friendships or health or, even, surroundings.

I think I’ve found contentment on this last front by moving to James Bay.

James Bay is my new neighborhood, and that ain’t half bad. Yesterday I finished my move and the sun came out. Five minutes from the apartment is Beacon Hill Park and open water. You look across at the Olympic Peninsula and its snow-capped peaks. Will have to take the ferry across and hike around in there when the weather gets better. Although it isn’t all that bad…On a little hillside just above the rocks and the sea, with the sun warming my face, watching the sailboats and seabirds. I come back home only to turn around and ride out to the same point on my bike, just to confirm it’s so readily in reach.

Though there was a light misting of rain this morning (Sunday), again the sun came out by noonish and I suddenly realized why this could be, quite possibly, the neatest little spot in the country. Scorning the indoors we went up to Goldstream Provincial Park today and hiked around a little. The salmon were spawning and lots of people were there, but quiet spots could be found. Moss-covered trees and a lovely waterfall splashing off the side of a rock. Was rich and wet and strangely cozy. Like a fairy forest should be. Walked back through the dusk to Betty in relative solitude, and felt so alive from a contentment with place.

Will be fun to explore this new community…Quiet, charming, magical.

Now if only contentment can come in a couple of other domains. Or at least some satisfaction. In time. In any event, living in a sleepy little beach community right at the edge of the country is going to make the wait just fine…

Winds of Change

November 17, 2006

A big bad buxom storm blew across Vancouver Island yesterday. Heavy rain and wind charged up by the Pacific. Kind of sad I wasn’t in Tofino to see the waves, because the shots on the local news looked pretty intense. The other night we were out on the spit just as the storm came up and the wind was really fucking howling…

Winds of change are blowing in life as well, as I get ready to move down to Victoria tomorrow. Will be nice to have a place to call home, as transient and temporary as it may turn out to be. The city is beautiful, though, almost too cute in some ways. But I have an apartment just by the water and the harbour, and that ain’t half so bad. Sure ’nuff.

Hoping for a little better weather tomorrow, would suck to move in the rain. But it’s a hell of a lot better than a couple of my horrifying, freezing rain and snow first of December moves in Montreal. Never mind the 100 degrees in the shade 1000% humidity moves on the first of July. In comparison, this will probably be a breeze…

No pun intended.


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