Say It Isn't So

Thursday, November 24, 2005


It was 21 years ago in British Columbia. It was raining. It was always raining! Of course, that never stopped us from doing anything that we wanted to do, so we went camping with friends. There were some beautiful, natural hot springs located 50 miles north and west of Pemberton, BC. All told about 200 miles north of our home in Vancouver. The highway to our little known camp followed the Lillouette River about 30 miles where it turns into a dirt road, then we branch off at another dirt road that follows Meager Creek. We cross several old wooden bridges and arrive at a wide spot that will be used as our parking lot. The hot springs and camping area are below this parking lot, down in a ravine by the creek. This is not an official government or privately run campground. It is actually a logging camp created for picnics, etc. There are some picnic tables and outhouses. The hot flowing springs have areas that are boarded up to create warm and hot pools. It is not raining here, in fact it is glorious weather. We set up our tents and commence to eating, drinking, soaking in the pools under the starry night sky, and in general, making merry. The pools were warm and cozy, the effect was refreshing and relaxing, both at the same time. Our friend suggested that we walk about a mile up the road the next day to go and see the glacier that feeds this meager creek.

I don't remember crawling into our little tent, but I do remember waking up the next morning completely soaked. There was a little rivulet running right through our tent. Now I love geology but we never thought about the lay of the land when setting up this tent. This was the last time we did not pay attention to this detail. Being drenched we hiked up to the parking lot to get into some dry clothes in the van. I left the husband, still climging into his clothes, to go make a pot of coffee and bring him back a warm mug. As I am walking down the road to get to the path that leads down to the river, I hear a cracking sound. I am used to life in the mountains and suspect a landslide. I look up and down the valley we are nestled in, while scanning the mountainsides looking for moving trees. I see no movement and tell myself that I am being paranoid and hearing things. So I head on down to the campsite. The coffee is not ready yet but my husband appears. He tells us a story that we cannot believe. He was half into his trousers when the van started shaking. There was so much moisture on the windows that he couldn't see out. He thought we were playing a trick on him. Then the van started moving! He wiped the window and saw that he was surrounded by water, trees and very large boulders, all moving swiftly around him. The van had rotated so that it was pointing down the hill. He jumped into the drivers seat, started it up and threw it into reverse. If it didn't move he was going to have to pick another strategy, but he was lucky and he managed to drive it back up the hill and onto dry ground above this deluge. This new river destroyed the very road that took us back to civilization. It had cut a channel right through it. But that very same road had saved all us campers. It had been banked just right. Whether that was by design or not, I don't know, but it diverted this new river away from the campground about 100 feet below. Many of the vehicles in the parking lot were now in various positions (upside down, sideways, in trees) much further downstream. We were stranded! I was happy that I had brought a giant can of Boston Baked Beans, even though it was intended to be a joke! I was very happy that I had decided not to linger on that road looking for the source of that cracking sound!

About two hours after this encounter with Mother Nature a helicopter approached and a couple of hard hatted Search and Rescue heroes dropped down and told us we had to get out of there now. We learned from them about the glacier falling apart and how a large chunk of it had landed in the creek, causing the water to divert into new rivers. It was also having a damming effect and we didn't want to be there when it blew! We were instructed to hike about two miles down the road, where there were buses parked and ready to take us back to Pemberton. I had never had to ford a river before in my life. That morning I crossed four! We made it to the buses that took us to Pemberton, where we were put on a train to take us back to Vancouver.

The next day we found out that a large part of Pemberton was under ten feet of water! We felt so bad. The town that so promptly rescued us was now in need. My husband went right back up there to lend them a hand. He stayed about two weeks. Shovelling hay and mud, scrubbing anything and everything, doing what had to be done. The insurance company (run by the provincial government) decided to airlift any vehicles out that were movable. Winter was encroaching and the bridges were washed out. If you had comprehensive coverage you were okay, and if you did not (we didn't) you were going to have to pay about $500/hr for the lift. We got a call later from the ICBC to say that my husband had created such a good name for himself in Pemberton that they weren't going to charge for the airlift of the van that had our gear in it. You see, it wasn't our van, it was our friend's van. That was very nice too!

So I give thanks today, to God's Good Earth, and to the Grace of Man.

Monday, November 14, 2005


We've all heard the line, "When I was in school I had to walk ___ miles to get there". It was a way our elders had to tell us how easy we were having it. Well, my journey was about 3 miles. Down hill going, up hill back home. Sometimes I would ride the skate board that my Dad made for me out of an old pair of roller skates that my sister didn't use any more, and carry it back home. Mostly I walked it. Down Cote St. Antoinne Blvd. and by Murray Hill Park, winding my way into the flatlands and on down to the ledge that the school was built on overlooking the St. Lawrence River.

I had just started High School. I was 12 years old and very excited. They had put me in the music class, which was reserved for kids with an ear as well as a scholastic aptitude. I had a bit of musical training in the way of 1 year of piano lessons (I will always regret not having done more, but it was my choice to opt out) and 1 year of recorder. I wanted to be in the strings section. The violin made such beautiful sounds. They put me in the wind section. Once there I wanted to play the saxaphone, I already loved Jazz (thanks to Peter Gunn). They gave me a french horn. I stuck it out for about 6 weeks, always begging for the saxe. Then I asked to transfer out.

So I ended up in a singing class! Coming from a family of crooners, I did enjoy that form of music making. Although I don't think I sing very well, it was passable and pleasureable. One of the songs that I learned to sing was "Fair Cuba" the cuban national anthem with English wording. It was 7 months after the Bay of Pigs. It was a beautiful song.

Fair Cuba
Sits enthroned in an ocean of light
Where the dawn comes in splendor
And the stars in the night
Shine with radiance bright
Shine with radiance bright

Are her fields and her forests of green
And the beauty they lend her
Oh fair Cuba tis thee
Land of flowers and of trees
Land of flowers and of trees

Those are just some of the lyrics. I remember it well because it was so beautiful.

Not long after learning that song President John F Kennedy went to Dallas, TX, where he met with a fateful end. Everyone was in shock, even in Canada. That school, that taught me how to sing the Cuban National Anthem, flew their flag at half mass until the President was buried.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


When I was 7 years old, I joined the YMCA. Yes, I was a girl! It was about a mile from the house and just up the street from my school. It was a place to go swimming (so I didn't have to wait for summer picnics to roll around)!

That same year I had taken ballet in school. I wasn't very good at it. One needs to be graceful to be a ballerina, and graceful I was not! But put me in the water and watch out, I joined the Water Ballerinas. We would dance in the water, doing twirls and dives, swimming underwater and on the top. Some of you might remember TV shows like Jackie Gleason and the dancing girls who performed with the camera looking down upon them from above. It gave a wonderful kaleidescope like effect. I felt like we looked like that when we were dancing in the water.

The Y had a banquet that year and I was invited to dine at the head table. Apparently, I was the youngest member to ever join. I had to give a (little nervous speech) about why I joined the Y. My whole family attended. They were proud as punch and so was I.

Years later I was still a member of the Y. After school (high school) and on Saturdays I would head over there to train on their swim team as a racer. I was built the right way for it. Kind of triangular shaped, broad shoulders (no pun intended) and narrow hips. 40 laps a day was the routine. 10 laps doing the crawl, 10 laps doing the breast stroke, 10 laps with our hands tied and another 10 with our feet tied (never were both the hands and feet tied at the same time!). The side stroke and back stroke would occassionally be thrown in there also. We learned to do the turn as you reached the end of the pool and our dive into the pool was perfected for maximum speed and minimum drag. The training I loved. The actual racing, I hated! I have no desire to beat the other guy. Now, if I could have raced against my brothers, that would be another story. For some reason I was always trying to outdo them! One was 11 years older than me, and the other, 5. Sibling rivalry, you think?

Later, after attaining a quasi-adult status, I started smoking. A habit which had no basis in the mature thoughts of a quasi-adult mind, but in the tumultuous thoughts of a latent teenager who had just been dumped. But I still went to the swimming pool to do my laps. And as a smoker, that first cigarette after a swim tasted so weird! It tasted awful. Of course, that is not enough to deter an avid rebellious quasi-adult/latent teenage smoker. But the mind gets to working, sometimes whether you want it to or not, and I knew that it was the chlorine in the pool that was ruining the taste of that rebel fag (fag as in cigarette, not fag as in queer). And so my fear of chlorinated swimming pools began to foster. My fear of cigarettes began before I started smoking. That chlorine was getting into my skin, into my tastebuds, into my body and I was not happy about that. So I quit swimming in those cemented swimming pools. I stuck to lakes, rivers and oceans after that. It was much easier to quit those swimming pools that it was to quit those cigarettes, but eventually I quit that too.