the day after

The older I get, the more stressful it is to watch the election returns on the CBC news. Last night was a cliff-hanger and I kept leaving the room, returning, pouring a glass of wine, reading more of Alissa York’s gorgeous The Naturalist, listening for the magic number 44 and wondering if the NDP might actually get there. I confess I’m a social democrat from way back. The NDP isn’t perfect but the party is the one closest to my own hopes and aspirations for the place I’ve called home for most of my life. I’d like to think the Greens might improve on their social policy — it’s a little conservative at this point and their leader Andrew Weaver is a little elitist. A little too grumpy about unions. I hope he’ll evolve. But anyway, no clear winner last night, though the Liberals are in a minority government position right now. The advanced poll votes and absentee votes are still to be counted and I guess it will be a couple of weeks before we know whether to cheer or weep. I think it would be unconscionable for the Greens to form a coalition with the Liberals (who aren’t really Liberal at all) or to support them in any way whatsoever. But stranger things have happened and B.C. has a history of wild politics.

As I moved nervously back and forth in the house, I looked out to see these two grazing on the new spring grass.

evening visitors.jpg

And at bedtime, when we should have known how the future of the province would be unfolding but instead kept seeing those two numbers, 42 and 42, balanced in an unsettling way on the television screen, I felt like the mother of this pair. Don’t mess with me. Anything could happen.

spring grass.jpg

“That time of year…”

morning bouquet

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. (Shakespeare, Sonnet 73)

How everything shifts — the weather (our drought ended with torrential rain, wind…), the light, the things that call for daily attention. Most years it would still be summer, and maybe it is, but it’s so much cooler than even a week ago. When I go out to gather kale for my morning smoothie, my feet in flip-flops are cold and wet when I come in. Luckily John lights a fire in the woodstove when he comes down to make coffee. (There’s almost nothing that tells me where I am like the smell of woodsmoke and dark French coffee. )Tomatoes ripen in their sheltered location under the eaves on the second-story deck. The young bear walked by again this morning, pausing to eat grass on the south side of the house. Like us, he (or she) is waiting for the salmon runs to begin. Time to put plastic over the cucumber boxes at night, time to tidy the garden and keep the beans picked (and pickled).

Time to think of the larger world too, the Syrian refugees waiting at train-stations, on the edges of dark water with makeshift rafts, precarious boats, for other countries to open their borders, their hearts. Our particular government baffle-gabs and pontificates while the image of a drowned child washed up on a beach asks us to question our own inaction. I don’t have a solution but I want to part of one. So many of us are the legacy of grandparents or great-grandparents who left their own countries in difficult times and this country made it possible for what came after — our stable lives, the lives of our children.


Below the cut-block

I was walking alone yesterday morning up on the Malaspina trail, near the cut-block, and saw a bear in the distance. When I looked, she looked back — and I know it was a female because when she turned to run up the slope, I saw her cub at her heels. Here she is:

I found her scat on the road on my way back down from the trail:

And then, nearby, her cub’s droppings:

I thought, There’s a story here, a woman walking alone and seeing the bear and her child on the grassy slope, a woman thinking about her son’s marriage in a week’s time, seeing the boulders overturned on the trail where the bear has showed how grubs can be taken this way on summer mornings,  thinking and eating huckleberries, listening to ravens who have returned to their communal roost area with this year’s young, the smell of elk in the dry air. A story told every year, shaped by walking and thinking, and tucked away in a pocket for the colder months to come.