We caught the early ferry from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay so we could poke around in Powell River, then continue on for lunch to the Laughing Oyster at Okeover Inlet. Forrest, Manon, and their children leave tomorrow so we all wanted to do something we’ve done in the past, and loved; a chance to immerse ourselves in the old coast, a place of weathered wood and low storefronts, winding roads leading past stump farms, and everywhere the smell of the sea.

It was a lovely day, the inlets—Jervis and Okeover—soft with mist. Last night, in my bed, I kept remembering a certain turn of the road, the sound of kingfishers, and as I put my book aside, I felt somehow returned to myself, the way a change can do that, or a perfect book, or a combination of both. The book, in this instance, was Deep Hollow Creek, Sheila Watson’s first novella, though it was published long after her iconic The Double Hook. The latter is one of the texts at the heart of my novella-in-progress, which I’ve almost finished writing. (The first draft, at least.) Along with Ethel Wilson’s fine Swamp Angel and Hetty Dorval, it is such an excellent example of how women often write out of a deep engagement with landscape. Their maps are not the maps we usually think of when we explore literary cartography and my book tries to fill in these gaps, enter the contours of their language and attention. In a week or two I will have a draft and then I will know if I’ve done what I’d hoped to do. Sometimes I was lost in the pages of what I was writing, sometimes distracted from them, fearful of them. In the meantime, last night, I read these lines:

For the time being she had lost her bearings, she felt, and been engulfed in the vast rolling waves of the folding and unfolding earth.

And I knew again that Deep Hollow Creek is both a map and a guide, a book that opens a place in the body and says, This is also you, this is also what you know. The unfolding earth, the calm water seen out the window at Okeover Inlet, the islands of Jervis Inlet moving in and out of the mist.

Earls Cove Jervis Inlet Agamemnon Channel

say the names say the names

and listen to yourself

an echo in the mountains

(Al Purdy)

Where do the names go when we forget them? When we stop saying them? Not that Earls Cove will be forgotten exactly because it’s a ferry terminal; it’s where you wait for the small Island Sky to take you up Jervis Inlet to Powell River. Three cars on an Easter Sunday morning in the lot. When you arrived, you turned around to drive back a half a kilometer up the highway because there were elk feeding on the side of the road and you wanted to take a photograph of them. This photograph:

elk at earls cove

And when you opened the window to call, Where’s your mister? (because the elk travel in harems and you’ve never seen a group of cows without their bull), the middle one turned to you, as though agrieved, and you saw his small new antlers.

Earls Cove is named for a pioneer family who built this house looking out over Agamemnon Channel, out towards Nelson Island, and when you first moved to the Sechelt Peninsula, people lived in the house. Not the Earls but later pioneers. Then it was briefly a gallery, then an antiques shop where you once bought a linen table cloth and should have bought the Spode soup-plates and the silver sugar tongs which seemed entirely right in the small rooms with their view of the Channel and the ferry coming in. Where women came in marriage to live in these communities, bringing their family china and silver, and where a table might be set for loggers, visiting clergy, large families.It makes you sad to see the house abandoned, one of the upper windows broken, but a path still leading up to it, the path that might have brought a family to its generous rooms for Easter dinner.



I wanted to do something new this time to celebrate the visit of all my children and their partners, and my lovely grandbaby Kelly. Maybe a boat trip up Princess Louisa Inlet? Possible, certainly, but expensive for the 9 of us. And 5 hours, maybe not the best idea for a year-old baby in summer. And everyone has been swimming in Ruby Lake, going down two or three times a day to plunge into its familiar waters, so leaving our place for 5 hours or more (in order to get to the marina, etc. and then get home again) wasn’t ideal. Well, what about lunch out, at a restaurant on Jervis Inlet, with the most wonderful view on earth? John was willing to treat us all so we got into our convoy of cars and headed to Egmont.

And it was completely wonderful. A table on a covered deck overhung with wisteria (a bit like home), jugs of beer from the Townsite Brewing Company in Powell River, cold white wine from New Zealand, and fabulous food — newly-shucked oysters with little dishes of garnish, bowls of mussels and clams in a winey tomato broth, burgers (beef and steelhead), a pulled-lamb sandwich, a clubhouse sandwich of albacore tuna, salads…Kelly loved the ice cream that came with her parents’ Campfire S’Mores — chocolate terrine, marshmallow fluff, a graham cracker crumble. And oh, the view…

Tomorrow night, a party here of local friends who’ve known our kids all their lives (pretty much). A beautiful sockeye salmon to barbeque, some chickens to roast early with tarragon, lamb to stuff with pistachios and lots of garlic. 2 desserts are on the freezer already — chocolate cake, a marbled chocolate/hazelnut cheesecake — and there are Klein Lake Trail blackberries in the fridge to make into galettes in the morning. We’d hoped to have what Manon calls “firecamp” but there’s a campfire ban in our district right now, due to months of drought, so it’s a good thing a few of us had the Campfire S’Mores at lunch today.

the inlet