“Tell me, who hung the hand-stitched stars on the wall?”

Yesterday, after lunch at the Laughing Oyster overlooking Okeover Arm, we took a little detour to Lund because John’s sister and her husband had never been to the end of Highway 101, the road we live on (though on its Sechelt Peninsula stretch). And there was the Lund Community Hall, on its last legs:

Lund community hall

Driving back to the ferry, I stopped the car by the Lang Bay Hall because it has been lovingly cared for (and therein lies a tale I’d love to hear):

lang bay hall

I’ve been to so many events at these old halls, weddings, funerals, the dances we call hippie stomps, political meetings, concerts. And as they disappear, so do these small but important histories. In an ideal world, I’d somehow organize myself to put together a book about the community halls of B.C. but I’m afraid that kind of editorial skill is not something I’ve been gifted with. If someone else took it on, I’d help. I even have several people lined up to contribute materials on halls they’ve loved and know well. I can’t help but think of Matt Rader’s beautiful poem, “Dove Creek Hall (Formerly Swedes’ Hall)”, with its heart-stopping final line:

                           All the Swedes who built this hall
Are dead now and the women they married are dead
And the pastor who married them and their friends.
But the children do not know this or just how sad
Beauty is on the last day of spring with instruments
And young players making music beneath the rafters.
They play along with mistakes and embarrassment.
Tell me, who hung the hand-stitched stars on the wall?
Who hung the evening light from the windows?


how the sky changes

This time last summer I was yearning for rain. There were dry weeks. Months. Mornings I’d wake to the clear blue sky and I’d begin the watering early, before the sun was up. This time last summer I was picking buckets of tomatoes and beans. The tomatillos were 7 feet tall.

This year the days are mostly grey. I think there might be one tomato just beginning to ripen. Beans are in flower. Tomatillos are perhaps a foot and a half tall — a couple of them. The others — and to be fair, these were only discovered in the compost a week or two ago — are maybe 10 inches.

So the sky changes. The garden is different. In some ways everything is different. With that grey sky comes a series of small dark shadows. Some of them are personal and some of them are global and I’m not sure where the division is right now. Or if there even is one. Or what to do. The clouds cover the sun most days. Their darkness is, I hope, momentary. Transitory. Yesterday when I woke, the sky was grey again. And I didn’t want to stay home, looking out at it, trying to shake its affect. Turning on the news every hour. Let’s get the mid-morning ferry to Powell River, I said, and so we did. I love the ferry from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay. Sometimes we see porpoises, but not yesterday. But the mountains, the water coming down off them in silver falls, a few eagles, isolated cabins on points of land. Groves of arbutus on south-facing islands.

We drove as far as Okeover Inlet, Lucinda Williams on the stereo, to the Laughing Oyster for lunch. It has the feel of the old coast — its deck of weathered wood, its view over water


And somehow the clouds were not quite so dark as those at home. (See that little strand of blue, stitching land to land across water?) I felt I could see as far north as anyone could want and the food was wonderful, particularly this lemon semifreddo I had for dessert.

lemon semifreddo

And the ferry home was that old familiar route, past Nelson Island, and through Agamemnon Channel.

Lookin’ out the window
Little bit of dirt mixed with tears
Car wheels on a gravel road

                  –Lucinda Williams

It was our gravel driveway, the car wheels bringing us home, and they were my tears at bedtime, for all that could not be clear and blue, a sky, a world, a darkness as clouds blocked out the sun.