First, a walk below Lillooet along the Fraser River, a path we quickly realized was a bear’s daily route. Scat every ten feet or so, filled with pin cherry pits and rose-hips, one so utterly fresh it almost steamed. But no other sign of him. We were led to the edge of the river by deer tracks, made just a little earlier:
The pines had long needles (not always the case in dry country) so I decided to gather them at various points today and tomorrow to make a basket when we return. Readers of Mnemonic: A Book of Trees might remember my efforts a few years ago and my hands have the sense they’d like to try again.
“Take a bundle of three pine needles (or two bundles, says one book). So take your three, six, or even eight pine needles, and snip the sheath(s) off the end (or pinch off between your fingers). Make a little circle of one end with a tail of the sheath-end of the needles. Thread a length of raffia onto a wide-eyed tapestry needle and begin to wrap the circle, drawing the tapestry needle from back to front. Oh, I am all fingers, all thumbs! No dexterity at all. I study the diagram, wrap my circle, drop my pine needles, and unravel my raffia until it is impossible to work with. I begin again, burning that first attempt. Then the second.”
I loved the cactus gardens and the little nest in the top of a small tree:
and when we reached Pavilion, we saw the sad evidence that the store had burned down: the remains of a beautiful stone fireplace and a two-storey chimney, metal flashing still intact. (Actually we knew this because we drove the road last in 2009 but I’d forgotten. The first time we saw the Pavilion store was on a camping trip with our children and we’d driven down over Pavilion Mountain, through the Diamond S Ranch, on a hot day and we stopped at the store for ice-cream.)
We didn’t drive into Walhachin this time but looked across the dry bench and over the Thompson River to where it exists like a small piece of history wrapped inside an enigma. Every time we pass, we realize that the flumes that were constructed in 1909-10 to carry water to the orchard community from springs near Deadman River, some twenty miles away, are a little more decrepit. They haven’t carried water for almost a century but when I did a reading tour for my novel The Age of Water Lilies, which is partly set in Walhachin, many people talked about the flumes and told me stories about a great-uncle who’d worked on them or a grandfather who went off to fight in the Great War, some of them with Lord Strathcona’s Horse, and I know that the flumes hold memories more seamlessly than they ever held water.