During the summer, our compost pile grows higher and higher, but during the winter, it stays the same size because every night the deer come around and clean up whatever I have put there.
Looks like tonight they will be dining on cantaloupe rinds, banana peels, and red pepper scraps. When I dumped this stuff out there I noticed that there were a lot of foot prints from the neighbor’s cat around the feeding station. I don’t know if it too was eating the scraps or just waiting around for a mouse to come to dine.
If you were standing in this spot in the summertime and looking in the same direction, you would not be able to see the windows of our house, because of the height of the mock orange bush. The big clump of snow on the left is what that bush presently looks like after not being able to support all of the snow that has fallen on it.
I wonder if it will be able to straighten itself out and recover after a couple of months of being pressed down. I guess once the snow melts and it warms up we will see.
I thought it was kind of interesting the way the snow formed all these mounds around the cattails at the edge of the pond. Although the temperatures have gotten a little warmer, we haven’t been above freezing in weeks. Last week we woke up one morning to -28C (-18F). Fortunately for me with my broken snowblower, we haven’t had any big dumps of snow. I am ready for winter to be over.
I was already reading The Cider House Rules and thinking as I read, “There are groups out there that would probably like to ban this book if it came out today.” I was pleasantly surprised then upon hearing that the theme for February’s Book Club was “Books that aren’t banned but could be.” We were supposed to answer some questions about the book we choose.
Here is my review of John Irving’s novel The Cider House Rules:
This novel, is largely the story of two main characters . One is Dr. Wilbur Larch, a compassionate medical doctor, who oversees a small orphanage in a tiny isolated settlement in rural Maine, where he delivered the babies of the troubled women who came to give up their babies for adoption, and performed abortions on those distressed women that sought that solution.
The other main character in the novel is Homer Wells, who was one of the orphans who grew up at the St Cloud’s Orphanage. Homer had been adopted two times, but was then returned to the orphanage when things didn’t work out with his new parents. After a third prospective new couple took Homer out on a camping trip, the prospective new parents drowned when a log boom came roaring down the the river in which they were taking a morning swim. Upon his return to the orphanage , it was decided by the small staff that Homer was probably destined to spend his life with them.
Dr Larch, who normally tried to stay unattached to the orphans because they would be adopted, decided to take Homer under his wing and teach him medicine, in hopes that Homer might someday take over his practice. Homer was a natural for medicine, he was intelligent, learned human anatomy quickly, and before he was out of his teens, Homer had a vast knowledge of medicine and had delivered babies on his own.
After discovering a tiny fetus that had fallen from some medical waste, Homer decided he didn’t want to participate in that aspect of Dr. Larch’s practice, but he continued to help with the birthing. Homer began to question whether he really wanted to be a doctor.
He was in his early twenties when something happened at the orphanage that changed Homer’s life. A good looking blonde couple in a convertible came to see Dr. Larch, to get an abortion. Homer immediately fell in love with Candy, the strikingly beautiful young lady, who was his own age and Homer really liked Wally, her handsome boyfriend too.
During the time they were there for the abortion, the young couple was drawn to Homer and were impressed with his medical knowledge. They invited Homer to return with them to Wally’s parent’s apple orchard for the summer. Homer leaped at the chance to get away from St Cloud’s, and said a sad goodbye to Dr Larch and the nurses he had spent his life with.
At the orchard, Homer lived with Wally’s family, the wealthy owner’s of the orchard, and began to experience the things normal to most young Americans, that Homer had missed out on while living at the orphanage. He watched his first movie, experienced making-out at the drive-in, learned to drive vehicles, saw the ocean, examined his first map of the world, and spend glorious days working and learning about the orchard.
He was loved by both Wally and Candy, and when Wally left university to enlist in the Air Force after the Pearl Harbor attack , and then was reported missing and assumed dead after his plane was shot down over a jungle in Burma, Candy and Homer’s love for each other intensified and became too big to control.
Soon Candy became pregnant. Homer and Candy sought to hide the fact, because Candy was still considered Wally’s “intended”, so they went together to St Cloud’s, telling Wally’s and Candy’s parents they were needed at the orphanage to “help out”. They didn’t want an abortion, or to give up the baby, they went to just wait out the pregnancy and to secretly give birth.
After their baby boy was born in St Cloud’s, and had grown a bit, they took him back to the orchard and told everyone the unexplained infant was an orphan from the orphanage which Homer really liked and so adopted. Unexpectedly then, they learned that Wally was alive. When he returned from the war, he was paralyzed from the waist down. Candy married Wally, but was also still in love with Homer, who took care of Angel, the “adopted” baby.
Homer, Candy, and Wally become a close-knit family unit caring for Angel, whose actual parentage remained a secret. There is a lot more of the story to come, involving Homer, Candy, Wally, Angel, and the aging Dr. Larch.
Why might this book be banned?
I think this novel was fortunate to be published when it was in 1985 when the United States was a more liberal country. Since then, ultra- right conservatives and evangelicals have made abortion an intensely “hot button” issue in the States. Anti-abortion fanatics have stealthily changed state laws in an attempt to deny this medical procedure to women, some have actually murdered doctors at abortion clinics. I have little doubt that such religious zealots would have any qualms about banning The Cedar House Rules because of the book’s pro-choice abortion stance.
Who might ban it?
In the US, not Canada, the book could be a target for banning by both Tea Party Republicans along with conservative Evangelical Christians. Abortion is one of the main reasons that an inept, crude, amoral, greedy, and narcissistic man-baby is now President of the United States, because he promised to put only anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court.
What would be an argument against such a ban?
Like all books, the main argument against such ban would be the right of free speech, but there is also the argument that women have a right to control their own bodies.
We have a friend who lives in a very isolated part of our already very isolated valley. To get to his place he has to drive down a 1.7km (1 mile) road that trails off a long secondary road. His road, which was pushed in many years ago does not have any legal status and is not owned by anyone, so it is not maintained by the government. That means that during the winter. the two residents that live at the end of it, and use the road, have to see that it gets plowed if they want to go anywhere. Unfortunately for our friend, the other party is not very neighborly or reliable about sharing the road plowing.
Our friend who is not presently working and doesn’t have a lot of extra money, but he has twice paid to get the road cleared of snow by a road grader. A grader pushes the snow away off to the side of the road. After this last big snowfall, the neighbor, who does own equipment, did clear the road with his backhoe. Rather than pushing the snow way off to the side like the grader, he basically made a trench out of the road, enough for him to get out. (Making such a trench will probably cause problems when the snow eventually starts to melt.)
The snow was still falling and fairly deep in the road, when our buddy headed home the other day, and his car got bogged down in the snow in one section section of the road (photo above). When he got stuck he tried to open the car door and discovered that he couldn’t, because of the wall of snow close against the side of the car.
This could have been a real dilemma, but fortunately, he had his wits about him and figured out a solution: He had a shovel in the car, so he lowered one of the windows, then using the shovel from the open window, he was eventually able to clear enough snow away from the door so he could open it.
Of course, that just got him out of the car, he still had to do a lot of shoveling all around and under the car before he could again start to make his way home. Luckily after a lot of shoveling, he did.
In telling the story our friend mentioned another potential problem that I hadn’t even considered. If he was halfway down the road, and met another vehicle coming toward him, because the road is now so narrow, the only way to solve that problem is for one of them to back up all the way to the end of the road. That would be a pretty long backup.
Living where we do does enable us to hear a lot of interesting stories about all the things people have to do, just to try to have a “normal” sort of life.
Below is a photo of his car after he had dug it out.
There is nothing as shocking as the sudden unexpected death of someone you know.
As I was doing a bit of research for the blog I wrote yesterday about getting a paddling at school, and was looking through some of the artifacts I still have from that long ago era, that I came upon this 1959 photograph. The shock of tragic loss, seared through my being as I glanced at that smiling face.
It is a photo of Mr. James Mohr, my sixth grade teacher. As you can see he was a young, handsome, and friendly man who was one of the favorite teachers of those who had him. Even though he was the one that gave me a paddling, I really liked him.
I believe it was on a Saturday morning in 1960 or 1961 when my sister and I got up to eat breakfast that we were told by our parents that Mr. Mohr had been in an automobile accident as he and his family had been traveling down in Kentucky to visit relatives. His VW Beetle had been hit by a drunken driver, and he and his wife had been killed. (This all happened long ago, so I can’t verify all of the facts, but this is the way I remember it.)
I would have been about 12 or 13 at the time and, remarkably, I had never experience a death of anyone close. All of my grandparents and other relatives were still alive. I would have, of course, seen thousands of “deaths” on movies and television shows, but I was still a virgin as far as real death was concerned. Hearing and reading the news in the newspaper, was unfathomable to both my sister and I and we were inconsolable, as were the other students in our elementary school.
His death was a devastating lesson about the fleeting nature of life. Unfortunately it is something that happens to everyone, and to many, it is an loss of someone much closer than a teacher, that teaches this grim lesson. For me was Mr. Mohr’s death that created the childhood scars and realizations that I still bear all these many years later.
I just received some additional information from an old friend, neighbor, and classmate. Here is what Carol had to say about Mr. Mohr:
Mr. Mohr's death was the most shocking day of my childhood too. I really loved him.
As far as details go, here is what I remember:
It was either late winter or early spring, 1961*. We were in the 8th grade. Mr. Mohr, his wife, and their three little girls were all hit by a drunk driver. Mr. Mohr's oldest daughter was the only survivor. I think she was about 5 years old. I can still see in my mind the family portrait that was on the front page of the Courier. I must have saved it for many years, but finally let it go.
I, too, think it was a Saturday morning when we learned this horrible news. I remember being home and crying and crying.
In every classroom there are a couple of kids that cause trouble, I wasn’t one of them. Although I could be rambunctious, for the most part, I was one of those students that behaved and did what I was supposed to. I tried to be an honest, good, and kind person, and because I tried to be that way, I never really ran into any serious conflicts with my teachers, except for one time. It happened because I do possess a major character flaw. It is an urge to rebel against authority when I do not have any respect for the individual that was assuming that authority.
I first time I remember this rebellion getting me into trouble was when I was in the sixth grade and it happened in an unexpected place for me-a music class. Our elementary school curriculum included a music class where we sang songs, something I have enjoyed doing throughout my life.
I remember these music classes from my earliest grades, then because of the school’s overcrowding, it was held in what used to be the unwindowed kitchen in the ancient part of our elementary school. We would sing songs like “Eliza Jane,” “Old Dan Tucker,” and “My Darling Clementine,” ditties that would later be referred to as “folk” songs and old Negro spirituals like “Dry Bones” and “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho.”. Songbooks were passed out at the beginning of class, and we would sing along as the teacher played the piano as an accompaniment. I loved to sing and I looked forward to the class.
When I was in the sixth grade however things changed. Our music class had been moved to a wide windowed hallway that led to the old gym. That was an improvement, but what wasn’t an improvement was our new music teacher—Mrs. Alexander.
For some reason, I developed a powerful dislike for her. The reasons are now buried in the fog of the past. I do remember that she always smelled of tobacco smoke, but there must have been something more basic in either her teaching style or personality that caused me dislike her so much.
I once chalked my dislike of her on the green chalkboard in my home room before class started. I wrote, “Mrs Alexander is ingenious.” This was not an ingenious thing to write because my still developing vocabulary assumed that the prefix “in” always meant “not” like in the word “insensitive” (meaning “not” sensitive). I thought “ingenious” meant “not” a genius It was an embarrassing discovery when I learned that I had unwittingly written that Mrs. Alexander was very smart, when I meant to say the opposite.
Anyway, every time our class went to music, my dislike for Mrs. Alexander grew. Even at that age I possessed a sharp and sarcastic tongue and I began to use it during music class. One day, Mrs. Alexander had had enough of my barbs.
She marched me down the hallway to Mr. Mohr’s classroom for a paddling. In those days of corporal punishment, it was the realm of male teachers to dispense major physical punishments like spanking. Female teachers were relegated to lesser physical abuses like slapping you on the hand with a ruler.
Mr. Mohr had a paddle that hung in the closet. We sometimes caught glimpses of it when he hung up his coat. The older boys in the school enjoyed instilling fear in the younger boys by talking about the paddle. They nicknamed it the “Board of Education.”
It was 4 inches wide, about 18 inches long and made from a three-quarter inch thick piece of wood. It’s surface was randomly perforated with one-inch holes, drilled through, to allow the paddle to arc rapidly through the air without the resistance of air pressure.
Mr. Mohr was a young personable first year teacher, who everyone, including me, liked. He must have been briefed during his teacher education classes about the procedure of corporal punishment because he knew just what to do.
He removed the paddle from the hook in the closet, and then ordered me to bend over and grab my ankles. I did as he instructed and he began to swing The Board of Education and burning stings began to radiate from my posterior.
Over the years, my memory probably wanted to forget this unpleasant experience, so I don’t really remember how many times I was stuck. I don’t think I cried, but I remember being very embarrassed when it was all over and the rest of my class came back, all staring at me.
What was even worse was the reaction I got when I got home from school. Unlike today, when parents always take the side of their children in such cases, in those ancient days, parents always took the side of the teachers, and I was again shamed by the stern lecture I was given. I was probably also denied some activities I enjoyed, I don’t remember.
I don’t know what ever happened to Mrs. Alexander. I was relieved to discover she wasn’t there teaching the following year when I began the seventh grade. Despite the paddling, Mr. Mohr continued to be one of my favorite teachers and it was an unforgettably tragic day a couple of years later when we learned both he and his wife had been killed by a drunken driver in an automobile accident.
I know I deserved to be punished for the way I acted in Mrs. Alexander’s music class, but I never did believe in physically beating kids for their misbehavior. I admit the paddling did change my behavior in music class, I learned to keep my mouth shut and my personal feelings about Mrs. Alexander to myself, but the most effective punishment I received, occurred 15 years later when I became a teacher myself, and stood in front of a classroom of kids and full of frustration, had to deal with all of the discipline problems that occurred. It was then that I realized how difficult it is to be a teacher, and felt sincere remorse for my actions so many years earlier.
It made me regret my smart aleck rudeness to poor Mrs. Alexander, and I would apologize to her today if it was now possible.
I took the photo yesterday when we drove up to Prince George. It shows sunlight on the snow-laden trees at the Slim Creek Rest Area, and has nothing to do with what I am going to blog about.
I live a very simple, unexciting life, which is the way I like it. I do have some outside activities that occasionally occur, and I am always surprised at how often they end up being clumped-up and happen on the same day. Today is one of those days.
At 10:00 I have to meet with a couple of people on the Museum Society Board about creating a map of McBride showing some of the historical sites in the village. Then at 10:30 I have my writing workshop that lasts until 12:00. I immediately afterwards I have to get to a meeting with a handful of others to decide how to disperse grants to community organizations, using the funds generated from the Dunster Community Forest.
All this activity throws a monkey wrench into my normally quiet mornings at home. Of course this being Tuesday means I have one more activity--our Tuesday Night Jam Session, something I look forward to all week. Things slow down somewhat during the rest of the week although I do have a meeting tomorrow night with FHA, our environmental group in Dunster.
We walk our dog every afternoon, no matter what. Usually it is nice to get outside we get a bit of fresh air and exercise, but sometimes it can be a pretty miserable event. Such was the case yesterday, when there were strong, cold, gusty winds coming out of the north, picking up snow from the ground and blowing it across the fields.
While we do these walks for the dog, I’m not sure that Skye realizes it. She would just as soon be at home curled up on the bed. Sometimes on our walks she does get a spark of energy and wants to play. I respond by taking off one of my gloves and throwing it. She chases after the glove, picks it up, shakes it violently, then runs ahead with it.
Yesterday as we were walking through the drifting snow, she wanted to play so I threw my glove in front of us. Skye ran toward it, picked it up, then, instead of running ahead, she turned around, and ran past us, back toward our car. This was clearly a message that she had had enough of the walk.
Looking at the drifting ahead of us, we decided that we too had had enough of the walk, so we turned around and followed Skye’s lead.
Our deep snow is making life really difficult for deer. Humans have snowshoes to enable us to walk through deep snow without sinking too much, but not deer. The snow is so soft that whenever they try to walk anywhere their skinny legs sink through the snow and its their bellies that keep them from sinking any deeper. They often hop and leap to travel, but even that must be difficult. The photo shows a deer path through our yard.
Of course the deep snow also limits their supply of food. They can no longer paw through the snow to reach grass underneath, so they can now only eat things above the snow, twigs and brush that they can reach.
At our place they make daily trips to our compost pile and feed on what we throw out, and they also visit our bird feeder and eat the left over sunflower seeds. Another danger for them and other ungulates is being hit by vehicles. The plowed roads are a lot easier for them to travel on than the bush and being out on the road means more of them are hit by traffic.
Exhaustion, starvation, and traffic all take their toll on the deer population during winter.
The topography of our yard has changed significantly over the past week which supplied us with a tremendous amount of snow. The photo shows what our sidewalk now looks like, at least what it looked like yesterday, because it is now snowing again. It’s hard to get a sense of scale from the photo, but the hill that you see that is made up of snow I pushed from our car turn-around area is over 6 feet (2m) tall, and the walls along the sidewalk are 24 inches (60cm) high.
I suspect you are getting about as tired of hearing me talk about the snow as I am shoveling it, but this blog was created to tell about something I find interesting every day, and snow has sort of taken over my life lately. Hopefully I can soon move on to other. less strenuous, things.
I generally tromp out into the pasture every winter to measure the snow depth. I am not very scientific about it because I don’t measure on the same day, and although I try to measure in the same spot, when everything is just a nondescript sea of snow it’s hard to tell where the exact spot is.
It seems that each year when I measure I usually get a depth of 26 inches (66cm). Although the snow was late in getting to us this year, we have already gotten more than usual. This morning when I measured, I got 33 inches (83 cm) and there is the possibility that more will come before the winter ends.
I have been reminded of the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because it might come true.” That happened earlier this winter during our snow drought. I was wishing for snow, and boy did we get it.
Unfortunately when we got it, my snowblower broke down and I have had to deal with the bulk of the snow by shoveling my driveway by hand. Thankfully it cleared off overnight (-23C, -9F this morning), and the skies are clear so I won’t have to shovel the driveway today, except for tidying up a few areas I was to lazy to shovel yesterday.
The snow just keeps on falling. We got about 30cm. (12 inches) of fresh snow yesterday. I shoveled my driveway twice. Fortunately, our friend Alec stopped by and helped me shovel the second time. I haven’t been able to measure how much is on the ground because I haven’t been able to snowshoe out to the spot I usually measure at.
The photo shows what our picket fence looks like. The pickets are about four foot (1.2m) high and as you can see there isn’t much of them sticking up out of the snow.
As a kid when I lived in the midwestern US, I used to look forward to “Snow Days”, when the schools would be closed because of snowfalls. I had a “Snow Day” yesterday, when things were cancelled, but it didn’t make me happy because I missed two things that I enjoy. My writing workshop was cancelled because of the snow and in the evening, we didn’t have our jam because people couldn’t make it.. It was really hard to miss playing music.
About a week ago these really long tanks on truck trailers appeared on the pull-off just east of McBride. I have never seen anything as lengthy as them traveling down one of BC’s treacherous two lane mountain highways. I suspect that is why they are now parked instead of on the move.
I walked along one of the tanks to get a sense of their length and each tank is approximately 114 ft (35m) in length, and this is without the cab to pull them. I can’t imagine coming upon one of these monsters while I driving to Prince George and trying to pass as it is crawling up one of the many steep hills. I could see no hazardous material signs on the tanks so I assume they are empty.
I wonder how they got this far. There are snowy hills, curves, and mountains on both directions to us on Highway 16, the only way to get to McBride. The trucks that hauled them have long since vanished from the scene and the snow plows are now having to plow around them. I wonder how long they are going to sit there.
The photo below was taken with my zoom lens and shows how they appear from Horseshoe Lake Road. If you look closely you can see a car that helps give you a sense of the scale of the tank.
Yesterday I spotted these three guys shoveling the snow off of the roof of the Farm Store. It looks like the snow avalanched down from the upper roof onto the lower, and that resulted in a scary amount of weight for the lower roof to support, so it had to be removed. There has been a lot of shoveling, pushing, and piling of snow in the Robson Valley over the last few days.
When I first started working for the BC Forest Service, I was a bit amazed that they had maps that showed what species of trees were covering what areas of our entire forest district. These maps had been produced by studying air photos and picking out the different types of trees. I thought of those timber type maps the other day when we were driving home from town.
All of the snow that has fallen, dramatically emphasis the different types of trees on the mountain slopes, particularly between the conifers and the deciduous trees. The conifers (in this case, Fir, Spruce, and Balsam) are the pointy ones that are holding a lot of snow, and the deciduous (aspens and birch) appear more like grass.
As I have mentioned before, snow generally doesn’t stick around on the trees for long in the Robson Valley, because the wind usually comes along and knocks it off.
Here is what the streets of McBride looked like halfway through the big snow clean-up. Snow is pushed into piles and then they are either pushed out of the way or trucked away. This last dump of snow was a big one and a lot of snow has to be moved before things can get back to normal.
Yesterday when I got up and looked outside I was surprised at just how much snow had fallen during the night.
“It’s a good thing I have a snowblower,” I thought to myself.
However, things didn’t turn out quite the way I had envisioned.
After breakfast, I went out and started the snowblower and guided it into the 40cm (16 inches) of fresh snow on the driveway. I only got a short distance when I noticed that snow had stopped coming out of the chute of the snowblower. After a bit of investigating I realized that the belt that drove the blowing part of the snowblower had broken.
This was terrible news, considering just how much snow was on our 85m (93 yard) driveway. We couldn’t go anywhere until that snow was cleared, so I grabbed the snow shovel and Joan helped and we began the task. It took me most of the day to finally clear a path all the way from the carport to the road.
I used to shovel the drive by hand every time we got snow, but after a couple of 38cm (15 inch) on consecutive nights, I decided I was getting too old for such chores and bought the snowblower. It was wonderful and saved me a lot of time and muscle aches, but here I was again shoveling my way up the driveway.
The good news is that I was still able to do it, and can still walk today and the snow has stopped falling. I now am faced with problem of getting the snowblower fixed. I am leery of the local small engine repair person in town because I took my lawn mower in to him in late August and I am still waiting for that to be repaired.
I still have to do some more shoveling before I can even load my snowblower on the truck to take it anywhere for repair.
Winter has definitely hit the Robson Valley. We got all this snow and this morning it was -28C, -20F.
We had a major snowfall overnight. Yesterday we got about 20cm (8 inches), after which I cleared the driveway and paths, then last night we got another 35-40cm (14-16 inches). Skye, who likes to constantly check underneath the bird feeder for fallen scraps of peanut butter and suet, could hardly push her way through the snow to get there. The photo shows her standing in the snow as she sniffs out molecules of peanut butter.
Instead of doing my normal routine of painting a square, this morning I was spending that time out with my snowblower trying to clear snow off of my driveway. As I ran the machine up toward the door of the barn, it struck me that we were now entering the season of paths. This usually happens every winter; the snow finally gets so deep (probably around 30cm or 12 inches,) where it becomes just too burdensome to walk haphazardly cross the yard; you have to stick to a path.
The driveway is a wide path, but I will have to establish a narrow path to the barn, another path to the compost pile, and a third path to allow us to walk around the pond for exercise. The snow is supposed to continue, so by the time it eases off, I will probably have to get the snowshoes out and tramp around the pond a couple of times to smash the snow down to establish that path.
Although it does limit what we do, I like having a lot of snow on the ground, and it wouldn’t feel like a proper winter without all that white stuff blanketing everything.
The Robson Valley keeps sliding from one side of the jet stream to the other. Presently we are on the cold side and this morning was -29 C (-20F). It looks like we are inching our way toward the warm side and as we do it we are forecast to get up to a foot of snow (30cm) during the transition.
We are on the right side of the solstice and can see that the days are starting to lengthen and the Sun is setting farther and farther west each day.
Yesterday McBride’s Community Youth Council organized something they called “Snowfest” to get the kids playing outside. They had originally planned activities like pond hockey, skiing, and snowshoeing on Horseshoe Lake, with wagon rides to get them there. I had noticed that part of the lake had been cleared of snow for the skating, but something must have changed the plans because Snowfest was moved to the park in town.
On the way to our walk we drove by the park and were surprised at how many vehicles were in the parking lot, a lot of people were participating. I noticed this group of kids playing King of the Mountain on the giant pile of snow.
It always makes me feel good to see young people doing things outside. The out-of-doors was such a big and valuable part of my youth and I fear it is something that has largely disappeared in today’s society. It was good to see kids out there again, even if some adult had to organize it.
There’s nothing like a dog, to get you outside getting some exercise. We go for a walk every afternoon, rain, snow, cold, hot, mosquitoes, or windstorm; our dog Skye demands it. When it the time for our daily walk, and I am hesitating because I am lazy or the weather is too miserable, Skye comes up to me and daggers those big brown expectant/demanding eyes, laser-focused into mine-- there is just no backing down.
“Okay, Okay Skye, let’s go for a walk.”
Yesterday afternoon it was -13C (9F) and there was a slight wind that made it feel a lot colder. We also had a fresh dump of snow on the ground so we didn’t know how well the walk would work out, but we went out to walk down Horseshoe Lake Road. Luckily there were some tire tracks through the snow so we didn’t have to break a trail. The cold was biting on our face, but Skye loved the cold and ran with pure joy of being out there.
I know it would be a whole lot harder for me to make myself get some exercise if we didn’t have Skye to push us do it.
Last night Joan called up to me that Dave Barrett had died. If you don’t live in British Columbia or Canada, you probably have never heard of him. It was late in 1972 , and I was living down in the United States that I had first heard of Dave Barrett.
I was very discouraged at the time. The US was killing off its sons in Vietnam, Nixon had just trounced George McGovern, the Democratic candidate and peace candidate for president, and I had pretty much lost hope in my native country. I had finished off my two years as a conscientious objector, working in the Goodwill Store, so my future was open. After the Nixon landslide, I didn’t have much faith in the citizens of the US to determine the future for me, so I started looking around for an alternative country to call home.
Canada had always been on my radar as a possibility and I took a special interest in learning about it. It was at this time that was sitting in the waiting room of a dentist office and was leafing through a news magazine and came upon an article about how a socialist had just been elected Premier of British Columbia. His name was Dave Barrett. I was a socialist, so I was immediately interested.
The article told a bit about his political views and mentioned that he had won the cow patty throwing contest at the Williams Lake Stampede. I didn’t know anything about the Williams Lake Stampede, but I liked the fact that a politician was human enough to pick up and throw a cow patty. The article made me realize that there were people in BC that had actually elected a socialist, so I researched how to immigrate to Canada and shortly after, began to fill out the papers that were required. Joan and I were accepted as landed immigrants to Canada in 1973, one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
Dave Barrett’s government only lasted a few years in BC, but it made some notable accomplishments. It introduced Question Period in the legislature, were representatives could ask questions, and get answers from the government, he reformed the welfare system, and it was under his government that the civil service and teachers were allowed to unionize, (something else I benefitted from).
Probably his biggest achievements were the A.L.R, (Agricultural Land Reserve) that prevented BC’s farmland from being subdivided and used for non-agricultural purposes, and he created ICBC, which is the government-run auto insurance company. These two things still exist in BC.
Barrett was a bigger-than-life politician with a wonderful sense of humor. I owe him big time for setting my sights toward BC, even if it was only through reading that magazine article about him.