I finally got to heading over to the island again for the weekend of August 14-15th (I actually came back on the 16th) and as it happened it was during the annual heatwave, with record-setting high temperatures being set all over the province.
The ferry trip over was mostly pleasant, especially when the father of the family sitting behind me told his young daughter to stop kicking the back of my seat. Thanks, dad! A trip to the sundeck was marred by the presence of (permitted) smokers and a stiff breeze that nearly sent my cap off into the strait. I would have arrived on the island traumatized if that had happened. I really like my green cap.
After meeting mom and the dog, we headed first to Youbou, as it had been several years since I’d seen my sister Carole and her husband Gary. They had new digs on Lake Cowichan and this was my first chance to check them out.
Their house is…big. It has about 20 bathrooms, 15 bedrooms and a kitchen the size of my entire suite. I may be exaggerating a little. But only a little! It took me awhile to figure out where the music was coming from before I realized they had an integrated sound system that piped music into the house, onto the deck and even down to the dock.
We spent a good while sitting in the (relative) cool of the shade on the deck provided by a large umbrella. By this time of the afternoon temperatures were peaking at around 33ºC. We listened to talked o’ the lake, including one centering around a bear that had been seen for a period of several weeks trundling through the properties on this side of the lake. After calling conservation officers about it, the homeowners were informed that two bears had been shot. Poor things. That’ll teach them to wander through no-bears land! Carole pointed to the area just below the deck where the bear had been observed walking westward. A bylaw prevents property owners from landscaping or interfering with the natural growth along the shoreline, so to the bear, it probably just looked like his usual route to wherever it is that bears go.
We next moved down to the dock, which also had a large umbrella. There was a decent breeze coming off the lake and occasionally it would gust very suddenly. Several hats were nearly lost. I had made sure mine was affixed to the top of my head as securely as possible. I don’t swim well, so jumping in the lake after it would probably not have gone well. We then returned inside where preparations were made for a de-luxe dinner of steak, prawns, potatoes, cauliflower and halibut. Mmm. Post-dinner found Gary and me watching a National Geographic program which featured, among other animals, bears, much like the ones that had been shot here. Carole and mom headed outside to check the gardens. Carole pulled a few weeds and threw them down toward the shore. As she did this, the bush the weeds fell on moved. Gary looked to me as she began yelling. “Did she say ‘bear’?” he asked. More yelling followed. My mom was racing up the side of the house and around to the front, to a door that Gary had locked earlier. Much pounding on the door ensued. When all were safely inside, we stepped out onto the deck to see a black bear meandering along the exact same path as the others that had supposedly been shot. “A flesh wound, perhaps,” I suggested. I only managed one somewhat obscured photo but here is a cropped close-up where you can clearly see a bear-like shape in amongst the bushes. You can see the full-size image in the gallery.
After the bear excitement we headed back to Duncan to enjoy the sweltering heat of a mobile home that did not have its air conditioning turned on.
The next day was highlighted by a trip to Barry and Brenda’s for dinner (fresh salmon, potatoes and corn, mmm). The only notable wild presence there were a few persistent bees and one deer that walked up through the vacant lot between their house and the next. Apparently all it took to keep them from coming in and devouring all of their backyard gardens was the construction of a $4,000 fence. Easy!
After dinner I asked for some paper and a pen to record a few thoughts, as I was without my usual notebook. Naturally, this resulted in an inquiry as to what I was writing. I jotted down some details about a rather pampered young man who had been helping Barry with the drywalling. At the age of 18 he still did not know how to tie shoe laces — because he always wore shoes with Velcro. This is more proof of how technology is making us dumber and how Douglas Adams’ future vision of a world run by hairdressers is getting closer to reality. Hairdressers with Velcro shoes.
The other thing I wrote down was something I had quickly dubbed ‘Duncan Interruptus’ though to be fair I don’t think it’s a phenomenon exclusive to Duncan but more just small towns in general. It goes like this: In Vancouver, when there is a conversation taking place, things proceed about how you’d expect. Someone says something, then someone else comments. The conversation continues on like this, back and forth. In Duncan, however, Person A will start talking then Person B will interrupt with a question, comment or some tangential story or even something that has nothing to do with the current topic of conversation. Person C will then do the same to Person B. From this point forward, any of the three might start talking over the others and subjects are quickly abandoned in favor of another or another still. I have lost count of how many unfinished stories I have heard in Duncan. I have to interrupt to find out how they turn out. It’s a little irritating at times but mostly just odd. I haven’t really figured out why it happens.
For the ferry ride back, I took my cap off when I went up to the sundeck, but the smell of smoke kept me from staying long once again. I think smokers should have to climb into a little dinghy being pulled behind the ship, but that’s just me. I remember ferries were for a time exclusively no-smoking. I wonder why they decided to let them open them back up to smoking and at the same time restrict the activity to one pathetically small section of the outside deck (it has lines to mark exactly where smoking is A-OK).
Overall, the trip was rather pleasant, if a mite on the warm side. You can see a gallery of my mediocre photos here.