Saturday, August 21, 2010

Home Again...

During our holiday to the Coast, we all suffered through a heat wave the likes and lengths of which I've not, as far back as I can remember, ever felt before.  With searing temperatures up to 40C, each and every day, the normal activities of life were abandoned for a deck chair in the shade of the big old Maple Tree in the back garden.

We all stood in Graydon's little plastic pool. At one point, there were four adults and little Graydon all squished standing together, attempting to gain a little Cool from the rapidly warming Water in the pool.

We had a relatively quiet trip to the Coast; it was not until we arrived at Chilliwack that the traffic backed up to a crawl. The joys of travelling in the Summer are not all they are cracked up to be...car accidents and road construction had us joining the ferry lineup with one minute to spare. But we made it; that's all that counts, in my book!

My daughter and I visited the Vegetable stands at Naesgaards in town, after dropping my granddaughter and her friend off at Sproat Lake. Brianna is so very fortunate, indeed, to have a set of grandparents who live right on the Lake, with the extreme weather the way it was.

Naesgaard's is a place I loved, as I grew up. They sell the best Corn on the cob I have ever tasted, bar none. Every year, I would visit it, always coming away with some stunningly beautiful Vegetable that would grace the family's dinner.


I could not resist buying bags of Tomatoes, Peas, Beans, Carrots and Corn and Potatoes. Is there anything quite as beautiful as crates of freshly picked produce, at their very most luscious? It's the very taste of late Summer, to me.


In the evenings, we could see the smoke from the fires, just over the Mountains to the East...just a bit, just enough to know there would be plenty of smoke to greet us when we returned home.


And if the anticipation of breathing difficulties to come were not enough for us to worry about, we were given plenty of time to work out any concerns. We were caught in traffic jams from Departure Bay all the way to Abbotsford...a distance of some 80k. 


It took three hours of driving very, very slowly in 36C temperatures. I was grateful for Air conditioning in our vehicle and felt deep sympathy for the travellers in convertibles and older trucks and cars. It must have been hellish, if the red, perspiring faces of the passengers were anything to go by...


After solving the World's problems during the long time spent crawling along, Graham and I stopped (finally!) at our usual motel and continued our trip home the next morning.


It was hot. Dry and smoky and yes...almost itchy. The very Air, filled with smoke particles, bothers my skin. And I re-learned how to breathe in the smoky Air...short, almost panting breaths.


Once again, I am becoming accustomed to gray/brown days. The green of the Coast is becoming a distant memory, one to be brought out when I am in despair over the misty, smoky flavour of the Cariboo.


There are tales of heroics amongst the fire fighters, each of whom deserves my gratitude. Fences and barns may burn, yet not one house has succumbed to the flames. Stories of wayward cattle and predators abound.

The smoke from these Fires has reached Alberta...I was told Williams Lake and its Fire Storm was on the front pages of Calgary's newspapers.


I don't know how long these Fire Storms will continue...there doesn't appear to be any let up as yet. We need Rain. Wind only fans the Flames and dry Lightning Storms don't help at all, only beginning new Fires.


It is as if the Fires have their own minds.

A lady told me how, on returning from her own holiday, she could not see the City of Williams Lake from the outlook on the highway. She thought to herself...Where is my town? It looks as if Fire and smoke have swallowed the town...


And so, with this tale in mind, I began a new story yesterday, where Fire takes on human characteristics. In my story, Fire takes over an entire country, leaving behind a black, evil space with twisted, burned creatures...a little dark, perhaps, but oh! so much fun!

It is always interesting to me to see where the stories I write will go...it is not as if I have any real idea at the beginnings of the writing of it.


I find it strange that something so drastic as a Fire Storm and the reports surrounding such a disaster would titillate the creative muse. 

But perhaps the mini holiday and the relaxation I have just enjoyed had something to do with it...

23 comments:

  1. Well there's a mix of good and not so good here Marion. I know what you mean about oppressive heat! I'm struggling deeply with this summer. And then for you to have to go back to smoke and ash. I can feel the short breaths. Stay safe.

    The produce pics are mouth watering! And I could picture you all squeezed into that tiny wading pool of Graydons!

    Blessings to all the lost, wandering creatures. I hope they find solace (and water) soon.

    xo♥

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  2. As horrible as fires seem to us, a wise person once told me that they were nature's way of cleaning house: out with the old to make room for the new.

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  3. Marion, I had no idea your home was threatened. I hope the heat lets up and the rains come soon.

    The post and photos from the family visit were lovely. You must miss them terribly. Is there a move afoot?

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  4. What magnificent produce photos! I saw the rhubarb and thought of my Aunt Mace's fabulous rhubarb pie, the only kind she ever made. I'm glad you had a safe trip home. We hope to go somewhere in September, after Labor Day, to avoid the crowds and get better rates. It's been a hotter than usual summer here, too. I hope y'all get some rain soon to kill those fires...

    That sneaky Muse is a trickster, no? She gave me a poem and now I'm wanting to turn it into a story. I love your story idea, to personify Fire. It's great to see you back. Blessings!

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  5. Im glad you had a respite from that dreadful smoke. But the traffic. Oh, you have traffic in Canada?! Lovely pictures too. Fire is a creative force, and a destructive force too. so powerful. Nice that your story telling self was catalyzed.

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  6. Marion, I have been thinking about you. Sorry, it was so hot on your trip, and I am sad the fires are still raging. I will pray for rain for you, and for your continued safety.
    I am glad that you have turned your troubles into a story. Way to go! Many hugs. xoxo

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  7. nice pictures - thanks - I put a link on my blog

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  8. Lolo,

    This summer has been one of the most difficult I have known. And my garden shows it...with little Water and no Rain, flowers quickly bloomed out. The heat did not abate and perennials gave a bloom or two, then decided they were finished. Even tomatoes did not have their usual harvest. I guess the smoke, which obscured the sun, had the most to do with the poor production.

    Jan,

    I was thinking about this the other day. The Pine Beetle left many trees dead, but still standing. It really was a catastrophe waiting to happen, as I mentioned last year in a post.

    There were many other trees burned as well as the dead Pines, and I mourn those. The Cariboo, being so dry, does not regenerate as quickly as other places, I've been told.

    Still, a new beginning...

    Sheila,

    Yes. Yes, I do miss my family dreadfully, every day. We plan on moving back to the Island at some point, in the not too distant future.

    As you wrote in your latest post, I want to find my place. One that speaks to my heart, and also is close to those grands!

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  9. Marion,

    I hope you are feeling better these days, Marion. I make a great rhubarb pie as well, if others' comments are anything to go by. I rarely eat the pies I make...I just love the creativity of making them!

    I can't wait to read your story, since I love your poetry. The Fire Storm story I'm writing is a great deal of fun...total fantasy!!

    Suki,

    "Fire is a creative force, and a destructive force too." I love this line and you're so right. There is that balance I'm always talking about!

    I was thinking how chaotic times often give rise to creativity of some sort...whether it be writing, painting, crafts or whatever. Interesting.

    Annie,

    I have never lived in an area where fire is a constant concern. I tend to focus on the worry of it all, instead of enjoying the days and days of sunny weather the Cariboo is also known for. And not all of them are excruciatingly hot, lol!

    I'm a Coast person, where rain falls frequently and water is not a concern. I have learned much about conservation just by living here. Water is not abundant...many people must buy their drinking water. I am so grateful our well water is good...just not all that plentiful in the summer!

    Priscilla,

    Welcome! And thank you for the link!

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  10. Glad you had a nice visit on the coast, even if it was really hot. We left Powell River to take Mom home just at the beginning of the heat wave. Now we are getting some overcast skies, at least for part of the day down in Bellingham. Hopefully that will carry over to Powell River with reduced temps when we arrive. But I do love the sun! Just maybe a little rain in between would be nice for us and the forests as well. The market looked like a great place to shop. I hope my tomatoes aren't all red when I get home. Canning in the heat doesn't sound like much fun. - Margy

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  11. Isn't it just AWFUL?!? Our heat index has regularly been over 100F here in the Carolinas, and it isn't unusual to hear about old people (particularly in enclosed places like trailers) dying from the heat. We hear about one death maybe every two or three days or so... :(

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  12. Marion, I am so glad you had a nice holiday and a safe journey. I worried about you and your place as I watched the uncontrolled fires on the news.
    The weather has changed here with heavy rains a couple of days ago, sunshine yesterday and a southeast blow today. For us the threat of fire is over, the wells are taking in the water and the grass will green once more before it turns brown for good.
    I hope things get better soon. Be safe.
    Smiles and blessings.
    P.S. I found your comment about "finding a place that speaks to you" interesting as I am struggling very much right now about being closer to my daughter and grandbaby but needing a place that speaks to me also. I thought it was here but I am not sure anymore.

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  13. Odd how news is reported, at least from where I am sitting: fires in Russia distributing particles from the Chernobyl blowup, much water in Pakistan, flooding in parts of China, "the guys trapped underground in Brazil until Christmas " story being superceded by the Mosque demonstrations in NYC (can't build that here -- oh yes we can, and will) small fires in California, Haiti being shortchanged by reduced donations even though they still live under plastic . . .
    but no mention of the fires in the Cariboo!

    Too much news, too much destruction.

    Perhaps a nap?

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  14. Margy,

    I loved the story of your kayak trip! You are so brave, Margy, to take on a camping trip of this magnitude...at my age, I'm not so sure I could do it.

    I know what it's like to can tomatoes in that extreme heat we get sometimes. But aren't those jewel-like colours so great when the jars are all lined up on the counter? It makes all the sweat worthwhile!

    Daisy,

    It's been difficult everywhere with that heat this year. I hear La Nina is back; the long, long term forecast is for a very cold and snowy winter.More than likely, in a few months I'll be complaining about the cold, heh!

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  15. Carolyn,

    And when I saw that storm heading for Haida Gwaii, I thought of you and wondered if your storm would continue on until it came our way...and it has! We haven't had a whole lot of rain, but it certainly cleared the skies. The weather has changed as well...we are much cooler than we were, with the morning temps quite close to freezing. This, of course, helps fight the fires tremendously, giving the firefighters a much needed boost.

    Those places of the heart! As lovely as the Cariboo can be, it is not where my heart lies. I learned early on in my interlude in the interior that I missed the misty weather and my grandkids wayyyyy too much for this to be a place I would want to stay.

    But, Carolyn, your kids live in the East! So far away...isn't it strange, I would miss you if you go! But on the other hand, last winter you explored that area and I can see why you might be tempted to move there...it is very beautiful and I felt a connection to some of your photos as well.

    I'm not sure where I'll end up, but I know it will be close enough to see soccer games and school events the grandkids partake in. So that puts me on the Island somewhere!

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  16. Goatman,

    Dear Lyle, I hope you are feeling a bit better...I'm always thinking of you. Hang in there, my friend!

    Even in Canada, it took a long while for the media to catch on there was a story here. Williams Lake had suffered in those terrible smoky conditions for a long, long time before the Southern media actually noticed.But oh my, there sure was a lot of smoke...it's impossible to describe what that's like to live with. I heard it was the equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and of course, this included children.

    I've seen photos of the fires and the magnitude of them is mind-boggling! It amazes me that they are under control in any way at all...those firefighters sure know their stuff.

    And I agree with you...too much news and so much destruction these days. It's been a long while since I heard anything good and wonderful on the news. I think a nap sounds really good! Take care, you...xoxo

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  17. What a summer of extremes you are enjoying and/or enduring by turns, Marion. I find summer to be my least favorite time to travel. The cool of late Fall and early Spring are my favorite times to be on the road and there are fewer people too, which is always a plus in my book.

    We have been relatively fire-free in California this year. There have been the random fires but the horrible fire storms of the past two years have not visited us yet. I pray that we escape a fire season so that the land can recover.

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  18. Seems your summer has been heat of one kind or another. Hope those fires die out soon. I thought to escape the heat here on the East Coast by going to the West Coast but the 102 degree temps were there, too! Corn on the cob IS summer. Wonderful photos.

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  19. What are things coming to when a trip to the coast cannot cool us off?

    . . . but I mis speak; we have been to Port St. Joe on the west coast of Florida where you could not walk on the darkly-colored sand, it being so hot! All to do was find or make some shade and experience the sitting.

    So we await winter and its bag of extreme presentations.
    Welcome home.

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  20. I had to look up 40 C. It's 104 F. Wow! I'm so sorry, but glad you had air conditioning, at least.

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  21. Hello Marion,

    Nature is having a playful time it seems, our seasonal expectations are all mixed up this year. I just returned from the Central Valley in California where it was unusually cooler, even cooler than when I left coastal BC!
    Though Fall is quickly approaching,I hope that conditions are easing up in your part of the world. Seems the visit with family was a welcome reprieve. As always, your news of family time together is uplifting and fun to live vicariously!

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  22. Annie,

    I agree...I love Fall and Spring the best and I think the Fall is my favourite time to travel. I am spellbound by the colours...it calls to me of home, Thanksgiving, back to school...

    I know California has its continuing troubles where Fire is concerned. It's a terrible thing to have to live with, I find...I am continuously watching the Sky for Rain clouds here...all Summer long! Not a great way to live one's life, heh!

    Pauline,

    I've been keeping up with your travels this Summer. I know you loved the Oregon and Washington (I think it was Washington...I'll have to check) coasts. But that hot weather we had was there as well...seems the whole continent suffered through this Summer!

    It's great how corn tastes so unique at different locales. I think the soil must have a great deal to do with it...it feeds the plant, after all, and soil is different everywhere. But overall, I agree...Corn is Summer.

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  23. Goatman,

    "So we await winter and its bag of extreme presentations." AAAACK! Can we have Autumn first? LOL

    The weather has changed so quickly here. We are now down to 2C in the morning. And the days only go up to about 14C during the day. When it cooled off, it really cooled off! All I have outside is green tomatoes and I doubt, unless we get some really warm weather, they will ripen outside this year. But cabbages and carrots did well...I guess you can't have everything.

    But, Lyle, the smoke is gone! It took over everything, that smoke. The day was coloured by it, what you did was dependant upon how smoky it was, and even food tasted of that awful, thick smoke. The fires still burn; there is still much fuel albeit a little wetter than before, with the rainier weather. But so far, where I live, the sky is clear!

    Snowbrush,

    I thought it was pretty hot in Oregon as well, but perhaps that high pressure system did not extend to your area. Yes. It was so hot and I will be forever thankful we had air conditioning in the car. But there was no air conditioning at my daughter's...we had to cool of with cool cloths and wading pools and such. But it was still great fun!!

    Miruh,

    The weather was strange this year. But I hear La Nina is now in charge...and I hear we are to have a much colder and snowier Winter than ever this year. Mother Nature seems to enjoy being erratic and strange, it seems to me. The seasons are so much different now than they were when I was a child...

    I hope you enjoyed your trip to California...I'm glad you're back safely!

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