Monday, June 3, 2013

Coastal visiting

I've been couch surfing a lot the last week or so, Langley, North Vancouver, Sechelt. Next up: Hornby Island, but that is a few days away so in the meantime I'm visiting friends around Vancouver and trying to get my truck fixed.

While in Sechelt I accompanied my friends there to a workshop at a potter's place. It was a workshop called Spirit in Clay conducted by a former church minister-turned-potter. I was there for only part of the workshop, a couple of hours while my friends glazed their pots and another couple of hours watching the kiln be fired up.

Glazing pots
The latter event was quite interesting, it was an outdoor homemade gas kiln designed and built by the potter's son, a skilled potter in his own right. We watched flames and smoke shooting out of peekaboo holes in the kiln walls, the potter was controlling the rate of rise in temperature by viewing cones in various parts of the kiln and then opening and closing the holes to lower and raise the temperature. Quite fascinating.

Kiln flames
Sometimes the potter would open a viewing hole, flames would shoot out and he would blow them back in to be able to see the cones at that particular viewpoint. Seeing him blowing the flames back in was like watching an imaginary hero battling a flaming dragon. The cones are designed to melt at particular temperatures and they come in sets so you can tell the temperature by which ones and how many are melting and keeling over.

Viewing the cones
The entire family had lived with a tribe in South America, I guess as missionaries or something, and they had interesting stories to tell about that. They now live in a kind of old hippy house on the BC coast, a funky little place that felt quite comfortable. We were offered mate which I didn't drink but my friends did. It is I gather similar to coffee or tea in effect. One of my friends probably had too much of it and was babbling on like a maniac. It is supposed to be healthier than tea or coffee.

My friends' dog is old and probably not going to live much longer. She is partially deaf, blind and lame. I spent a lot of time with that dog, she licked and licked and licked. Watching her try to climb up on the sofa was excruciating, but she made it and laid her head in my lap. She's not supposed to because she leaks, but after watching her great efforts to get up it is very hard to tell her she's not supposed to.

Hapi and Hiro were very glad to see me when I returned to Langley, Hapi made it clear she considered me hers and Hiro should just stay away. We took the dogs for a walk together and then later I took Hapi by herself. At one point we found a place by the Fraser River where we could let both dogs off leash to romp in the water and the mud. They had a wonderful time getting wet and dirty and chasing each other up and down the shore and into a nearby field. A flock of Canada geese watched from a safe distance offshore, I think the dogs were using "their" bit of shore and they were waiting for them to go away. The river current was quite strong so sometimes the geese appeared to be swimming backwards: facing upstream but moving downstream.

Hapi and Hiro in the Fraser River
Wet dogs playing
Hapi is a little more agile than Hiro, she climbed up a muddy embankment and Hiro attempted to follow and slipped and fell backwards. Hapi immediately turned and went back to him. He was fine, they resumed their chase game on the shore below.

Later we met a woman walking her malamute, she was very interested in our dogs. She had just gotten her dog and was finding him tough to control. At four years old with yet another new owner he was pretty independent. She was hoping we could give her advice, but really, with a dog like that you need professional help. He was very handsome, blond-and-tan in colour, and very interested in Hapi and Hiro, I think they would have gotten along but there was a fence between them and my son was reluctant to let Hiro cross the fence. Chances were good it would have been fine but no point taking chances.

I am enjoying being on the west coast again. There is a very distinctive and different "flavour" to this place. I commented to a friend that it felt like being in a different country altogether and she agreed. She's been to Nova Scotia and has the same feeling about going there. Hard to describe, but interesting how different places can be in the same country. This place feels very lush. Lots of green, giant trees, mountains, ocean, rushing rivers... You see it in native art, the lushness of the environment it comes from.

Even the suburbs here have that feel, you can see the mountains from almost everywhere and the trees are still giant, looming over the houses by several house heights. The environment you live in shapes you, you get that meeting people here. I can understand why people put up with terrible rush hour drives home to the suburbs, the peace of those residential areas is quite intoxicating.

I was returning to the mainland on a ferry and waiting to board while watching cars drive off. The cars were full of folks getting out of the city for the weekend, you could see that in their smiling faces, the bikes and kayaks and surfboards strapped to roofs and bike racks. People complain about the ferries all the time, but they do provide an essential service, however inadequately or expensively.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

Sounds like a delightful vacation for you and the dogs. You are hitting some good PNW weather now. Truly one of the best times of the year to be here.