Tuesday July 2, 2001
A harried move on June 28th, but we made it and now we are settled into the cottage on Miller Road, Bowen Island, looking over Deep Bay and the Queen Charlotte Channel to Whytecliff on the mainland.
Of course Island life is unique, and this has been evidenced on a number of occasions since we have arrived. For instance, when we went to get our post box, the postmistress gave Aine a hand blown glass heart wrapped in glass threads as a welcome gift. It was made by a local artist. Of course the one postie is the only one on the Island and when she’s sick a hand drawn sign goes up at the post office and the mail stays undelivered.
V0N 1G0 is the postal code here, a pronounceable one that has given a name to a local pottery store in Snug Cove, the Island’s village. Vonigo and a bunch of other stores along Government Road sell art and crafts from Island artists primarily to the tourists who arrive by ferry or private boat. Also in the Cove are a couple of pubs, Doc Morgan’s (or “Doc’s”) and the Bowen Pub, a decent coffee shop called The Snug and some other cafés, an ice cream stand for the marina, and a health food/organic grocery store called The Ruddy Potato. The Ruddy Potato (or “the Spud”) has just moved from it’s former location in a quasi basement to a beautiful new store in Cates Square, a mini mall at the intersection of Miller Road and Government. There was a grand opening there on Saturday with free stuff, music from the Island’s Celtic ensemble Contraband and a quaggle of Morris Dancers, who have been livening up Island events since Mardi Gras last February.
We’ve developed some rituals so far, such
as making the mile long walk down to the Cove for food or services. There are three basic options: along the road itself, heading
through a forest trail in Crippen Regional Park which winds past salmon ladders
and the memorial garden, or through the neighbourhood of Deep Bay, along a
little causeway and into the Cove near the ferry dock.
We have traveled all three and report good salmonberry and huckleberry
picking along these routes.
We are in fact feasting on the fruits of the Island, with salmonberries and huckleberries leading the way. I have munched on kelp today at the beach at Miller’s Landing and small quantities of lemon balm, sage and Oregon grape have also been consumed. Our vases are well stocked with bouquets made from dandelions, ocean spray, ox-eye daisy, lavender and chrysanthemum. The salal and thimbleberries are ripening and the blackberry bushes are thick with blossoms.
The water is nice and we have swum twice, once at Sandy Beach on Snug Point near our friends Tamara and Brett’s place, and once today at Miller’s Landing which is a pebbly little cove with views of the North Shore Mountains. We shared that beach with some descendants of the original Miller homesteaders who arrived here 102 years ago to set up a dairy. They had a hard time of it what with their cows falling from the bluffs at Eaglecliff and generally escaping from the unfenced pasture. Eventually they gave it up and subdivided their land and the family has been living on it in various permutations ever since. Miller’s Landing itself was at one point a major tourist port of call with steamships docking to offload tourists and cottagers in the 1940s and 50s. Later the big wharf that was there was torn down and a group of land owners put up a private wharf which was in use for some years until a shrewd tugboat captain one day backed up to it, attached a line and towed the whole lot away. He sold it off in bits and pieces around Howe Sound and some of the parts can be seen at Porteau Cove and Gibson’s Landing now with the original names still carved in the wood where cottagers had reserved their berths. The owners of the wharf, although certain of the facts of the crime, could never muster enough evidence and, lacking insurance for “wharf theft” were out $20,000.
Our neighbours have all revealed themselves to us. Kay is an artist and is great with kids – she showed Aine how to make rosebuds and roses out of fir cones today. On the other side is Barry and Myrna who are cottagers, a CBC engineer and a teacher respectively. Lynn and Jake live north of them. Lynn works at Blue Eyed Mary’s, a chic bistro in the cove. She gave her job in hotel management a few years ago to live here full time. And next to Kay is Kim and Brock and their little kids Jaqueline and Kelly. They are a nice family. Jaqueline was over here today on the swing set, and showing Aine all the secret goat trails up the rock face behind our back deck. She has obviously grown up here and has a lot of tricks to share with our kids.
Tomorrow is my first commute into town. It should be crowded for the first couple of boats after the long weekend. The weather has been summery and beautiful so lots of folks have been visiting the Island this weekend. It has really shown off the thermal properties of our house which is remarkable in that it keeps the back deck baking hot, and the covered front porch cool and inviting for hanging out in the hammock swing. A cool breeze flows through the house making it a real sanctuary.
The air is amazing here, and I finally feel like I can breathe after years of living in the middle of the city. There’s no going back….