Lund Retreat Autumn 2007 (4)

7:45 am

The light comes up slowly to reveal a clear sky. The wind has shifted to northerly, blowing the smoke from the bark burning in the stove down across the clearing. Carbon: burning cellulose, cutting down trees to make a view. No freedom from sin.

I slept better on the hard mattress in the small bedroom last night, except for the old teaching anxiety dreams just before wakeup: classes start today and I’m unprepared. It’s a relief to open eyes and remember I still have two months.

I switched beds also to close off the lower bedroom, which was draining heat from the rest of the house. The fuel was consumed, but there was no chill this morning. “Sticks in box, no more cold,” Ray Mungo’s mantra at Total Loss Farm in Vermont, Winter 1969. The basics of survival and satisfaction.

It took five minutes to start a fire, get the coffee going and draw a hot bath. All systems work. The enjoyments of simple and civilized. No car, internet, tv, radio, but yes, hot water, tight house, computer, and camera. I’m settling in.

The silence is like the blanket of warmth that envelops me when I go near the stove. I stop what I’m doing and snuggle in it. It’s heightened indoors by the discreet sounds of the house, flames in the stove, stove pipe pinging with temperature changes, the electric water heater or the pump switching on and off. Outdoors it’s the distant lap of waves, a raven’s croak, a car on the highway.

The extra dark coffee with goats milk has the thickness and taste of mocha. Sip slow.

The dawn is late and slow, lighting snow on the island peaks.

Frost, shoes sliding on the icy deck. The sky starts to overcast. Alterations of light and temperature mirror mood and desire.

Today what I want is to be inspired by this place to create.  Knoll House to be my muse, as it was in August when I was led to dig out the paired rocks, when the earth and the vegetation directed me to undress them and their glory was revealed, when they asked to be embellished with ferns and moss and they stood forth in splendor.

I step outside and am captured by the wide-eyed gaze of a doe. I return the stare, lock on her eyes, huge cupped ears, white-margined black tail.

I back up slowly to get the camera. Does this effort to appropriate the moment corrupt it or pay it tribute? The deer waits for me. Unfazed by the meretricious flash, she keeps grazing and then wanders off. “Coast Deer or Columbia Blacktail—Odocoileus hemionus. …a twigeater, browsing on Douglas fir, western red cedar, yew, blackberries, huckleberries and salal.” Nature West Coast p. 211

M comes up with his pickup and we load the canoe for a trip to the Ragged Islands. He hasn’t been in this boat, which he paid half for in 1974, for thirty years. It’s battered but still seaworthy. He paddles stern, weight too far back for the boat to balance stably and rusty on steering skills.

We piddle around the Lund Harbor and then head for Finn Bay against a stiff westerly breeze. We go through the little channel at Sevilla Island, and try to round the point into Thulin Passage but both agree it’s too dicey. Wind behind us, we coast back to Lund, the weather now again clear and brilliant.

We load the canoe into his truck and out onto the ramp in the sunshine come Carol P, and her daughter Cindy. Carol and I hug—she worked at the store during the seventies—and Cindy and I look at each other trying to place faces. Michael introduces me as Steven Marx of the Marx farm. She says I babysat for you. She’s nine years older than Joe. Most likely while we were doing the camp. Carol reminisces with Michael about the best of times, when he was chef in Lund and the restaurant was always full, even in the winter.

Michael parks the truck while I wait on the ramp, and comes walking down the hill with a tall man, whom I recognize as Don. We all retire to the pub. Don taught English in Powell River for 12 years, worked in a sawmill in Tahsis, then ran a school for troubled teenagers in Victoria. We schmooze for three beers. On the way home I propose to Michael that he be the cook for a dinner party on Saturday night at Knoll House, and that we go shopping on Friday. He agrees.

I come home and make myself supper—again Renee’s frozen lasagna and there’s still a portion left, along with local broccoli from the Lund store. Sounds like something living in the wall behind the couch where I sit. I doze off and am awakened by Peter U. delivering the bottle of whiskey I’d left in his car yesterday.

Speak to Joe on the phone. Tomorrow he goes to Hawaii for two weeks to build a barn with five members of his crew. He’s been working ten hour days the last three weeks. Amy’s business is dormant. They are under pressure. Appreciates our gift of Y membership. Voice is deep and sober.

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