About Me-email is... grant.go@aol.com

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garden bay, west coast, Canada
persistent digging,never say never

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Farewell to friends/Wish you were here

 (This was one of my first posts I did, I`m re-running it because, because Mom has come around after Dad`s recent death, she managed to get her phone call aired on the Sean Leslie show this Sunday about 3:45pm, she scolded the Government, she scolded Kevin Falcon, she was great and....And mom is so excited to go fishing at China creek, we are going to fish the labour day salmon derby, her strength is amazing, I feed off it and vice versa, and for those who were not with me when I originally wrote this post, once you read it you will understand, for today I have more tears, only they are tears of happiness!)

Another Port Alberni salmonfest under my belt, more stories, more tears, more life....
Having being blessed with a photographic memory or cursed as it cuts both ways, If one wants to learn about life, about cycles, about the trials and tribulations of regular folks there is no better place than China creek fish camp.
Dad, mom and I have been going there every year for a quarter century(wow, does that sound like a long time) ....There is nothing to do there, no playground, no malls, just a windy little fishing camp halfway between Port Alberni and Bamfield, a cold rainy, always windy place to park your camper, launch your boat and go fishing...

But over the years I have learned that China Creek is much much more than that, it`s a place where life thrives, a place where the change of season is in full bloom.
For years I observed, saying very little but listening intently, never eavesdrop but hear everything, lend a hand if asked and keep a low profile, I have always been a keen observer, study everything and re-run a 1000 scenario`s in my head.....
I as young person noticed that China Creek was full of old people, they don`t appear that old too me anymore, the parents would sleep in the trailer, I would sleep on the boat, well,actually I would be awake most nights tying up new fishing lures, oiling reels and re-run fishing thoughts through my head, well being down on the boat at the dock and awake or still up at 5.00AM I got to see the parade of fisherman coming down the ramp each morning, all these grey haired men half asleep heading down the ramp to their boats for their daily fishing trips, in my mind I would get impressions of people, the odd clothing, the vast array of simple fishboats, the talkers, the hungover, the angry, the tired, a picture is worth a 1000 words.
My dad is such a rock, solid, stable, funny, stern, disciplined, my mom, caring, thoughtful, eager to please, full of emotion and passion, I kinda guess I got the best of both of the them,........Dad, he likes to talk to people, he likes to fix everybody`s broken motors, electronics, you name it, dad can fix it.
So dad gets to know Norman, and older gentlemen who camped next to him in the campground for years, Norman was always quick to offer a drink, dad doesn`t drink but he sure used too, mom, well, an occasional social drink, as for me, I drink tons, none, a few a night or nary a drop for months, whatever the situation is I adapt....Anyway, Norman, single, with sort of a girlfriend was there at China creek to live, to live his simple passion, a friendly charming man who was dying, dying from absestos in his lungs, he welded and fitted pipes forever before the dangers were told to him and other workers,.
Norman never complained, he`d choke, cough and crack a joke, WCB fought him to the bitter end, well anyway, we were out fishing(last season) only to return to the camper when mom and dad were told he had passed, he didn`t make it fishing that day, my mom took it hard, dad too, only dad is so strong he gave us all strength, as for me, well,I am a bundle of emotion and having listened to Norman, not eavesdropping but I hear everything, I knew he hung out at the Kingsway hotel in Port Alberni where he attended weekly meat draws and socialized, well I drove to the Kingsway sat at HIS table had a couple of pints, I gave Norman a salute left a full mug of beer for him, grabbed the tribute paper the bar had made up about his life and gave that to dad on my return to China Creek.
Lets go fishing! Late August early September, life and death is in full bloom, chinook salmon returning to spawn and die, but with salmon they don`t really die, their remains nurture the rivers, fatten up the bears, and the birds, birds chirping and congregating in large flocks,every animal is repeating it`s life sustaining rituals with full colour and display.

Here we were fishing Friday morning when the boat STRYKER trolled by us and waved, I said to dad there`s Don and the Stryker,(He moored his boat beside us for decades) Dad piped up,"didn`t you hear,  Don Killed himself this spring"....I was shocked, dad told me that Don put his 30 30 to his heart and pulled the trigger, dad said he had no money problems, sons, grandchildren, no illness, there was absolutely no explanation for Don to kill himself but what really amazed me the most was, later on at the dock there was Don`s son, Don son`s wife and grandchild coming in from fishing, the camper was set up, what brave people I thought, Don has his soul all over his boat, Don was the "Stryker",  What brought them back to China Creek?  A cold, rainy, windy barren fish camp, I admire their strength, I miss Don, a rock of a man,  a smart man who was a strong as a bull, if a man like Don succumbs to the pressure what hope is there for us mere mortals, a man`s man, a he man, a father, a grandfather, now only a legend, I hope Don`s wife and his sons return every year, I had no kind words or condolences to offer(I just didn`t know what to say except hello), I will make amends next year, and perhaps Don`s family will share their secret strength and tell me why the draw to China Creek is as powerful as the salmon`s pull to their birth stream.

This place will do it to you, my mind is restless as I sit on the boat re-tying lures again, pondering the government, pondering life, my conscious wanders to my mistakes, my life, how short life is, how sweet and how bitter all in the same pill, I literally bring myself to tears, I sometimes wonder why I was cursed and blessed with a photographic memory and my mom`s emotions, why was I not given the sternness, the man`s man power, the stoic clarity, no,I was given extra helpings of emotions.

Scotty, a white bearded elderly man, an old boat called the CONJAN,  I watched year after year this man come down to his old metal boat, he was a quiet presence, to me his boat seemed cold and angry, the impression of the man himself was that of an angry, lonely man, I stayed well clear of him, a few years ago while fishing at the Campground, mom and dad left, the boat needed a part, they would be gone for a few days but I decided to stay in China creek on the boat, I couldn`t fish but I so enjoy marina life and at least I would be near the fish, well fishing was good and here I was stuck on the dock with a broken boat, as shy as I am I had to get out fishing, but being out fishing on some man`s boat as luggage didn`t appeal to me...

Here were the fishermen returning from the ocean and I patiently waited for Scotty to return, I assisted his tie up at the dock and asked how he made out fishing, well he had caught nothing but said tomorrow is another day, he asked the same of me, how was fishing today.....Well there was my opening, I told scotty the boat was broken and I`m dock bound for a few days!

Well before I could finish my sentence Scotty piped up about joining him the next day for fishing, I nervously agreed, I scampered off and said see you at 5.30 am.......The next day, I being up for hours re-tying lures, my best lures, my secret lures, I was there to greet this angry, lonely, white bearded old man beside his old beat-up metal boat(Boy was I nervous) I shouldn`t have been, Scotty brought coffee in a thermos, candy and a smile, I brought tackle and 40 plus years of fish stories.
So out we go, he had in his boat, old rods, reels,lures, a blast right out of the past, weathered seats, cracked window, well what do I care I get to go fishing, I gave Scotty one of my favorite spoons to use and we weren`t fishing long when his rod screamed out, the fish was about a 30lb chinook, the ice was officially broken, we talked fish, life and family......

He remarked how he had noticed me always tying lures, tending to the boat, he also remarked on how I always caught so many fish and here I thought no-one noticed me...hmmm
We fished together for several days, Scotty was a kind,gentle passionate man, he loved his daughters (Connie/Janice) hence the name of his boat ConJan:....His eyes lit up when he talked of his wife, his daughters and all the adventures they had in his metal boat, every tear,every lure, every broken piece of his boat was a story of his family, his eyes lit up when talked family, such passion, such tradition, his old boat scars and all was the tapestry of his life and I am the wiser for Scotty letting me in, meanwhile we developed a real special friendship, I was sad in a way when dad returned with parts for the boat, I can`t fish on 2 boats at the same time, I`ll work something out...
Meanwhile Scotty was waiting for a knee replacement surgery, he got it done 2 years ago, well,that was the year of 1.60 litre fuel, high ferries and apparently Scotty succumbed to money problems, Scotty`s alive but didn`t make it to the Creek this year, I miss the man, I will make arrangements to take Scotty fishing soon at my expense! I need some more wisdom.

Meanwhile I just got home and I want to go back, the call, the need of the creek, the marina just pulls at me, my friends who I listen too, the ones I haven`t heard yet, a windy, rainy barren fish camp in the middle of nowhere, yet life abounds there, it pulls and tugs the heart strings, my ears, my mind, my eyes are wide open, life and death with all it`s giving and taking, I will miss my friends.
May all of you who have left to early you`re still here in my heart, I see you coming down the ramp, I see you on your boats, I see your bright smiles at the fish cleaner

Cheers-Eyes Wide Open
Grant G


Gary E said...

What a great piece Grant G.
Something I use all the time when I come in from fishing and people ask me If I caught anything. I tell them that I didn't go out "catching". I went out "fishing". That's why they call it Fishing.

Tight lines. Gary E

G West said...

Nice stuff my friend; watching you grow has been a lot of fun for me too.

Keep on keeping on.

There's still a lot of work to do.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh Grant, here I was expecting another one of your feisty posts, and instead I get teary-eyed! One thing that defines many of us from the right wing types is that we are grounded. Grounded to the soil we live upon. Grounded to the hearts of those around us. Grounded to our own integrity. I always see two types of people in this world, and that is what makes up this eternal left/right left/right march between us. It's no good questioning why the human race is made up this way. It just is. Damn frustrating it is to. As a look back in history tells us, the fight never ends. The best you can do is appreciate your opportunity to visit those special places in our province (there are many)and that you have the ability to feel it as deeply as you do.

Keep up the fight, as you have more support than you know.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful story Grant, this island grounds us, as the salmon nurture us and so do you, my friend:)

Anonymous said...

"As a look back in history tells us, the fight never ends."

This is it. We have a purpose to serve and so do they. Humanity does not stand still. It is just that right now there is a severe imbalance between progressives and those trying to consolidate their power even more.

Keep up the fight - it is probably the most important thing we could do.

Don F. said...

Grant, read this piece with my morning coffee and wanted to let you know how much it touched me
Brought me to the right place to start my day, back to what is really important in this life.
You really should be writing books grant, you have a wonderful way of putting things!
Thanks for this!

Danneau said...

I tied up on the E float at China Creek for a decade and fished around the Inlet with the kind of success that's called "Conservation Through Incompetence". I'll be around this weekend, though not on the water. If you get into town early, let me know, and I'd be honoured to buy you a round of whatever you want to adapt to. Your post came following a poignant conversation with a long-time friend from California, touching on aging, death, shrinking expectations and what have you. I've really enjoyed all that you've put up.

Grant G said...

Great subtle comment Danneau, I lose lots of fish too..

Perhaps we have already met?

(Stolen Time)...Docked for years on the main float, I might slip by the Kingsway Hotel Friday evening, and of course I will find my way to port for the festivities, the big draw, a double cheeseburger under the tent, and with luck we will be collecting first prize with the big fish...

And also, the best pizza in Port Alberni is...Forget the name but it`s the joint near the kingsway hotel...

I`ll be the one wearing a Captain`s hat and a big smile.


Anonymous said...

You are a good son Grant.

I see many sides of your nature, and I like them all. Even your fire and anger is ok. Whoever is on your S.L. usually deserves it.

When I lived in, Jasper National Park. My 87 year old dad, would call me at 4:30 A.M. And, we would fish all day. At 87 he could row the boat for the entire day. Many lakes in Jasper, don't allow motor boats. My boys would go fishing with granddad. They always had a fishing derby for the kids. My boys always won, granddad always knew where the fish were.

I am the youngest of nine. My older brothers and a sister, were in WW11. I was born during the war, so I didn't know them, when they came home again.

My parents weren't young when I was born. They are both gone now. My brothers who were war vets are gone. The next to me in age, are twin boys, they are nine years older than I. I am so afraid I will be alone, with no siblings. All nine of would sing, four part harmony. When we camped, all the campground would end up at our site. We used to have so much fun.

I have my memories. All of the pictures taken, are my most prized possessions.

Grant G said...

@2:13 pm...You will only be alone in the physical world, your family, brothers, sisters, your father will always be with you, new twinkling stars are born everyday.

Thank you for that memory, I can picture it clearly, a glassy lake with morning mist, majestic mountains and snow capped peaks and then....

And then a trout grabs the lure and the game is on....

Thank you

Anonymous said...



Grant G said...

I have already read it...And I wrote about the salmon anemia over a year ago...

It has already devastated wild stocks and farmed fish in Chili, ...

Google up (Chile farmed salmon disaster)


Leah said...

Grant, don't take this in a negative or offensive way...there's no other way to say it..I love you dearly. For who you are, what you are...and who you are becoming. Your writing is a blessing to many, when it's needed most - and reminds some of us of what is really important in life. Thanks for being true to yourself - therefore, true to us. Blessed Be.