Saturday, 29 March 2008

Past reincarnation

In the summer of 1964 I explored Takla Lake in British Columbia, Canada with 3 fellow Berkeley students in homemade canoes. Takla Lake was remote and had only about 20 residents in three separate areas on this 50 miles long lake. The region was completely covered at lower elevations by climax conifer forests and the surrounding ridges and mountains were snow-covered. Access was only by boat or float plane, there were no roads. The area was essentially untouched and unused by Europeans. We spent a few days helping a Native American family weed their potato patch, about the only possible crop for the short summer of this northern mountainous area. In return they shot us a moose and fresh moose liver is very tasty.

It was a wonderful adventure for a young man and his friends and I have many memories but at the same time it seems like a remembered past of some previous reincarnation. That world no longer exists except in my imagination. A few days ago I used google maps to look at the Takla Lake area and discovered it is about one third logged with thousands of small clear cuts that pepper the land like polka dots and roads seem to go everywhere. There is a railroad bisecting the area and many buildings have been built on the lake shore.

Change is the way of our world.

Imagine an adventure to the American West in 1864 as the Civil War is coming to a climax, a hundred years before my college days. The Great Plains are unused by Europeans and millions of Bison migrate with the seasons followed by a sparse population of Native Americans. In 1908 the same area is covered with railroads and divided by thousands of fences into as many farms. The bison are almost extinct and the Native Americans are on reservations. The first motor cars are around.

My great grandfather who lived there must have felt much as I do now. Did we really live through these many reincarnations?

That's me in the above image with my father in Oklahoma in 1947. As usual I'm looking out the window wondering "where am I now?"


Sunday, 23 March 2008


I've been dyeing wool yarn rather than eggs.

I remember going on an Easter egg hunt as a young girl with my parents, sister and brothers, my aunts, uncles and cousins. We drove from our home in the San Joaquin Valley to the California foothills where golden poppies bloomed in all their glory. Those poppies remain part of me, of my California Dreaming. Searching for Easter eggs hidden by the adults, I found a nest of little bird eggs on the ground. That thrilled me more than finding Easter eggs. Years later my older sister said, no, you didn't find that nest, your cousin Roy found it. I could only stare at her as I felt my remembered world shift. I had been perhaps 7-8 years old, Roy only 2-3. He always felt so much a part of me that his finding the nest, I suppose, meant pretty much the same thing as me finding it. The logic of an 8 year old. Happy Easter, Roy. Thanks for sharing your find with me. Happy Easter to all!

Photo: One of Jerry's weavings - Two Grey Hills, a Navajo design. He used some of my handspun yarn for part of the weaving. The loose skein of yarn is a commercial wool yarn that I overdyed. The undyed eggs... boiled and yummy.

Sunday, 16 March 2008


On a Sunday drive around the Atherton Tablelands, we stopped to look at a cluster of wind turbines. We parked beside an old fence. You see a detail of the fencing join above. Wire twitching at its finest. Just look at that well made join. Meant to last and it has. By the lichens on the post, we reckon, what, at least 20 years old. The fence probably kept in a herd of dairy cows. No cows in sight now. Have the wind turbines replaced the cows, we wonder?

That join marks more than a paddock boundary. It marks the end of an era.

The fencer used a hand auger to drill the holes, a chainsaw to cut the angles and clever wire twitching techniques to secure the wire without breaking it. Beautiful craftsmanship. Hard, hard work. Local fencers were probably doing this kind of join by the 1950s. In the early 1900s iron fencing wire would have been unavailable or very expensive in Far North Queensland. Chainsaws arrived after World War II. We have to admire this work of a past era.

Have you ever thought about how the act of joining carries the act of exclusion along with it? The fence join helps to mark a boundary and show ownership. Everything inside belongs to someone.

I have an urge to belong that gets in trouble with my urge to run free. The internet provides an opportunity to join with others. It also allows one to run free. What more could I want? Encountering people with similar interests both excites and frustrates. In the excitement, some people online forget that others have different seasons, time zones, languages, ways of spelling, ages, choices, values.... Those are some of the "simple things" that cause frustration and a sense of exclusion. I figure the irritation comes mainly from inexperience with encountering "different" especially when you're already in a group where you assume "similar."

As experience increases, communicating with others outside one's usual boundaries should get easier. Perhaps that marks the hard work of the present era.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Already Autumn

We bought a small Queensland Blue pumpkin. Just the right size for the two of us. The volunteer butternut pumpkin in the old garden set lots of little pumpkins, but they rotted in the extreme Wet Weather we've been having.

We make do without a freezer due to our limited solar power. Before the start of the Wet Season we stock up on dried and canned goods and keep an eye out for Pretty Good Keepers, like pumpkins, to store in the pantry. The frig holds all the perishables and gets refilled each week, after a shopping trip to town. Unless, of course, the creek gets too high to cross to go to town. That has happened a few times so far this year.

Heavy rains in the area dumped 446mm (18 inches) in 24 hours on Port Douglas up the coast. We got around 120mm (~5 inches) that day. The creek came Right Up. We walked to the creek crossing and watched a car stop on the far side. The car - one of those cars held together with fencing wire and determination. The young couple got out and waded partway across, stood in the fast flowing current and talked about it for a while (couldn't hear what they were saying). They waded back out of the water. He got a piece of black plastic (looked like an old HeftyBag) out of the car. He draped the plastic down the front of the car and secured it with the bonnet. Then he drove across. The woman waded. They both waved as they drove past us at a high enough speed to make it up the hill.

We figure our car could make it across, too, but not having any HeftyBags, we decided to wait another day or two.