Monday, September 6, 2010

Sockeye and Solitude

I know that the season is not officially called Autumn until Sep 23, the autumnal equinox. I'm deeply encultured to consider the Labour Day weekend the 'official' end of summer by virtue of students' return to school, and the feeling has been strongly confirmed these past few days.

Mother Nature, with her lackluster performance on summer this year, has abandoned the whole project entirely this weekend, or so it seems, and seen fit to deliver three dismal overcast days in a row for us to supposedly celebrate a brief cessation from our labours.
If I sound a wee bit pissy, oh well. Bad attitude has sometimes been a specialty of mine.

Where I work, the supposed benefits of a long weekend are far outstripped by the early deadlines and extra pressure in an already high-stress environment. Suffice to say I was quite fed up with my fellow human beings for a time on Friday evening.

Rather than go directly home, I took a long detour. The biggest sockeye salmon run in 100 years has hit BC, something like 34 million fish. Remarkable in and of itself but even more so considering the collapse of the fishery last year.
One of the biggest sockeye runs in the province is close by, the Adams River. And so I went for a drive and found a private little spot on the Huihilli Creek (or Hiuihilli as the sign reads) in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park (it means 'bear' in the Shuswap language).

The photo below is taken from the bridge on the Flume Trail close to the Adams Lake road, looking downstream.


See that small pink spot in the bottom right-hand corner?



Sockeye in its ocean phase.Sockeye in its spawning phase.


Sockeye in Huihilli, looking upstream from the Flume Trail bridge.


And here they are in a spawning bed. Hard to tell from my pics but these are big fish - 60cm and longer. The colours are so bright, the sounds of running water, thrashing fish, the smell of the old-growth forest and dead salmon beached on the rocks - it's a complete sensory experience. Very much what I needed.



Thrashing upstream, fighting for proximity to the females. This is not a passive scene.


After close to an hour, it was getting pretty dark. And then a belated thought occurred to me. I'm alone, sitting by a salmon spawing creek, and bears love salmon, and this is called Bear Creek in another language. Perhaps I should mosey on home.

Saturday was my rest and recovery day. I have a list of chores the length of both arms. However, I needed outside time. The morning was fine, the yard needed trimming.
Ah, the key to the garden shed lock is nowhere to be found. Called Becca at college: "It should be hanging on Dad's tool box."

Nope, looked there and all around.

Phoned Bryan.

"It's on the truck keyring."

Which truck.
"The service truck."

The one you have up north.

long pause.

"Oh."

Oh indeed.
Can I cut the lock?

"Only with a (insert name here, I can't remember) cutter."

Which is....?

"In the service truck."

Second long pause.

Neighbour Adrienne let me use her push mower. Yes, those of you who have been here know what I'm implying. Largish yard, steepish terrain.

And ultimately, just the workout I needed to finally and completely put my week behind me.

I finished just ahead of a wicked thunderstorm that shook the house and drenched the valley.

And then I snoozed half the afternoon away. My 9-12-12-12-9 office hours/day week caught up with me.

Yesterday I drove to Revelstoke for the day, to visit brother-in-law James at mother-in-law G's place. Left early, early in the morning and look the Salmon River Road (can't get away from them fish) route.

Just a few km's outside Salmon Arm (again, I say) the morning sun was very lovely. This is Mt. Ida, backlit by the sun rising over the ridge. It was complete burnt off by a horrific forest fire about 10 years ago, one that devasted the valley for miles and miles.


And looking back south at the valley I'd driven up. It's full of dairy farms fore and aft.

Brief stop to visit Corinne and Ernie at Sicamous, to deliver a book by Jerry Garcia that I hoped Ernie would like (being a serious Dead Head - come on, now, you know who Jerry Garcia is/was don't you!!?).

And then "over the mountains and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go" as the kids used to sing everytime we went to Revelstoke.
Another of the millions of breathtaking waterfalls in the mountains, passed by unseen by millions of travellers on the TransCanada Highway. This one is close by Crazy Creek.


I hope you've had a restful and recuperative weekend. I know my friends in NZ have had a nerve-wracking time of it lately. Even though the earthquake that hit Christchurch was on the South Island, it's a brutal reminder of how vulnerable those who live on the Ring of Fire are. And I count BC in that number! We've always half-joked that we're one tsunami/earthquake away from beachfront property.

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