Our city-neighbour, R, got in last night. That is a sure sign of spring. When R comes, the winter is over for the rest of us.
Winter usually hangs around a bit longer for him, though. He is a bit of a Joe Btfsplk, the Al Capp character always drawn with the rain cloud over his head. JBk is actually a cartoon character who represents bad luck and my neighbour does just fine in the luck department. It is the little raincloud over his head that he is cursed with.
He had written us prior. We knew he was on his way. Late on the day of arrival, the sun disappeared and a lone rain cloud formed down the channel. “Well, R must be on his way! Rain down channel and heading slowly this way. My guess is that he is in the middle of it.”
“Of course he is. Whenever he gets in his boat it rains, the poor sod. Unbelievable, eh? But you can’t write about it!”
“Why not? It is the eighth wonder of the world. The UN should send him to drought stricken areas. The guy is a rain-man! He’d turn Ethiopia and Somalia green in a week! Saudi Arabia? One month. Tops!”
“Not quite. He needs to be in a boat for the curse to work. Preferably coming or going to town. If you are going to write it, get it right!”
R dropped by our place on his way to his place. (Yes, it was raining.) I jumped in to his boat and we headed over to unload his stuff. Normally he doesn’t need me but we had to wrestle his new genset out of his small aluminum skiff along with a ton of supplies. Like me, R lands on a rocky beach/cliff. High tide is a critical logistical factor. So is a strong second back when the load is heavy.
This, by the way, is a lesson that no one seems to get right away – you are only as useful as your boat. Really. Should you consider getting off-the-grid and by way of a remote island, do not think that you only need a small rowboat or a little skiff. Many people make do with that, of course, but little skiffs are extremely limiting. I know. I have one.
The ideal island service boat is a fast, stable, shallow-ish boat in the 20 foot range. A Boston Whaler-type from 18 to 22 feet would be ideal. It should be ‘beachable’ even if you have a dock (so many places to go where there isn’t one) and it should have a very small ‘house’ or, better yet, a centre console with a little roof and windshield. You don’t need a cabin. But you do need open deck space to put the inevitable load of stuff and supplies. Mind you, a little shelter from the weather is good. Remember, most of your ‘shelter’ takes the form of wet weather gear.
R is not really a city feller who goes to the country for the summer. Not really. He is a country feller who goes to the city for the winter. Big difference. You see, he is here from April through to late October. That is almost seven months. He is pretty much evenly divided between his two homes but he is happier here so he is a country feller. Kinda. Put another way: he is eager to get here, his wife has to drag him kicking and screaming to leave.
She’s a city gal.
Typically the divided households or summer residents are just that – here for the good weather. They are in the city the rest of the time. We have part-timers from the States, from Toronto and, of course from the lower mainland and western Canada. Population swells by about a third in the summer, I am guessing – from 60 to 80.
First R. Then the geese. Then the pigeon guillemots and then the ‘hordes’. Then it is summer.