Looking back on the building stage……..well, it’s not so clear, really. The memories kinda blur. We remember things, of course. Our memories are still largely intact. But a lot of the stuff of ‘small stories’ has largely been forgotten. I don’t know why. Age, I guess. Perspective, most likely.
Sally got out some of the old photo albums to prompt some anecdotes and they were mostly of times when guests would drop by and we would take pictures of their visit! Crazy, in a way. But, really, who stops pouring concrete in the middle of the job to take a picture of it?
I recall a lot, of course. And a lot can be made into stories. But much of what might have made a story back then has now been integrated into ‘ordinary life’. What I thought was wild and wonderful is now commonplace. Well, some of it, anyway. I guess what I am saying is this: we have a new perspective on what constitutes a story now.
Small example. I recall a small delivery done by a local guy. He had offered to pick up some building materials for $80.00 the next time he went to town. When he dropped in with the goods, he had arbitrarily raised the price to $110. I said, “No. The deal was $80”. He accepted that and dropped the supplies. No rancor. No bad feelings. Just a little hard cheese. And our relationship over the last eight years has been largely established by that. It might have felt like a story at the time (neighbour vs neighbour) but it never went anywhere. So, it’s just an odd little memory, really. Not a story.
I also recall the time my ‘crane’ on the dock seemingly collapsed. It was holding about 700 pounds of lumber I was loading up from the beach at the time. And the whole bundle came up to a point and then the crane slowly slumped over, tumbling the load back to the beach. That was a slo-mo surprise! But the crane was intact! I stood there trying to figure out what had happened and it finally hit me. The support leg had been bolted to the rock and the rock had separated from the larger rock (the planet). The crane was fine. It was the planet that failed me.
That might have been a story had I written it up at the time. But now, equipment failure is just part of the way it is out here. Things break. We have gotten used to it. Not a story.
There are dozens of stories (or non-stories) like that. Events. Some of them even regarded as extraordinary at the time. They were often initially deemed extraordinary because, in fact, they were out-of-the-ordinary for us. At the time. But, in retrospect, they weren’t big deals. They were ‘ordinary’. Just little anecdotes of no particular significance, humour, tragedy or disaster. Just ‘stuff’.
But it is that stuff of which the larger memory is made. Mostly. And that is the real story. It is a big story made up of little lessons in a new way of life. It was and still is, for the most part, just a huge learning curve for us. If moving out here is anything, it is about learning new things. And that includes all the little incidents as much as the big eventful stories.
Mind you, some stories are a bit larger than everyday and yet still not large enough for a whole post.
Here’s one: I wrote a few months back about hearing on the radio of a boat sinking. My neighbour and I grabbed a gas-powered pump and raced up channel and jumped aboard a commercial urchin-picker and set the pump to work while we assisted the captain and the crew rescue their load and equipment. I guess we worked to save their butts for a couple of hours and then we returned home just before dark leaving them to be towed to Campbell River by the then-arrived Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard returned my neighbours pump a day or so later.
That was a story. And I wrote it up. So far, so good.
But not really. It didn’t ‘end’ right. Out here, ‘good manners’ always shows up in some sort of ‘consideration’. You know…….the next time the urchin-pickers were in the area they might drop off a salmon or just stop by to say, “Thanks.”
But this never happened. And I always wondered why.
Yesterday I asked my neighbour about it. “Well, I wondered, too, Dave. Seemed odd. But I later found out that, while the boat was on the hard being repaired, the Department of Fisheries showed up. Seemed the urchin-pickers had taken their catch from the nearby marine park. Seems they took way too much as well. They broke more than a few things that day besides the boat. I doubt that they were fined or jailed. I doubt that they see us in any way except as we were – good Samaritans. But their accident was worse than just almost sinking. They also got caught red-handed with an illegal catch. Somehow I don’t think we are on their Christmas card list even tho they were saved from sinking and getting wet.”
I guess one person’s minor incident can be another one’s convicted felony. Maybe it’s all in the eye of the beholder?