katiclops

This is a very serious blog.

Month: August, 2012

Beatrice, Virgil & Yann Martel

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ann Martel’s books have no chapters.  Beatrice & Virgil is the second of his books I have read, Life of Pi being (obviously) the other. I’ve read both in less than twenty-four hours.  He’s sneaky.  He, unbeknownst to you, will suck you in.  No chapters mean no absent accidental glancings at the clock. No chapters means no scheduled pee breaks. No chapters means no “just one more before bed.” You just read. And read and read and read.

I got Life of Pi one Christmas in highschool from my parents. I remember being somewhat mystified at the choice.  I think it was around the time that my mom was just starting to realize that I liked to read adult books. You know those times in life when life is starting to transition? Often distantly followed by those moments where your parents realize you are starting to transition… I must’ve been around 16, the book had just been released; there are no awards on it and it still has that almost goofy tiger cover.  We have these mainstay Christmas traditions, like clementine oranges and tooth brushes in our stockings. Then we have these others that have been phased out or in as we have aged: lottery tickets, for example, now grace our Christmas tree. We no longer receive new pyjamas every year and gifts are now from each other, rather than some mythical man who leaves on quickly depleting arctic shelf ice up north. At least initially, these transitions tug at your heart strings.

Getting a book every Christmas has been a tradition dating back farther than I can remember. Life of Pi  was the first one I got that was one my mom borrowed (albeit I’m fairly certain it was chosen for it’s mythical pretence and almost childlike plot).  I remember getting it, and being almost disgusted at first.  The year before I had received Brian Jacques’ Redwall, which, admittedly is now on my reading list.  Redwall was probably a good, thoughtful choice by my parents, I love pirates and adventuring, and mice are really cute, but my angsty 15 year old self was so repelled by the idea my parents thought I would enjoy a book about talking animals I refused to read it on principle. I was already thoroughly entrenched in depressing meta-contemporary lit and poetry (Eggers and the ramblings of Ondaatje); I eventually perma-lent Redwall to my eleven-year-old godbrother.  It remains a sore spot, but what else can you do at that age? You seek solace and commiseration where you can.

So this following year, you can imagine my reaction when I opened up a book about another talking, nautical animal.  I attempted to keep my expression as neutral as possible before forging some semblance of intrigue:

“Cool..! He’s Canadian…Indian…hey? Tigers…I love tigers…” helplessly turning the book over.  My mom enthusiastically agreed, mentioning it had been recommended to her by several of her friends, and that she’d love to borrow it after I was done.  I sussed her out sidelong as I skimmed the back of the novel. Recommended by her friends, eh? Just like how their equally adventurous sons had enjoyed Redwall I bet…Nonetheless I delved into it by Boxing Night, thinking I’d at least try a chapter, realizing it had none by about page 45, and around page 75 becoming annoyed because I’d passed the point of being able to stop reading.  Partially because it was well-written, but moreover because the lack of paragraphs voided my Virgo ability to stop at an appropriate spot.

 

I have to say, Beatrice & Virgil had a similar effect.  I am borrowing a copy of the paperback 2011 Vintage Canada edition.  In spite of my reservations surrounding the sporadic use of papyrus typeface, overall the design is simple, subtle and thoughtful. A matte black cover, understated thick, grey stripes down the spine, golden hued lettering, and a simple illustration of a pocket knife and a single, luminous pear grace the cover.  The back jacket is designed lengthwise, with several lines of reviews running bottom-to-top, and a closer view of the knife.  Again, reservations about book reviews on jackets aside, still an intriguing design.


I had liked Life of Pi. It was maddeningly easy to read. And it had been an adult book (despite the lack of sex, drugs or violence). My mom had chosen that one pretty well…it even won a Booker! I had been put off everything else Martel wrote shortly thereafter. An English teacher had forbidden my good friend of doing a comparative essay on his first book Self, saying that it was so poorly written it would put [my friend] off of Martel forever. I had been enjoying his Suggestions for Stephen Harper (one of those ones you pick up in book stores) but I was skeptical.  Here it was. His latest novel. Simple and well designed. I opened it, hesitantly.

Henry’s second novel, written like his first, under a pen name, had done well.

Instantly I was hooked. I finished the book later that night. (I’m so lucky to live with an artist who becomes just as lost in his work as I do in my novels, I’m sure in other relationships a partner wouldn’t be so tolerant of voracious, obsessive reading!)


***SPOILER ALERT***

I want to write more about the story. It’s good.  It is totally decently a good, interesting story.  Definitely a solid 4/5 stars.  I want to write more, but I also want to say that reading this book, picking it up absently off a bookshelf without knowing anything else about the story is part of the delight.  Martel’s slow and gentle guiding through the novel, strip-tease-timed revelations of the title’s meaning, of the cover design, of the book itself was part of why I enjoyed the book. If you are intending to read it, hoping to have it undress for you in this manner, I’d stop reading now. If you’ve already read it, or never will, you’ve been warned.

Slice a pear and you will find that its flesh is incandescent white. It glows with inner light.

Those who carry a knife and a pear are never afraid of the dark.

When I was younger we used to go to this old house downtown called Whitehern.  The tour was almost exactly the same, people dressed up in period costume, using each of the rooms we visited to reveal more and more details about each of the residents lives.  One of the last rooms was the library, which was located at the front of the house, right next to the front door, ending the tour in a neat circle where you began.  At a given moment during this last stop of the tour, the guide would have you close your eyes while they swiftly transformed the only piece of furniture in the room, a small ladder, into a little chair. This is kind of how this book felt.

**THE SPOILS**

In sweeping grand terms the book is a book within itself.  Martel tells the story of an author who as achieved success, and unsuccessfully pitches his next book, a flip book about the holocaust, to his agent.  The book is to be half-fiction, half-non-fiction, about story-telling and the Holocaust, an essay about the idea that most victims of the Holocaust are silent, the idea that fiction can be a more useful retelling of the stories that have been silenced and a fictitious story about the Holocaust itself.  The book is rejected, so the author and his wife move to a foreign land and he gives up writing. Only to meet a taxidermist who is writing a play about a monkey and a donkey…

The animal is lost from us, has been taken out of us.  I don’t just mean in our city lives.  I also mean in nature.  You go out there, and they’re gone, the ordinary and the unusual, they’re two-thirds gone.  True, in some places you still see them in abundance, but these are sanctuaries and reserves, parks and zoos, special places.  The ordinary mixing with animals is gone. (…) I became a taxidermist because of the writer Gustave Flaubert.  It was his story The Legend of Saint Julian Hospitator that inspired me.  My first animals were a mouse and then a pigeon, the same animals that Julian first kills.  I wanted to see if something could be saved once the irreparable had been done.  That is why I became a taxidermist: to bear witness.

The book is about the book.  Like this lunchbox I had during my first days at school, where the picture of the lunchbox had grover carrying the same lunchbox with a picture of another grover, carrying the same lunchbox…over and over and over again. This is a neat and tidy little story that fits into itself, about completely untidy and messy ideas, ideas that are ugly and unruly and have long messy curls that protrude out from under your cap at crazy angles.  Skeletons jammed in every closet. Martel joyfully walking you through a beautiful colourful house only to lure you into incredibly uncomfortable, challenging scenes. Scenes that must be looked at again and again.  By the time you get to these scenes, you can’t look away, it’s game thirteen.

Maddeningly Martel strikes again.

 

 

Pretty Daily Drop Cap is (as always), by the lovely Jessica Hische.

The Beaver Manifesto

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eavers.

There, I said it.

Right on my minimalist-themed blog. Beavers.

Beavers have personality.  They are resilient, stubborn as anything, and they look hilarious. People also just even think the word is hilarious…But did you know their prehistoric counterparts (Castorides ohioensis) were three meters long and weighed between 60-100 kilograms (roughly as much as a black bear)? There were also prehistoric versions that weighed less than a Chihuahua, tipping the scales at a scant 1.5 kilograms.

Neat to know? Sure. Relevant…maybe? In a little more than an hour I learned all this and more, thanks to Dr. Glynnis Hood’s The Beaver Manifesto.

This book is about beavers.  Kind of a strange topic for a quick little chat book, but crazier things have gotten way longer books published–heck, even documentaries shot. Dr. Hood, former Parks Canada warden is beaver-obsessed.  She wrote her entire doctorate  on beavers, and currently has three beaver lodges as her closest neighbours.  She is an incredibly kind author.  Doubtlessly aware of the obscurity and perhaps the inaccessibility of her work, this short, novella-style essay is published in an incredibly easy to read, slightly-larger than hand-sized, elegant hardcover, and cuts straight to the core of what beavers are all about. Dr. Hood’s fully actualized as an author, shyly mentioning international beaver conferences and including such tidbits as:

Being friends with someone who has studied beavers for so long has definitely increased [my friend’s] success when playing the Canadian version of Trivial Pursuit.

Her enthusiasm for the little rodents is fully contagious, and by the end of the book I was completely taken by the little beasts.

She opens by describing the anatomical evolution of the species, summarizing that

…in the end the beaver evolved to what we see today: a semi-aquatic mammal with a bent towards environmental engineering.

In this way Dr. Hood is also able to make important ties between the beaver and ecosystem resiliency.  For example, during periods of drought, beavers are actually able to mitigate the drought’s impact on the ecosystem by controlling the levels of water bodies, ponds and streams through the construction of troughs and burrowing around root structures to divert and increase the amount of available water.

She then looks at the human relationship with beavers, and the impact of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) as a corporate entity in the colonizing of Canada.  Catalyzed by the surge in popularity of beaver pelts in Europe, the HBC’s voracious burnt-earth policy quickly swept Westward across the Canadian prairies in search of more.  Beavers are non-migratory and easy to spot (thanks to their elaborate lodges and distinctive landscaping handiwork), making them easy pickings for the trappists of the day.  As beavers verged on extinction, cultural values suddenly lurched left: national parks began to emerge, nature began to become valued as an entity unto itself, and beavers (among other species) began to be (quite successfully and controversially) re-introduced in many of the areas they had previously been hunted to extinction, like Elk Island National Park (Alberta).

Dr. Hood ends her quick tale by citing that the more that people know and understand the complexity of ecosystems, the more likely they are to make decisions that will positively (or at least less-negatively) impact the environment. Beavers mitigate the effects of drought, therefore can be an important indicator of ecosystem resiliency. Dr. Hood’s quick book takes you in, quickly, directly informs of the facts, her central argument and sends you out on your way, making it well worth the quick read. It certainly left me with things to ponder.

In closing, Dr. Hood touches upon beavers as integral to the Canadian identity. She points out that beavers appeared on our first stamps, our first military uniforms and became our official emblem (although not until 1985). She touts that Canada was built on the back of the beaver, and quite succinctly that:

In many ways Canada is a country with a split personality, one that defines itself by the very wilderness it nearly destroyed.

I loved this message of the book.  I’ve always really appreciated having the beaver as our national emblem.  This article  that was published by the Globe and Mail in October (2011), angered me to no end. In a nutshell, the article summarizes a Conservative Senator suggesting that the beaver emblem is a little dated, and why not replace beavers with something more noble, like the polar bear.

I am fully aware that my initial understanding of why beavers were chosen as our national emblem was highly white-washed and surface, but I understood that the beaver was chosen for it’s hard work, it’s universality across Canada, it’s ability to engineer and adapt.  I liked it because it appealed to my immigrant and factory/farmer roots: if you work hard and persevere, success can be yours.  I liked that it was a rodent, and I loved that it was mutt-y looking crossbreed of a bunch of different animals.

Reading this little chat book I further appreciated the tremendous historical importance of the beaver, and Canada’s dualistic relationship with nature.  The idea that the humble little hardworking beaver would be replaced by a top-of-the-food-chain, rare and quickly disappearing massive white carnivore, although incredibly appropriate, angered me to no end.  I suppose only time will tell. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Rocky Mountain Books in this series.

Polar bear, Pond Inlet, November, 2011 c/o fellow Parks Canada staff Rob Campbell

Late Nights with Hay

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here is something about the night air in Ontario in the summer. I am almost entirely sure it’s a provincial thing, and it seems to be strongest in the cities, a muggy crispness of night.  The collective sigh of relief a million people almost audible as insufferable heat yields to darkness. Maybe it’s something about the humidity, the way it muffles sound, thickening the air so that aside from the nimble cicadas very little can cut through it’s thick curtains. Or maybe it’s the darkness, streets filled with light during long winters are suddenly engulfed in thick leafy blackness. It could be the acres of fields, briefly filled with growing green things, spewing the air with byproducts of photosynthesis.  It could also be the electricity, pulsing through everything, every instant a breath away from a clap of thunder and a torrential down pouring of rain.

I arrived in Ottawa in darkness, to cigarettes. Returning from out west I always forget that smoking is still cool and normal in other places. A burst of it greeted me, rushing up from the sliding doors and +30C as I rolled out to the bus stop.  It was after 11pm by the time I arrived at my friend’s house, where I was greeted with an icy gin and tonic and a ripe Ontario peach: utterly bliss.  We instantly retreated to the rooftop patio, where stars, cicadas and a slight breeze joined us as we caught up.

The next day after breakfast (and a quick nap which I attributed entirely to jet lag) I trekked off to the bus station. The trek from Ottawa to Montréal is a familiar one.  The bus takes just over two and a half hours, and tends to truck through a myriad of small Francophone and farming towns on it’s way between the big cities. I have driven this route dozens of times, and it always takes just slightly longer than you anticipate.  Maybe it’s driving through the flatness that makes the time pass by more slowly, or it’s so engraved in childhood jaunts between Toronto and Hamilton that I just instinctively assume it should only take 45 minutes.  Regardless, this time I am rested, fed and prepared. Montréal is nearly in sight.

I settle in for the journey, somehow managing to get a double seat.  The crippling heat wave this particular summer has bleached the countryside blond.  Emancipated trees curl up into the sky, shrieking under the sun. At a glance sub-Saharan Sahel.  The sun glints off the metal barns dotting the horizon, giving the impression of driving through an air field, with giant hangers and jets, glistening on rural runways. After a few hamlets of reflection, I give in and crack into my first travel book.

Elizabeth Hay’s Late Nights on Air had tipped the crucial number of recommendations and references that when it materialized on my bookshelf my interest was piqued–even sufficiently enough that I trucked it across the country as one of the elite few travelling books. It has been reputed to spur northern canoe trips, careers in radio and people revel in it’s imagery…I tore through the first 230 pages in one go on the bus (before I was thrown back into nauseous contemplation out the window…years without a car has reverted me back to motion sickness!). Yet I am still struggling with the resolution. I really, really, wanted to love this book. I love radio (I’ve listened to months worth of CBC and NPR), I love canoeing, I love small towns but…I got stuck.  Like, really stuck. 100 pages to go and it was this great big wall of pause: DO YOU REALIZE THIS IS CANADIANA? ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO BE READING THIS?

Willows beach, July 2012

I finished the book last night.

In broad strokes it redeemed itself, I’m so happy I finished it.  Broadly, I think this would make a fantastic, hilarious and beautiful movie. If the director really wanted to, they could even feature cut aways of people journalling or late night broadcasts to capture some of the lyrical turns of phrase. My main struggles with the book surrounded the following (some spoilers-beware!):

1. Pacing

Maybe a product of my own demise, I found the pacing of this book erratic. When I was first recommended the book, I was told it was a history of Canadian radio in the North. The next couple people who mentioned it explained that it was a story about a canoe trip.  By 256 pages in, they still haven’t left on the canoe trip. I’m a Virgo, I like plans, I like symmetry, and I spent the first 256 pages of the novel wondering when they were going to leave on this trip.  This is further frustrating, because very few of the characters seem like the types of people who would ever embark on something of this caliber.

After finishing the book though, I think it might have been intentional.  Towards the end of the book, Hay writes that in life we are often overcome by the length and suddenness of it. This book was paced this way.  Hundreds of pages of anticipation, and then all the action, all at once.

The other thing that became apparent was perhaps a cultural difference; the idea that outdoorsy people are outdoorsy people all the time. In the south (i.e., “outside” ), outdoorsy people tend to be just that, escaping from the city all the time, “living off the land”, etc. But in the process of the canoe trip, you quickly see that in the North you can’t be an outdoorsy person all the time.  Outside is all but insurmountable and living in Yellowknife is essentially like perpetual camping.

2. Characters 

Issue two.  The people.  Voicing in Late Nights hovers between first and third person.  Hay launches into the book by introducing a slew of people, none of the characters are particularly likeable, and all of them cross-paths so frequently that it quickly becomes difficult to keep them straight.  It kind of felt like watching a Canadian radio program reality TV show: deep down, everyone is awful,  the isolation drives everyone a little crazy, and by the end of the second episode you find yourself struggling to empathize with anyone at all.  Because I couldn’t keep the characters straight, I struggled connecting to any of them until the final chapters.

The Painter, William Kurelek

By the end of the book, I began to realize that there is only one character: the North. The way Hay’s narration of the characters against the background of the North is like the way Kurelek paints sole subjects against the empty prairies. Rather than having the subject become the focal point of the painting, instead it magnifies the importance and beauty of the background. Late Nights is about the North, about the space, about the hopeless unknowingness of it all. The lack of depth in the characters is integral to what Hay is trying to convey. She writes in the typical haunting solitary voice of Canadian fiction writers, her words stand out on the page like a lone tree on a horizon.

Once a lake is ten miles long it might as well be an ocean.

3. Sub-plots (or lack thereof)

The beginning of this book reads akin to field notes or a journal from an anthropological study. A collection of details that may or may not later be important. Each character in some way represents a different issue. For example, one works extensively on land claims issues.  Initially I was frustrated by the flitting way the issues were brought up and the slowness in which they were returned to (if they were returned to at all).  Later however, I wondered if this was in any way reflective of the way Northern issues are dealt with in reality.  Largely it is the policy developed in the South, the huge shows in galleries that make way for change. I didn’t want to believe this subplot. I still want to believe change comes from within, that there was more to it.  Ultimately I was still just left with a biography of the present day landscape, rather than any position on the myriad of issues or stories that she explained.

4. Imagery

The last element of this book

the slender gift of a sentence

It’s beautiful lyricism. As with Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, Late Nights on Air almost reads like an old epic, an Odyssey or an Iliad. These incredibly beautiful poetic moments, with delicate detail, loosely knit together with other intimate moments from fuzzy characters against a grander plot about place.  This is how I read the book, like seeing a magic eye. I lost the characters, focused on the details, and out of the ether, this intense hidden story of the North emerged.

I should mention I am totally incapable of seeing magic eyes, so my apologies if this is in any way profane!

 

This book has received critical acclaim. Even while I was writing this,  a woman walked by and slapped the cover: “This is the book I was just telling you about!” she turned to her friends, shaking her head, ” It’s absolutely fantastic!

I liked this book, but I feel like I missed something.

If any of you have made it this far, you probably have also read the book-I’d love to hear any feedback you have on why you liked it!

Waiting for Air Canada

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o I wanted to write this sweet, reflective think piece on travelling. You know, the comfort of airports, the eternity of waiting rooms. Solace found in geography, reflection found in windows…but, instead, blearily, I scrawl-texted notes on my iPhone about logistics. Because last week, as I prepared to embark on this multi-city, vacation/pilgrimage east, something happened that has never, ever happened to me before: my flight was canceled.

The night all started out so innocently, all so well.  I had been carefully re-assessing the contents of our closet (admittedly compromising of slightly over half the allotted square footage) in part, in an attempt to pack.  I cleaned, I washed dishes. We went for a walk, ran errands, shopped for books, watched the sunset, went for a lovely dinner, drank cocktails.  I cooked a radish-top cold pasta salad. I made raspberry yoghurt breakfast parfaits in jars. I washed the dishes from the radish-top pasta salad and the parfaits and the food processor.  I packed. I re-packed. I agonized over which books to bring. I cut the pile in half, and in half again (I still brought too many).  I even remembered to pack my special picnic/snack cheese knife (in my checked-luggage) [note: the knife was misplaced somewhere in Ontario…].  I put all my little toiletries in their respective pouches in my special little toiletry carrying case (again, checked luggage). I had managed to cram everything (including my back-up second and third pairs of shoes) into the smallest piece of luggage I have ever traveled with.  A had uploaded new music and Tiny Wings 2.0 onto my computer. I had checked in. I had reserved a shuttle. I had even had a two hour nap.  I put on my comfiest traveling clothes (leaving at 445 am is one of the few instances where I can justify yoga pants and soft as a cloud, flashdance-esque sweaters (yoga classes excluded). I had vague directions to my friend’s flat in Montréal and even a metro card.

At about three minutes after five AM I roused him from his mid-evening nap, remarkably coherent yet mumbly, he pulled on the archetype plaid pyjama-pants and loaded all of my luggage onto his back to blindly lead me down the street to where I would wait for the shuttle. By 5:45 AM we had arrived at the airport, only to find out, tragically, that our >300 person plane, had not.

Lightening had grounded flights late the night before in Toronto, meaning that the 300, bleary, pre-caffeinated passengers in the process of materializing for their six hour flight back to the big smoke, were stranded.  Along with thousands of other Air Canada passengers country-wide. And Toronto is *not* a good city to be keeping people away from.  The family heading back behind me was ostensibly freaking out, lady in front of me headed to Damascus? No problem.  So what else to do? I sat. I plugged myself in and after 16 unsuccessful attempts listened to on-hold call music on Air Canada’s hotline for 54 minutes until my call was dropped. Repeat. And then I had actually made it to the front of the line (eventually they added a second person to the rebooking queue).  We had now been at the airport for close to three hours, and after much deliberation I had succeeded in convincing them to fly me, not to Montréal, but to Ottawa.  I settled in for more waiting.

There is really not much to be done in airports except wait. I am an excellent wait-er.  I always have a billion books, I actually enjoy crossword puzzles, I tend to travel with food, I like talking to strangers, I normally have socks and a small blanket. You get the idea. Mind you after six or seven hours in an airport, very few people are good wait-ers.  By the time I got to my Vancouver-Ottawa leg, all my good waiting was out the door. When I was being re-booked the lady had sympathetically juggled my seat around to get a window seat. She smiled at my wearily over the counter: “After today, you’re going to need to sleep.” At 8am I smiled and nodded, grateful. I nearly burst into tears when I saw my seat as I boarded the jet: right next to a beautiful young couple and their 8-month old…Who miraculously turned out to be the quietest, smiliest baby I have ever met. She spent the five hour flight cooing happily and being amused by her diligent parents. I was astounded. Whenever I see people travelling with babies I am aways bewildered. They are always so organized.  Everything little, for them and the baby. And to boot they are able to do everything one-handed as they haul this big, fragile thing around with them in the other.  It’s really incredible. I should also mention here that Air Canada comped me a chocolate bar and a “sandwich” (pita smeared with humus and four pieces of grated carrot). Beggars can’t be chosers but I almost cried when they told me I had food. Anyone wondering if tired travellers can be bought off with chocolate: yes, yes we can.

I flew on a teeny tiny 37 person plane over to YVR before catching our giant cross-country plane east.  37 people. I counted.  It had two propellers. Just like in Tale Spin.

By this time I had changed out of my pyjamas into my elastic-waist business pants.  The plane was so small it didn’t even have those little under-seat boxes for your carry-on, things just kind of got shoved under where ever. When I first got on the plane (for some reason I was one of the first people). There weren’t too many other people on. There were only four seats across, and about six along the back.  I was sitting in the aisle seat in the second last row.  The only other woman back there when I arrived was older, in that indistinguishable age that some women get after too much partying and sun and good times (and bad times).  She had long hair, down half way to her waist, pulled back in a long, slightly greasy, slate-grey braid and shoved under some kind of trucker hat. She was wearing a tattered plaid jacket, and had several hoop earrings in each ear, and deep sun-wrinkles lining her eyes behind her round wire framed glasses.  I wasn’t close enough, but I am sure she smelled like camp-smoke and oil.  People often tend to think of west coast hippies as perpetually young, colourful clean things, but it doesn’t take long to realize Canadian hippies are a bit of a different breed.  She was talking in a calm loud voice to a plastic carrying case that was sitting on the seat beside her.

“You alright in there, Mr. Bigglesworth? You doin’ okay? Everything is going to be just fine Mr. Bigglesworth, just a short trip over to Vancouver and then one more plane. I’m right here Mr. Bigglesworth.” She had crouched over and was resting her grubby fingers against the wire mesh of the door.  Inside a very pissed off grey, striped cat with large greens eyes stared back at her, looking very accusingly and very pissed off. Within a minute, a prim, coiffed, sixty something very tersely excused the hippie, and informed her that that was actually her seat.  So sorry.  Ha! The hippie instantly scooped up the enormous carrying case in her lap.

“I’m so sorry, it’s just that this is Mr. Bigglesworth. He’s very old you know. He’s seventeen years old. Very old for a cat. We are moving to Fort St. John. We have to go on another plane after this. He’s very old.” She was curled over the cage again: “I’m still here Mr. Bigglesworth: you can hear my voice.”

She went on to explain that they were moving there, and that Mr. Bigglesworth had live with her all over the island, and also on Salt Spring. I was so moved by the tenderness she spoke to her cat with. She never said it, but you could tell that she had not led an easy life. Further, no one moves to Fort St. John by choice. And finally, you could tell Mr. Bigglesworth was really all she had in the word. This was sad, but also painfully sweet.  He was eventually wrenched from her hands by a well-meaning (and allergic!) flight attendent, and put under the seat in front of her. She spoke loudly to Mr. Bigglesworth the whole way.  I hope they are doing well in Fort St. John.