Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Breaking the silence, breaking the cold

These past two weeks have been silent, I know.

Silent, blog-wise, but not silent here. The sounds in our home have been anything but pleasant: sneezing, nose-blowing, cough cough cough coughing. But today, that is finally changing, thanks to what I will have to call My Healing Tree.

Long ago, at a point when I was filled with a grief so harsh I felt completely lost, I took comfort in the arms of one of the cedars in our yard. Weaving my way through the fronds, almost to the centre -- the trunk -- of the tree, I pretty much collapsed into the branches. Without complaint, those branches cradled me, supporting me firmly enough that they kept me from falling to the ground. They held me and kept me safe while I wept myself dry, a turning point in healing from the sadness I'd been overfilled with.

And last night, this same tree offered help again.

Blustery. A Winnie-the-Pooh word for the sort of night it was. But when I woke in the night, I felt that I was being called. Opening the front door, the branches of the cedar seemed to be reaching out to me. This time the branches were whipping in frenetic bursts of wind, but it was a wind that was filling me with sharply scented air, offering what felt like a cleansing for my lungs.

I can only trust that the neighbours weren't watching as I stood outside on the deck, taking in huge gulps of air that seemed to be pulling phlegm and spew from me. I cast it out in spasms of coughing, projectile sputum hurtled into darkness. How long this went on, I'm not even sure.

But finally, once back inside, I managed to sleep. A deep sleep, one that was filled with dreams of summertime, swimming and light. And somehow buried in those dreams, I was handed a vial containing a precious essence. It was small, and in a container that reminded me of the slim darkened glass ampoules of royal jelly I used to buy from the Chinese store.

But this one, singular, held what I was told I needed: cedar oil.

So today I selected tips from the tree, the greenest and freshest ones. Snipped them into a pot and brewed a tea. Tenting myself over the pot, I breathed in the foresty steam, held it deep and long. Then took the smallest cup of it, sipping and taking in its vapours until it was gone.

Almost immediately, I could feel the clearing in my chest. What I had pictured as white fungus (like the white mould that might grow on the soil of a fouled houseplant) inside of me was now gone.

While this sounds as though I must still be well in the grip of fever dreams, I can only say that an Internet search for cedar oil has only suggested caution -- not to drink very much of it, so I am paying attention and doing that. But I also see that indeed cedar oil has, among a number of its other uses, the clearing of fungus.

So maybe the crossover between dream world and reality isn't as great as we may sometimes think, especially when there's a healing tree that serves as a messenger between those two worlds.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reclaiming lands, reclaiming lives

Before the Site C dam project goes any further, we need to consider another option -- one that would protect all those hectares of farmland (equivalent to about eight Stanley Parks), one that would preserve the sacred burial sites, one that would see the land put to better use than as lake bottom in a lake that nobody needs.

A lot of work has already gone into the site, so abandoning the project will be costly. But re-purposing it could make sense. My vision sees it as a prison farm. 

The nearest correctional centre (a facility designated for offenders serving less than two years) is in Prince George, pretty much a five-hour drive away. The rest of BC's prison facilities are on Vancouver Island or in the Lower Mainland and are, for the most part, over capacity. In other words, there is cause for British Columbians to build another such institution.

Although Oakalla Prison in Burnaby had a dark history, it also had a more positive side, as it was the site of a productive farm. Kingston Ontario was also home to such a facility, but thanks to the Harper government, it was closed down. There are still groups who are working to have this policy rescinded. There is even a herd of cows ready to 'go to prison'. 

A small city already exists on the banks of the Peace. Why not stop building a dam that doesn't make sense and build something else? If mistakes have been made, so be it. That isn't a good reason to dig further into the mistake. 

A prison farm would make use of the threatened agricultural land (even BC Hydro's reports predicted the land could feed a million people) and would give meaningful employment -- not only to inmates, but to farmers from the Peace region who could be employed to manage the prison farm. 

Such a plan would also ensure that sacred sites and burial caches (many of them thousands of years old) of Indigenous peoples from the region would not be flooded, but would be protected. And who knows, a tourist industry might well arise; certainly an interpretive centre could provide work for members of local First Nations. This could be yet another step forward in our efforts at Reconciliation. 

And no prison runs without a large staff -- personnel who range from guards to social workers and medical experts. 

It isn't too late for us to find the courage to proceed along another path in this precious waterway, a path that would preserve the land and heritage while still creating jobs -- and maybe even rescuing some who might have become just another batch of lost souls in the world of gangs and crime.

PS For an easy way to get a call into your MLA, click on this link and fill out the form. They'll phone you right back, putting you through to her/his office. 

Friday, November 03, 2017

Icing on the cake?

Last night, past midnight but well before dawn, light crept into the bedroom, waking me. Outside I discovered the reason. No flash on the camera, just reflected light from the glow of the unexpected white stuff, thus the spooky glow.

I admit to not being a big fan of snow (okay, it can look pretty for a few minutes, especially if it's Christmastime). And even though today is a friend's birthday, the icing on the cake I'm talking about isn't exactly the bonus kind.

Last week broke temp records here.

On Tuesday I was still wearing sandals.

This morning I need to find the shovel and figure out something saucey for those little yellow dots still there shivering on the vine.

Or, I suppose I should just think of all this as icing on the tomatoes.