Tuesday, September 18, 2007

fruit stand capital of Canada

Which is how Keremeos bills itself, and where I spent the weekend. Or rather, I spent it outside Keremeos, at the Ashnola campground beside the Ashnola River. The campground is a pleasant small one, flat shelving land on a riverbed between tall steep mountains that seemed to be composed largely of scree and unstable rock. It can be unnerving to drive through the Similkameen Valley because of this, unless you are able to completely ignore the possibility of landslides or floods.
My natural tendency towards fatalism / resignation helps somewhat. I'm old enough to remember the Hope Slide--which we drove by on the way to the event--and I can't help but speculate on what, if anything, one would be able to do, seeing another slide? There's nowhere to go. The rocks would cover the narrow valley floor and splash up the other side. Make one's peace with God, I suppose.
And aren't we cheerful? Well, there's a pleasure in melancholy, and another pleasure in morbid thoughts, or one wouldn't engage in them.
The landscape is striking, in quite a different way from the rocky coast and islands that I'm used to. My family travelled through it any number of times in the summer, and nostalgia tugged at me, especially when I walked among the tents and smelled musty canvas, the smell of summer in my memories. Ponderosa pine with fat cones and needles as long as my hand; the ground a mix of smoothed river-rocks and brown sand (a real challenge to set tent-pegs into); some sort of cricket that opened up yellow-and-black wings when it leapt, looking like a tiny bird; a mottled beetle with immensely long antennae that perched on my sweater like a brooch; a shallow fast river seething between rocks and rippling smoothly where its passage widened; mountains so tall the sun was only visible between 10 am and 5:30 pm, but the valley well-lit by reflected sunlight from 5:30 am to 9 pm, lighting one mountain up with green and shadow in the morning, and the next lit gold and brown in the evening.
The sky was clear until Sunday afternoon, and the night sky was black and thick with stars. I saw the Milky Way more clearly than I have since we lived in Sooke, and constellations I'd nearly forgotten (their names I have forgotten). I was reading Privilege of the Sword during the day, and became immensely jealous of Ellen Kushner for her description therein of the stars 'like spilled salt'. Because, yes.
The occasion of my being there was the Coronet Tourney of the Principality of Tir Righ, or rather, the Laurels meeting scheduled during, and the chance to spend time with two of my far-flung apprentices--one of whom will soon be my peer. Other socialising occurred, but it was a bonus and not planned.
Other than that, I had no commitments (did some gate early Sunday, since I'd be awake anyways) and spent several hours sitting beside the river, reading Kushner or the Memoirs of the Princess Lamballe, or staring at the moving water, sometimes wandering up and down looking at interesting rocks. I wish I knew more about rocks, specifically what the crumpled-looking ones were, and whether the red stains on some of the sedimentary rocks were part of them or left by the water more recently. I found a cracked stone that looked like quartz (and what Stephen identified as feldspar), and a smallish egg-shaped stone, pale grey and speckled with dark grey and small holes. (In June, at FRH, I found another holed stone, so thoroughly eaten through it looked like a petrified sponge.) Something pale and flapping, stuck under a rock and branch in the river, turned out to be part of a hide, probably deer from the bit I scraped out. I thought briefly of trying to salvage it for treating, but the small scrap already smelt bad, and I couldn't feature bringing it home through 4 hours drive and a ferry trip.

Saturday afternoon I was stung by a wasp, which had crawled under my hand where I was holding my mug of water. An odd sort of karma, since an hour or so earlier I'd rescued two wasps drowning in a mug of orange juice (more for the sake of an unwary drinker than for theirs, I admit). This happened to me once before, when I rescued a wasp from a spider's nest, and the same day was stung on the finger by a hornet(?) resting on the newspaper page I was turning. The hornet sting was dramatic, since there's not much room on the fingertip for swelling, so my hand swelled up past my wrist and hurt like blazes until I went to Emergency and had a shot in my rear.
The wasp sting was on my palm, between the forefinger and the second finger, and swelled up in the base joint of both fingers, then on the back of my hand, first over the knuckles, then down most of the way to the wrist. It's a measure, I think, of my adjustment to the arthritis that I watched this with considerably more interest than alarm. Hand swelling up, joints swollen and stiff, yeah, done that, hmm, blue mark on the side of the finger, what's that?
I'd probably have felt less equanimity if it had hurt anything like the hornet sting. MC convinced me to take a benadryl that night, when the swelling hadn't gone away, but it didn't go right down until Monday.
But definitely the last time I rescue a wasp.

So I wrote nothing. Monday wasn't very productive, because I was feeling vaguely sick and achey. However, I did read about the French court of the 18th c., and practiced knots, and knocked a couple of books off my to-be-read pile.

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