Phoenix Riting! – January 4th, 2024

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Notes from the road (I’m in Chemainus; it was a short road):

2023 was very good to me, on the whole. Worldwide, it was weird. Island-wide, likewise. I’m not going to try to sum up the year here, though it’s on my mind. It’s New Year’s Day as I write. 2024 is still shiny, wrappers hanging in shreds, the new year barely opened. What will it bring? I notice feelings of hope, upliftment, and also dread. We’ve been repeatedly burned by recent years, hope punctured as new disasters and disappointments show up early in the year. Remember 2020? I recently re-read a journal entry from 2019, in which I mentioned “the collective ‘eek’ coming up in January of 2020.’ I saw it coming. This year I see some big ‘eeks’ coming up. Different ones. So many eeks! There are a lot of ‘aahs’ to balance them, and I mean to squeeze the yum out of every one.

Last night was a huge, sweet ‘aahh’. I didn’t spend New Year’s Eve on Hornby; I bought tickets to the Daniel Lapp Caravan show in Duncan (before I found out about the Hornby show). Turns out I had no regrets! It was well worth the expense and trouble of spending $50 and driving all the way to the Cowichan Valley when I could have spent half as much and stayed home for a show that would also have been amazing. Truly, had I stayed on the island, I would not have regretted that! The Hornby party looked like a fabulous time. But this was a truly special, once in a lifetime experience. Daniel Lapp is a wizard of fiddle and trumpet, and of course the Atkinson family, Marc, Odus and Arlo, and our familiar bassist Scott White, made up the rest of the ‘Caravan’ so you know it was a heartwarming, uplifting, blissfully musical way to ring in the New Year! Champagne was served at midnight, and delicious food was included with the ticket. I danced right to the end of the night, and limped to the car with blisters on my soles.

It was a synthesis of Hornby and ‘the world…’ it was wonderful to be there with a handful of Hornby and ex-Hornby friends, and I reconnected with my old Cowichan dancing friends. Today my group will hike on the Cowichan River. As much as I love my island, we exist within a greater context and I’m grateful for the opportunity to experience it, once in a while. It helps me to appreciate my island even more. I’m looking forward to returning home and turning on the taps to see sweet water flow once again.

Let me back up: Christmas Day was a wild storm—we had a 24 hour power outage in my neighbourhood—but it was even crazier for me, if you can imagine. I cooked my vegan turkey (with rice paper ‘skin’) with stuffing (omg delicious) early because the power kept flicking off. I was well warned. I filled the bathtub with water and every available container with drinking water. Just before I left, I was running water only to see the flow slow, then stop. Uh-oh! That wasn’t good. Then I went to the home where the dinner was to be held. When everything was mostly done, the power went out. We had a lovely time, with old friends and new, sharing amazing vegan and vegetarian food, music and conversation. Went home under the brilliant Full Moon and stars overhead. It was warm, beautiful, glorious really. 

The next day, the power returned, but the water did not. Big shoutout to Dave Wishart for service above and beyond, showing up right away, organizing electricians and excavator for what turned out to be a huge job and being generally friendly and competent. Turns out the pump was ancient. “I’ve seen one of these before, once. Never worked on one.” The electrical wires needed to be upgraded, a new breaker installed to accommodate a proper modern pump. Now, it’s all shiny and new, and I’m told it will be up and running when I return. I forecast laundry in my near future.

How was your Christmas and New Year’s? That was mine. Let me know what you think at phoenixonhornby@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!