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Jour neuf

August 2, 2017

Funny old day. This time I know why.

One Sunday last summer I woke up to the strange sight of orange light coming in through the livingroom window. Went outside and looked at the sky. It was cloudy, but the sun was a big orange ball visible through the clouds. Strange, I thought, only later in the day realising that it wasn’t cloud in the sky, it was smoke from the forest fires burning on the Sunshine Coast and on Vancouver Island.

Although they are nowhere near the coast, the smoke from fires that have been raging in the interior for weeks has now drifted to Vancouver and the islands.

Back in the winter, when my friend Irmani announced that she was coming over for a week in August, we made some tentative plans to fulfill her wish to visit the Okanagan. I had my doubts, knowing that it would be peak tourist season and the place would probably be a zoo, but it was twenty years since I’d last seen tumbleweed in Canada and I fancied revisiting the area.

When Irmani came over from London last spring we arranged to go to Whistler. I’d heard great things about it, but had never been. We were both quite excited at the prospect. We were both disappointed. Other than the art gallery, which we loved, we hated everything about the place. I’m sure it didn’t help that it was the Easter weekend and therefore probably more packed than usual. Basically it was a clip joint in the mountains. We had planned to stay for two nights, but decided moments after arriving to only stay one. The next day, before heading over to Gabriola, we drove up into the mountains away from Whistler and on the way back discovered Pemberton, which we both wished we had known about when making our plans.

I was in the middle of rehearsals for a one-act play at the time. When I reported to my mates Dave, the director, and Charlie, my fellow actor, that we had hated Whistler, Charlie asked if we skied. No, I said. Why on earth, Charlie then asked, would you go to Whistler if you don’t ski? The place is awful. Good point. Bad planning.

I was in rehearsal with them for a second play (one I’d written for us) when the Okanagan plans were being made. Dave wondered why we would think of going to the Okanagan in August when the place was an oven. Charlie wondered why, if we had hated Whistler in the winter, we thought we would like the Okanagan in the summer. Good points which I relayed to Irmani. We decided to give the Okanagan a pass and go to Victoria for a couple of days instead.

Just as well, really. The air in the Okanagan, so much closer to the fires, is apparently almost unbreathable at the moment.

There are a couple friends I consider to have a vested interest in the property. My friend Krys, who flew in the day after Mike’s funeral to help me start packing up his belongings (and who, with the help of her husband, built the first raised bed in my garden while I was in London in 2013). And Irmani, of course, who flew out a couple of months later and spent a week with paint brush in hand helping me with the Down with Brown project.

Not that they’re my favourite visitors, of course. Any friend is welcome to visit any time. Especially if they are generous with back tickles.

C’est tout pour aujourd’hui.

For the record, I will not play spider solitaire today.

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