China by Bicycle :: April - October, 1998

Subject: A springlike emergence in the quickening winter.
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 1999 6:43 PM

15:42 Home; Whistler, BC -- Canada :: WED 27 JAN 99

Incommunicado. Floundering a little. But righting myself. Weary from the dual journeys across space and across my self, the journeys through peoples and people. But gathering myself for the journeys coming. Warming to the preparation, thinking, perhaps the trail won't lead so far from the threshold this next time. Not an inner journey, but a stationary one.

Snowflakes flutter and collect this afternoon in Whistler, outside the double sliding glass door. On the deck, on the boughs of fir and cedar, and on the rumpled paper-bark of the several birches in their silver-grey sleep. Here the lake narrows into the River of Golden Dreams along whose banks rusty brown marsh grasses push up through the collected snow. A wind kicks up so that birches sway and needled boughs waver and the light, liquid mass of snowfall eddies and roils before settling, lightly, on my deck and on the mountains obscured. Tomorrow will be a ski day, I think.

Inside is new wood and white walls. A smallish, cozy place. My own place. A long time since I've said that. My own place. Somehow a 36' trailer just doesn't suffice. Not the same. Throwing your voice in my trailer would likely break a window. I have my reading chair from a famous Swedish manufacturer with its earthy red cushions and curving laminate birch and from it, between paragraphs of John Nichol's The Milagro Beanfield War, and Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace, and Milan Kundera's Farewell Waltz, and the all too appropriate Winters Tale, by Mark Helprin, I've watched the sun set on Rainbow peak.

The place came mostly furnished, leased until June. I've hidden some of these furnishings away and brought in some new items from the afore-mentioned Swedish assemble-it-yourself manufacturer. After several trips to Vancouver and Squamish I've filled the larder, the pantry, the refrigerator and now can survive for a week snowbound without having to pay Whistler prices for groceries. Also up from my Vancouver storage locker are photographs (my own work) and paintings, fresh from nearly five years' hibernation in their corrugated cardboard nest. The guitar on which I've never quite learned to play more than Pink Floyd's, Wish You Were Here: it is here, along with my falling-apart-desperately-out-of-date-and-needing-replacement stereo amp/tuner and an accompanying ramshackle turntable.

In short, I have been building a home, a warm hearth, a comfortable place to live, to entertain friends and relatives. My sister's here, with her husband and my 15 month old niece. One of my father's brothers has lived in Whistler since 1965, married and brough four children into young adulthood.

Aside from visits with this bounty of family, a couple or three mornings a week I play pickup ice hockey and other days I ski. Sometimes I'll drive down to Squamish with a cousin and we'll ride mountain bikes on one or another of the plethora of the single-track trails available there. There's a small cinema which observes the holy day of Cheap Tuesday Night Movies (five bucks a pop) pickup indoor soccer is played every Wednesday night out at the high school.

And now that my Vancouver friends have discovered where I live, they're all promising and planning to make the short weekend pilgrimmage here at every opportunity, with reciprocal offers of a warm hearth and cozy lodgings for my occasional forays back to the city for this or that task or object which cannot be performed or acquired in Whistler.

And so, while afternoon slowly becomes evening, I am thinking I have finally arrived home. After nearly five years without a home, I am thinking about my storage locker and the contents of it, which not so long ago I disparagingly referred to as 'stuff'. But I think about it now, still filled with objects my little Whistler cabin cannot house, and realize that all along it represented home during a time I thought I didn't need one.

And outside, as the afternoon becomes evening, snow continues to pile up on the deck. I think it's time to order some firewood, as much to warm my heart as the hearth. Then I'll call my uncle Cliff and tell him to take tomorrow off as a 'mental health day'. Afterall, it's supposed to snow all night.


Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.
It can't be approached or withdrawn from,
benefitted or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace.
It gives itself up continually.
That is why it endures.

  graphical element
Attributed to Laozi
The Tao Te Ching
Chapter 56
Trans. Stephen Mitchell