A Still Life Relic History and Meaning

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Anarchist Mountain, Osoyoos British Columbia
Back in the hot season of this year, I was camping in the Oakanagan Valley, farming in Oliver, and living just outside of town at Loose Bay in the surrounding mountains. One particular weekend, when there was a lull in the farmwork, I was thinning peach trees and suckering grapevines at the time, I wanted to hitchhike out to Osoyoos, near the American ‘border’. I had heard from the locals of some very old Syilx cave paintings in the hills, for whoever was disciplined enough to walk 4 hours in the mountain to find them. I did some light research, reading old heritage articles and journals and could uncover nothing of the sort on where the trailhead lay. Instead, I had a ride with me up into the hills of the Silmilkameen county, where there is still a reserve of the Syilx peoples. This photo relic was made on that day, when we reached roughly halfway up elevation where a road turned back and wound its way up into the hills like a serpent. A gang of goats, were foraging on the side of the hill. Below is the town of the Osoyoos, the Oakanagan river which is into the epic Columbia River, and beyond the water is the beginning of the Northern Cascades in Washington state.

The area of Anarchist Mountain was named so after a wild Irishman, who was given the title of Peace and Customs officer. His ideology and methods were far-fetched amongst the other folks, and he was so aptly referred to as an anarchist. From this point you can also look back into Oliver, which is the wine and cider county of BC, as well as the sandbar that traverses the Okanagan river.

The Silmilkameen, or Sylix peoples who live in the more remote areas of this mountain live a lawless life according to the current legalia, there is some mixed blood with the locals, but unfatefully I did not have the privelage to learn from them first hand.

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Bay of Fundy, Digby, New Scotland
I had lived in Ontario until I was 22 when I took a one way train to Lasalle, Montreal, and lived near the rapids where the first French settlers built on the shores. Still I had not lived in the Maritimes nor been through them, and decided this summer to drift on over to Nova Scotia, that’s ‘New Scotland’ for you. During my stay in Digby, a rather historic fishing village with many wharfs and coves, as well as the biggest bike rally in Canada, I decided to seek out the coves. One lonely night I hitched out ol’ Lighthouse Road, to find just that, the old lighthouse. 10km out of Digby, where not many folks seem to travel, there is a functioning lighthouse that was built in the early 1800’s. Down below are the sea surfed boulders, and several coves along what the locals called the Digby neck. These coves open the salty mouths to the Bay of Fundy, where I passed the night to the sounds of whales breathing, waves breaching, and the automatic foghorn sounding at intervals of 10-15 minutes. The same one seen in
the photo. After each horn period, another lighthouse far along the coast, possibly New Brunswick or elsewhere along Nova would sound, and as it happens the coves swell with dense fog each night and create their own weather.

After sleeping a night wrapped in my leathers, under a resinous spruce, I set off to the dirt road, and waited to catch a ride home. An old Nova Scotian man drove up soon with his daughter, and started to converse with me about the coves, and the cliffs. On the ride back into town, he had told me several details about a tragic voyage from this bay, to Saint John. On said sailing journey, a friend of his was aboard and they became shipwrecked and drifted to an isolate lighthouse, and were stranded for awhile off coast with a proper Nor’easter storm blowin’ through as they say. Apparently this voyage raised quite some concern and the men aboard had to survive at the lighthouse, where they were able to catch fish. I don’t recall all the details of the story but I believe not all of them survived. The man, (who looked much like Ron from Into the Wild), told me of his travels on the ocean, and more about the history of Digby.
This particular photo manipulation was made sentimentally to show the mood it invokes for one who stands upon the moss and seaweed covered rocks that are piled up there. All the rocks are worn smooth and curved from the pummeling of the waves, and in the hollows one would find a basin of smaller stones, in myriads of color blends, crystals, minerals, and texture. They are like collecting basins of world stones, drifting each from the Atlantic. In the nooks of the rocks are scattered the corpses of seagulls, exo-skeletal fragments of oysters, crabs, lobsters, and mussels, tons of shredded rope, the odd buoy or broken wood, and glass bottles.

From nearby here, one can take a ferry across the Bay of Fundy to New Brunswick, or take a short expedition of whale watching where signs promise ‘guaranteed sightings’. I have my own doubts on this with the rate of human encroachment, pollution and the offshore oil rigs, but for what its worth, this simply oceanic beauty of a land and waterscape invoked a number of memories and knowledge.

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