Sunday, October 10, 2021

quiet pleasures

A silent Sunday - and I confess that I'm congratulating myself for my luck, in having the most interesting friends who live in the most gorgeous places. Chris has made his home into a kind of paradise. And now Shari Ulrich is here. She brings another kind of joy.

Shari and I met in 1975 in the Kootenays. A supremely talented vocalist and instrumentalist, and beautiful, she was one of the touring trio Pied Pumkin. I was an actress with a band of lunatic hippy musicians and actors called the Valhallelujah Rangers, after the Valhalla mountain range where we lived. Where I lived briefly, for a summer and fall, fleeing back to Vancouver before winter fell. 

Shari, still performing, writing, and recording her own songs, now lives on Bowen Island. She decided visit us on Gabriola and while here, do a house concert last night. Wherever she goes, local people sponsor an event; people pay what they can and all proceeds go to Shari.

She was invited for dinner first, and so was I. So interesting to see another Gabriola house and find out about the owners, who sponsor all the musicians coming here. And then, after a great meal, to sit in a warm living room and hear this sublime musician play mandolin, piano, violin, several kinds of guitars, and harmonica, making us laugh while she switched or tuned. Some of her songs are heartbreakingly personal and moving; even if I didn't know her, she'd feel like a friend by the end. And then back to Chris's in the island dark, in the smoke-scented air, to sit by the fire, stroke pets, talk. 

The nights - so dark, so quiet.

Yesterday it rained much of the day, but today there's sun. Sunday is the big dog walk, an hour and a half on a trail with 15 or so ecstatic dogs, tearing through the brush, playing, wrestling, dashing off on a scent. I walked at the head of the line in order to leave some of the chatter behind, most of it about dogs; I wanted silence. The trees - what to say that's not a cliché? Sentinels, majestic, towering, magnificent. And moss, carpets, cloaks of green. It's a rain forest, after all. 

A birch grove.

Home to make lunch - a salade Niçoise since Shari, like Chris, is very careful about what she eats. Tonight I'll cook a Thanksgiving chicken. 

Toronto feels very far away - as it is. I could not live here. I couldn't bear to be stuck on an island, dependant on ferry schedules and far from many amenities that - even if this past year I haven't used them - are a necessity to me - theatre, music, and more. But visiting here, as perhaps you can tell, is balm for this city-stressed woman. With very good taste in friends.


  1. Thank you for sharing these entries Beth - they evoke memories and provoke reminiscence and contemplation - continue to enjoy your visit - and Happy Thanksgiving - Trevor

    1. Trevor, Happy Thanksgiving to you, whether you celebrate over there or not. Thanks for coming along for the ride.