Saturday, 1 December 2012

Black outs and libraries

Last night at 19.39 the power flickered several times, then went off and stayed off. The help line expected a return around 11 PM.

I had just started a read on the new Kobo. Alas, it is the cheapest version and not equipped with a built-in light. I was feeling too tired to sit at the kitchen table and read by candle light. Its the season to hibernate anyway, so I said "farewell, cruel world" and crawled into bed. 

The power was still off the next morning. The new day grudgingly provided barely enough light to read by. It felt as if it would rather not bother getting up either.

Chris dug out the propane back-up systems and heroically ground coffee with the mortar and pestle.  At least we can keep the worst cold at bay and provide a hot drink. 

We had plans for today: pick up  juicing carrots from the one brave farmer who keeps coming to market, attend a reading at the local library, and maybe have lunch in town in between. Well. We got our veggies, but apart from that Nakusp was dead. The latest update had power not returning till 2PM. Coffee shops, restaurants, supermarket: all closed and hardly anyone in the street.

Our intrepid library however was open, and the reading was going ahead as planned. That's our library for you, a true community hub, so much more than a place to borrow books. It was amazing how many people showed up. This institution is passionately loved and supported. We were welcomed by candle light on the counter, so sweet. I had brought a flash light in case the presenter needed it, but in that section the large windows were enough.

The reading was from Unrepentant, a book of memoirs by Gary Wright, the just-retired mayor of New Denver. New Denver is a town even smaller than Nakusp on a lake even more beautiful.  Gary Wright's career includes twenty years in a touring rock band. The first chapter, ironically titled "Landslide" describes his election in 1989 with a margin of 3 votes. After the recount the clerk said: "OK, the hippie wins. Lord have mercy."

Gary Wright had come to Canada as a draft dodger in the Vietnam era, as did popular local politician Corky Evans and many others. The early seventies* here were pure magic. Land was cheap, anyone with long hair was a friend, and everything seemed possible. In contrast the place down South was smugly referred to as Mordor. 

Corky wrote a chapter for the book and took a turn speaking. He got a bit teary at the recollection of how the Canada of that time had opened its arms to him and his kind. How times have changed! I could weep thinking of Kim Rivera, who trusted this country to give her sanctuary. She was shipped back across the border and is now in jail, separated from her children. 

During the reading, at 14.41 the light came on, and there was much rejoicing. 

We have another gathering tomorrow, for "Friends of the library", the volunteers who help out with fund raising and other matters. I have not been able to do much lately, but get to go anyway. They are a forgiving bunch.

We all worried when the former librarian retired last year. She had been part of the late sixties/early seventies influx as well. The library became her life's work and she built an amazing collection. But our young new librarian is just as good, with a youthful energy and sparkle that adds a new dimension to the place. The library and Sabina have a mutual love affair going. We hope it lasts. But if it does not, both place and person will be richer for having known each other.

And now, I should go find a recipe for a cake that can absorb a lot of raspberries. It's about time I contributed something.

*We came to the Kootenays in the same period, albeit for more mundane reasons. See


  1. We too have survived a few long electric outages. We end up going to bed early trying to sleep late and doing old fashion physical book reading and handcrafting...I take this as an outer sign my inner self what and needs more earthing of all kinds natural and less man made....we have come to totally enjoy the time for all it's difference.

  2. Same here. I fear being cold more than anything else. We had wood heat when we lived in the log house that never got quite finished. I miss that, but dread trying to install it in a trailer.

  3. Ien, I want to add this little tidbit from yesterday to your post. So, as Gary Wright's standing up there talking about his book in the library, he spoke about being a panelist for the Red Fish School of Change. The purpose of the panel was to talk about leadership: what makes a good leader, what characteristics make someone a leader. Other panelists all said their pieces -- charisma, courage, etc. -- and then Gary started laying in to a line about not needing more leaders, and that what we really need are better followers. That grabbed you, Ien, that grabbed you so hard that you jerked in your seat and wanted to clap. You clapped shortly afterward, but that was a lovely moment: everyone agreeing so wholeheartedly that it's the "togetherness" of it all that makes what we need, and you making that agreement so clear. I got a little bit teary, actually. I want to talk about this thing more with you. I'm glad we're neighbours. And I'm glad you're back in our library. We've missed you so, so much. See you in a couple of hours!


    1. Sniffle. Thank you. And today, there was a lovely moment when a special girl spoke up so clearly to clarify the thing.

  4. A most hearwarming story. I often wondered about the American expats. Now I have a clue. And in spite of Kindles et.all I'm glad to hear of a library that serves as a community hub. We need more of those...:)

    1. The counter culture in the Kootenays was largely fueled by the anti-Vietnam movement. I noticed some of the juice went out of it after the pardon allowed many of them to visit home again.

  5. I enjoyed this, Ien :) I miss libraries. They're special places that breed a special kind of people. That was interesting about the Americans in Canada. I have learned something new. I bet your raspberry cake was delicious!

  6. It was just muffins, OK but nothing special, and the table was full of exquisite elegant pastries.


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