Finally, rain.


We’ve been away, dodging in and out of heat and smoke, mostly lucky. Just days before we left on August 1, we sent off the proofs for Creekstone Press’ latest book, Shared Histories: Witsuwit’en – Settler Relations in Smithers 1913 -1973 by Tyler McCreary. As we drive south, I imagine huge scrolls of paper (I grew up in a paper mill town and that’s where we’re headed), massive rollers turning, long blades slicing through the bleeds at the edges of some pages.

Smoke between Fraser Lake and Vanderhoof, fires north and south. Afternoon sun scorching the high rises along the Fraser River in New Westminster. The relief of a swim off Grief Point in Powell River, my 94-year old mother joining us.

The bright book cover printed and cut; a glossy skin protecting its images, the kind words on the back. The glue along the spine.

Our son’s wedding on his grandmother’s lawn, the smoke already rolling in to erase the islands just offshore, the mountains behind Courtenay. Hanging on for days.

When we finally head north again, we hear the book has been shipped. And, for the first time in a month, rain. The Fraser Valley wet. The Fraser Canyon, damp. Further north, back into the smoke. A pale blue haze shimmering in the distance.

Again, between Prince George and Burns Lake, brutal smoke. No rain here. Sore throat, irritated eyes and those poor residents have been inhaling this for weeks now.

Home and the books have arrived. Carton after carton of stories, analysis, old photos and maps. A great sigh of first relief, then pleasure.

The ground has sucked in its cheeks around the shrunken stems of fireweed, nettles, and cow parsnip.  Cottonwood leaves, open palms on the ground, scarred by the leaf miners’ sad stories. We walk up the Malkow Lookout trail, our footsteps puffing up clouds of dust. The cows watch us pass, their cow pies already flat plates, dry on the desiccated grass. A few asters in shaded spots, nothing else in bloom. The bush is loud with the hum of bees. Everything is speckled with aphids, shining with honeydew. Some leaves are shellacked, others sticky. And this, I find, is nectar for bees.

We hear chickadees, juncos and kinglets. See one flock of robins startled up out of the field. Five water bombers pass overhead, one, two, three, four, five. Heading toward Babine Lake.

The saskatoon berries are desiccated, the cranberries few, the wild raspberries hiding in the shade. Our own grass is sparse, soil showing through at the crest of every downhill slope.




And then, tonight. Standing outside in the suddenly early darkness. Finally. Rain.






9 thoughts on “Finally, rain.

  1. Thanks Sheila. The smoke from forest fires has made it so sad ~ & alas clear cutting is STILL thot to be the way to go by those who run our economy based on lumber sales!! I just learned BC is even buying trees from the US SE to turn into lumber ~ how do we create a sustainable cultyre and economy?

    Thanks for all you do. Today Ross talked about his book you will be publishing soon too~

    Lot of love to you & thanks for the pic of your son’s lovely wedding ~ will send it on to Luc ☺


  2. Love your writing, Sheila. We were just across the Strait from the wedding, lost in the smoke. Today we’re also celebrating our first significant rain on Denman.

    Just ordered the Witsuwit’en – Settlers book from Abraxas Books here on our little island. Whenever I order one of your books from them, I read your website recommendation that we order from our local bookstore. They always gasp with surprise and pleasure.

  3. Thanks all of you for your kind words. We’ve been busy with the Walk to Witset, the feast and launch of Shared Histories – what an amazing day. Check out for details.
    Now I can get back to more Driftwood stories.

  4. Sheila, I really like your writing in these posts. The descriptions are so evocative. V


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