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July 12, 2009

Characters are Salt Spring's Most Abundant Renewable Energy Sources

One thing that there is never a shortage of here on island is characters. It may just be the best source of renewable, alternative energy that Salt Spring has.

Last night Karin and I (in her first ever car that she just got for a steal - a 1996 Toyota Camry) - went to what was advertised as a Nordic Summer festival.

In spite of the advertising, there were only about 20 people there. It was in someone's backyard up a road I'd never been on. The house looked like it had been built illegally in the 70s and there were large, old school buses that looked like revamped living space, dotting the property. It was a bit like stepping back in time.

But, that's what great about here. Someone has an idea, creates it, puts out the invitation however they can and just waits to see who shows up. That can be good and bad.

The highlight of the evening was Dan the organizer reading a Nordic folktale about Odhin, one of the main Norse Gods. There was also a makeshift altar (see photo) which Karin looked at and said jokingly, "Is that the altar where you can pray for bigger breasts?" noting the weird green ceramic head with boobs in the photo (look carefully).

There was impromptu guitar playing and we met Chief Laughing Eagle (CLE) who has a lot to say and since he's been here since 1973 has a lot of knowledge about the island. He was first introduced to the place, he said, by Chief Dan George.

Salt Spring is actually called Chu'an (pronounced Shuan) island and according to CLE, the reason the natives don't live here is because this island is sacred so they would only come here for ceremonial reasons. The Tsawout people allow the public onto a trail, one of the most beautiful spots on the island, in the south.

CLE (or silly) as some little kid dubbed him has just become the honourary head of some North American Native organization and I wish I had been paying more attention. But, then again, I do recall he said it was a secret society, and he is about to graduate from the highest level of shamanic practices or something.

When Karin and I left, he caught a ride with us as we headed off in search of a Kirtan that had been advertised as well. I think I will forevermore have an image of him, dressed all in red (including red crocs) and before he got into the back seat of her new old car, he carefully removed the feather that was sticking out of his headband and put it away in his knapsack. I just have such a strong image of the reverence for which he handled that feather in the shadows beside the carwheel where he crouched down.

We dropped him at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere with his guitar case, a hand made drum, his knapsack and a dolly (that's right, a dolly) the kind movers use.

After the door slammed and we were on our way home, we both agreed that there are a lot of people here who have a lot to say and really want you to know every bit of their knowledge (ad nauseum).

We laughed, knowingly, and smiled at yet another memorable evening since the Kirtan had already ended.

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