he campers are in high spirits. Six platforms are now
occupied by brave souls who are risking their freedom to protect the
Langford Lake Cave
, Spencerâ€™s Pond
, the wetlands, the screech owls,
great horned owls, red-legged frogs and arbutus trees. Supporters and
volunteers bring food, blankets, and cash donations. The legal defense
fund is swollen with contributions as we brace for the inevitable court
Physical and emotional distress have been keeping me
away from the camp for long periods. But Saturday night, I was hanging
out in the forest, watching low clouds fly across the face of the
nearly-full moon, when the shout came from the road. Three RCMP
cruisers pulled up at high speed, the lead car braking too late to
avoid plunging partway into the trench at the end of the road. The
headlights came straight at us, and then dipped down sharply. I
thought, â€œOh shit, theyâ€™re gonna be pissed.â€
They were. I ducked
behind the welcome tent as the officers stormed into the camp. â€œYouâ€™re
all under arrest,â€ the biggest one boomed out, shining a high-powered
light at the four young men in front of him. I hit the dirt, face down
in the wet leaves and low brush right behind the tent.
running feet pounding down the trail, and the rest of the crew booked
it into the woods. â€œDonâ€™t move!â€ barked the officer at the four
standing their ground. â€œEveryoneâ€™s under arrest.â€ To another officer:
â€œTake that crap down.â€ The second officer grabbed the makeshift tent
and began to tear its tarp roof from the log beams. A few feet away, I
cowered down closer to the ground, barely breathing. The lights shone
back and forth, up and down.
Then my cell phone rang. I
scrambled to shut it off. All the beams turned in my direction. â€œWhatâ€™s
that?â€ barked the officer. â€œGo check it out.â€ I melded with the mud and
wet leaves at the base of a scrawny dogwood. The lights came closer.
Then a shout from the woods pulled them away again.
plotting my chances of escape, so I could call the lawyers and bail the
tree people out of jail. But there was no need. The cops held the men
for half an hour, took their names and gave a lecture. No camping on
the roadway. Then everyone was released.
Now Iâ€™m back home in
the old farmhouse that I share with three other people and assorted
visitors camping out on the living room couches. But there is only one
bathroom. I keep a bucket with a tight-fitting lid in the bedroom,
since my gut rot wonâ€™t let me wait around for a vacancy. The room is
lovely, with a high ceiling and bay windows, and right now it stinks of
shit and incense.
Thanks to the gastritis, the stomach flu, the
stress and everything else, my immune system is shot to hell. My
sinuses are oozing bright yellow snot and Iâ€™m woozy from fever. Iâ€™m
broke and in debt.
It was obvious that there would be no Christmas for me this year.
late last night, I heard a commotion on the porch. My friend Rose Henry
was knocking on the door. â€œMerry Christmas,â€ she said. The man behind
her was lugging a hamper filled with mandarin oranges, cranberry sauce,
canned veggies, pasta, stuffing mix, candy, and even toilet paper. I
One of the roommates got a turkey, and heâ€™s
invited a couple friends over for an orphansâ€™ Christmas tonight. Iâ€™m
making the stuffing.
It makes me think â€” even the saddest pagan in the world might find happiness at Christmas.