Jack Knox: Just as storm brought this log, another took it away

Among the casualties of the recent wild weather: the bench that someone carved out of a driftwood log at Ross Bay.

I wrote about it Jan. 4. Someone had gone to a lot of work to carve a couple of water-facing seats, complete with armrests and a small table, into a big log that had washed up against the walkway.

article continues below

The nice thing was that whoever fashioned the resting place had done so anonymously, with no expectation of or desire for recognition.

Well, just as one storm brought it in, another took it away. Social-media posts showed the log bobbing in the chuck the other day.

At last word, it had crawled its way back onto the beach, but had collapsed seat-side down and perpendicular to the road, looking like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Given the Old Testament lashing we have taken over the past few days, it could be in Port Angeles by the time you read this.

There’s a bit more background to pass on, though, thanks to a couple of Times Colonist readers who fleshed out the story by describing their encounters with the man who created the seats last summer.

“I talked to the guy while he was doing his carving (with hand tools) and he told me that he had also produced three benches from driftwood which he had put on the walkway for people to enjoy,” wrote Liz Leary. “Unfortunately, the three benches had all been stolen. I assume he did the log carving because he knew it could not be moved.”

Victoria’s Frank Nicol had a similar tale. “I watched the fellow building it and I stopped to chat with him a couple of times about his project,” he wrote. “It transpired that this was not his first attempt to provide a resting place for the foot-sore on the foreshore. Prior to this I had seen the same fellow building other seats in the same locale, which, unfortunately, were removed from the beach overnight by person unknown.

“Although this must have been very disappointing for him, he expressed no ill-feeling or rancour against those who had removed his previous work, but simply started afresh to build another one.”

Much of the initial rough work was done with an adze, Nicol said. Once finished, the piece was oiled and cushions provided.

“When the oiling process was completed, a cautionary note was placed on the seat warning that it would not be dry for several days and could stain clothing,” Nicol wrote.

“When I asked him why he was doing this he indicated that he thought it would be nice to provide a seat with a pleasant view of the ocean for walkers. Simple as that.

“When I mentioned that it would be difficult to remove this piece from the beach, he just smiled. When I suggested that he should sign his work he smiled again and said perhaps he would. He never has.”

OK, given all the other ways in which Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have conspired to put the boots to us over the past few days (honestly, your highnesses, this weather isn’t normal), the fate of a lone log might not seem that important.

On the other hand, the story might be a timely reminder of the value of everyday kindness, particularly at a time like this, when our best selves don’t necessarily emerge. (Our knee-jerk reaction in bad weather is to abandon four-wheel drives on the side of the road as we turn our tortured faces to the leaden heavens and cry: “What’s next, God — locusts?”

For those who think I’m overreacting, remember that Victoria measures winter in something akin to dog years: You have to multiply by seven to get the true effect. To us, 15 centimetres of snow seems like 100. Minus six feels like minus 40.

We don’t all have the ability (or patience) to carve a seat on the beach. But many of us can check on the neighbours to see if they’re OK, or shovel a driveway or brush the snow off a car.

Stay warm, Victoria.

• While we’re on the topic: OK, Vancouver Island, what’s the best implement you have used, or seen being used, as a snow shovel or windshield scraper during our brush with Real Canadian Winter? Email me at jknox@timescolonist.com.

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist

Find out what's happening in your community.

Most Popular