Freshwater anglers come to Hiellen for the Dolly Varden but end up captivated by its power. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Masset Magic: Summer sun and water tents at Hiellen

They come for Dolly Varden and cutties, but then I think they get charmed by the power of the place.

It will be quieter now. At least, it will be a lot less noisy than it was on Wednesday, as hundreds of people came out to witness the pole that Christian White and his assistants carved being raised at Hiellen.

I know that all the people from off-island, and on-island, will agree that it was a good day. I am not talking about the weather, but about all the people there, who were happy to be there, rain or shine!

Yes, by the time you read this, National Aboriginal Day (why is this not a national holiday?), the summer solstice, and the Hiellen pole raising will have passed. This was the first pole raising at the Hiellen in 200 years. I think that Christian White has a great idea with building an open-air, roofed building behind the pole, and using it for various occasions.

Last weekend, before the pole raising at Hiellen, I paid a visit to this beautiful place by the river with the same name. The sun made various appearances throughout the late afternoon, and the tide was going out. Crows and ravens were busy inspecting and eating things above the tide line, while a group of Europeans were setting up their tent. They had paddleboards and kayaks, and the woman I spoke with didn’t know to avoid pitching their tent above the tide line. (This has been known to happen, with tents filling up with the ocean in the middle of the night.)

As I chatted with Dawn, an acquaintance I met a few weeks ago, and threw sticks for her dog Lua, we spoke about dogs and people, and throwing sticks. Lua, I found out, is Portuguese for “moon.” I threw a few sticks, and Lua chased them with high energy. Ewok sat and watched the action. Dawn and I spoke of the upcoming pole raising, and imagined the hundreds of people who would attend. Dawn is looking for a safe place to go swimming in her wetsuit — a place where rip tides and currents won’t be a danger. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Do you know you can stay out at Hiellen? There are seven traditional Haida-style longhouses and a group longhouse for rent. They are built with local cedar, spruce, and hemlock from Haida Gwaii Forest Products, the community mill co-owned by Old Massett right here on Haida Gwaii. Call the Old Massett Village Office if you wish to rent one, or all of them.

The river is a draw for freshwater anglers, who come from all over the world. They come for Dolly Varden and cutties, but then I think they get charmed by the power of the place. Remember when you walk on the beach, or drive with your trucks and ATVs, to pick up any garbage and plastic that you see. Some of what you find on the shore is accidentally washed up, but some stuff is also left there. I am concerned that birds may think that what they see is food, and eat plastic.

Enjoy July 1, don’t forget your hat and sunscreen, and drink lots of water under the summer sun!

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Enjoy your week, and consider doing something you have never done before. It makes life even more interesting!