(Chris Williams/Haida Gwaii Observer illustration)

(Chris Williams/Haida Gwaii Observer illustration)

The Drive Home: Game of Groans — A song of beach fires and cold fronts

By Chris Williams

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a particularly cruel La Niña threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last hours and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The rain is returning, and in the soggy wastes 20 km east of Masset, hipster and unnatural forces are massing beyond the municipality’s protective causeway. At the centre of the conflict lie the hippies and progressive parents of Tow Hill, a collection of people as harsh and unexciting as the Ontario cities and Kootenay valleys they moved here from.

The eight kingdoms of Haida Gwaii range from an infinitely long beach of brutal wetness to a distant summertime spit of epicurean plenty.

Here is a tale of anglers and loggers, dreadlocked hippies and rednecks, professionals and government agents who come together in a time of damp omens.

In a land where van loads of fierce surfers carry professionals off into salty madness and cruel young salmon anglers barter their sisters to win back their stolen fly rods, a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys: the road to Gray Bay.

Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fates of the all who live on Haida Gwaii, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavours to win that deadliest of conflicts: the winning proposal for each area’s Vibrant Community Allocation from Gwaii Trust.

Before it is over, mud bog races will be won and lost, music festivals will be attended and not attended, the broken windows on my house still won’t be fixed, and I will probably have ordered the sweet and sour pork from J&T’s Restaurant about 600 times. But one thing is certain: the opening times for the Queen Charlotte library will still require an advanced degree in mathematics to figure out.

For the people of Haida Gwaii, a common enemy has galvanized these damp people together: The Slow Drivers. They come in the belly of the great sea cow from lands out of sight, out of their minds and out of umbrellas. They cross the unforgiving Hecate Strait in search of sustenance: the souls of local small business owners. The only thing that will stop the Slow Drivers is the cost of local groceries and gas (and perhaps a lack of cell service).

In the months to come, battles will rage between the eight kingdoms: Tow Hill, Masset, Old Massett, Port Clements, Tlell, Skidegate, Queen Charlotte, and Sandspit. Kings, queens, community representatives, nosy neighbours and journalists will rise and fall. People will be afraid to leave their homes for the darkness will be all encompassing and it will be really, super miserable outside. Ferries will be cancelled and the milk will run dry. Jobs will be vacated for the sunny beaches of “anywhere else.”

But in the end, after the frozen scowls of unappreciative visitors have gone and the hollow shells of beer cans are all that remain of these grim days, a new light will shine, a light that burns brighter than my hairless scalp on a blackened beach. A new hope will rise up and find that one unprotected duct that leads right to the core of the *Insert any enemy base from any science fiction film here* and destroy it with two measly laser blasts. But until that time comes and the true Queen/King of the islands is named, the Throne of the Pit Toilet will remain unoccupied.

The Drive Home