Lost Chance

By Leon Hogg

I first noticed her in the little coffee shop at Simcoe and Menzies.

She was not beautiful, but her air of contentment with life made me want to reach out to her. She was about my age, gaily chatting with a group of other young people, and I gazed at her, taking in that quiet face, dark eyes, black hair. Did I dare speak? What would I say, how would she react?

She did not look my way, but suddenly, with a united move, she and her friends rose and left like a flight of scared sparrows.

The years went on, but I never forgot her. Life passed. A job away from Victoria, marriage, house, child, deaths.

Many years later, with nothing left but memories, I wandered back to James Bay, to my street, to where my little café had been replaced by a Starbucks.

Suddenly, as I thoughtfully sipped a fashionable latte, my heart stopped. Could it be she, sitting there, youthfully happy with some other young people, the same slim figure, dark hair, thin nose, dark eyes?
It must be! I knew this was to be my only chance, to tell her how I had thought of her, longed to see her, ask her name, to touch her, for all these many years.

But as I reached for my cane, and struggled to rise, she left her chair and was gone.

And then I knew.

The waitress wondered why the old man was crying.


The White Peacock

By Hank Sands

All peacocks have feathers that make a rainbow look like a dull rock. They strut around Beacon Hill Park proudly displaying themselves. But not the White Peacock. He's too cool to hang around the Petting Zoo. Instead he shadows the crows and seagulls around James Bay, learns their fun and eating habits. He becomes street smart.

"That'll be all my lovely," the fat man says to the waitress in the JBI . He's eaten half his hamburger, and consumed four beers when he staggers out leaving a skinny tip. The White peacock swoops down into the now deserted patio, guzzles the beer and feasts on chips until the waitress shoos him away.

Roberts House looms close by. Energized with beer and junk food he climbs hard, and lands on a deserted deck with closed drapes. From here he can see and hear the sights and sounds around him.

The worlds tallest totem pole looms above the trees in the park. Great Blue Herons slouch around a nest of young ones. They ruffle their feathers dangerously when a bald eagle ventures too close. The flag on Beacon Hill flutters in the wind. Out to sea, a pilot boat snuggles up to a great ship like a baby whale after milk.

Staccato sounds of horses hooves , creaking buggies, mingles with the harsher sounds of autos, wailing sirens, and skateboards.
A voice shouts from behind the closed drapes , "Whose out there "?
He reluctantly makes a hasty retreat back to the park.

The lone albino white peacock in Beacon hill Park was named Niagara. He died on April 15th 2010 at the age of 15.



By Chris Carrier

After twenty-six years in the US, I was returning to Canada. I didn't give a thought to culture shock. I wasn't a refugee. Or was I? Culture shock unfolded right on schedule: the euphoria, the loneliness, the disillusionment and finally an acceptance of my place in the new environment.

I was definitely euphoric to find an apartment within minutes of the ocean. Tasting ocean water on my lips reaches into my primal psyche. From the book stores to Parliament at Christmas to the harbour life, the newness captivated me. But loneliness was there. I wondered if old friends ever got health care, if any of my students had been shot, if the water in the migrant townships remained unusable. Having no solutions, I turned my back. Such choices haunt one in old age.

How did disillusionment show itself? An Edmonton court paraded a lady's reproductive organs for shock value, there seemed little concern for over a thousand children murdered or missing, and politicians replaced politicians maintaining the incessant jabbering.

Whence appeared acceptance? It's in the overwhelming welcome of refugees. It's in the habit of thanking bus drivers. It's the police and financial firms serving food at My Place. The ocean, dog walking, and cycling cultures define many James Bay neighbours. It's in the CBC with
Fireside Al and stories like a goat loose in a McDonalds in Saskatchewan.

Maybe I'm not a refugee. When you meet a real one, buy him dinner and see where he is in the culture shock process.


Land of Cedars

By Sheila Tranfield

Middle pages of The Vagabond Godfrey's journal- "Canadian Road Apples", I found an old, brown and brittle sprig of cedar.

"Cedar for luck", I recall he whispered- a noble and forgiving tree". Stalwart in.muddy boots and ragged kilt, heading up Menzies Street with me, desired a ticket for the lottery.

Being from Wales, Godfrey chuckled at the houses I called "old". Arm in arm we strolled, amid the bustle of December in James Bay.

We greased our chins on fish and chips, slurped milkshakes at a cafe'. From a corner grocer bought my lottery ticket, won a free play. He pointed out where once he'd had, a "mishap with foam in the laundry-mat," The cedar tree where "Larry The Free Advice Wino" sat.
I never cashed that free ticket....

Last summer, a rare rainy, misty day, riding the bus through the narrow streets of James Bay. At a pause I looked out from the window grimed in spray, a young man sat, smiling up at me. Why would a lad on a July afternoon, touch his cap and nod to a passing old lady?

He wore plaid shorts, brown muddy boots, held a battered suitcase, faded shirt, same missing tooth. The picture in youth of my Vagabond, Godfrey.
I could not get off at the light, another elder passenger asked, "are you alright"?

Rarely I wander now the streets of James Bay- land of cedars twixt city and sea, leave it to you story tellers, share in her mystery...(.From The Collected Wisdom of Godfrey)


The David Foster Harbour Pathway

By Hank Sands

I wind my way from Laurel Point west to Fisherman's Wharf. The inner harbour is alive with traffic. The Coho Ferry's horn bellows out a dash and two dots, the ancient Morse Code for "Keep Clear".

A Turbo Beaver noisily takes off churning water into mist. The faint odour of jet fuel fondly reminds me that I was once a jet pilot.

A flock of glaring geese stands boldly on the path. It's a stand off. They don't want to move and I don't want to be pecked. I win finally, but have to move carefully around their deposits. A steady chorus of seagulls soars above me.

"Splat", and a patch of white appears on my hat. Another splat hits the wooden path. Below the Blue Crab restaurant a family of Sea Otters plays on the rocks, oblivious to the human tourist traffic ebbing and flowing around them. Large rocks below tide are shaped into two hearts. A labour of love. Just around a sharp curve of rough planking the Fisherman's Wharf appears.

Float homes painted in brilliant reds, greens, and blues stretch haphazardly out to sea. Some old and crotchety others brand spanking new. Bright green and yellow kayaks sit stacked like cordwood, waiting for paddlers to brave the harbour waters.

The odour of fish and chips from Barb's mingles with other delicious smells. There's fresh salmon, halibut and buck a shuck oysters available everywhere. Even Sushi and ice cream.

This is my home.


James Bay

By Ted Lavallee

A cracked exhaust manifold on my truck needed replacing, so a trip to Timmins in Northern Ontario, 50 miles away, was required.

I drove up after lunch; it was hot, so I decided a nice ten-cent draft of beer would hit the spot. I popped into the Empire Hotel and noticed a guy sitting alone with a contented look on his face. I drifted over and asked if he would like company.

"Sure," he replied, and signalled the waiter for another round. We chatted for a while and I asked him if he was planning any trips. "Well, I finally am going to take a trip to James Bay."

I had visited Victoria once, for a week, so I asked, "Are you driving or taking the plane?"

"As far as I know, there's no airport and no road to get you there. I'll go by rail."

I thought this guy must really be in his cups, and replied, "Well, it is an interesting place."

"I hear the tide goes out a long way, and the bottom is solid mud," he commented.

"The harbour is deep enough for cruise ships."

"Why would a cruise ship go to that place? There's nothing to do but fish."

"Well, not really. It's close to a fabulous downtown, abundant arts and top notch restaurants."

We looked at each other, paused in unison, then said, "We must be talking about different places!"



By Stephen Sullivan

Richard! His name was Richard. He died and until I read his obit I didn't know his name.

For a year, maybe more, I'd see him sitting, quietly in the shade down the street from the Bent Mast.

His anorak was orange and dirty. His beard and hair uncut. His gaze was always on the ground and I never heard him speak.

He never bothered anybody. He never looked me in the face. I'd raise my hand as I passed him by but I never stopped to speak.

I'd wonder if he'd eaten or had a place to sleep.

And now he's dead and I'll never know.

I wish that he had sat in the sun. I wish I'd stopped to speak!


The Future

By Carole Garand

Every spring Grandma would ask to drive down Dallas road to see the daffodils at Beacon Hill park. She would always sit quietly and breath a deep sigh of relief to see them dancing in the breezes. Afterward, one time she asked if I would stay for tea. She told me about the year she turned 14. It was 1930. She spoke of a stranger who came to James Bay, an odd sort of fellow. He wore his clothes awkwardly and stared at every person, plant, animal as if it were new and unusual to him. As a teenager, she was curious and followed him secretly. Of course, she wasn't very secretive and he caught on to her right away. He explained to her that he was from a different place. He spoke of how difficult life was, a dry hot climate were survival was a struggle each and every day. Vegetation was scarce and there were no resources to spare on such beauties as daffodils. He was grateful for the time he was able to spend here and regretted that he would have to be leaving soon. He said the strangest thing to her. He said that although he could never come back, he would look to the hillside of Beacon Hill park every spring. I remember my mom telling me that she used to plant bulbs with Granny when she was very young. I think I will go out and plant a few bulbs myself.


The One Brain Game

By Cleo Reubemn-Morcos

A sense of self is all anyone can ask for, and there are always many (MANY!) contributing factors. We all want to be in the right place at the right time, but Murphy's law seems to frequently get in our way. What happens if you want change? "Oh!" Well there you go, someone's already changed it for you! So now what? Where does your purpose lie? How does one cope with reality when it's all out there you just have to chose for yourself who or what to grab? They say the universe is evolving as it should, but does that mean that each of us is evolving also? Or just continuing to play our role in a vicious circle of acceptance and rejection?
In my little life, I've come to realise that as soon as one gives up on holding out, a hand is extended. This being said, it takes a lot of navigating just to find a starting place, as many of you may well understand. There's family (often all over the place) and friends, and friends of friends. Grounding down to one place can be both a relief and a regret at once.

Each second our minds may be bent tri-fold trying to decide what's important and who to help move next in this hell-bent rat race of human existence. A society where rules are laid out to be broken, but only at the right time, and by the right person, in the right company. It's overwhelming. Free-lance-ing can often lead to stagnation if you're pulled in too many directions at once. Not so free anymore. So how does one become their own person? Does it always mean pushing someone else aside? No, you navigate your own waters and as soon as things get murky, you take the plunge into unknown waters and hope that evolution makes the best of you. Who would we be without each other?


Home is where the heart is

By Bill Ellis

One Christmas, when I was about five, I was given The Picture Book of Sailors as a gift. That was when I knew, even though none of my ancestors had done this, that I was going to sea: I have had a lifetime attraction to water ever since.

At seventeen, I left Liverpool on my first voyage. Before I was twenty-one, on a thirteen month voyage, I had circumnavigated the world. In 1955 I immigrated to Canada and joined the Hydrographic Service in Ottawa.

In 2000, at the invitation of a woman, I had met in Scotland, I came to Victoria. At which point she left town and I found myself alone behind Oak Bay's unfriendly "tweed curtain". For the next dozen years I left there whenever I could searching, without success, for a place that I could call home. So, in 2013, I agreed to move back East.

And that is when the miracle occurred, because I had realized I could not leave the sea. So I went searching for an apartment on Dallas Road and found Beckley Manor, with its wonderful Apartment Seniors Enjoying Life Programme; jigsaw puzzles everywhere; a little garden plot; and a 10th Floor view of the ocean; while James Bay Village Square has all the amenities that a person could desire. Bonuses are free summer concerts in Beacon Hill Park and having my Haikus published regularly. So, finally, after all those frustrating years, I now have a real sense of community, of being home.