Maxed out 

A time for warm thoughts

By G.D. Maxwell

First fire, now flood. What next? Pestilence? Plague? Famine? Maybe locusts? I don’t know whether it’s time to get right with Jesus or just move to higher ground. But this clearly seems to be the season of reckoning. Can I get an Amen?

Death is a regular, if unwelcome, visitor to our tiny mountain home. Skipping the old and infirm – since we still seem unable to find a comfortable spot for them to await its icy touch within the social fabric of our community – death goes right for the young, the vigorous, the undeserving. The vibrant party animal, the young father or mother, the long-time local, the newly arrived, death’s not picky about who gets chosen when he swings his scythe.

More so than many towns in a country committed to casting a wide social safety net – Mike Harris’ soon to be united right excluded – Whistler deals with death maybe a bit better, certainly with difference if not deference. That may have something do to with having friends die while engaged in pastimes about which they are passionate, as opposed to finding them slumped over a messy desk clutching their chests. Avalanche, backcountry misfortune, a 30 pound mountain bike taking on a three-tonne SUV, skiing too fast into an immovable object, these things we understand, expect even.

But having a highway you drive day after day disappear out from under you? Having a ribbon of water so insignificant by provincial standards it doesn’t even deserve the title river, only creek, carry enough runoff, trees and pinballing boulders to wash away two lanes of blacktop spanning its width? That’s a little hard to digest.

I guess we should be grateful so few were swallowed up by the torrent; maybe we should even renew our faith in miracles that one survived the plunge. But as rationalizations go, that one doesn’t ease the pain... or even deserve a cigarette.

It’s unthinkable. Yet, it’s impossible to stop thinking about it. The missing bridge is destined to join the trio of nightmarish, apocalyptic possibilities that never leave my mind when I get behind the wheel of an automobile.

In addition to all the other life-threatening hazards – Washington drivers, swerving into an abutment to miss a cat darting across the road, driving into oblivion while lunging for the radio controls whenever Anne Murray comes on – there are several that never make the migration to subconscious.

The first drove into my driveway years ago. It looked a bit like a Corvette and a lot like a half-completed fibreglas project. It turned out to be what was left of my brother-in-law’s car after a deer tried to mate with it. The fact it managed to complete its journey was more a testament to just how insignificant the body of a Corvette is than to the ruggedness of the rest of the car.

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