A warning bark awakens me from my sleep. It takes me a moment to realize where I am. I listen for the sound of tires travelling over the gravel road. A look outside my tent assures me that no one has arrived. I emerge from my tent and see that the smoke continues to engulf the beautiful area that I now call home.
Less than two weeks ago the skies were clear when I joined a group of others on Argonaut Creek FSR, 21 km up the Big Mouth Forest Service Road north of Revelstoke. Our goal was to stop the logging and road building in the Inland Temperate Rainforest, home to the endangered mountain caribou.
After that small success, we moved and set up camp on a bridge at the 2.5 km mark of the Big Mouth where the “Land Defenders” can protect a larger area of threatened old growth forests.
I ponder this name. It was given to us by the leaders of the Splatsin and Sylix Nations when they came to perform a ceremony and demonstrate their support. We now carry this name with pride and responsibility.
I hear noises coming from the camp and am surprised when I see that amazing kids A and B are already up, before the adults. Before I can get my water boiling for a morning coffee, they invite me to a race up the road. Despite being barefoot the boys tear ahead of me. The race comes to an abrupt end when they discover a patch of thimble berries. The brush is so high that they are quickly lost in the bushes. Berry picking soon turns into a game of hide and seek, but B being only three-years-old, is not eager to be lost. He is more excited to show me his secret hiding spot nestled in the ferns and thimble berries. B cannot stay still for long and returns to eating the berries. We continue ambling up the road.
|Snacking on thimble berries. (Contributed-Rory Luxmoore)|
I try to be in the moment and share the curiosity of the children, but my mind is preoccupied. I worry about how we can save what we have left of our unique Inland Temperate Rainforest. How can we save trees that have been here long before the first Europeans landed on this continent? Trees that cool our atmosphere, filter our smoky air, capture our carbon and host a complex web of biodiversity. A brings me back to the moment. He points out a bumblebee feeding off a fire weed flower. We talk about how the bee pollinates the flower and the flower provides food for the bee. Everything has their place in the forest.
Enough talking for the kids and we are back to racing, this time back to camp. The only sounds we hear are the rushing of the creek and the songs of the birds to announce the morning. The adults are still asleep, they must be tired after a busy day of visitors and meetings the day before.
I see a box full of donated vegetables on the bridge and my heart feels warm thinking of all the people who have given support in many different ways from donating food and supplies, to telling stories of what the forests mean to them, to spreading the word to others, to spending time on the blockade.
I hear chattering under the bridge and know that the kids have gone for a wander. B calls out that he has found a space rock and wants me to see it. A finds a rock that looks like a crystal. We travel down the creek looking for special rocks. B slips and falls into the water, but he does not seem to be bothered. My mind wanders again. This time to the document I have been combing over.
|Hide and seek. (Contributed-Rory Luxmoore)|
The Old Growth Strategic Review, commissioned by the government, was released in April of 2020. It provided 14 recommendations for the government to implement. These recommendations reflect a paradigm shift in how we value and manage our forests. However, not unlike the 1992 Old Growth Review little has been done to date to bring about change. I keep thinking about a paragraph I read in the report about how other jurisdictions in the world were able to protect their old growth forests, it was “as a response to overwhelming public pressure that included civil disobedience and legal actions”. That’s a pretty significant statement in a government document, and one that gives me confidence that we are doing the absolute right thing.
B has found a bush leaning over the creek with bright red berries. We investigate the inviting oval shaped berries. B warns me that I should not eat them. He declares that it is an elderberry bush. I remind myself that I should look at my plant book when I get back to camp to learn more about the bush.
|Finding cool rocks. (Contributed-Rory Luxmoore)|
Above us at the bridge we hear the chatter of voices and see a couple of new faces. We scramble up the bank and notice a huge black stump that is big enough to fit all the members of our camp. A reminder of what this forest used to be.
Back at camp, the kids are happy to greet their dad and share stories of their morning adventures. The visitors are eager to visit a small grove of ancient cedars that have not yet been cut. They drive up the road leaving a trail of dust behind. The camp is now awake with Land Defenders preparing hot drinks and making plans for their next steps to stand for the trees.