Cakewalk Chronicles – Reflections on winning and losing an election

Esther Darlington MacDonald's monthly insights of living in a small BC Interior town.

The election

The polls were dead wrong. Again. Remember the Alberta elections? When the Wild Rose Party was predicted to win over the Conservatives? The Alberta version of the Tea Party movement down south. Was not, in the end, what the Alberta electorate wanted to take a chance on. The Conservatives came back with an overwhelming majority. Pollsters like Ispsos Reed and the political analysts in B.C. had the NDP as much as 20 points ahead of the Liberals. Then, as the seeming advantage narrowed, became less predictable, doubt set in and caution was advised. Victory wasn’t going to be a slam dunk after all. Harry Lali in Ashcroft, expressed his doubts about the NDP having a shoe in, warned against complacency. Adrian Dix began to realize a week before the election that his low key campaign was turning out to be too low key. Change was not what the people wanted. They wanted assurance. Youth unemployment was high. So was high school drop out. Child Poverty in B.C. was the worst in Canada. The economy looked very uncertain. The amount of debt rising higher every year, and a balanced budget was said to be mere illusion.

Christy Clark felt her own credibility slipping, as the media consistently predicted an NDP win. And the negativism about her in the media, combined with the usual cynicism, seems only to have mustered a force that impelled her to work harder than ever. Christy’s campaign managers could be compared with a pod of attacking orcas. They demonized Adrian Dix, and the old saw about the NDP being bad for business, – well, it paid off in spades.

To put a positive spin on this election (and I dare to try), – I think the election was a great victory for women, with a capital “W”.  Christy’s dynamic efforts in all parts of the Province, and Jackie Tegart’s campaign here, left no stone unturned. It had to be that way. It wasn’t going to be an easy ride. Jackie was running against a seasoned veteran politician, still young and vigorous. Harry as our MLA had worked tirelessly for us and was part and parcel of every issue. Jackie’s ability to speak effortlessly without notes in hand, and her proven stash of common sense, plus a determination that strode down Railway Street in Ashcroft with the kind of assured confidence that seemed completely out of context with the polls and pundits, well, it made me smile. Wondering. Where does a middle aged woman who has proven her abilities locally, but whom could be considered something of a “dark horse” provincially, get that kind of “I’ve got the world by the tail” assurance? I’ve come to the conclusion that it is belief in yourself. Jackie has it in spades.

But time will tell. Being an MLA is one heck of a job. You have to be everywhere. Be everything to everybody’s issues. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens after the rush and the glamour of the campaign dies down, and the solid nitty gritty work at the salt mine kicks in.

And how many know that Christy Clark lost her own seat in Point Grey to the NDP? The Liberals now have the crucial job of finding a sacrificial lamb to aid her to return to the legislature. She’ll have to run again. Maybe in Kelowna? Who knows? Point Grey is one of the most affluent constituencies in the Province. And the NDP won there? (Some may wonder.) Maybe the fact that a good many in Point Grey are in academia, and education cutbacks over the past decade have eroded resources, might have had something to do with the NDP vote, and Christy’s star fading in that direction.

B.C. politics is always a wonder.

The fires above

Helicopters droning across our skies day after day, week after week, and water bombers making death defying sweeps, flying low over our river, are scarcely conditions for peace and tranquility. The air we breathe was thick with smoke for days. Closing the windows didn’t help. We went for supper at Shelly’s, and two Forestry officers approached our table to give us an update. The fire was contained to within 1,400 hectares. It had been for days. And that light rash of raindrops on the higher elevations didn’t help. You could get a birds’ eye view from the highway leading into town. Smoke still billowing on the mountainside. The fire was said to be caused by humans. A carelessly thrown butt, a match thrown down? Who knows? Let’s hope that by the end of the month, we will hear only the happy drone of the freights and passenger trains echoing across our river canyon.

On the joys of spring

May brought two other events that attracted our attention. The Mom’s Day Fly-In up at the Campbell Hill Airport. The pancake breakfast held in the hanger this year drew hundreds. One friend, entertaining an out of town relative, told me it was a new adventure for her daughter-in-law in Calgary, to be taken aloft to the airport, and to be served with a pancake breakfast with the trimmings high above our mesas and farms.

The grand opening of Desert Hill Farms newly built nursery drew hundreds, if not a couple of thousand. The new premises was reminiscent of Art Knapps and the former Horsting Farm. We congratulate David Porter and family for the innovations. They have added so much to the community and will undoubtedly attract many thousands to visit our area for years to come. The variety of plants, trees, shrubs, floral arrangements and bedding plants was staggering. People arrived in waves. Busy workers carried trays of new flowering plants. The farm became a bee hive. But everything was organized to a Tee. There was plenty of walking and browsing space along with the variety of displays.  In the grand entry space, an inviting display of water plants added a sort of exotic air obviously designed to attract the new addition of a pond or fountain to the family garden. A table full of cacti of colorful variety attracted a lot of attention, and no doubt sales. Someone exclaimed to me about the cacti in town and urged me to visit. I now have a variety taking root in my new garden, and hope for the best. And I did appreciate the variety of herbs available, and now have some of my favorites in pots along the walk. Bought new container pots for the walk designed so artfully by Albert Drinkwater in our frontage at #46. The variety of hanging baskets for sheer health and radiant color were everywhere.  Many thanks for that wonderful feast! Sherman sat in the car for a while and watched families admiring the baby goats penned up under the shade of the trees. And I always get a chuckle with the bunch of black faced sheep who huddle together in the shade of the olive tree on the meadow to the left off the road as you enter the nursery area. It is an enchantment that place so close to our village and is sure to attract tourists for miles around.

Rheumatism and arthritis

It attacked with a vengeance and I was turned into not just a little old lady, but a crippled little old lady. Standing for any length of time was difficult. At the election, I asked for a chair and it was speedily given. I was scrutineer for a couple of hours and someone suggested I take a cushion to sit on. The process was interesting to take part in. So orderly and quiet. So well organized. Our system works so well.

Thankfully, Home Care for Sherman is a great blessing. They help to change the bedding, rinse out the bathtub after Sherman’s shower, massage his long legs and put on support hose. All of which is so appreciated. But so, too, are the cheerful faces, the relaxed and friendly manner. To all those who wish Sherman well and asked about his health, we do appreciate, and our extended family has brought a tear or two to Sherman’s eyes.

In the meantime, let’s hope the warmer weather will heal my bones and have me on the move again. Putting in the bedding plants and seeing to the rest of the garden areas about the walk way was time consuming and a physical challenge this year. But O, the joy, of sitting in the garden watching plants grow and listening to murmur of the trees, just makes my day.

A new way of crime writing

My favourite crime author is P.D. James. Death Comes to Pemberley, published in 2011, is her latest. It must have been a fun thing to write in a way.  ames apparently, is a great fan of Jane Austen and has studied Pride and Prejudice. She decided to write about a crime committed in that early 1800’s era, and in the style of Jane Austen. The lead up to the crime itself is meticulously manicured and as detailed as a Marcel Proust family type novel. If you like that kind of density, you’ll love Death Comes to Pemberley. As usual, James paints characters that live, breathe and think while they act in that contained way so typical of some British crime serials and novels. I also liked the type the book was set in. Seems the type was created by several different Dutch printers, including one Hungarian. Not too many think about the type. But my limited adventure (four years) in the newspaper publishing business, gave me pleasure. Choosing fonts. And preferring one over the other. “We’ll make you a printer of you yet!” predicted Kamloops Sentinal screener George Smith one day as he screened the photos in my Pioneer newspaper. Well, it never really came to that, but I did learn something new about print. Print is a bit like cloth. I recall my mother fingering a bolt in the department store. I do it myself now and then.  Print is another kind of texture. It can bend the eye and help it to focus, or it can fade away like washing on the line on a hot day.

Esther Darlington MacDonald