Thursday, August 9, 2007
In which Markus the Swede encounters Juan de Fuca the Greek and concerning Max the dog
When I moved to Metchosin on the southern tip of Vancouver Island fourteen years ago, we—there are five—were called the Western Communities. I like the sound of that: a hint of cowboys and agrarians, of gentler enterprise and neighbourliness. Enter big-box everything, then 1200-acre Westin Bear Mountain golf resort—“a true lifestyle experience”—and now we are called West Shore.
The shore belongs to Juan de Fuca Strait. From where I’m sitting—well, if I stand tall and the wind blows from the south—I can glimpse across the strait to where Raymond Carver wrote “Cathedral” late in life. Turn around and look past the trunk of the balsam that crushed my car in December (demon wind from the west), there’s where Emily Carr set up late in life to escape the city and paint forest. Metchosin is still pretty rural. For weeks I’ve been trying to outsmart a huge and clever white-tailed buck that sleeps on my septic field, rises to dismantle my gate, and clearcuts the romano bean plants. Bats hang in the attic above my office. Rats, mink, owls, turkey vultures.
Cold-cocked: On Hockey is mostly a meditation on the game and a recap of the Big Line seasons of the Vancouver Canucks. By writing it, I wanted to answer the hockey questions, “Why me, why now, why them?” and figure out why many were so drawn to the game again after the Salt Lake Olympics. In part, too, the book is about the difference between Vancouver, where I grew up, and Metchosin where I grow now. While I wanted to know why a man like Todd Bertuzzi could turn so violent and ruin the fun we were having, the book also says this is simply a violent world: from the cougar that killed my sheep, to the wind that wrecked my car, to citizens who deny the dignity of their neighbours. A violent and also beautiful world thanks to its violence.
For one season, I travelled a dozen times to games in Vancouver and weathered the undignified half-hour interview window the NHL allows media after practices and games. A few weeks from now, it was announced yesterday, many of those players will arrive on Vancouver Island’s West Shore, check into their swank suites at Langford’s Bear Mountain resort (thanks to former NHLer and now-CEO land developer/philanthropist, Len Barrie, and a bunch of co-investors including Rob Niedermayer and Ryan Smith), and then shuttle down to Colwood to Bear Mountain arena for training camp.
Cold-cocked is also about my right knee and how its rehabbing—and the muscley renaissance of my sporty self—became symbolic of the reasons I left and came back to hockey. My gym is at the Juan de Fuca Rec centre, a short hike up the hill from Bear Mountain Arena where the team will attempt to re-gel after last season’s surprising successes and chemistry.
I spent so much time and energy and brain cells trying to enter and understand their turf. It seems apt that just as Cold-cocked comes out, the lads will skate on mine.