Another glance back at summer…

An outhouse photo? Will this post stink? What about those summer memories you promised, PlaidCamper? It will be ok, honest…

It’ll feature a bit more about my summer reading. Seems like these little summer highlights all have a bit of a literary thread running through them – we must have needed to sit down and think, rather than charge around learning to surf or whatever…(actually, I did read a good book on surfing…but that’s not for now!)

Park rangers…lovely work on Long Beach

This week, the look back at a summer highlight is two or three places connected through my enjoyment of a single book. I know, rather a slim pretext for what follows, but I hope you enjoy it.

The first place is Long Beach, on the west side of Vancouver Island. A lovely beach to go stretch your legs, we wandered for a couple of hours, and then stopped for a picnic lunch, sitting against a suitably comfortable driftwood log.

Comfortable log, and a good book

Along with important outdoor items like bear spray and chocolate, I like to pack a book, and this day I’d tucked a copy of Walt Franklin’s Earthstars, Chanterelles, Destroying Angels into my backpack. I’d been saving it for a few weeks, and a sunny beach afternoon seemed a good time to dip into this collection of poetry.

A quiet spot to sit and read (can you spot Mrs PC?)

When I say it was so engaging that I forgot to pay attention to my immediate surroundings (and how I love those west coast surroundings!), then hopefully you have some idea as to what a splendid collection it is. If you are even only sometimes preoccupied with the natural world around us, then you’d likely be captivated by Walt’s words. Travel, wilderness, identity, conflict, the passage of time, the nature of nature and our place in it; Walt explores all this and more, with insight, a keen eye for detail, and flashes of good humour. I find he can say more in a few lines than most:

moments crystallize

in falling snow-

everything happens,

nothing happens

all at once-

the ancient tales,

the current news

form as lines

across white fields-

across the endless poem

(lines from A Rivertop Reflection)

I’ve read it and reread it cover to cover! It’s fair to say I enjoyed that warm afternoon of lazing at the beach, dipping into the Earthstars, and pausing every now and again to dip toes into the ocean.

Dipping a toe…


About a month later, we were hiding away up at Little Bear. As we unpacked the car, my backpack tumbled out and the contents landed at my feet. Bear spray, (more?!) chocolate, a bottle opener, and a sand-sprinkled copy of Earthstars…Well, I’d simply have to reread it!

Time to sit down with a book

The final poem in Earthstars is Mike’s Truck, a wonderful tale featuring a septic tank, a truck, old Mike, and a memory about an outhouse:

“an old non-flusher with a crescent moon”

An old non-flusher…

The poem sparked an old memory of ours. When we lived for a while in rural France, our old stone fixer-upper had a septic tank. We’d telephone and then wait outside for the elderly farmer to come by on his ancient tractor to pump out the tank. Oddly happy with his work, after payment he’d drive off with a cheery wave, the tractor puffing blue diesel fumes and crawling up and over the stone bridge out of the village. We never asked where he emptied out, and we never bought his farm produce…

The shower tree

Little Bear is pretty well equipped, with four walls, a roof, a tree for hanging your solar shower, and – luxury – an outhouse. Happily, the outhouse was under a near full moon during our most recent stay, more practical than poetic, the extra moonlight something to be thankful for in the wee small hours.

There you have it, a series of happy memories and recent highlights, connected and prompted by reading Walt’s poetry. If you have the time, pay a visit to Rivertop Rambles and read Walt’s excellent blog (and find links to where you can get hold of a copy of Earthstars and other published works – go on, you’ll be glad you did!)

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share a story or leave a comment, and have a wonderful weekend!

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I am a would be outdoorsman - that is if I had more time, skills and knowledge. When I can, I love being outdoors, just camping, hiking, snowboarding, xc skiing, snowshoeing, paddling a canoe or trying something new. What I lack in ability, I make up for in enthusiasm and having a go. I'd never really survive for long out there in the wild, but I enjoy pretending I could if I had to...

25 thoughts on “Another glance back at summer…”

  1. The story of the farmer emptying your septic tank brought a smile to my face. Emptying the septic tank was probably the only thing I did not enjoy when Hayley and I lived in our RV. I did however learn a thousand smart ways to do it. LOL.


  2. Hi Adam, stumbled on your blog trough Wayne from Tofino. Love all your pictures and stories. In today’s busy world I always find it very calming reading your great stories about trips to UK and of course our favourite place – Tofino and Ukee. For the last 16 years we have been spending time between Ukee and Tofino every fall, walking the beaches or sitting on a log, watching the waves gently lapping against the shores ….or huge waves crashing against the rocks – best holidays ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amy, I’m very happy you found your way here through Wayne’s wonderful blog. He captures the natural world all around Tofino with photographs that amaze each time he posts.
      We’d love to visit Tofino in the fall sometime, I can only imagine it’s a beautiful time to be there (I enjoy teaching, and the only drawback is being limited as to when we can travel – not that we aren’t very fortunate in having so much travel time in the summer!)
      Thank you for taking the time to visit and share a story, I appreciate it, and hope you have a wonderful weekend! (Perhaps you are planning your autumn visit to Tofino?!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fun post, pc, as always. I enjoyed the connections, Walt’s poem and post, and your photos. I really liked your stories–the tumbling backpack, the all-important outdoor essentials, and the rural France septic tank. Thanks for bringing me a gentle smile this morning — and have a really wonderful weekend.


    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Jet – it was a fun post to write. I’m drawn to blogs where the writing pulls me in, so that would be blogs like yours and Walt’s! I have to admit, I never imagined I’d post about septic tanks and outhouses, but when the connections show up, I just go with the flow, as it were.
      Thanks, and I hope you have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, thank you for taking the time to visit and comment, it is always lovely to hear from you! Walt has a wonderful blog, and many of his pieces highlight the connections he has to rivers he’s explored, fished, hiked, and cared for over the years. With your own love of rivers, you might enjoy Walt’s stories!
      Have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a pleasure– to glance back at OldPlaidCamper, as I do every week, and discover a humbling surprise. To see my book “Earthstars…” making the rounds of western Canada, dipping its toes sandpiper-like into the sands and waters of unusual beauty, or flopping into the mud along with some camping or trail gear, jazzes up my day and weekend prospects. Love the way that the poetry gets incorporated into the framework of yet another terrific blog post. The work is like a finely built outhouse– no stinker here, and the crescent moon is the real deal. I had laugh, PC, at the way your story of the old French farmer reminded me of the inspiration behind my poem “Mike’s Truck.” So, thanks again, and to all your thoughtful readers, as well, some of whom came over to check out Rivertop Rambles. All of you folks are much appreciated.


    1. Honestly, Walt, reading “Earthstars…” over the course of the summer has meant the pleasure was all ours. When it came to writing a couple of posts about summer highlights, I had to include it. We had such enjoyment passing this collection back and forth between us, so thank you for that. The fun of foraging in those pages is that each reading and rereading unearths something new.
      Enjoy your weekend!


  5. Hi. I’m new here. 🙂 I love that you mentioned the moon and being able to get to the outhouse. It reminds me of a cabin we love going to in the woods. There no running water, oil lamps for light, and a trip to the restroom requires a small like up a hill to the outhouse. The moon shining is quite a luxury about 1:00 a.m. Ha!

    What a great post. Love your friend’s poem. I looked at his blog and it’s really neat. Thanks for giving me a great new blog to follow. 🙂


    1. Welcome, Jessica!
      Oh yes, that full moon can make all the difference! Sounds like you have a wonderful cabin retreat. Very happy to read that you enjoyed Walt’s blog – it’s always a delight to check out his thoughts and rivertop adventures.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing a story, much appreciated.
      Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your photo of “Earthstars…” on the beach with the barest hint of the sea in the background has inspired us! Joe takes a photo of every book he reads. Just a straight-on photo of the cover. Nothing fancy. How much better to photo them in a setting where he read them? Thanks for the great idea!


  7. Hello Plaid Camper – thank you for your summer posts, photos, links and mention of books read or were reading. Thank you also for sharing your reflections of the highlights of a summer well spent. Thanks for the
    introduction to Walt’s poetry. Summer is practically over, Fall is in the air, and Fall activities are in full swing. I look forward to your Fall posts!

    Have a wonderful Sunday and a a great week!


    1. Hello Pandora – thank you for your kind words. We are also looking forward to autumn – it’s already very autumnal here in Calgary, with leaves turning and dropping at speed.
      I hope you’ve had a pleasant weekend, and that your coming week goes well!


  8. What a lovely post filled with your memories, stories and beautiful photos of summer gone. So very visual and made me look forward to our own adventures and warm days of summer. Enjoy your weekend.


    1. Fall is racing by here – it is a fast season – so winter will be upon us before we know it. That means I’ll have to enjoy your warm summertime posts all the more. I love the simultaneous contrast of our hemispheres – I’m like a little boy that never grew up, the science and geography always thrills.

      Liked by 1 person

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