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3: Building legerdemain



I will bring fine tools to shape you well
You will bring Time ringed before you fell
Tales of Raven and Whale and Hare
Of raking claws from scratching Bear
Velvet of antlers from shedding Deer
Roots which gave shelter to Mouse in fear
Warm fir duff where Snake lay sunning
Frog hopped by and Raccoon running
Bird in the shelter you held outspread
Cougar and Insect and Forest bed
You will bring Magic to share with me
I will remember that you are Tree


The entrepreneur of the barge project had rescued his building material from a fish cannery being razed farther upFelled tree the coast. Fishing, like lumbering, was in decline, and enterprises which produced only red ink were being quickly jettisoned by those who didn’t like that colour. To fulfil their obligations as the leaseholders of the land, and as a precaution against future legal responsibility, the sites were being bulldozed flat—’returned to original condition’.

     David had come across his find quite accidentally after flying in the manager of the demolition company, who had gone there to assess the work which had just commenced. While waiting to make the return flight as his passenger got on with business, the pilot/architect had walked curiously around the old buildings, idly wasting time as the splintering walls crashed down nearby.

     Suddenly he’d breathed in an essence of tall forests, long gone, stretching up and up and out from quiet, green, mossy places strung with long garlands of trailing lichens and colonies of mushrooming fungi, as he recognised the fragrant smell of the wood being broken up around him.

     Hefty, straight, unchecked, long clear runs of Douglas fir, larch, yellow and red cedar, dry and well-seasoned by the passage of time, met his eyes as he gave the old place a closer scrutiny. He hadn’t seen that kind of quality timber for sale in all his twenty-seven years. It had gone the way of the fabulous salmon runs which had once crowded the rivers, the whales from which coast legends had arisen, the sea otters with their covetted fur, the eagles whose soaring flight had been brought down to countable numbers.

     The thought of such wood being turned into kindling and heaped into piles for burning deeply injured his sensitivities. He got himself quickly in front of the demolitions manager and dickered for a deal with his fare, asking salvage rights to anything he might want from the old buildings in exchange for so many trips in and out.

     The passenger thought the pilot was crazy. The pilot thought the passenger was an idiot and worse. They both thought they’d got the best of the bargain but the point never came up between them for argument to a conclusion. Each man knew well how to keep his mouth shut about anything except the bottom line where business was concerned—stick to the issue and don’t deviate—the issue being to get what you want, cheap, unless diversionary tactics are called for. They weren’t, here. Both got what they wanted, fast.

     Getting the salvaged wood down to Shalisa Creek Bay became easier in theory than in performance. David had commandeered some leftover space on a barge heading down the coast, in the same way he’d made the deal with the demolitions expert. That was the easy part. When the destination of this load of old forest treasure was mentioned, there were grunts and sudden reluctance on the part of the barge owner.

     “That damn place? No way am I gonna send a crew into the Gap—or anywhere near it at this time of year. Weather’s too dicey these days. I can have your stuff off-loaded at the village.”

     “Nope. No use lugging it that far. I’ll have to bring it all the way back again.”

     <That’ll tip the whole bloody town to something going on.>

     “Well—we ain’t goin’ in there.”

     David thought fast and hard.

     “Uh—there’s an old booming ground nearby. If you know the Gap you know the booming ground. How about if you dump it off there—make a little boom of it and secure it for me and I’ll take it from there?”

     “That’ll take some extra doing,” grumbled the barge operator.

     <Sweeten the pot boy. I seem to have you by the short and curlies.>

     “Well—how about another flight to somewhere reasonable—like, not Halifax?”

     The operator thought for awhile, then agreed.

     “Okay. Gimme it in writing.”

     “Okay. Gimme your destinations in writing.”

     The wood was put aboard. The tug and barge headed down the coast. The captain plotted vengeance against the man who had ever made a deal which got him anywhere near that damned treacherous Gap. The weather reports were not promising. He decided there was no way he would sit around making a boom for a lot of old timber with Mother Nature obviously in a bad mood.

     When he reached it he stood off the Gap, waited for Tide to turn and, leaving his barge wallowing loose farther out, dumped the small payload and shooed the nuisance into the bay with the rushing water, his crew scared stiff as the tug became marine shepherd to what they considered a pile of trash, while Spirit of the Gap waited hopefully nearby with her hungry helpers.

     Mentally thumbing his nose at her, the captain recovered his barge again, nonchalantly picked up his phone, called the customer and told him that his load had been delivered—right to the beach like he’d wanted it in the first place—have to collect it up a bit though.

     David scrambled, flew into the beach, looked down and saw his building materials scattered all over the waterfront and dancing in the bay waves, and he didn’t dare to touch down—not that he could have done anything anyway.

     <Pile of lumberHow long before the tide turns and takes half of it back out again? Geeze! That rat! I should have known these old dealers cheat. I’ve been took. Wonder if I could get him for breach of contract? Didn’t really have one. Just for the flights. Agh—the hell with that. I want the wood.>

     He had to settle for getting a log salver from some distance outside the village. Double pay for the haste and the weather—and the location—but he got there fast and did the job, herding the lumber together ashore and making sure it stayed there, fastened with cable, so that when he radioed his employer and told him it was safe to bring in his plane to check out the job, David was pleased with at least one old dealer.

     “Hold on an’ I’ll write you out a bill here.”

     “I don’t need that. How much?”

     The man was absolutely amazed when the pilot took out an old, frayed, cloth wallet and handed him the amount without question.

     “Need a receipt?”

     “No thanks, I’m a cash man. I thought you were too.”

     “Oh—you betcha!” returned the salver realising what sort of deal was coming off here. “Uh—mind telling me what you’re gonna do with this stuff?”

     “I’ve contracted to build a floating clubhouse on the barge there for a city bunch. They’ll tow it out of here when it’s finished.”

     “You gonna build on that old barge? Interesting.”

     The salver looked at the cash he was stowing lovingly into his own wallet and figured that anyone who kept that much spare in his hip pocket and didn’t ask for a paper trail probably had a lot more floating around somewhere.

     “Got your building guys yet?”

     “Not yet.”

     “I know a damn good construction crew. They could sure use the work. Things are tight around here right now.”

     “Are they as reliable as you are?”

     “Oh for sure! Three of ’em are my brothers, including the foreman.”

     “That sounds like a good recommendation. Any rebate for cash?”

     “Cash is always more acceptable than a long hungry wait for bills to get paid. They’re talkable.”

     “I’d need them to be available around the beginning of February.”

     “Name a date and I’ll see that they are.”

     “Okay, I’ll get in touch with you shortly and we can arrange things.”

     “Done deal!” agreed the salver putting out his hand to seal the agreement. “I’ll pick up my cable when you’re through with it if you’ll gimme a call.”

     By the time the salver had left it was late, the sky looked threatening, and David was sure he couldn’t make it back before darkness took over.

     <I’ll have to overnight here. Better phone Gram and tell her what’s up so they don’t come looking for me.>

     He went back to his plane which was dancing up and down marking time, trying to teach the tired old wharf to do a two-step, made the call, picked up some granola bars, a bag of dried fruit, an enamelled mug and an old, tarnished silver flute—one of many he had stashed in various locations—and headed for the creek to get drinking water.

     The clear water supplied by the waterfall whisked into his mug. He looked at it for a moment, thought <Beaver fever?>, figured that the sheer drop the waterfall made would preclude any such thing, shrugged and drank. It was cold and good.

     Walking slowly along the beach where Tide was receding as he bit into a bar, he was entertained by squirting clams busy performing a free-form water ballet, making him keep his distance as he speculated on the wealth of oysters and other seafood which was probably somewhere nearby, ready for the taking. He enjoyed good food and this beach seemed spread with it, just waiting. His mind took a couple of turns around that thought, considering the idea that he could use some of this for his galley when the barge got going.

     He came to a large fir growing back from the water, with a trunk whose girth spoke of peaceful living for centuries. The soft padding of mossy green surrounding its base invited him to sit down there and he did, with his back against the rough bark, watching Light leave Sky, taking with it the soft colours of Day and leaving deepening shades of monochromatics behind as Sea turned grey and Shore darkened toward black while he idly sifted the deep needle duff at the base of the fir through the fingers of his left hand.

     One of his handfuls brought up a smooth white object which prompted closer examination. He wiped the dirt from it and found he was holding a peg from a musical instrument. It seemed to be made of ivory or bone and had a slight crack where the string would be fed through for tightening. He regarded this stray piece of acoustic history, figuring it must have come from a guitar, and wondered whose music had suffered the loss.

     In that way people who are much alone have of talking out loud to themselves he said, rubbing the piece between his thumb and two fingers,

     “Tell me Tree—you’ve been around here a lot longer than I have—whose past am I invading? Did he lose this, or throw it away? Who sat and tuned his instrument where I sit now? Was he alone or with company? I hope he had company. Alone is good company too, but sometimes—it gets pretty alone.”

     He put the piece in his jacket pocket, finished eating, set the flute to his lips and played a berceuse, gentle and soft, and as he did so he fancied he felt a Presence lingering close by, leaning against the tree, listening. He stayed in silence after he’d finished playing, hearing Tide shuttling against the fine sand and shell beach, and the Presence seemed to become earnestly, beseechingly closer. He sat up straight, his senses alert, and then felt he knew what was wrong.

     Reaching into his pocket, he took the tuning peg out, buried it back again deep under the duff, patted the spot down, got up and walked off quickly, saying,

     “Sorry. I had no right to think of carting off your property. I figured it would be a shame for it to go to waste, but I can tell it’s not going to.”

     He made his way along the old wharf to the plane, got in, shut the door and leaned back in the seat, but it was a long time before he slept. Darkness came early and he tried reading a book by flashlight but soon gave that up. It became chilly and he put on a heavier jacket, broke into his emergency stores and took out a container of water.

     He sat staring into the all-encompassing darkness, feeling like the last human being left on earth, awed and fascinated by the immense silence and darkness, watching Stars and half of Moon being alternately eclipsed and exposed by Wind as they played hide-and-go-seek with scudding Clouds, while he hoped the weather would hold until he got out the next morning.

     Into the night, thrown like the thoughts of a triumphant Spirit who knows his world and claims it for his own, rose the high, quivering, soul-searching call of Loon, once, twice, three times, then silence again.

     The sound shot through him, startling and pulsing along his nerves, informing him that, although he might be alone, there were other Beings out there who were not. He folded his arms over his chest, tucking his hands under for warmth, beginning to feel like an intruder who had entered forbidden space and might be asked to leave any second.

     He thought of the Presence he had felt as he’d sat by the fir tree on the beach and wondered if the same sound had made that other musician feel a similar sense of being a Stranger, or if it had given him the security of contented belonging because Bay was his surround and he had the right to be there.

     <What’s going on here? Am I starting to believe in ghosts? So why not? I talk to trees and teddybears and Li has just about convinced me that dragons are for real, but—hey—it’s just a bird out there.>

     When he at last managed to doze off, the piercing possessive call of the resident loon lanced itself into his awareness at intervals, reminding him that he was not at home.

     He awoke with first light, stumbled out, stiff and unrested, went to the creek, threw water over his face and head, drank some, and went back to his plane. Listening to the weather report and scanning the sky, he decided he’d better move it, fast, and he took off, trying to shake the hold the bay had on him, settling his thoughts forward to the city and the problems which waited for him there. He had to get on with bringing this enterprise into being, weather and bay be damned. The plans were waiting at home, ready to be turned into reality.

     Lifting into the heavy sky, he hoped the rain and wind would hold off long enough to let him slip through for a touchdown on the waters by his office.

     Rain and Wind reached for him just as he did that and he was thankful that he hadn’t been caught in their boisterousness.

     He bedded the plane down against a blow, went into his office, locked the door, hung a ‘CLOSED’ sign in the window, pulled the curtains, called his grandmother, then headed for the couch he often used as a supplement for home when he’d been hashing over a problem and wanted to keep on hashing without disruption, or as an escape hatch from unwanted company, or for just quiet naps by himself, away from his usual society.

     Yu Ching Li referred to these sojourns of disappearance into the little shack by saying, ‘David is sprouting beans’, a process generally done in a dark, undisturbed, out of the way, quiet place sheltered from people. The Chinese are much too polite to suggest someone is hiding.

     The pilot was hiding though. The Bay had become something more than just a location for his barge. It was getting to him in ways he hadn’t foreseen, and he had to come to terms with that. He thumped a couple of cushions together, pulled a woolly plaid blanket over himself and went to sleep, grateful that no Loon was out there, trying to make him reconsider a whole lot of things.

Guitar peg in the sand

- - -

The beans sprouted and were given the light of day.

     As the building plans progressed in his mind David let the barge structure ramble, providing various levels to serve different purposes.

     There would be the first level of large uncovered decks all around, where people were to be welcomed aboard and where they could simply have a cup of coffee or a drink while enjoying the scenery, relaxing in comfortable deck chairs and smelling the flowers which would bloom in the large landscape boxes he would put around the edge of the barge to set it off, like the frame of a painting.

     These decks were to be laid with the old yellow cedar planks on which marks of the plane still showed clearly, along with some definite indications of their previous use.

     Now he stood among his beautiful cedar decking, surrounded by his prized Douglas fir beams which were being prepared to rise again in a new form, and watched as his building foreman ran hand and eye along one with appreciative admiration, happy to be working with such wood. He hadn’t seen anything like it since he’d been a woodworker’s apprentice some forty years before.

     Query from that sceptical construction foreman at commencement of the decking job.

     “How you gonna keep water from gettin’ under this an’ rottin’ everthin’ below out?”

     “Well, we’re standing on a pretty good subfloor. This old barge has been saltwater pickled for years, and I guess you already know that cedar doesn’t need any help from me in resisting rain and rot and anyway, I’ve found a great old boat builder who’s coming in tomorrow to work with us and he’ll show us how to do it. I understand it gets fastened with dowels and is made tight with caulking just like a deck on a boat.”

     “Never saw a deck that didn’t leak. Built lots of roofs that didn’t though.”

     “I’m listening. Go ahead and convince me that shingles would be great for walking on.”

     Next, up three broad steps, would be a large, airy post and beam space big enough to accommodate a fireplace at the far end but not crowd it. This area was intended for the gaming tables, where cards, mah jong, dominoes and chess would hold the interest of the founding members.

     The heavy old rough-sawn fir timbers were readied for posts and roof beams, and knee braces were to be set in above head level from post to beam for holding the ceiling well.

     “You gonna need a lotta men tuh get these in place.”

     “Okay. I’ll find them.”

     “Get some who can swear good. It helps. I know a couple. Best damn cussin’ workers I ever come acrosst. Strong enough to back it up too.”

     “Know where to get hold of them in a hurry when we need them?”

     “Oh for sure. In the coffee shop. They’re my cousins.”

     Up two more steps which ran the width of the room, closer to the fireplace, a compact and efficient galley was added for catering to snack and light dinner needs in case people became so involved in a game they wouldn’t have time for boarding their boats to eat.

     A small cosy dining area to one side of the galley was allotted for this use, harbouring a sturdy, small cast-iron stove, just to make sure the luxury loving guests didn’t get too cold on rainy coast evenings, as well as adding a romantic touch with it’s little glass door allowing the flames to be seen.

     “You gonna cook ever’body outta house an’ home this way.”

     “They’ll love it. They spend half their lives getting parboiled and steamed in hot tubs and saunas.”

     “You buildin’ a yacht club or a kiddy garden? They’ll be so looked after nobody’ll have to wiggle a finger.”

     “That’s what they’re paying for.”

     A thoughtfully stocked bar, conveniently placed to the right of the galley, would be quite capable of providing a well-chosen accompaniment for oysters on the half shell, or able to take care of the thirst which might accompany a hotly contested game.

     “Most sensible thing ’at’s come in here yet.”

     “I knew you’d approve of this at least.”

     Once the swearing had been accomplished and the posts and beams were in place, a massive open fireplace of local stone got underway, big and inviting and as friendly as a strong handshake and a welcoming smile.

     “That little guy don’t even look like he could lift an egg, never mind all that stone, an’ he’s got a girl for a helper.”

     “That’s his daughter. Just watch them. I got them on the recommendation of your big brother—his nephew’s in-laws in-laws—I think he said.”

     The heads were of the kind any boat owner would understand—just thump and pump, and a shower—which was more for the convenience of the barge owner than for any other reason—would be supplied by the water system left behind by the logging company, since no one had been the least bit interested in removing the huge, ancient, inoperative diesel generator from its cement base, hoisting and dismantling the old pump from the well head, and then trying to haul the few tons of equipment away, for whatever price.

     This architect hated to see good things go to waste, and after he’d toted up the cost of other ways to make water available to his club, most of them exorbitantly expensive, he became even more of a recycler.

     Everyone had overlooked that great big tankful of diesel fuel buried beside the assembly. Maybe he could get the pump to work. It had before. Besides, if that system failed to materialise he could always catch rainwater in a cistern ashore, or get clear, clean mountain water with a portable pump from the creek or one of the closer numerous little streams which ran down the cliffs into the bay.

     “You puttin’ plumbin’ in here?!”

     “Yeah. People need water.”

     “How they gonna get that, moored out in the middle o’ nowhere?’

     “Uh—I’m figuring on a small water barge moored nearby with a tank and generator to pump it,” returned David, thinking swiftly.

     “Cranky, noisy things, generators.”

     “Have to deal with muffling it a bit. Besides, they get so much noise in the city they probably won’t even notice.”

     A two storey structure was added at the far end, backing onto the fireplace, which had space on the first level for a caretaker and an office, the second storey being a suite for the owner, a home away from home in case business on the barge got really good and couldn’t be left entirely to hired help, or the weather was too great to waste in the city, or he just wanted to get away by himself for awhile after the summer season was over and the casino had closed.

     “You say you’re puttin’ a caretaker in here?”

     “Yuh.”

     “Oh boy, he’s gonna get bushed out there somewhere all by himself.”

     “If he takes the job that’s his problem.”

     The roof utilised a pile of cedar shakes found on the former premises of the defunct company. They were presumed to be free for the taking since they hadn’t been auctioned off and were showing signs of neglect in the form of tall, graceful grass and rampant blackberry runners growing up around them.

     Roofing didn’t make much of a dent in the pile, so the whole project was sided with them, in a random and carefree way, rather like a drunken fisherman had done the job and lost his concept of a straight line while he was at it.

     It wasn’t a fisherman who did the job—but—a little canned encouragement now and then did seem to Young shingler taking a breakhelp inspire the happy artisan as he went singing along with his hammer, and the ragged lines were intentional. David had hired the shingler even though someone had told him the kid was a drunk. The employer figured that shouldn’t mean the guy didn’t need to eat. He was a friend of one of the young carpenters who also knew what it was like to go hungry, and who was anxiously trying to look out for his buddy.

     Watching the tall, thin, insecure, eager-eyed youth with the stamp of rejection already on his face, working diligently away, David saw himself at that age, and what path he might have taken but for the grace of Gram and Yu Ching Li.

     “I’d fire you both if you let him do that on my house.”

     “Where’s your sense of the aesthetic?”

     “Where’s your sense—period!”

     “Never had any,” grinned David. “At least that’s what my father kept telling me.”

     The large sets of small-paned windows which let in so much sunrise, sunset, seascape and rain had been acquired from an old warehouse being torn down to make way for high-rise condos in a former industrial area which Industry had long since abandoned. That expensive piece of real estate now occupied choice space in the city where the gambler lived, and his connections were good enough to get him the glass, frames and all, with little cost.

     “Leak like hell!”

     “That’s okay. I’ll work on them in my spare time here.”

     “You got lottsa that?! I can get yuh a glazier who can fix ’em up in no time.”

     Surrendering laughter, then,

     “Okay—and just whose relative is he?”

     Much to the surprise of the construction crew, all the interior walls were plastered and given a coat of white. The usual order was for pine, fir, cedar, oak, walnut, beech—anything, as long as it was wood and could be tortured into intricate designs of diagonals, herringbones, diamonds, checkerboards.

     David had to explain that he wanted nothing to interfere with the visual enjoyment of his beautiful beams, woodwork and floors, ending with,

     “Hey guys, these are trees, not plastic. They’re live stuff. Let ’em live.”

     As well, the builders had found themselves faced with a few other unexpected and unconventional problems as they went along because, after practicality had been served in the planning, whimsey had taken over.

     Close to the commencement of the project David had come across his crew in a huddle over the plans, laughing and making jokes about phallic symbols, in terms less polite.

     “Something I can explain?”

     “Uh—what’s this?”

     “A turret.”

     Puzzled pause.

     “Oh—an’ this?”

     Laughter all around.

     “You surely recognise a spire when you see one?”

     Wry face with background snickers.

     “Oh sure. We build those alla time. Ever’body wants ’em.”

     “Be sure to put a flag on that,” grinned the young carpenter. “Wouldn’t want the ladies to get off course.”

     “Do you really think we need to tell the ladies which way is up?”

     The turrets, turns, angles and spire had been added not only to take advantage of the scenery, but also just to please the heart of the impromptu architect who had always wanted an enchanted forest dwelling like those he’d read about as a boy, and he hadn’t been able to resist the opportunity of actually building one, or at least some of one, even at this late stage of his childhood.

     He recalled the descriptions of wizards’ hideaways well, and set about fashioning as much of that world of fantasy as he could fabricate in wood, along with a few of his own ideas which he’d always thought the magicians had missed out on, some of which had more of practical foresight in them for him than mystery.

     These last customised touches he would add himself, in his own quarters and office, after the workmen had finished. Magic was part of his unorthodox and unusual repertoire for living. Making things appear and disappear was a commonplace skill with him which had also proven to be a convenient and useful method for getting out of trouble on more than one occasion in his past, and he wasn’t going to overlook it for his future.

     He pushed his fun as far as possible without allowing everything to become totally fantastic, restraining himself from completely abandoning the original function of the place, which was not only to entertain but to make money, and to do that he had to remember that he was dealing mostly with hard-headed business people who wanted their wishes met.

     “Sure you don’t want a bell on toppa that steeple?”

     “Spire—and I’m looking for peace and quiet, not trying to wake up the whole countryside.”

     “Just askin’. How about a cannon somewhere?”

     “Do I detect a bit of enthusiasm here?”

     The whole outside perimeter of the barge was surrounded by pipe stanchions strung with hefty double lines of white rope. With safety one of his priorities, reminders that Sea was not to be taken lightly were provided in the form of life preservers with staff lights attached, which were hung in handy places, in case any guests overestimated their ability to swim after downing a couple or three of good martinis.

     There would also be two small runabouts always at the ready by the foot of the boarding ladders at either end. Management was well aware of the study which showed that a large percentage of male drowning victims, when located, were found with their trouser fly open, and he himself had often been guilty of standing at the rail of his own boat to relieve himself because the head was occupied and he couldn’t wait. Accidental or intentional leaps were to be discouraged. He wanted no tragedies. This was to be a fun place.

     The problem of the Gap had been given some thought. It would be handled by a boat stationed outside the Terror, which would have someone aboard to hail and direct incoming traffic safely through the dangerous ring of rock, guiding into the sheltered bay the unknowing, the impulsive, and those who had indulged in too much false courage while making their passage up what would appear to most as a formidable and threatening coast.

     He had carefully fed his members with pumping-up PR.

     “There really isn’t that much danger in the passage. It’s all blown out of proportion—no problems at all—just read the charts and heed them. All it takes is a reasonable amount of seamanly skill and caution, and you’re all great skippers.”

     Which was actually true—except for the last little bit. The only problem arising might be with the first two requirements. He wasn’t too sure that many of his card club members knew what they were, but after the flattery they all seemed too proud to admit it—which human frailty he was counting on. That’s what public relations propaganda is all about—conning frail, vain humans.

     The Guardian of the Bay had not been consulted on this matter either, so she and her protégé rocks preserved their own ideas about the whole question of comings and goings, not abandoning the prospect of more arriving than would leave intact.

     The escort craft would also serve as an alarm system to warn the barge of approaching Raiders bearing the escutcheon of Authority on their hulls and caps, in which case the lookout boat would signal the barge and hold down the Gap pleasantly while the felt-covered gaming boards turned turtle and became restaurant tables with decorated tops of chessboards and similar harmless motifs, as any sign of poker chips or other incriminating items disappeared rapidly from view. This sort of information he did not divulge to his building crew. After all, they expected the whole project to be towed off to another location when it was finished.

     Apart from her distinctive structure which would be recognised from a distance by its pennant-topped spire—now called ‘the ladies’ aid’ by his construction crew—the owner had realised the worth of having large visible lettering which looked officially commercial on the side of the barge. He had her name put on the sides in big, bold opalescent green, hoping it would reflect like the shimmerings of an imaginary dragon. It bothered him not at all that his beautiful, subtle nuances would probably not even be noticed by the clientele who would be visiting the barge. It was enough that he liked it.

     To those who would know what they were looking for, it would make the bay an easy port to home in on from the water. For those not in on the secret, it would be a company property they should stay away from. There were also signs affixed to stern and bow supporting the half-truth that this was the Vintage Yacht Club, Shalisa Creek Bay Outstation, declaring its innocent purpose, warning off possible stray boaters, and assuring any uncertain members gathering for the opening that indeed they were in the right place. David knew that most of the boats would not be vintage—but who cared.

     To see the finished structure rising out of Mist or Fog as he had so often done while it was being built, or awash in Rain and Sea or, to find it floating in shining Sun as she had been on her name day, looking at it from either land or water gave him the feeling of viewing a Trolls’ meeting house, strategically placed for a quick vanishing act, which could be accomplished by having it dissolve into Sea or turn into a few Trees on Beach nearby, depending from which element an unwanted visitor might arrive.

      LEGER DE MAIN had come into being.

     “You’ll be lucky if the Coast Guard don’t check this out for a floatin’ You Foe. Sure you don’t want that cannon?”

     Ghostly loggers using a swedish fiddleAt last the building part of the enterprise was finished. The spire was ceremoniously decorated with the top of a fallen fir tree from shoreside as a traditional mark for the occasion of capping off the project, and an informal celebration was held for the work crew, during which the laconic pessimistic foreman showed himself to be one helluva good guy.

     It had become evident that the leader of this crew knew more than all of them put together when it came to building, and that anything which sounded like a complaint from him was really a warning against something which he considered unsafe, doubtful or shoddy. They respected him, learned from him, and defended him.

     In the course of the hilarity and good-natured joking going on all around him David found his construction foreman leaning on the railing which ran around the second level dining area, with a definitely thoughtful far-away expression on his face, absently rubbing one hand back and forth over the now smooth old wood.

     He hesitated a moment but then leaned on the railing beside the older man and said,

     “You’ve all put in some wonderful craftsmanship here.”

     “Yeah,” returned the foreman, still with a pensive look in his eyes, “It was great to work with this stuff. Them slab steps you got there—was sittin’ on ‘em havin’ lunch one day an’ counted the growth rings in the stringer. Hunnert an’ forty-seven. Jus’ think how big that tree musta been ’fore it was dressed. You know, there’s no yellow cedar left no more around here, nor yew. Bulldozed an’ cut as trash trees. No value they said. Too small. Not much red cedar either now. Just about all taken from this area.

     “My Ole Man was a logger. Maybe even took this stuff down. My Grandad too. He usta tell me about it. Man with muscles who could handle ten like us at once an’ wipe us out like the whimps we are. Went out with his sidekick usin’ spring-boards an’ a Swedish fiddle an’ brought down trees of a size we can only imagine. Usta hafta look out for bears an’ cougars. Was different then with toppers an’ fallers an’ timber cruisers. Cruisers usta be able to go out an’ pretty well estimate the board footage in the trees ’fore they ever got felled. Scalers and graders an’ sorters. Guys who ran around log booms with pike poles an’ spike boots, dancin’ on the floatin’ logs keepin’ things movin’ an’ in order. Bet that ole log skid over on shore there took tons o’ timber out to sea.

     “Wasn’t clear-cuttin’ then. Selective loggin’. Took only the best. Left the twisted an’ bent an’ rotten an’ young an’ non-commercial stuff. Stuff they left behind was still good for the critters. Mebbe even better for deer an’ such, woodpeckers an’ birds. New growth got goin’ pretty fast. Then they started burnin’ it after they cut. Everthin’ dies. Used to see the smoke from the city. People’d shrug an’ say—they’re burnin’ slash again. Now they take everthin’ for pulp.

     “Loggers had a kinda status then. Company policy didn’t enter into it—long as they got paid they worked, an’ worked damn hard. Dangerous and difficult, but they usta laugh about it, proud o’ what they were doin’. Log burlingWho’da ever thought then that there wouldn’t be any more trees in this country? Guess, bein’ a carpenter, I’m what’s they call a tree hugger now an’ my Grandad would be ashamed o’ me, but I got a little piece o’ property that’s been logged twice, once as virgin with springboards an’ then later with chainsaws, but it wasn’t clearcut. We’re lettin’ the trees grow. Don’t help much, but my grankids get a bang outta seein’ a squirrel an’ a raccoon an’ a deer. Mebbe the trees’ll grow back all over ever’where after a couple hunnert years. We’re all fools. Forgotten what makes the world go ‘round an’ where we come from.”

     The foreman became aware of the quietness around him as his crew had stopped their talk to listen. He straightened up and said with a laugh, trying to hide his embarrassment because he felt they’d think he was going soft,

     “Agh—must be gettin’ old. Got anymore o’ that good juice ta fill up my jug?”