August 3, Ocean Falls: The rain has stopped overnight – the total rainfall for the three days is about five inches. The sun is out. Wet jackets and rain pants, boots, fowl weather gear are hanging around the cockpit; wet towels and clothes dry on the lifelines. Hatches are open, condensation is wiped up, spirits rise.
We hike through odd, abandoned Ocean Falls, finding here and there buildings that are still used. There is an old hospital that is an inn, an old church where there is a restaurant. We catch hints that there is a greenhouse somewhere in town where a woman grows fresh produce. We are starved for fresh greens and produce, which reach stores here wilted and outdated, if at all, at the end of long trucking and barge journeys from the Vancouver area.
We hike all around, and finally find Audrey in her greenhouse, which is behind her house and in the midst of several other houses, now abandoned. She is remarkable, youthful but with long, straight gray hair. Her greenhouse is handsome, handbuilt and large, and all of her crops are in pots, since tests showed that the soil here was heavily contaminated by years of pollution from the paper mill. There are lettuces, lots of herbs, beans growing up the walls, and cucumbers hanging in pots from the ceiling. Her outdoor plants are in beds made by digging ditches between the rock outcrops, then lining them with plastic and filling them back up with soil. She generously shows us around greenhouse and garden, and sends us on our way with fresh salad greens, chard, herbs.
Can this be the same world as the one we occupied yesterday?