Masset Sounds… and Scents, Sights, and Sensations
In the past, I wrote a weekly column, entitled “Masset Sounds,” in the Queen Charlotte Islands Observer newspaper. The column’s name came from Masset Sound, a geographical feature at approximately 54N 132W, just off the shoreline of Masset, Haida Gwaii. In the column, I attempted to capture the spirit of the Masset/t area. Following are some excerpts which describe that community in the summertime.

June Sounds

lips smacking as local folks get their first taste of this year’s local garden bounty–crispy, juicy rhubarb, those first tender lettuce greens, and the first luscious nibbles of wild salmonberries!

neighbors overheard meditating on what forms of torture they’d like to inflict upon certain cats (and possibly their owners) who seem to think freshly dug garden plots are made especially for the cats’ personal use as royal litter boxes

primary field trip to Old Massett to listen to traditional Haida stories told by the Chinnies (grandfathers), to watch demonstrations of cedar basket weaving by Nonnies (grandmothers), to visit the carving shed to see totem poles and other carvings in progress, to wander the beach and examine the intertidal area, learning about sea flora and fauna, to tour the museum and the canoe building site, and to join in Haida dancing on the field

people rushing to and fro attending all the events like year-end wind-ups for all kinds of community groups, school graduations, year-end awards ceremonies, and so on

students at Tahayghen Elementary enthusiastically participating in their annual camping and hiking trips to Misty Meadows, Gray Bay, and Cumshewa Head… lots of year-end field trips to the beach, Richardson Ranch, and other great hands-on, outdoor learning experiences… while GM Dawson Secondary students enjoy kayaking trips and other outdoor events of their own… track and field tournaments and playdays, with cheers for races well run

July Sounds

sounds of hollowness and sights of desolation as rows of school locker doors hang open at odd angles, and broken pencils, dried out pens, broken binders, crumpled scraps of paper and deserted scraps of clothing lay scattered haphazardly through the deserted halls of learning, signalling the end of another year of classes, and the start of two months of freedom

tantalizing scents of salmonberry cobbler, wild strawberry crepes, mixed wild berry coffee cake… lots of wild roses are in bloom, too, promising a good crop of rose hips for rose hip jelly, tea, soup and more… and the shiny green leaves of salal are in great form, promising lots of great salal-apple jelly in the fall

folks smacking their lips, enjoying fresh green onions, radishes, tender lettuce leaves… tomato plants well into bloom, and potato plants growing at an astonishing rate… garden berries, too, ripening up well in the long, long summer days

youngsters reading aloud to parents, or quietly flipping the pages of their favorite new author, as they take part in the annual Jesse Simpson Library Summer Reading Club


grumbles as local folks find there’s no milk or bread available at local grocery stores… or even gas at a local garage… due to the ever-increasing influx of tourists… but business people are certainly happy with the brisk sales

August Sounds

waves rolling onto the shoreline

wind rustling, blustering, blowing

honking of geese flying overhead in their characteristic “V” formations and splashing down to the Delkatla slough for a break in their annual migration

weekly Tuesday evening volunteer fire department practice alarm reminding us it’s 7 pm

fishing boats moving in and out of harbour

seaplane engines revving up

friendly voices meeting and greeting in a community small enough you can get to know almost everyone

quietness earlier and earlier as nightly neighborhood soccer games get closed down ever sooner by the shortening daylight hours

rain, silently misting, drops tiptoeing lightly across the dock, rustling the leaves of salal bushes; gathering forces and gusting together, slapping against windows and walls in haphazard fashion; and finally, suddenly, rain pouring, roaring straight downward, splashing and bubbling, filling hollows to form giant puddles–and just as suddenly it’s all over, glorious sunshine breakes through, the air is fresh and alive

friendly chatter and visiting in the long lineups at the semi-monthly Coop sale

cool breezes rustling through treetops, lifting the edge off the warmth of sunny summer days

sudden flapping of a raven’s wing breaking the sleepy 6:30 am silence of a dewy Masset morning

stampede to the docks to take advantage of freshly caught whole crabs for sale at about the same price you’d pay for a single crab leg in supermarkets down south

children picking the last of the juicy, red huckleberries… other folks gather salal for jam and jelly making… lineups at the fruit truck for peaches and other extravagant imported delights…the sausage truck man making his rounds

breezes rustling leaves and tempering the heat of the sun’s rays to pleasantly comfortable temperatures

raindrops splashing down and puddles overflowing, feet swishing and sloshing — and suddenly the sun breaks through again, sparkling on a freshly bathed world, dust washed away

cheerful beep-beep greetings, and friendly waves, from cars passing by

five or ten short minutes ticking by on one’s wristwatch during leisurely walks to anywhere in town

happy laughter of residents and tourists alike, hiking beaches and hills, fishing, swimming in the clear waters of Pure Lake

waking to the cheerful tweets and chirps of all hues and shapes and sizes of members of the bird community (being watched out for by Margo and Peter)