Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Copper Beech House Inn is a rustic five-suite bed and breakfast situated at the entrance of the government dock on the Delkatla Slough. If I had to guess I would say the house was built in the 1930s.

Until recently, the CBHI was owned and operated by David Phillips, a man of Falstaffian proportions who came to the islands in 1971 and, for many years, acted as its cook, gardener, tour-guide and mystic.

While Susan Musgrave is the new proprietor, my host for the past three days has been her 21-year-old daughter Sophie Reid, a no-bullshit bottle blonde with a cough that sounds like a car starting. If David Phillips is Shakespearean, Sophie’s referent is Gus Van Sant.

“I grew up here,” she says between coughs, “so I know a lot of people my age.” I listen as Sophie tells me Twitter-quick tales of courage, pride, sadness and despair, stories I would share, if I had her talent.

Upon returning to Masset my hope was to visit Rose Spit, Tow Hill and Sarah Davidson’s longhouse. But because of poor weather, and because we peeked at Sarah’s yesterday, I decided to moor myself at Mile Zero and watch what came ashore.

The bartender, Adeena, was wearing some very nice bracelets made by fellow Eagle Chris Rush, which she took off and showed me. Later, a bush pilot emerged from the “chicken cage” (smoking area) and insisted, quite seriously, that Adeena cut him off “after the next one.” Following that, one of Adeena’s (off duty) co-workers strode in and purchased twenty dollars in pull-tabs, made six bucks, then reinvested her “winnings” with the inevitable result.

Near the end of my pint, a guy my age sidled up with a paddle. I bought him a beer and we chatted. Turns out he is Guujaaw’s cousin, Wayne Edenshaw, and he learned to make paddles in Vancouver while his cousin was working on Bill Reid’s Raven and the First Men. He showed me why his paddle is distinct and said he was selling it for $100. Because it was beautiful, and because I had $100, I bought it.

As I made my way back to the Inn I ran into Sophie. I asked if she had an espresso maker, and she suggested we go to The Grounds Cafe instead. Along the way I learned more about Sophie’s life, a conversation that had us taking the beach route home, where hebe and pampas grew wild above huge patches of sea asparagus. Sophie found an agate and gave it to me.

Sophie’s boyfriend Corey waved to us from the dock. Sophie called out, “Let’s put on a dinner tonight!” and Corey called back, “I’ve already taken the salmon out!”

Now in dinner mode, Sophie gave me a bucket and asked that I fill it with thimble berries. After that, I was sent to the beach for sea asparagus. Thirty-five dollars for dinner -- and you get to pick half of it yourself.

The house was almost full, which meant seven at dinner. Two elderly couples, one from Vancouver (by way of England and Argentina), the other from northwestern France. We started with crab, then coho, followed by ice cream and berries. It was the perfect evening, with Sophie and Corey providing the fuel – a high-octane mix of Drugstore Cowboy and I Love Lucy. I cannot recommend this place highly enough.

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