Rus Articles Journal

Canada. Wildfires, waterways. Episode 1.

(A fragment from the Canadian book of E. Kolyer about the woods, the fires, floods and other disasters - and how to resist to them)

E. Kolyer Collier Eric


Chapter I

, appear, captured the Whole world a flame when I saw for the first time Meldram - Shout.

From the hill where I was in safety so far, was heard as the fire moves towards a stream.

When a flame reached a glade at the bottom of the hill, it with a crash and a roar snatched on dry as if a tinder, a grass. Did not pass also two minutes as all glade brightly started to blaze.

easily jumped Fire through the course of a stream and was thrown to the next thickets. In some five minutes the glade turned into the black smoking ashes. And though on firs hvoinka still burned, I knew that trees die.

Flashed thought: “The stream dies, trees die, all this edge dies“.


… And still in this region I had to share soon the lot with Lilian. Here, in a fruitless, burned wild solitude which then for thirty years became our house we should grow up our son Vizi. Here we tested the scorching heat of summer, ruthlessness of the winter penetrating cold. Here we recognized our only neighbors - bears, elks, wolves, other inhabitants of the woods and mshanik. Some of them, appear, were always ready to challenge our right for existence in their region. Here we learned to be reconciled by

with the mosquitoes and gadflies who were quite often enraging almost insatiable blood lust and us and our horses.

We accepted all this as well as pleasures of life among the wild nature surrounding us.

Here we shared with Lilian moments of rest, a lodging for the night in the depth of the wood which grew with a moss or on the bank of the sparkling pond which leisure was intruded upon before only by a flock of migratory birds or the raged elk. All this

is pleasant in the summer - but in the winter the Spartan endurance was required to live in the woods or about ponds when the earth is buried under a snow shroud three feet thick when the exhaled air froze almost right after an exit from lungs when the cold pierced in our bodies with sharpness of the perfected hunting knife.

I then when the winter kept all wild land in the rigid vice, Lilian stood idle a lot of time in intense expectation at an entrance to a hut. It stood bare-headed, filled in with a moonlight, without noticing treacherous pricks of a frost, stood very quietly, listening whether soft Canadian skis - snowshoes rustle on ice, whether the heavy feet of the saddle horse breaking a frozen crust on snow are heard stood with a mute question on lips: there is no

“Why them still? What keeps them in snow?. “

Here, in this region which now, on my eyes, turned into the charred, smoking ashes we should endure many minutes of gloomy despair when, appear, all our hopes fell.

I here we should enjoy fertile moments of inexpressible happiness and satisfaction reached when efforts, at last, began to bear fruits.

It was the stream Meldram - Shout. Here, in far times when my Lilian`s grandmother - the Indian - was a child, came to satisfy thirst of herd of deer where beavers splashed the tails, and the trout jumped out from water in a pursuit of flies where thousands of ducks and geese pottered about in coastal thickets.

But now water stood and which - where disappeared at all. Fire wiped the wood off the face of the earth, trees were already dead, and, watching from hill top an agony of all surrounding, I thought only that this edge dies and that there is nobody who could rescue it.

This stream - or rather its sources - I for the first time uvidat at the end of spring of 1922, and only in the fall of 1926 - go I visited that place where it falls into the river Fraser in three hundred miles to the North from Vancouver if to follow in the direction of flight of wild geese.

Ya went on a gelding - silly and quiet by sight, but artful. As thin ice on the river. Though now a skewbald gelding it is lazy was afraid on a footpath a slow step, having taken away ears back and having closed eyes, it could turn into a hurricane of furious uncontrollable energy if suddenly at his legs the black grouse flushes or the deer jumped out of thickets. Sometimes, the villain reared under me and dumped me from a saddle twice. And I understood that if here where I on thirty miles am not present not a soul around, he managed to get away from me, I would see though a tip of his tail not soon. Therefore, having strong clamped reins in the left hand, held right over Luka saddles as a last resort to seize it very much.

Having lived here, in the depth of British Columbia, already whole year, I learned about this strange wild land much. And with alarm thought that not the Divine Providence, but a box of matches in hands of the person was the reason of the wildfire which freely captured such most part of this edge.

Here all got used that if it is necessary to mow down for cattle of fresh marsh hay on some else nekosheny glade, it is necessary to clear it of a last year`s grass first of all. In sunny spring day to leave on a glade and to throw into a grass the lit match - in order that then, in the summer when the haymaking time comes, the dry grass did not cling and did not get stuck in a mower frame.

Perhaps, hundreds of acres of the wood fell a victim of a flame only because someone needed to exempt from an old grass pathetic couple of acres intended for a mowing.

However, it did not matter. In the region where coniferous forests stretch for many miles and the end is not visible to them, wood is not of value. And it goes here unless on putting up a fence, hastily to put from logs a hut with roofed the turf or to prepare firewood for the winter.

I think that for the first time this thought came to my mind when I astride a horse was transported through a stream at its sources and went along it downstream.

So happens when the person dreaming of own house sees a free site on some street and speaks to itself: “Here where I would like to build the house“.

In subconsciousness the thought flashed: “Sometime I will arrive here and I will lodge at this stream“.

Years later when this casual thought already became reality, I more than once in sleepless nights, uneasily turning in a bed, thought about same: Whether “Reasonably I arrived? Whether it was worth doing it?“

But then with me was Lilian. And Vizi. They, like an anchor, kept me at a stream both during a rain, and in a bad weather.


... On the opposite coast of a stream the meadow bordered with thin willows occupying probably no more than a half of an acre lay. Behind willows evergreen pines reigned again. Having left on a meadow, I descended from a saddle, having tied a lasso to the end of an occasion, undid and removed a bridle that the horse freely could be grazed in the grass reaching to me knees.

On a meadow lay deer recently. Still approaching a stream, I several times saw their hot scents. And also frightened off there a big black bear who with such hobby peeled a pack in search of juicy larvae that did not guess and did not hear as I drove up to it. When the bear, at last, felt my presence, I stopped skewbald and stood in a saddle, observing as the clumsy animal rushes at full speed to hide in the next thickets.

Then the bear did not cause in me a particular interest. Far more important the traces of deer noticed by me seemed - they said that here meat suffices if you are able to hunt.

When skewbald was supported with a grass, I passed half-miles up a stream. It followed from an ozerka, stretched by a narrow strip in half-miles width and about three miles long. The stream hardly exuded as if being ashamed of the fact that it appeared in a visible place. Level of the lake was so low that water did not follow from it, and dripped.

Time approached by noon, and it seemed that krovavo - the red sphere of the Sun keeps on a dense smoke of the burning wood. In language sharp smack of a smoke was felt and I understood what should be turned back - fire was already nearby.

Curiosity pulled me downstream. Water exuded through sand and pebble as if having lost hope ever to achieve the objectives of the movement. Approximately in mile from the ford the stream streamed on a meadow on which once there lived beavers. Here the stood smelly water hardly covered black dirt at the bottom of the course. I left on a meadow. Got off and dry as gunpowder, the grass rustled with paper under hoofs of a horse.

At the end of a meadow the remains of the dam constructed by beavers loomed. Further the course of a stream was lost in more often strong old fir-trees.

After water passed through a hole in a dam, from a stream almost nothing remained. It just gurgled in sand and slowly flew down in a small twig.

Before me the patient, the perishing stream lay.

I death it did not raise any doubts.

Then I also heard as from the North to a stream there is a fire.

prompted the Instinct of self-preservation to me that it is necessary to leave a meadow and that it is the best of all to come out to the high hill from where it is possible to see approach of a flame and at the same time quickly to escape - that I and had to make in a few minutes.

There, above, in a pinery, at the bottom of trees of a little combustible material and a flame could not rise so highly to capture tops of pines. The destructive force of the fire was shown fully, only when fire reached a meadow with its dried-up grass.

Then I did not know, how much time you need for the Nature to grow up one mighty fir-tree 60 feet high and with a diameter of 12 inches. On that side of a meadow many such fir-trees - from everyone grew if it was required, it was possible to saw one and a half hundred feet of good boards. Resinous branches went down to the earth. Trees grew so densely that the elk or a deer who would like to take refuge in their cool shadow only hardly would make the way between trunks.

When fire reached fir-trees, the flame captured their tops. Sparks rockets flew up in the smoke curling above and, driven by wind, fell to the ground in one hundred steps.

And where the spark fell, the flame soon flashed.

Having bent in a saddle, I peered through a smoke at the remains of the dam constructed by beavers. And the hole in a dam through which the stream flew seemed me the aperture in a fencing closed once by gate.

A moment ago the meadow turned green, and now … before me the ashes blackened.

Without taking eyes from a dam and without moving, I sat in a saddle.

“If, - I thought, - on a meadow at least couple of beavers remained, gate would be closed and the dam in all length and width of a meadow would be faced by water, but not a dry grass. Fire would recede before a water barrier, and fir-trees on that party of a meadow would not light up“.

But beavers disappeared long ago - and, appear, that together with them the country was left by all hopes …


the Translation from English under A. Ryabokon`s edition