Sunday, February 02, 2020

"Dancing in Gumboots" Edited by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde

Have you wondered about what life would be like if you had taken a different path in your youth?

Books like Gumboot Girls and now Dancing in Gumboots make me think? Both are anthologies of memoir vignettes by women who moved to Coastal BC in the 60s and 70s. Their stories are opposite to my choice.

I followed my conventional upbringing until I retired. It was then I followed my heart and moved to live off the grid in Coastal BC.

Dancing in Gumboots: Adventure, Love and Resilience - Women of the Comox Valley (Caitlin Press, 2018), edited by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde, follows in the footsteps of Gumboot Girls.

Dancing in Gumboots shares the lives of 32 women who followed their hearts and dreams in the 70s to Vancouver Island's Comox Valley and the nearby Gulf Islands.
We spent the summer together on the boat, exploring the islands and bays and sailing the straits of Barkley Sound. Brenda Dempsey in "Beyond the Valley"
There is a safe way to be awakened: hook up with another like-minded soul. Josephine Peyton in "Quest for Community"
We gathered oysters, dug for clams and fished. Parksman Pete ran the campground and, from time to time, he'd give us odd jobs to help stretch the dollars. Monika Terfloth in "I Took the Scenic Routes "
Friday was mail day, and all the cabin dwellers came into town for supplies and to get together with friends at the Likely Hotel. Gwen Sproule in "Home is Where the Heart Is"
After every spring season, we set up another camp, this time at the Courtenay Fairgrounds, where we staffed the kitchen for the annual Renaissance Fair. Cara Tilston in "Finding Home"
Many of the youthful arrivals to the Comox Valley have remained in their adopted community. You can read more about these amazing women at their Gumboot Girls Facebook page.

Powell River and Lund also had an influx of adventurous young people during the 60s and 70s. Here are some of their stories.

The Eden Express is a memoir by Mark Vonnegut, the son of famous author Kurt Vonnegut. Mark purchased vacant rural farmland near Powell River that became a haven for people who wanted to get back to the land and live a simple life. It later became Fiddlehead Farm, a hostel for like-minded people.

In The Way Home, Terry Faubert tells her story about coming to Lund, north of Powell River, and building a home for herself and her son. It wasn't easy for a single mom. I was honoured to be asked to help during the editing process of this memoir by a friend from the Powell River Gardening Club.

Adult Child of Hippies was the story of Willow Yamauchi growing up in Lund, a magnet for young people during the hippie and draft dodger movement.  Willow became a CBC Radio producer and interviewed me for about my float garden. The book is full of pictures from that period of time.

The End of the Road was a film recently produced by a Powell River area local Tai Uhlmann about the Lund counter-culture era.

We saw its premier at our local historic Patricia Theatre.

Did you come of age during the 60s and 70s? How did you approach those years? Did you maintain a conventional lifestyle or participate in the counter-culture movement? No matter which you chose, would you have done anything different then or now? -- Margy