The Abandoned Old Auberge

Not even that old really. 25 years?  The whole thing’s been defunct for at least 5.  The ghosts of failed winemakers haunt it.  But it’s probably the greatest place to get free rosemary in town and there isn’t even a town around here.  Those green bushes there.

Grandiose schemes.  We’ve seen it before.  As I think Wolverton said, “They made a wasteland and called it bankruptcy”.  I may be misquoting.  This patch of ground could never make enough wine to make the place profitable.  Some say that was the plan. Rumours.

Intruder In The Dust

Those are all vines stretching way back there up the hill and the vineyard goes as far in the other direction all the way down to Thompson Park, as it’s called these days.  The whole thing used to be just one big cattle pasture.  Indeed.  Je me souviens.

The grapes still grow on the vines year after year but they just hang out turning into raisins in the sun.  Nobody tends them.  Pinot noir mostly.  I think they grew some riesling down here too.  The machinery’s all just sitting around in the yard getting old.

It’s not a wasteland of course.  It’s a fine, beautiful quiet place and there is nobody around. Comes complete with 5000 square foot winemaking building in aluminum and steel, just sitting here like everything else.  You can drive down on a narrow, steep, slightly hairy piece of road that was built to get to the winery.  Before that, yes, in the old days, in former times, you had to take the trail down here or come in by water via the beach.

It’s the poetry of abandoned places.  The call of ruins.  The Auberge could be fixed up.  It needs paint and some of the siding’s falling off but it still has potential, but potential for what?  There’s nobody around.

I know.  An artist’s colony.  First ten million bucks takes, or whatever you got.  Get a bunch of artists down here being creative and getting drunk and arguing and fornicating and burning the place down and maybe producing some art, maybe not.  Great idea.

At one time you could get a glass of wine and something to eat at the Auberge but not any more.  The chairs are long since stacked and there’s been nobody behind that bar in many moons.  Sayonara.


Our net admin lit up the board earlier with the site has passed 100,000 subscribers, many of them living, breathing human beings who aren’t afraid of digging down.  You just never know what you’re going to find.  This is huge.  I’m starting to finally believe that people are finally starting to realize what I’ve been saying all along: I didn’t quit.  I was fired.  Thank u. It felt good, Mike.

That’s right.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

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The Original Pine On The Kauri Pass

Circa 1930s.  Frank Smythe.  He was a  Britisher born in 1900.  He did a lot of climbing and stumping around in the Himalayas and this old tree held talismanic significance for him.  I felt that significant.  You never know where your ideas are going to come from.  It’s not the thing but what you invest into it.  Frank Smythe was a prolific writer too, a very good writer and some of his books were bestsellers in their time.  I read a couple of them in my wild days of armchair mountaineering.  Some things stay with you and you don’t even know why exactly. Exoticism.  Romanticism.  Talismans.  To the locals, such as there were, it was just some old tree.  Northern India.  Way up there.  The tree isn’t around these days but the mountains and valleys and passes are the same.  The glaciers have shrunk a little.

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The Pine On The Kauri Pass


“The trouble with literature today everybody wants to write it, nobody wants to read it.”

So yes, we’re on the sunny side of the street out here. Very well situated. I don’t know what else to tell you.

“The terrible wound that had opened up in his side and he didn’t know if he was going to make it. He was looking down at the blood running out of him. His mind was still working so he knew he wasn’t actually dead. It had slowed down a bit, this blood. He put his hand on the gaping wound. The blood was coming through the fingers of his hand but only sort of seeping through.  Everything was going to be all right.”

The air is refreshingly cool in the sun. Temperate. Beautiful afternoon. I said that. Back here at the Coastwatchers pub I’ve ordered a bier and a splash of Suntory “Toki” Japanese whisky. Toki = Time. It’s good. Like the Japanese it’s subtle with a great attention to detail.

“Not sure why we’re not connected.”

February 24, 2017. 4:32 pm. The day a continuation of yesterday. Weather-wise entirely acceptable to bolster my theory February is beautiful here.

I think part of what happened is I went a “Toki” too far and discovered another feature, or tasting note, that this is a fairly powerful drink masked by the Japanese passion for delicacy and self-effacement.

“Toki” is a fine, deep yellow and the Japanese passion for degeneracy is nicely masked by a mild, almost innocuous-seeming smoothness. I had two shots and they weren’t overly generous although adequate, and I was already into the Japanese stagger. I don’t much like staggering.  It leaves you with a certain feeling of inadequacy.”


We drove in to the store for pudding because we’re out of dessert. And being out of dessert is like being lost in the desert. Where no dessert is.

Maybe something of an experience once if you survive it. But why take that chance when you don’t have to? Side trip down to the defunct winery to get some rosemary from the abundant bushes around the abandoned Auberge. They called it “The Bistro” and they’re all gone. I like “Auberge”. We can’t remember if the place is for sale or not, the bistro and all those vines planted, what is it, twenty years ago? “Saturna Winery”. They tried they failed.

February 25, 2017. 3:53 pm. It’s been looking like a bit of rain most of the day but the rain hasn’t happened. It’s very quiet here, that’s for sure. 5:19 pm. Time is not my friend, but “Toki” is. Dusk and the wind’s come up a bit.   Just listening to some Schubert lieder. Guy’s famous in these islands.

February 26, 2017. 10:32 am. Up an hour ago after a much better night. Yes, that’s quite right. Feel almost normal. Rained a long time last night and sure, it was kinda nice hearing the rain on the roof.  Raindrops. Pretty little raindrops. Fallin from my eyes.

6:12 pm. Forgot what I was going to say. That’s when you know you’re in “Toki” time again, the time capsule, the fine Japanese whisky. The bottle is going down and you’re going up. Up to the Toki stratosphere and, here again, you’re liking the time you spend with this inscrutable Asian concoction. “Toki” at your retailers now.

Snow season.  1:57 pm. Still coming down. We go out to have a look at Cliffside Road and meet a neighbour and her dog. They’re from down the road at 116. We agree getting in the car and trying to get to the store isn’t a good idea. She said she’d planned to hit the store too. So we continue ixnayed.


It’s 2:00 pm and it’s coming down now in bigger flakes again. Alright already. We’re talking “Snow Falling on Cedars” here. Did I see the movie? Definitely never read the book. Cute chestnut chickadees at the suet feeder outside the window here. And a hummingbird in a snowstorm at the hummingbird feeder.  Things are really kicking into gear around here. But we’re also stuck.

4:44 pm. These times are real, and time is real. I can feel it.

“If we do that we’ll never get to the bottom of the mysterious island. And that would be too bad. Our brethren couldn’t hack it. They’re here for a reason. They just don’t know what that reason is. And they want to find out. That’s your island right there. So let’s move on from this esoteric stuff and have another discussion about all this weather. Oh, this darned snow.”

5:24 pm. “Who will speak for the fossils? What about them? Don’t they have rights? A fossil in the ground, just because it’s been there for many millions of years, doesn’t make it right. We have to stand up for the fossils because they can’t stand up for themselves. Who is with me on our campaign of hope?”

February 28. 5:05 pm.  We’re getting through time and we’re getting through “Toki”. It’s been good. There’s hardly any left. I’ve enjoyed my week with time. There are but a few desultory sips left in the squared off rectangular glass bottle with the short neck and black plastic screw-top cap. What the Japanese mean by that I’m not sure. It’s different. And I like things that are different.  First it’s ironic then it’s iconic.

“And then, at last, you come to the end of time. You look up and there it is. No mas. It’s been a bloody knuckle fight but it’s over. And we’ve both gained confidence. Or maybe it’s just me.”


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