The slide just north of Castlegar last month closed Highway 3A for a day and a half. Photo: Betsy Kline

COLUMN: Inspired by a mechanical ballet

Front-row musings from the Highway 3A slide

STEWART SUTHERLAND

Wee Bits and Pieces

Everyday may not be a good day, but there is good in every day.

Here is an example of what happened on one of these days just recently; an act of god! A mudslide changed one road in our neighbourhood forever, in so many different ways. Let me share some with you. My wife called me from work, and told me about the slide that happened about four hour after she passed the area. I went outside and my ears were immediately accosted by engine noise.

I walked across my lawn to look down on the intersection of our road and Highway 3A. I had never seen such an assortment of vehicles travelling from the east, trying to make U-turns in front of the barrier across the highway. The only traffic to and from the west. were medium and large sized front end loaders, bulldozers and loaded dump trucks. Many were turning up our road, heading with their boxes filled with earth from the slide, which had previously never been touched for several million years.

Coming down our driveway, I stopped a few times to imagine this scene with music.

As I proceeded up the street to the dump site, I was passing small groups of neighbours, some of whom I had never seen before, talking on topics like water lines, injuries, property damage, road and rail shutdown. All these of subjects were intermixed with laughter and worrying about, instead of 10 km to town, it would be a 60 km detour. Plans were being formulated to ride together, and to lookout for each other’s concerns.

Wow! Our quiet street has once again become a caring entity. Long may it last. The truck that I followed was now dumping at a neighbour’s property, where they had a great void, begging to be filled.

As I made my way back to my abode, nodding, smiling and chatting to old and new residents, I started to think of some areas on my driveway that could use some fill. Within 10 minutes, I had stopped one of the trucks, and made arrangements with the driver where to place his 14-yard earth package. As one truck left the drop zone, a large loader took it’s place, with the operator offering to push the muck into place. Wth a few deft maneuvers of his mechanical spoon, I was now looking at the foundation of my new ramp. Yee haw!

The trucks kept on hauling way into the night. During this period, my observations aided by my trusty stereo system, was of an unscripted mechanical ballet, the performers – oops the operators – worked so graciously, filling cavities in people’s properties, keeping those who inquired updated with news and progress reports from the slide site.

The movement of this unwanted blockage, to commerce and hundreds of travellers changed, in the short 2 km journey in a dump truck it became a wonderful addition to a few fortunate residents in our ‘hood.

It not only brought topographic change for some, it got people – young and old – out in the street. They were talking not texting and asking how they could help each other. If this only lasts for a day, I am glad that I was there for it. It could be the start of something good. Let’s talk and see where it could go eh!

“Lookout mud slide Road” t shirts and pot luck barbies, etc etc.

Thanks to the participants one and all!!!

Every day may not be a good day, but there is good in every day.

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