May 26, 2015

Lucky find in the wilderness

WHILE SEACHING for my car keys in a little-used kitchen drawer the other day I came upon my old Leatherman. I welcomed it with a yelp of joy. I didn’t question why it had been hiding there in the dark for the past year, I was just happy to have it back in its little pouch on my belt. It has always been my sailing knife and I always feel naked without it.

Of course, it’s more than a knife. For those who are not familiar with the Leatherman, I should explain that it is a multi-tool after the fashion of the Swiss Army knife, and equally able to open a bottle of wine or a can of beer.

However, to compare it with the Swiss Army knife is a little misleading. The Swiss Army knife is a rather pale and flat-chested multi-tool. Admittedly, it is aesthetically pleasing, very fashionable, and much in vogue among the eager young bankers of Zurich. But in fact it is fit only to free a stubborn paper clip from a wad of euro bills.

A Leatherman on the other hand, is a master mariner of an implement, a rugged seaman’s tool of solid stainless steel whose main feature is a cunning pair of articulated pliers, macho enough to extract  giant hooks from sharks’ mouths.

I found this one near an ancient Native American midden on a beautiful sandy beach in the shadow of the foreboding Brooks Peninsula on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, a true wilderness area. There are no roads on this great rugged slab of mountainous land poking out into the Pacific Ocean, so the Leatherman must have got there by sea, probably accidentally dropped by another yachtsman.

My wife and I had sailed our Cape Dory 25D into a gorgeous little natural harbor called Columbia Cove. We dinghied ashore and found a faint trail leading through the woods, banging big stones together occasionally to warn the cougars and bears of our presence and hoping that they weren’t hungry, hoping that they would be repelled, rather than attracted.

The trail ended at one of the prettiest beaches in the whole of the Pacific Northwest, and there we sat in pristine surroundings, eating our sandwiches and thinking about the Indians who gathered and ate their seafood there in ancient times.

Just as we were leaving, something glinted in the sunlight at the edge of a midden covered in long grass. It was the Leatherman.  We accepted it as legal treasure.  I don’t know who it belongs to, and I’m not giving it back in any case. The statute of limitations has run out. It’s mine, I tell you, mine, all mine, by right of possession. And I wouldn’t swop it for the best Swiss Army knife in the world.

 Today’s Thought

The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever seen that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Not much of a weapon there. Corkscrews. Bottle openers. ‘Come on, buddy, let’s go. You get past me, the guy in the back of me, he’s got a spoon. Back off, I’ve got the toe clippers right here.’

—Jerry Seinfeld


A travelling salesman was held up when heavy rains flooded Interstate 5 south of Seattle.

“It looks just like the Great Flood,” he said to the motel receptionist.

“The great what?”

“The great flood. You know . . . when Noah saved all the animals . . . you must have read about it?”
“Gee, no, I haven’t read about it. On account of all this rain we haven’t seen a Seattle Times for three days now.”


Anonymous said...

"Pacific Northwest"? Be careful you don’t get lost. More like "Pacific Northeast" (northwest would be Japan). Here in Canada -- Brooks Peninsula IS in (southwest) Canada -- "Native Americans" are "First Nations" or "First Peoples". "Columbia Cove" is known locally as "Peddlar's Cove". Now, if a local who lost their Leatherman there contacts you....

Vancouver, BC

Anonymous said...

I believe "Pacific Northwest" is used to describe the new northwestern part of the USA, as opposed to the original Northwest, the area of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Hence Northwestern University near Chicago.

Also, Japan would be the Northwest Pacific, rather than the Pacific Northwest, unless one chooses to place a clever comma, as in "Pacific, Northwest." Then one is getting encyclopedic, and no one wants that, right?

--Anacortes, WA

jrraines said...