The pacifist Catholic monk Thomas Merton was prophetic in speaking about The Price of Rain…

Let me say this before rain becomes a utility that they can plan and distribute for money. By “they” I mean the people who cannot understand that rain is a festival, who do not appreciate its gratuity, who think that what has no price has no value, that what cannot be sold is not real, so that the only way to make something actual is to place it on the market. The time will come when they will sell you even your rain. At the moment, it is still free, and I am in it. I celebrate its gratuity and its meaninglessness.

from Raids on the Unspeakable, 1966


Here at the cabin, the sunny days of summer days are gone. Grey skies and fall rains have returned and our hydro electric system has replaced our solar panels in providing most of our energy needs. Here is the intake flume on a normal autumn day.

hydro screen operational running 79 gpm thru a 145 mm nozzle - creates 1.24 KILOWATTS of  POWER - Bruce Witze

When I awoke yesterday morning, Environment Canada was giving a severe rainfall warning. Its epicentre was forecast to be my local small town.  A “Hard Rains a Gonna Fall”, to borrow from Dylan….


Yes indeed…


Flume for penstock - Full rain Oct.20, 2014 - Bruce Witzel photo


Penstock trail - Bruce Witzel photo

The plan was for me to head over by ferry from Vancouver Island to the city of Vancouver, located on the mainland. Francis has been there with the grandkids for the past few weeks.


Travelling was questionable as you can see from these photos…


The stream is flooding the road on October 19, 2014 - Bruce Wtizel photo


The rains did subside. This morning I managed to make it out of the woods.


I’m now on the way to the metropolis for a few days – then a week long vacation to enjoy the fall colours.



Fall colour in Washington State - bruce witzel photo


Talking about liquid sunshine, I’ve been reading about the basic human right to water in a book written by Vandana Shiva, a world renowned physicist  and environmental activist. Her work brings attention to genetic food engineering, cultural theft, and natural resource privatization which she links to rising fundamentalism, violence against women, and planetary death.

Vandana will be speaking about Earth Democracy on October 28th at the University of Regina, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation.


vadana shiva quote - source unkown

Here she writes about the corporatization of water:

The erosion of the power of the nation-state concentrates power in the hands of corporations. It does not devolve power to the people; it does not move power downward into the hands of the local community. It removes power from the local level and transforms institutions of the state from being protectors of the health and rights of people to protectors of the property sand profits of corporations.  This creates a state more committed to protection of foreign investments than the protection of its citizens…

As we saw in Bolivia, the theft of common resources through the privatization of water, for example, is condoned; collecting rainwater was forbidden (emphasis mine). Options for survival may only lie outside the law.

pg.87  Earth Democracy – Justice, Sustainability and Peace by Vandana Shiva


A view from our deck on a star filled nigh in September, 2104 - bruce witzel photo

For more on Water Justice you can visit the Blue Planet Project, is a global initiative by the Council of Canadians working with partners around the world. to achieve water justice based on the principles that water is a human right, a public trust, and part of the global commons.


In Peace and Solidarity


(ah, those sunny days)


view-of-the-cabin-guenette-photo -  Francis Guenette photo

In Footsteps of Thoreau

Our old boardwalk - Bruce Witzel photo

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it has to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, since living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

Henry David Thoreau

View of Northern Vancouver Island - Bruce Witzel photo

Giving thanks from the West Coast of Canada



Yellowstone River - Bruce Witzel photo

“This most excellent canopy, the air. . . this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof. . .”

William Shakespeare


“There has never been a time, in any society in any part of the world, without its sages and teachers to challenge materialism and plead for a different order of priorities… Today, however, this message reaches us not solely from the sages and saints but from the actual course of physical events…”   

E.F. Schumacher


Bruce at the Nestucca Oilspill in 1988 Vancouver Island BC



Solar Panels


“The United States has the world’s mightiest economy and most mobile society. Yet the oil that fueled its strength is its greatest weakness.”     

Amory Lovins


3PipelinesMap source - Zoltan Grossman


“The present consumer society is like a drug addict who, no matter how miserable he may feel, finds it extremely difficult to get off the hook. The problem children of the world – from this point of view and in spite of many other considerations that could be adduced – are the rich societies and not the poor.”  

E.F. Schumacher

  Downtown Calgary, Alberta - Bruce Witzel photo





A_New_Harvest,_with_Wendell_Berry,_Henry_County,_KY,_2011_-_photograph_by_Guy_Mendes photo credit – Guy Mendes

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We’ve been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us.”    

Wendell Berry


Wind turbine, Solar Eectricty, Solar Hot Water and Passive Solar Home - by Bruce Witzel


In Solidarity with the United Nations Climate Summit – September 23, 2014



A Funny Harvest Story

bruce thomas witzel:

Wow – it’s been 5 weeks since I created a post. I assure you I’m alive and well, although busy with family, home and carpentry obligations. My apologies for not being so attentive to the blog-o-sphere over the summer. I do enjoy connecting with you all, such a diverse and interesting cross section of humanity. In this re-blog, I give you a glimpse of another reliable alternative energy source, the best under the sun – my wife and partner Francis. Here she has a wonderfully funny harvest story, bears and children included. Oh – if you get a chance please check out her two e-novels of “The Crater Lake Series” (on the right side bar). It’s on location at the lake we live on (sort of). I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! Peace and good cheer to all of you . . . Bruce.

Originally posted on disappearinginplainsight:

Mama bear and cubs - Guenette photo

I’ve written before about bears roaming freely along the paths around our cabin. We generally see the first of our visitors sometime in April and then, depending on the year (and I imagine this has to do with a complex number of factors) we may see them wandering around right through early October. Usually visitations increase in late August and September when the salal berries are at their best. The pictures (above and just below) were our 2011 visitors. These little guys were hilarious. They got up in that tree a few times.

Cubs - Bruce Witzel photo

This year we were absolutely bear free. Not one sighting, not one speck of bear evidence to be found. So, wouldn’t you know it . . . the day before my daughter and granddaughters were to arrive, in the third week of August, I found a small pile of bear scat on one of the trails right…

View original 591 more words



Red Squirrel - Charles Brandt photo


Cougar  @ hermitage June 8, 2010 Charles Brandt photo


You and I, when the mind is still

see that the mountains

and the seas,


Comox Glacier - Charles Brandt photo


Gulls feeding on Herring spawn- Charles Brandt photo 


the forests and the rivers,


Charles Brandt photo original


 Salmon run, summer 2014 - Charles Brandt photo


tsolum river under a bright blue sky - by Charles Brandt] 


the animals and the birds,


Twins @ the Hermitage June 11. 2014 - Charles Brandt photo



Black Bear @ the Hermitage, Black Creek - Charles Brandt photo



Dunlins - Charles Brandt photo


 Dunlins Feeding at OysterBay, BC - by Charles A.E. Brandt


 Dunlins 2 - Charles Brandt photo


the trees and the plants,


Dogwood at Northy Lake - May 17 - photo by Charles Brandt


Skunk Cabbage - May 2 2014 Charles Brandt photo 


Hardhock - Charles Brandt photo


all nations, all races, all men and women and children,

are one.


Saskatoon, Saslatchewan - Bruce Witzel photo


United States Mexico Border - Bruce Witzel photo


Montreal at sunrise - Bruce Witzel photo



Headwaters of the Missouri - 3 forks, Montana - Bruce witzel photo


Once you see this in the silence of your heart,

you will never be the same person again.



Mt. St. Helen's - Bruce Witzel photo 


You will return from this summit of spiritual awareness full of practical wisdom,

passionate love, and untiring energy

which you will want to use for the benefit of all.


TrumpeterSwans - Charles Brandt photo


Photos by Charles Brandt and Bruce Witzel

Text by Eknath Easwaran




Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.56.20 AM


The person who binds herself to Joy

Doth the winged life destroy:

But the person who kisses the Joy as it flies

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.


William Blake


This post was largely written soaking up the morning sunshine. It’s evening now, and not so different than a few nights ago when Francis and I experienced this full moon.

Moonlight on the Lake 15 - Bruce Witzel photo


While camping out or spending a night in the countryside, have you ever noticed how well you can see by the light of that silvery moon? It’s really just a celestial solar powered light bulb.  An effective solar reflector indeed.

Moonlight at the Lake - Bruce Witzel photo


Although moonlight is best unadulterated, we added some extra illumination for effect. . . 

Moonlight on the Lake! - Bruce Witzel photo


Listen to cosmologist Brian Swimme:

One of the gifts of science is in understanding that life exists by drawing in the sun; one of the gifts of science is to realize that what is surging through us in every moment of our life, with every breath we take, is the sun. So in a real sense the human is the human form of a solar flare. It is surging into the life of the Earth, and in all beings, in the fish, in the mammals, and in the human we have another form of the energy that first was captured by the early photosynthetic organisms. We are the sun in a new form.


Wow – I guess that’s why people called me sunny when I was a kid. . .

Mom and Bruce - 1960 photo by my Aunt Edith Fisher 

Fifty three years onwards, modern civilization now begins our long awaited embrace of the sun.

Solar power is one of the fastest growing energy sectors on the planet, growing exponentially as it becomes more economical. Compare this to fossil fuels with its dwindling supply and rising expense. Completing the equation is the incredible un-accounted costs of climate change. . .

Meanwhile, the average US taxpayer pays almost 100 times as much in subsidies for fossil fuels than for solar energy. 

Lets not be fooled.  Our whole lives and economy are based upon reliable sources of energy. Up until recently that’s been oil, but now the sun is setting – once and for all on hydro carbons.

Montreal industry along the St. Laurence River - Bruce Witzel photo


Picture this editorial cartoon, which I can’t reproduce due to copyright issues.

An executive sits behind a desk with a Big Oil nameplate, and the man says:

You want Coal? We own the mines.
You want oil and gas? We own the wells.
You want nuclear energy? We own the uranium.
You want solar power? We own the er..ah..
Solar power isn’t feasible.


Ya right. . .  Am I imagining things? 

Like this chicken – or maybe it’s an egg. Fran cooked one in the Sun Oven the other day.


Solar cooked Chicken - Francis Gunette



Cabin's solar array and solar hot water system

What about our solar electric array?

Do the windows  help passively solar heat our home? Well today they didn’t because it was hot outside so we opened the windows and created a cooling cross ventilation.


Solway Water heater , circa 1985 - Bruce Witzel photo

Look at this black tank behind glass. We have been using this solar batch heater since 1986. It was 2 years old then. That’s 30 years of hot water. Solar energy isn’t feasible, eh?


Here’s some facts from Wikipedia :

The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules per year. In 2002, this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year. . . The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.


Considering this, Stanford University professor Mark Jacobsen came up with a scenario for California to be completely independent of fossil fuels or nuclear energy by the year 2050. . .

 University of Stanford - Professor Mark Jacobson


Amazing. eh?

Lets do it.


Moonlight on the Lake - Bruce Witzel photo (2)


In this world of so much strife, danger and cynicism, let’s remember not to be blind or ignorant. The world is also filled with goodness, creativity, and love.

As you can see, even from this moonlit reflection –  The Solar Age is Dawning.


Arundhati Roy puts it this way. . .

Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.


Photo by daniel hui of Himin solar

Photo by Daniel Hui

Peace to all ~









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