They say a cat has 9 lives…thank goodness I weigh more than 20 cats. Here’s part 1 of my series called HOW MANY TIMES I SHOULD HAVE DIED…
Beginning with a bizarre experience as a five year old in which cousin Jeremy (RIP) yelled ‘yelled the deck’ there have been a bizarre amount of close calls with lightning in my life. People ask me about this a lot so I put this one first on the list. With the exception of the few summers I was in Vancouver, and didn’t leave, most years a bolt of lightning has come close to me. Occasionally it has been known to hit the house I am sleeping in.
Sounds funny, I know, cause I think it is. I got jolted goddamned hard sittin in a plastic lawn chair at mom’s house in 1999. That was the one that sent me sliding across the kitchen floor as I burst through the door in a panic after the thunder alone crippled me momentarily. Mom and Tom couldn’t believe it when I blasted through the doors about three seconds after that blast of thunder, they obviously knew it hit right outside the house. Fortunately, once again, I was in the area where the energy collects and not where it directly struck!! Nonetheless it took about three minutes for my breathing and heart rate to calm down so that I could speak the words in between gasps for air, ‘that was fuckin awesome’.
Mom’s house became famous for near lightning strikes. Something funky is in the ground in that part of the Canadian Shield I am sure because it was always certain that there was no place to hide when the big Ontario storms would come in. Many times it hit the power lines across the road. I swear to god I seen it hit the same friggin spot a hundred feet toward the beaver ponds about 8 times in the course of 10 minutes, each time it was so close the hot water tank in the laundry room made a terrifying electrical zolting noise. And I swear to mother earth that Mom and I seen ball lightning one day beneath those giant 225,000W power lines across the road as a storm was coming in.
Seen the hair on my arms stand up one humid day so I ran into Mom’s house and waited for a minute. Then….FLAAAAAASHBOOOOOOMMMM!!! There were actually two close calls that afternoon but the first one was the most exciting. I actually realized, although it seemed sunny, that my hair was standing on end. If I had been less perceptive I would not have ran in the house and I would have once again been dangerously exposed outside when it struck at mom’s house. Lightning can reach 15km or even further, just because the sky was blue directly above us in the forest didn’t mean I wasn’t in danger that day.
You can’t see the trees through the forest at Mom’s, it’s pretty thick there so you just don’t know what’s going on out there in the world of weather unless you walk to the end of the driveway. That’s where the power lines are and more than once I seen crazy lightning strikes within very close proximity there. It was my correct opinion that the grounded towers were probably the safest place to stand near in an electrical storm for obvious reason, it would hit the power lines and not me allowing me to watch the storm come in relatively safely. But to be honest, I was still too chicken shit to stand directly below them but experience showed lightning was more likely to hit the towers than anything else around.
It didn’t take me long to announce my arrival in Wells. That very September, as we were smoking in the quiet outside, a bolt hit the transformer box that feeds our house. FLASH, BAMMM!!!! We were on the ground like a pile of jello cussin and laughing as our ears rang. Luke Stackhouse, Leah and I immediately walked up to the Pub in shock. Chance and Randall instantly asked, ‘yo, did you just see that bolt of lightning by your house?’
‘uh, yeah, that’s why we’re here.’
Hilariously there’s a dozen more stories like this! Got a slight jolt in Quesnel. Had a close one at Karl Mattson’s ranch this summer. It never ends. Bring it on. I know it’s gonna try to come for me again.
The full story doesn’t matter anymore, but it’s true that me and another folk singer you all see me hanging with lots over the years had to spent some time in quarantine. Thankfully the miracle of anti-biotics ended our luxuriously aweful visit to the lung ward cutting it short after a mere couple weeks. Needless to say that took another year of the most ridiculous concoction of super anti-biotics you can dream of and an even longer more regrettable period of not consuming the drink. That was in 2006, I was 45lbs thinnger and sicker than I am today. How did we contract it? No official explanation was ever really given, just happened to us…and goddamn when I see photos from that year I look like I had just escaped death. My collapsed lung eventually came back after the surgeries and I am once again able to breathe fairly well.
Check, check, check, check…what else you got? Even survived hypothermia, or at least on three occasions I realized what was happening and took measures before it worsened. Luckily some Air Cadet training and an understanding of hypothermia made it easy to overcome. My cousin Jeremy died from hypothermia so that put a good lesson into my head.
Hitch hiking there were several times I felt at risk from exposure to both heat and cold. On one January occasion near Port Hope Ontario I curled up on the side of the road to warm up. Nobody stopped to check on me but some Samaritan called an Ambulance who eventually told me the police would come and get me because they wouldn’t take me. I was frozen! Bizarrely a strange man picked me up a minute after the Ambulance left and as he took me north from there I seen the cop car that was coming for me. I had vanished like a ghost on them.
I have actually fallen through ice a number of times though only one of them would I have been in real danger. As I felt the ice go I shoved with my feet, which did bust the ice, but it also sent me sprawling out on my belly preventing my upper body from getting wet. I knew when I got out the key would be to get to mom’s fast, which I did.
Nonetheless, I’ve fought with several snakes. I stepped on a young rattler at the Black River canyon back home, tussled with a couple of those big bad ass Ontario water snakes and once discovered a six foot long black rat snake in mom’s laundry room.
The same place I stepped on that little rattler I had the misfortune of going over the waterfalls after a heroic rescue of my very naive townie friend. No names will be mentioned it doesn’t matter anymore to me cause Mom seen the whole thing…she seen me drag his 14 year old ass out of the rapid and get sucked over the falls in the process. It only be 15 or 20 feet there at what was Barebum Beach (see North of Number 7 song) but it was a fuckin violent experience that could easily have resulted in my head being smashed to peices.
But there are bigger waterfalls. When I arrived in Niagara Falls at midnight back in 1998 dehydrated and crazy from sun exposure I became engaged in a mental battle with myself to not jump into the falls. I don’t think I was particularly suicidal that week, the water just looked so refreshing that I had to do it. Once I realized I was on the verge of killing myself I stepped back and walked away. I slept in the park that night and was awakened by a lawn mower driving by.
Join me next time for part 2 of this series How Many Times Should I Have Died? I’m just gettin started here…