COLUMN: Scavenging, with some extra excitement

Writing a Mother’s Day column last week got me thinking about mom-related stories.

Like most of us, I have quite a few.

Many of those involve the outdoors, as my mother is a great lover of nature, and until fairly recently, a devout walker of mountains.

Together we hiked what must have been hundreds of miles of trails, and thanks to her, I developed my own love of the outback.

Back in her robust days, ma would venture off by herself, exploring new routes, and backpacking up into the hills for days.

And after each jaunt, she’d have stories to tell, and found treasures to show.

As to the latter, I have a memory that causes me to grin each time I recall it. I may even have written about it at some point.

It was perhaps about 20 years ago when, during a visit to her house, mom mentioned that she’d been out walking a new logging road in the Chilliwack Valley, or maybe it was the Harrison area.

In any event, it was an interesting little jaunt, and one which yielded a useful find.

And what might that be, I asked.

Well, she said she had found a really long piece of very good string.

She hadn’t ever seen anything like it, she said. It was orange, and had a coating on it, probably to make it weather-proof.

Which was perfect, because she was going to use it to tie up her raspberry plants, she said. Or maybe it could make a good clothesline.

Something began to niggle at the back of my mind.

I asked to see this weatherproof rope.

Sure, she said, leading the way into the carport.

And there it was – maybe 100 feet or so of orange cord.

Now, the road of life to that point had taken me through various adventures and jobs, one of them being an underground miner for awhile in the Rockies. We were drilling and blasting our way under a mountain as part of a quarry development. So, I learned all about various types of explosives, and how to use them.

Among our repertoire of stuff that went ‘boom’ was detonating cord – plastic-covered yarn containing high explosive, used to set off a series of charges.

You know where I’m going with this…

Yup, what mom had picked up, carefully coiled together, packed down a mountain, and put in her garage, was essentially a long, thin bomb.

The guys building that new logging road had been blasting, and carelessly left a long length of det cord lying around.

Now, this stuff is not particularly sensitive to low-velocity impact. It requires a blasting cap to cook it off.

However, had mom actually got around to stringing up her raspberries with her handy-dandy det cord, and say for instance, had lightning hit it … well, instant jam!

Or better yet, had Dad’s briefs been clipped to ma’s new “clothesline,” and it went off, those undies would’ve been in orbit!

I’m betting he would’ve had something to say about that…

Thankfully, those plans never got to the implementation stage.

I relieved mom of her interesting find, and handed it over to the explosive ordnance disposal lads at the Chilliwack military base, who were highly skeptical that I actually had what I claimed to have.

They got serious when I showed them.

“You say your mother found this on a mountain, and carried it home?!”

Yes sir.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well.

Mom stopped scavenging orange cord, and I got a great story to tell.

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