Tribune Staff Writer
LARRY LOVERING — March 9, 1933 — November 14, 2004.
Larry Lovering was the older one among us in those days.
In the 1970s when most of us were still in our 20s, and a few still in our teens, Larry was an old man in his 40s.
The 70s was the decade that herded many of us from the cities into the countryside, back to the land, back to nature, into the wilder reaches of the country. We were pursuing the dreams and visions of our youth.
Larry was 41 or 42 when I met him in the deep snow on a narrow path in the Klinaklini Valley. He was on horseback, his greying beard wild against the backdrop of jackpine trees and sky. He sat in the saddle fiercely, almost angry. I, after all was the stranger, the newcomer, and he the seasoned Chilcotin resident who had been living there in Kleena Kleene for a year almost.
I stood below on the ground in snowshoes trying to navigate the deep pock marks the horses punched through the metre deep blanket of snow. Little did I realize that my snowshoes were obliterating the packed trail the horses had developed. It was a clash of cultures, which might explain Larry’s anger.
That was our first meeting and my initial impression of Lawrence Lovering, born March 9, 1933 in Thunder Bay Ontario. Ex-Korean War sailor, artist, homesteader, father of a newborn son at Little Big Stick Meadow, passionate adventurer, welder, fabricator, insatiable house builder, friend.
I should add impassioned lover to that list. I saw Larry move in and out of intense, passionate relationships over the years. Sometimes he loved unwisely, but then don’t we all. Sometimes his dreams and hopes with the opposite sex didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hades of going anywhere. But I think his theory was better to have loved a little than never to have loved at all.
Our paths entwined, almost star-crossed over the years, convoluting in and out of each other’s worlds over the three decades of our friendship.
When I met Larry he was married to Jos at Little Big Stick Meadow and was building the first of many elaborate structures his friends witnessed him construct over the years.
Not content with a simple log cabin, his log behemoth had 16 sides and took forever to build.
Jos and Larry were pregnant at the time with their son Ari Jay, named so because he was born in the spring during the astrological period of Aries. Larry was proud he midwifed Ari Jay’s birth, and I visited them many times at their palace on Little Big Stick.
When Jos and Larry parted company, Larry moved to nearby Porcupine Meadow so he could be close to his son.
It must have been in these years that Larry began his line drawing creations of classic Chilcotin scenes. Like a lot of artists his drawings have outlived the original buildings and scenes he was depicting. His Kleena Kleene Early Morning depiction of Peter and Ginger’s house at Hidden Valley Ranch that later burned down comes to mind. Or a drawing I asked him to do of cowboy camp cabins at Riske Creek, he titled Chilcotin’s Gate, are now just a memory in the ramshackle of time.
Who can forget Larry’s wonderful four-story tower addition to his cabin at 150 Mile. His years on fire lookout towers in the Chilcotin or in the Hazelton area must have got him used to a view. To the end he remained determined to find that place in the sun. When he set up shop at McClinchy Creek, up went the tower again.
In recent years Larry slowed down his penchant for building. At least the tower at McClinchy never got any higher. That was a good sign.
One would be remiss not to mention that Larry had a spiritual side. His drawings of the old church at Iskut show passion for something beyond the grave.
In the last three or four years Larry formalized his spirituality by getting baptized and becoming an avowed Christian.
He says it made a difference. I was there at Cochin Lake when Pastor Milton Rutherford dunked him in the drink, and Larry hollered with joy and exhilaration as only Larry could do.
I’m proud to say I knew Larry as a brother and a dear friend.
My only regret is not stopping by more often to visit at that ramshackle place he called home over the last few years.
There were always reasons to be in a hurry. But life’s too short for that.
A highlight of Larry’s life was the recent rejoining and reconnecting with his children. Stepson David, daughter Susan, and son Ari Jay.
This satisfaction is reflected in one of Larry’s latest journal entries, November 6, 2004, a week before he died.
“Were I to die right now it would be a pity, but I’d die happy.”
It is indeed a pity Larry had to leave us so soon. But what a joy to have known him.