Column: Put the Right Name On It

A book on writing I once read said to use specific words. Name things. Be precise.

I threw my pencil down.

I knew the names of banksias and scribblybarks, wallabies and lorikeets. I couldn’t name anything here with precision, unless I’d seen it first in a Disney cartoon. (“Oh! That’s a chipmunk.”)

Stewardship Pemberton founding member Dawn Johnson has been writing up blog posts about the trees and forest orchids coming into flower for the Wellness Almanac. As I post each one, I add to my own vocabulary: Cottonwood. Dogwood. Salmonberry. Fairyslipper. Chocolate lily. (One day, I’ll get the Latin down, too.)

Dawn also recommended that I pursue John Tschopp and ask to be added to his mailing list. Now, I get photographs of birds in my inbox whenever he captures a good shot.

When I was 20 I thought such interests to be the provenance of old people. So one of two things has happened: either I have become said old person, or I’ve realised that being able to name things – the northern flicker, the calypso orchid, the wandering garter snake, my server at Mile One Eating House – brings me into more meaningful communion with my backyard.

It’s also why I want to know the Lil’wat word for things. Qwalimuk – the Birkenhead River. Ts’zil – Mt Currie. Names that, if I can learn to pronounce properly in Ucwalmicwts, will bring me into an even closer relationship with this place.

As much as it made me want to snap my crayons, I believe in the power of naming things.

It’s why I was so pleased to hear that Pemberton Airport Park is to be renamed in honour of Rudy Rozsypalek.

Nothing is lost by ditching “Pemberton Airport Park.” But a lot is to be gained by remembering Rudy in this small way.

“Pilots love airports in general,” says Tracey Rozsypalek, Rudy’s wife, “but the Pemberton Airport for Rudy was something very special.”

Rudy had been gliding since he was 14. In spring of 1990, a year after he fled from communist Czechoslovakia, age 26, with a few words of English and US$5 to his name, he was hiking up to Joffre Lake. He caught a glimpse of the Pemberton air-strip and thought ‘that would be a nice place to fly.’

Four years later, he bought a glider and a towplane and he and Tracey started Pemberton Soaring.

“Rudy’s dream of a flying business came true at the Pemberton airport,” says Tracey. “We lived for 11 years at the airport. Rudy would have loved to move back to the airport. We started a family at the airport, we got married at the airport park, had countless bonfires with friends and many many good times at the airport. Our kids’ birthday parties were at the Pemberton Airport Park.”

After the Pemberton Flying Club and paragliding community asked the Village of Pemberton to dedicate the park to Rudy, Tracey and their sons, Troy and Thomas, began meeting with Village staff to create a vision for the park, which includes a fire pit, built in BBQ, irrigation, and playground designed by Playground Builders that incorporates a replica of an L-23 Blanik glider. “We flew Blanik’s from the start of our business,” says Tracey, “from 1993 to 2012. These gliders were built in the Czech Republic in a factory right behind Rudy’s hometown.”

On Saturday, June 7, from 2pm-8pm, the Rudy Rozsypalek Memorial Park Fundraiser will take place at the Airport Park. Rain or shine. The funds raised will help bring the Rozsypaleks’ vision for the community park to fruition.

Tickets, $15 or $40 per family, are available at RONA, the Community Centre, The Log House B&B and Village of Pemberton office, and include a BBQ, silent and live auction, 50/50 and entertainment from Suzanne Wilson and Katherine Fawcett and Whistler’s Poor Dirty Sylvia.

It’s a beautiful way to acknowledge a man who left his mark. And the exact right name to put on it.


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