“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Our early spring days still feel very winter-like, it’s cold in the mornings and throughout the night, warmer temperatures rising just after lunch. So on the first day of a sunny stretch we find ourselves on the ferry heading once again to Vancouver Island to enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation at Tigh-Na-Mara. Four months since our last sojourn have resulted in a new wrinkle to navigate, ferry delays and cancellations due to staff shortages, a phenomenon currently sweeping the earth but we were lucky – calm waters and a functioning ferry helped us arrive on time!
Day one of our spring break and we’re sitting at a lichen covered weathered picnic table listening to two majestic pine trees, their dark coloured cones beginning to open up underneath the warm sun. Several pine cones already spent, their seeds on journeys we can only imagine, have fallen on green grass hosting daisies and buzzing bees. There is also the sound of birds, a large raven’s black wings as he flies by and the swift flight of an American Kestrel hawk – we are in one of our favourite spots, a peaceful meadow located in Rathtrevor Park.
This trip has brought us some sweet surprises – we have met lots of lovely people and an outdoor picnic on-site spontaneously provided a dinner gift from the resident chef (Eric). The food portions on offer are quite generous and we each had a delicious turkey baguette half to savour from the night before at a picnic table not far from our bungalow nestled in the woods. It sits near a barbecue area facing a group of log built studios and one bedroom units amid a forest of pine and arbutus. The bluebird sky above, sunshine and a lone raven were the perfect companions. When the chef and two team members arrived, we were puzzled – platters of colourful salads and vegetables were carried over to the empty picnic table behind us on a grassy area populated by resting deer at dusk. A picnic basket with a bright red and white checked cloth spilling out added to the romantic tableau while a fellow chef grilled up a bowl of glistening shrimp and a tart lemon with a side of Naan bread.
Worried that we might be in their way we offered to move but all was well, they were setting up for a social media shoot showcasing part of a wedding package on offer – an intimate barbecue that could be enjoyed by the wedding party and guests. As we breathed in the fragrance of gently grilled herbs and lemon, we all got to talking and Tigh-Na-Mara’s marketing staff person asked if she could take a picture of us with Chef Eric for social media, celebrating our long acquaintance with this beautiful resort we’ve been visiting since the 90’s. Chef Eric then announced that dinner would be on him that evening, drinks and all. What an unexpected gesture! That night we feasted on slices of Italian flatbread, a plate of barbecued ribs for Terry while I tucked into some lightly spiced salt and pepper chicken wings accompanied by two large glasses of cold beer. And yes, we were able to dig into another outdoor leftover lunch at our picnic table the next day with a tasty take-out pizza freshly prepared and baked in their large pizza oven. Heavenly…
We haven’t been on the Island in early spring since March 2020 so we were delighted to see the tide way out allowing walks home from the forest on packed sand rather than the narrow rocky strip left when the tide hugs the shoreline. There were small tidal pools to explore, beachcombing and abstract art to admire in the form of bright green and translucent seaweed lying abandoned among hundreds of pieces of driftwood. Human artistic endeavors could be seen too – brightly coloured plastic pails and shovels left strewn on the wet sand amid half-finished sand castles awaiting towers and turrets.
The word reset has been our mantra this week as spring emerges from the grip of winter giving us a chance to dream and plan for the warmer days to come. We leave tomorrow for the mainland and the dangers those warm spring days might bring have already begun – several wildfires are burning in our province as we sit inside our forest bungalow on a rainy day, reading and writing with cups of coffee and tea nearby while flames dance in the fireplace, moved by the beauty outside our windows knowing we cannot hold on too tight.
The beginning of our reset with a resident owl above, a welcome neighbour!
A timely bench at the end of a woodland trail that takes one to the entrance to Rathtrevor Park.
We decided to explore and revisit this delightful vintage general store not far from the park entrance!
After a long walk through the forest we walked home each day via Rathrevor Beach rather than walk up the woodland trail.
After our beach walks home, we were greeted with this beautiful vista each day at Tigh-Na-Mara from the newly built gazebo!
We currently stay in the studio bungalows nestled in the forest, this is the view that lucky condo unit guests get to enjoy each day (there are beautiful snowcapped mountains in the background).