wer.i.fest.eria (V) To wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery.
On a long forgotten winding bus route from downtown out to the bay to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island, we were greeted by vistas of darkest green and sapphire blue. The first snowfall of the season had laid its mantle down upon the mountains, leaving behind shimmering white underneath bright sunshine making this mid-winter break something to look forward to. Our trips to the Island and our favourite retreat, Tigh-Na-Mara, are usually taken in early spring – even with a light dusting of snow, it was worth taking a chance on the weather to chase the sun!
Tigh-Na-Mara, Gaelic for ” House by the Sea”, evolved from a single tent becoming what is now a 22 acre property nestled among Douglas fir, cedar and arbutus forest perched above three kilometres of beautiful beach with panoramic views of the Strait of Georgia. We’ve been visiting this peaceful spot since the ’90’s and it never fails to chase away the noise and grit of city living. On our first night, we walked underneath a starry sky after a leisurely evening meal in the lounge, the fallen snow telling us stories as our breath fanned the darkness – hoof prints bounding across the ditch alongside winter boot prints and hardy bicycle tire prints, the mystery of it all distracting us from the falling temperature. It was lovely to return to our treehouse studio, to tame the primal forces awakened by the bracing cold and retire before a lit fire.
We were delighted the next day to find seats at the famous local bistro called Taste just down the road, our plan being, to fortify ourselves with a tasty lunch for an invigorating walk through Rathtrevor Park and onto the beach, a loop we discovered that allows us to wander through a variety of enchanting trails in search of wildlife. Just as we began our walk to the main trail, I saw a beautiful deer nibbling on fallen fir branches by the side of the road, pausing for a moment to watch her delicately eating the bright green new growth. As we continued our walk through a winter wonderland, we were greeted by the happy sounds of woodpeckers feeding on unwary insects on the tall trees all around and more wild rabbits than we’ve ever seen on previous visits. The next two days were filled with more lovely walks, good food, and an unexpected musical documentary caught on television while tucked into our studio with views of the snow-dusted forest – a documentary on the birth of American music tracing the path of the blues we’re familiar with today back to when Native Americans wanting to escape being forced onto reservations found their way to New Orleans to hide in plain sight among the people there, infusing the new music being born with their haunting calls and drumbeats on the guitars they played, as drums were outlawed at that time, thought to be symbols of resistance and revolution. As the snow softly fell, we were mesmerized by this story, knowing that a veil was being lifted and we would never hear the blues again in quite the same way.
This is why we cross the strait, it is here, in the heart of the wild, where we can find ourselves and once again, be forever changed by our time wandering through the forest in search of mystery.
It’s funny, one can grow up knowing they were born in a particular place, a name that finds itself on birth certificates and passports but until the land claims you, they are just words. On this trip, as I carried the last of my father’s ashes to be scattered, I suddenly and viscerally felt connected to this place, blood to blood, Vancouver Island, knowing that I was home, no matter what.