Heart of the Wild

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.

The winter view from our second floor studio at Tigh-Na-Mara near Parksville on Vancouver Island, B.C.


After a long walk through the forest, we are greeted by the ocean at Rathtrevor Beach not far from Tigh-Na-Mara.

This fallen cedar in Rathtrevor Park looks like an ancient geode, it may have fallen during a recent windstorm.

On our last day, we were treated to at least four eagles ( 2 adults and 2 juveniles) feeding in the shallows among the gulls and geese on Rathrevor Beach.

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.



About anotetohuguette

I'm currently blogging from the beautiful West Coast city of Vancouver, British Columbia - a vibrant city by the sea, surrounded by mountains and a very unique urban forest.
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58 Responses to Heart of the Wild

  1. Carol Anne says:

    it sounds like a lot of fun! so glad you enjoyed yourselves. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cindy knoke says:

    Beautiful. I love Vancouver Island.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. calmkate says:

    Sounds like and Dad are more at peace … finding home is so important and totally enjoyed your description ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful place to retreat and relax in Nature. I guess your father must have loved this haven too. A big milestone on your healing journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Shirley Ross says:

    Love this about the Island. Was a paradise for me growing up. Heading up Island near Port Alberni to watch the Steelhead run the river. My first salmon I caught, over 20 pounds, such a thrill. This is where the smell of wood, permeates my being, and I feel the pulsation of life. Your Dad would be so happy to know he is now a part.
    Love Mom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Going to the Island was a beautiful sense of closure…the scent of wood smoke, the tall Douglas firs and the blue of the ocean are imprinted in my DNA…do you remember, Mom, when we were reminiscing about our cabin stay at Oyster River? Sigh…


  6. It sounds like a wonderful retreat Kim and scattering the last of your Dad’s ashes here is a beautiful gift, both for his spirit as well as your own 💜🕊 xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  7. markmkane says:

    Such beautiful pictures Kimberlee. I wish I could’ve been there for the ferry ride, it must’ve been beautiful. Would’ve also liked to have seen that starry sky on that big property. Your post encapsulates all the beauty that this world has to offer us if we just take the time to soak it in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is so much beauty that my thoughts and pen cannot keep up…the ferry ride is stunning as we sail by forested islands beside a pod of wild orcas (if we’re lucky!) with lone eagles taking to the sky…on our way back, two lovely ladies took out their acoustic guitars and sang us home with some gentle folk music! Thank you, Mark…I have one more winter post to publish before spring comes…take care!


  8. Quirky Girl says:

    I traveled to Vancouver Island years ago, when I was in high school. It’s such a beautiful and scenic place, and your photos reminded me of that beauty. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ali Grimshaw says:

    This sounds like a glorious respite. I might have to put this area on my travel bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a beautiful place to leave your father’s ashes, Kim. I think we do “belong” to certain places, that the Earth and we are intimately connected, and our two-way bonds grow stronger with time as we leave traces of ourselves behind. Thank you for taking me on your walk. Perhaps I’ll find myself on Vancouver Island sometime in the next few years. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mackenzie says:

    So lovely.. what a beautiful/awe-inspiring experience. Your writing is mesmerizing as ever… ❤


  12. Oh, Kim…I’m at a loss for words…my heart…you are…such a deep and beautiful soul… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. pjlazos says:

    What vibrant color in the heart of winter!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jade M. Wong says:

    Tigh-Na-Mara sounds so peaceful! I’m a little jealous that you got to walk under a starry sky. Living in the city means I never get to see the stars unless it’s a plane flying overhead, twinkling its lights lol. Your photos are stunning! I love the clear blue sky in the second one. It just looks so heavenly. I’m glad you were able to make this trip to scatter the rest of your father’s ashes as well. I’m sure that meant a lot to you and your family. Wishing you strength and love for the rest of this week 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jade…your beautiful words are a balm…I recently found myself near the forest one evening as I walked my friend to her parked car, when I looked up at the sky, there was a swathe of black velvet just glittering with stars…her car was parked just far enough away from the light pollution and suddenly, I found my own starry sky closer to home!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Miriam says:

    What a very special time Kim. Thanks for sharing your photos and this slice of peace and tranquility with us. I love your writing 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  16. A beautiful journey, it’s no wonder this place has claimed you.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s a beautiful area. May your dad rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Beautiful photos, beautiful language, as usual, Kimberlee!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Don says:

    Beautifully written and such a gift to read. I could feel, smell and taste the place. Wonderful post – thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. It sounds like a place where you would almost have a spiritual experience. The snow makes it extra quiet and peaceful. I don’t know that I ever been anywhere that I felt grounded to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re so blessed to have spaces that ground us…I just had a lovely tea with my neighbour Huguette here in the city and we commented on the energy that we can tap into via gallery or café visits…thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Kathy Lauren says:

    What a beautiful story and an amazing place.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ellie894 says:

    I have a home like that now too…thank you…🌷

    Liked by 1 person

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