“If you’re John Muir you want trees to live among. If you’re Emily, a garden will do. Try to find the right place for yourself. If you can’t find it, at least dream of it.” – Mary Oliver, Felicity
Tomorrow, we leave for the Island (Vancouver Island) to savour what we all hope will be the last days of a summer that has lingered long into October. A wet spring delayed fire season this year, its appearance now leaving us with smoky skies, eerie red moons and rosy sunsets,
Hopping on transit and eventually walking on to the ferry at Horseshoe Bay went smoothly and we eagerly looked forward to disembarking on the other side. We enjoyed a delicious salmon burger on board sharing a fresh green salad and a side of tasty French fries. The sun continued to shine strong despite smoke drifting over from Vancouver and up from Seattle (Washington) – as we neared the city of Nanaimo at Departure Bay, we were rewarded with several blows from a Humpback whale who eventually dived showing its broad tail, bestowing good luck (and so far, we’ve been blessed with warm sunshine with little smoke).
Our studio bungalow nestled in the forest at Tigh-Na-Mara has been a lovely bolt hole – it’s been almost two years since we were here last and we happily re-visited favourite trails (with “Caution, Bear in Area” signs posted) sitting on benches by the ocean and near a small crabapple orchard surrounded by tall cedar trees.
A delightful new find was coming across a wild apple tree rising above rose bushes awash in dark red rosehips, what drew us to this magical tree growing by the windswept forest across from the strait was an area of summer’s end grasses flattened by resting deer. The shiny red apples glowing in the sunshine teased us; there were a few on the ground with nibbles and bites and the ones we yearned for, much too high. A young girl picnicking with her mom nearby, came close holding a plastic football – she was also eyeing the lovely fruit, guess what happened next? We suggested she throw her ball at the laden branches to see if some might fall and we were rewarded with a few good ones. After her successful launch she returned to the picnic with her prizes, and we continued to add to our own bounty – the apples reminded us of Galas but tasted much drier on the tongue. After a long walk through the forest and park, the afternoon interlude harkened back to the days when this area (Rathtrevor Park) was a farm, the seaside apple tree seemingly far away from its orchard roots.
On other walks, we heard sleek seals barking out in the Salish Sea (Georgia Strait) fishing while dark ravens startled us with their deep, loud calls amid treefrog and towhee choruses – silver birch trees shed their golden leaves gently as towering green cedars dropped russet brown cones, too many to count beneath their boughs. It’s the spirit of this place that keeps calling us back…
Behind our studio (located in a small community of log-built structures), is a tangle of woodland consisting of mature cedars, birch trees as well as arbutus saplings. There are golden leaves and strips of brick red bark (from arbutus trees) scattered among pale rocks and dark soil. It was a joy to step outside on the patio with the last sips of morning tea, to walk amid the beauty around me and anticipate the day. In front of our small complex, we discovered a curving path strewn with crunchy leaves and pinecones that brought us quickly to our front door, adding an atmospheric layer to our stay!
On our last morning, we left the Island to return home, knowing that another element of genius loci awaited us – the same ocean and a very different forest on our doorstep to reacquaint ourselves with. And as I sit here at Veranda drinking a creamy hot chocolate on a very blessed rainy day, I find myself looking forward to a fall that has finally arrived in all its glory.
This amazing vista never fails to capture our imagination, it’s one of our favourite beachside walks!
Here’s just one welcoming bench at the edge of Rathtrevor Park near Parksville across from the Salish Sea, we sat on several and enjoyed the many views.
Here are some of the apples we collected from the wild apple tree sitting on our picnic table in front of the tangle of woodland I enjoyed each morning while sipping my tea.
This wild coast is the “spirit of a place” we love, it keeps calling us back!