genius loci (the spirit of a place)

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!


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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25 Responses to genius loci (the spirit of a place)

  1. ugetse says:

    Hi Kim, what an ideal hideaway and your words and photos makes it so enticing. Love your quote also. Let’s get together soon . I would love to hear more of your adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your hideaway (Yellow Point Lodge) is a lovely twin to Tigh-Na-Mara, we’re both very lucky to have had some wonderful experiences with friends and family over the years. We had such a good time; we’re talking about going back sometime soon…enjoy the rest of a very spooky and stormy weekend, Huguette!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. calmkate says:

    you took me there, you are a gifted storyteller and the pics add to your tale! Glad u managed to dislodge a few apples πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. murisopsis says:

    I love your story and the beauty you so well described!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. markmkane says:

    Hey Kimberlee, loved the pictures and your stay there sounded quite pleasant. Your words describing the forest and its surroundings while you were there were quite poetic. I give you credit, I personally would feel kind of out of place staying there since I’m such a “city boy.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • The “Caution, Bear in Area” signs were a bit disconcerting as we wandered through the crabapple orchard and rustled some wild apples…Terry took a photo of me opening the door of a pit toilet that sported a sign, suggesting that I look in to see if a bear was using the facilities, lol…thank you (always) for stopping by and enjoying the adventure, Mark!


  5. There is nothing like the beauty of the PNW even in fire season. We did have a lot of smoke in Milwaukie outside Portland just before I left. Last year and the year before the fires were way too close. I miss being there though. How lucky to find free, organic apples! They do taste different than what has been refined by growers. You make me a little homesick for the PNW again with this post. I’ve not been able to get to your area though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Robin says:

    This sounds so idyllic, Kimberlee. Your words and images are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m a little behind Kim, but I loved losing myself in the atmosphere of your wild coast.

    Liked by 1 person

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