Body in the world. Sea.
Ohhh, how long the body had starved for the larger spaces of sea, forest, quiet. So busybusy and work and obligations and deadlines and registrations and bureaucracy and drama and details and not enough time. Breath. Breathing. But time is always all around us. Why do we funnel it so? When there is time enough if we only allow ourselves to open wide our arms, our lives….
S and I made an effort to see most of the points on the island. Grassy Point was the most northern. Phipps Point the closest to our cottage. Shingle Spit, the stunning original-Star-Trek-series-like otherwordly rock formations at Norman’s Point, Down’s Point, and the mouth-dropping vistas of St. John’s Point in Helliwell Provincial Park. So many shifts in landscapes on such a small island. The blood stirred, the blood quickened. Eyes lighting, after the soar, the heart alights.
Helliwell Park began as a trail through Douglas Fir forest. So dry, until the rains come. The trees, the bark so thick and crested, their language is so quiet, so heavy with age and time. The trees gave way to a shock of golden yellow grasses on an open bluff and then so sudden plunge the sea. The drop, the plummet a step away, I felt a lemming urge to run across the grass, through the open space and float/fall into the deep blue. It was not a suicidal urge– more of a compulsion, a pull of beyond, something apart from words, something unknowable. Yellow of grass against blue of sky, blue of water. As if air can hold you aloft, if you only believed.
We trekked down to St. John’s Point. The tip that ledges into the open waters of the Georgia Strait. We had read that there was excellent diving waters, there. It was a cooler day than our beach excursions, but when would the chance arise again? We donned our gear. Rip tides, I said. Did you read anything about rip tides? I asked S. No, she said. The tide was almost high, but what did we know of the currents below the surface? But the urge to see…. I’ll go in first, don’t come in until I okay, I said. I’m sure it’s fine, but. And if there is a rip tide, ummm, just call for help, I said. Anyway, it’ll be fine.
The cold a shock that moves past muscles and settles into bone. I paddled about and it was fine, albeit cold! Okay, I said. Then splashed back in, to the beguiling, the green algae, the rock cliff, that didn’t extend only on the land, but broke away, down, down, into the dark depths. The water surface the imaginary layer between two skies. It’s night, down there. The place of jellyfish dreams and spider crab nightmares.
That’s why, I thought. That’s why I could feel the pull on the grassy cliff– it was the strenth of the deeps, the dark, unlit places, that called to a vestigial organ inside me that recognizes the past.
Sixteen-armed starfish, and delicate jellyfish. The rippling undulatory flow of its transparent cup, sunight glinting on its beautiful threads…. So lovely its fragile life, and so unlike my own. You have no brain stem, I kept thinking, behind my masked and snorkelled face. As if my thoughts, my own brain stem matters, to the jelly fish, to the sea. Sea urchins, ohhhh, I wanted to eat them! Eat them! Crack them open upon my belly, like I’m a sea otter! But it’s a provincial park, and protected…. I dove down to the ledge, and held one in my hand, then let it go. Then, looking further down, along the sheer of ocean cliff, I see monster sea urchins, the size of my head! Wahhhh! So BIG! I keep on thinking. The starfish, the sea urchins, those olive/grey/purpley fish the size of dinner plates. I haven’t been able to identify them yet. Hiking back through the park, we saw a bald eagle and two river otters swimming and eating in the strait. I never knew that river otters also lived in the ocean!
Yesterday was our last day, and we went for one last swim/snorkel at Little Tribune Bay. There was a giant jellyfish there, the size of my head! (Clearly, I think creatures that are as big as my head to be noteworthy…. This is not to suggest that I have a ‘big head’, although I do, but, I mean, I don’t think I’m completely egotistical, you know???). The other jellyfish had been ‘cuter’, the size of a sugar mandarin, but, once it’s the size of one’s head, well… you’ve gone to a different level of physical experience. Its underside was not transparent, but fleshy burgundy and slightly copper-like, the colour of old blood. What with its frilly edges and thickness, it looked like a giant swimming internal organ, a chimaera of a liver, a giant breast implant, and a vulva…. Whoa, I kept on thinking. Whoa. I touched the top of its curved mound. It felt like a cross between chicken cartilage, and the candied jelly cups you can buy at an Asian market…. ^__^. Early evening we hiked along the Mt Geoffrey escarpment. Again, through the forest. For the trees, it was not the wide views we had seen from the Helliwell bluffs. We cut across some of the forest terrain so that we could see over the escarpment. So high above Ford’s Cove. The cars were tinker toys below us. And in a dead tree, four enormous black birds. Ravens, I thought. Got out my binocolars. Small red heads, and white beaks– they were turkey vultures! So much life on the islands. So much to behold. Walking back through the deadfall, I was thinking, this is bad terrain, the perfect place to hurt yourself if you’re not careful, then a CRACK! as I trod upon an unseen dry branch, my foot slipped, and my ankle turned, pain needling up my leg as I toppled sideways, yanking my shoulder as I tried to break my fall. Durrrrrrhhhhh! Painpain, I hobbled to a large log and sat down. It was only a sprain, and the pain was manageable tho my pride had taken a substantive blow. S came round and I told her I think I sprained it. She massaged it to stretch out the tightened muscles (Painful, but helpful. She’s a massage therapist.) and then we found walking sticks to help me down the path to the car.
“Thank god this is not a date,” I exclaimed as I hobbled with my sticks. “So uncool. What a loser!”
“What do you mean this isn’t a date!” S cried out dramatically (teasing). “You mean I’ve been swimming and snorkelling every single day and I’m not going to get anything out of it??”
I laffed and laffed. She picked up a stick and kept me dorky company.
We finished the evening at the community centre, which screens films on the weekend. We watched The Kids Are Alright! So trippy. The community centre had chairs set up, and the screen was the kind you pull down. There were all ages there, and a lot of senior citizens. Folks took a good look at us as we took our seats. Not unfriendly, but, perhaps, curious? There aren’t so many people of colour on the island. The community experience reminded me a little of more ‘olden days’ experiences of watching films, like Cinema Paradiso…. As the film ended, people clapped. ^__^
What a lovely holiday/retreat…. Feel so lucky and rich with experiences, sights, scents, and renewed wonder. Would like to go back and see the island when the rains return. A different land in a different season. Apparently, the Labour Day weekend is the last day of the provincial ferry service, and the local residents hold a celebration. ^__^. They must tire of the busy holidayers. Thank you, Hornby Island. Thank you, S!
I’ve reached the 60 000 words mark of Darkness, and writing toward the final important scene. Rocking it out, dudes! Albeit, with a little hobble….