Linda Tenney photo
Summer on Vancouver Island evokes wondrous visions of camping, hiking and squiggling your toes in warm beach sand. Look around, Mother Nature is very kind to us here on Vancouver Island and once the rains subside for the season, we enthusiastically take full advantage of all she has to offer.
I've been thinking about my childhood in the urban jungle of Toronto, Ontario. Both my parents worked and I was one of the many typical 'latch-key' city kids who rushed home each afternoon in time to answer the scheduled telephone call from a working mother -- checking to see if I had arrived home safely. Most of my free-time was spent reading, writing or watching cartoons; adventuring into rural landscapes was never an option. It just wasn't part of our life.
Truth be told, my hands never dug into dirt until I was 20, when I had an opportunity to grow my own garden. And grow it, I did! Radishes, green peppers, tomatoes, beans, and an acre of acorn squash that over-grew our yard and into the neighbours. I wasn't too popular. Or ... perhaps I was.
My family did have a rural retreat when I was very young; a sparkling white and green turn-of-the-century cottage surrounded by tower Maple and Oak trees. My brother landed his first 'big one' there; a huge speckled Trout, caught right off the end of the dock. It was dinner that night.
I'll admit, fishing was fun and so was diving for the coins that my Dad tossed into the lake, but I also recall being spooked by the haunting mating-call of a Moose, and the frenzied sprint-for-my-life back to the safety of the cottage. I hid under the bed for an hour and still have occasional nightmares about that passionate bellow echoing from the deep dark woods. The rural outdoors was a foreign and frightening place for me at that time.
Lighthouse Country, spanning the east side of Vancouver Island from Deep Bay to Dashwood and up into the recreational areas of Spider Lake and Horne Lake, is my first rural living experience. I love it here. Yet, despite my decade long Island tenure, I still can't say that I'm completely comfortable traipsing around the primordial forest - there are bears and cougars and things that go bump in the day and night for heaven's sake! I do enjoy the odd deer prancing through my yard, and the hike to Little Qualicum River Falls gives me great joy. I just admit, the more I venture into the forest, the more comfortable I become with being there.
Vancouver Island is a detailed landscape of millions of living things, each one inviting us to explore and discover. It's a place to walk through a quiet forest. A place where you can admire the tiniest of ferns, and stand in awe under the largest of trees. Where your camera can capture common or exotic birds and if you're really lucky, the wildly elusive Island Marmot.
It's a place where you can gaze into a single dewdrop fiercely clinging to a leaf and see a reflection of a face. Your face. Glowing with the contented look of someone who has discovered that the details of this wondrous place make you smile. It's the tiniest and the largest details of Vancouver Island that compell you to take a look around, to discover even more.
Whatever the time of the year, maybe you'll find, as I have, that the widest of smiles come from enjoying the smallest of details on this beautiful Island. ~
First published by Oasis Magazine July 2013