The sea, once it casts its spell,
holds one in its net of wonder forever.
- Jacques Cousteau
|The Salish Sea, Howe Sound, and Mount Garibaldi.|
The Tuesday morning skies cleared and the sun, still low in the early January sky, shone brightly...and we launched the "sea boats". I love those words. These narrow craft, weighing just 50 pounds each, and designed to carry one lone occupant, were built for the sea, and for exploration. But they also enable the sea kayaker to investigate the land - both the immediate shoreline so close at hand, and the distant horizons of terra firma.
|Sandstone shores of Gabriola Island, sculpted over the millenia.|
|At times, we simply had to drift quietly with the tide...and take it all in.|
|Joan, paddling the "sea boat"|
...and a distant stratovolcano: Mount Garibaldi, a sacred place.
A couple of hours later, feeling the warmth of the sun in the still-chilly 2 degree Celcius air, we paused between the tiny and photogenic Sear and Saturnina Islands. The view is breathtaking across the Salish Sea towards Howe Sound and the snow-capped Coast Mountains - the very edge of the North American continent. Forming a backdrop to the Sound is dramatic Mount Garibaldi, British Columbia's best known volcano.
The deck marine compass indicated that the mountain was due north from our position. I would have said it was to the east, fooled yet again by the alignment of Canada's coast. To the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, the local indigenous people of the Squamish area, it is a sacred mountain. It should be to us all, as should all of creation. To gaze upon this unbroken view of a continent is to be deeply moved. The sea and the landscape puts life in perspective. Our lives occupy but an infinitesimal part of this planet...and yet our anxieties and our worries can often seem as immense as the universe! And that is not reasonable...and it is not a healthy state of mind.
A connection with, and an appreciation for the natural world can be one of the most powerful antidotes to anxiety, a condition that plagues so many in our society, with such debilitating consequences. The "outdoors", whatever its mood, calms and creates balance in our lives. One only need go outside, and breath s-l-o-w-l-y and deeply, taking in the sounds, the smells, and the visual stimuli that nourish imaginations and the innermost soul. We are strengthened and refreshed. Going, playing, venturing, exploring, breathing deeply, outside - such a simple source of refreshment and healing.
|Heading home - the sun setting behind Valdez Island |
and the mountains of Vancouver Island.
With the sun beginning to set and nautical miles still to paddle, we retraced our course, following the southern coastline of Gabriola back to our launch spot at Degnen Bay - thankful for the hours on the water and persuaded that time spent "outdoors" is as essential to life as the food we eat and water we drink. I'm sure you will have found the same to be true.
Once again, the sea cast its spell and held two paddlers in its "net of wonder".