Return to Nootka

Four years ago at this time, I was working as a relief lighthouse keeper for the Canadian Coast Guard. I'd taken a year off teaching to explore and destress and try something new. Between March 27 and May 23, I stayed at Nootka and recorded my adventures, and misadventures, in a journal and a blog. This was my house for eight weeks.

 I've been thinking about that time a lot lately. This summer, I am planning to take the Uchuck III day cruise from Gold River to Friendly Cove, so I can walk those beaches and trails once again. This is a photo of the Uchuck III docked at Friendly Cove. This will be a brillliant way to experience the sound and the cove where so many historic events occurred. Plus, you get three hours to hike and explore the beaches, trails, graveyards, lake, and the lighthouse.

I had hoped to visit with Mark, the lighthouse keeper I worked with at that time, but apparently Mark and Joanne retired last September. So, all I can say is "Congratulations!" fr…

Lighthouse Keepers Save Lives

One gigantic reason to keep the keepers living in the lighthouses is that, from time to time, they pull drowning people out of the water. They give aid to injured hikers. They save lives. Humans. Animals. They are the eyes and ears of the ocean. First responders. They safeguard our waters. And, they are there when you need them 24-7. Don't believe me? Watch this recent news clip:

I was living at Entrance Island this time last year.

The Trail of Graves

Cast up by an angry sea, lying haphazardly on the beach, is a rusty propane tank, detritus of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011. Approximately 1.5 million tons of debris are still floating in the Pacific Ocean. This tank is a testament to the nearly 16,000 lives lost in the event. A rusty reminder that the Earth is alive and we two-leggeds are not in control. 

Beyond the undulating pebble beach, protected by a pine windbreak, lies the graveyard trail. Cemeteries captivate me. I dragged my daughter all over Ireland, stopping to marvel at names and dates on stones, colossal Victorian crypts, the flowers (tended and not), the weather-beaten toys. This is a human need, this marking and remembering. Even our Neanderthal kin buried their dead with precious bits of life some 250,000 years ago. We need to know where our loved ones lie. We ask that their remains come home. We ask that we be buried together. 
This is a peaceful place, swept by the sea breeze, …

Mystery Plant

I spoke with a couple of local women today who say that this plant is fantastic for healing wounds. It grows in shady woods, low to the ground, and has a stalk of delicate white flowers. I come from Ontario and thought we called it coltsfoot there, as it looks like a hoof. Does anyone know the name for it? I'd like to know more about it. 

Adventures and Misadventures

This has been quite a strange week. It may have had something to do with the Full Moon in Scorpio, which appeared mid-week, bringing a new set of extremes: low low tides, extraordinary social activity, and sleeplessness. Last Saturday, kicked it off. 
I’ve fallen into a routine here at Nootka over the past seven weeks, but last Saturday everything I usually do, I did just a little differently. This, I expect, contributed to my misadventure. To begin with, the 7:30am weather had me stymied. I stared around at the dense fog that enveloped us like a horseshoe, and up, at the clear blue sky above, and thought, where are the clouds? Eventually, with time pressing, I settled on X- (partially obscured) and a remark that I could actually see 15 miles to the south.
After the fog cleared, though I didn’t feel like going for a walk, I went anyway. I’ve been hiking and rock-climbing in my clunky rubber bogs for the past seven weeks, but decided to wear my grey running shoes. I don’t wear them much.…

The White Church (Part 3)

The steep cracked cement steps are caked with moss. A mottled brass plaque inside the wooden doors reads:
This church, dedicated to Pope St Pius X, erected 1956 to the Glory of God and in memory of Padre Magin Catala, OFM, first missionary to Friendly Cove, 1793 and in memory of the historic meeting of Capt. George Vancouver, RN and Commander Bodega Y Quadra of the Spanish Navy in Friendly Cove, 1792, and the Nootka Convention Treaty, was sponsored by His Excellency, Bishop James M. Hill of Victoria, directed by the Rev. F. Miller OMI Parish Priest, assisted by Rev. T. Lobsinger OMI with the approval and assistance of Chief Ambrose Maquinna and his band at Friendly Cove.
So many to acknowledge, and yet the actual people, who have lived here since time immemorial, and on whose territory the church stands, barely make it to the last line. In the vestibule are stained glass windows sent by Spain, framed yellowing photographs, and a model of a longhouse. 
The hall itself, I am pleased to say…

Moving with the Sun

With perfect weather yesterday, I decided to challenge myself, and go exploring. With my fearless companion, I headed out across the rocks at low tide. Here, Lucy strikes a pose, while waiting for me to hoist her down the rock.

We saw brilliant starfish nestled in amongst the kelp-strewn stones.

After crossing the rocky cove, we had to scale a rock wall. This might look easy, but I had to find solid handholds and toeholds, and be careful not to fall or twist an ankle or knee, or slip on a dodgy rock. I always carry a handheld radio, but I don't ever want to have to use it to call for help.

Spring flowers are popping up everywhere. Nestled in cracks, or riddling a grassy area, they shoot up and bloom wherever they can. This "Indian Paintbrush" found a rock depression right at the edge of the cliff.

I'm not sure what this plant is, but it's a lovely wine shade. I think it's a type of lily. If you know what it's called, please leave a comment.

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