I am surprised how “open” the water is here. Islands are quite far off in the distance, just dark grayish shadows along the edge of the horizon across the expanse of water. Of course, the day is very gray, thick pale gray cloud cover with the water a cold slate gray, smallish rippley waves with white specks scattered here and there…
Of course on the map the little islands look closer together, and the pictures on the tourist pamphlets are always taken on bright sunny colorful days. Still, I enjoy looking out across the water. It always makes me wish I was on a smallish boat just heading out to see where the seas will take me. I always loved those lines:
“I must go down to the seas again
To the lonely sea and the sky
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by.”
Even back home – I always think of the beaches of Haida Gwaii as “back home” – even back home I think I most loved the windy gray days along the shore line, the wild loneliness which at the same time felt free and joyful – the kind of place where “civilization” can be forgotten for a few moments and one is alone, and yet not lonely, but rather one with the wild beauty and wonder of creation… and somehow very close, undistracted, with the Creator. Even sitting here on the ferry, next to the kids’ play room, with lots of people around, I can still gaze out at the sea, and feel drawn out into its aloneness… feel it calling me, drawing me.
I that what I feel drawing me back to the Misty Isles, I wonder? Just the call of the sea, the boom of the waves, the wind swooshing through the tree branches, the croaking call of the raven, the swooping widespread wings of the eagle, the bright red spots of huckleberry and wild strawberry standing out against the gray-green background of a gray, windy, rain-splattered day?
It surely does have a draw which I have never experienced in the interior, even in the grandeur of great mountains, or the blue freshness of Okanagan lakes, or even the endless rolling stretches of Arctic tundra or prairie lands. I brought along a new sketch book and pens, pencils and charcoal… but I do not know how to draw, to capture the sea… I think I need to be out there sitting on a rock on the shoreline, hearing and smelling it, feeling the cold dampness, being drawn into it with all my senses…
I don’t really want to go home… even though I can go outdoors there, it isn’t the same as a windswept ocean beach. Lakes are somehow too tame… even when they whip up into sudden storms – like when the wind blew my niece Jamie’s graduation picnic literally to pieces! But still it lacks the broadness, the wild, all-encompassing sense of an ocean beach (away from the “civilizing influence” of homes, businesses, roads all along the shoreline). I so much miss the smell – and taste – of the sea. I (personally!) don’t want to move to just another inland place… Creator??? (Your will be done)…
There is a slight general brightening in the misty sky in the direction from which we have come, yet the island shapes in that direction have disappeared into the mists (I can understand the term “mists of time” when I see this), and the water just seems to go on until… well, until it does what? Falls off the edge? Just stops? Bumps into the wall of cloud which seems like a great upside-down-bowl enclosing the world? Even with the grayness, it does look like there is a sharp edge, an end to the water, and yet it feels like it must go on forever to unknown mysterious lands of… who knows? Sea monsters? Strange people and customs? The land at the end of the world? No wonder people used to be so superstitious… sometimes it seems sad that we have “lost” our sense of mystery, of longing, of wondering…
Norma J Hill
March 25, 2008
(Written while returning to the mainland from Vancouver Island on the ferry)