A few years back, our house in Masset suffered an electrical fire, and we had to spend a couple weeks in a cabin on a long, lonely beach on the beautiful islands of Haida Gwaii. This unexpected but serendipitous event occurred at the beginning of January, and the world was cold and snowy. The cabin sat on the edge of a wide sandy beach looking out over the ocean, with beautiful mossy rain-forested dunes behind.
The days were short and the nights long. The moon shone on the nighttime snow creating countless tiny sparkling starlight points, and gently illuminated the ridges and foaming edge of the waves as they splashed onto the beach. It was a sight of great beauty as we sat in our cozy cabin in the evenings, wrapped up in wooly blankets, by turns gazing out across the water, and then reading by lamplight, stories of mystery and adventure from books found in the cabin’s cupboards.
In the short gray winter days, we would bundle up against the winter wind, and venture out along the beach, clambering over the wildly stacked, water-smoothed driftwood logs, and so down to the sandy stretch above the tide line, where we’d wander along, stooping from time to time to pick up shells, uniquely shaped bits of drift wood, beautiful agates, and other bits of jetsam tossed up by the winter storms.
Often, I would stop and gaze out across the water, gray and wind-tossed, which stretched off into the distance to where the equally gray, cloud-streaked winter sky bent gently down to meet the water, and the two ran off together into endless mistiness. And I could not help but dream of sailing away to far-off lands, where mystery and adventure must surely await.
Sadly, our cozy, quiet little dream world retreat could not last forever. We located another house to rent, and returned to town and to work, and the children to their studies, and real life carried on. Time has passed, and we have moved away from our islands, and live far inland. The children have grown, and finished school, and are moving away to start their own homes and families.
But always, I remember those days in our beautiful little retreat. My mind drifts back to that little lodging place, and I dream of returning to that spot, or perhaps somewhere else like it, mysterious and adventurous, overlooking the ocean waves. I dream of living in a little cabin, a cozy little island cabin with a wood stove. And with windows that look out over a wild, windswept north Pacific Coast beach.
I dream of once more wandering the beach each day, looking for the jetsam and flotsam that has drifted in from places far, far away. Walking where the wind whips through my hair, and the rain drops splash on my face, and I can deeply inhale the intoxicating scent of sea salt, and hear the haunting calls of eagles and ravens and seagulls. Where I can gaze out over the cold rolling waves to the far horizon and find myself drawn into the mystery of the far beyond, where on rare clear nights the stars twinkle and call me outward and upward.
Norma J Hill
This event took place in January 1997.
I wrote about it a few years later.
Now, 2013, the dream still lingers.