It’s just the ocean

I’m back in Toronto and I’m telling my Dad about the wildness and beauty of British Columbia.  Sure I have photos to show and blog posts to write but videos are what he appreciates most.

So I’m thumbing through YouTube and stumble upon this video.  It’s my introduction to Canadian spoken word poet Shane Koyszan.

This is not his most famous work. That would be “To This Day” about bullying, shown here in a TED talk .

For me though, this video is my favorite.  The words and images reflect my awe and wonder of the wild Pacific Rim in beautiful, wonderful, super natural British Columbia.

British Columbia. 2017

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Pacific Rim Totems and Legends

Totems by Doug LaFortune

Surrounded by the natural wonders of BC’s rain forests and wild life, it is easy to appreciate the myths and legends of the First Nations people.

The original inhabitants of the Pacific Northwest relied on oral tradition to record their history and carved totem poles to create a permanent record of  events. Typically the totems were carved from the single trunk of a cedar tree.   Totem artists often speak of a spiritual connection to the original tree.

When a great tree is chosen for a totem pole or a canoe, there are ceremonies to celebrate the rebirth of the tree into a new existence. These ceremonies reflect our understanding that there is a spiritual connection between man and tree, that we are all aspects of a greater whole, and that the apparent differences between flesh and wood are insignificant compared to the kinship between the spirit of the tree and the spirit of the carver.” (Richard Krentz, Salish artist. Nov 2012).

The city of Duncan aka “City of Totems”,  has one of the world’s largest, outdoor collection of publicly displayed totem poles. They were created in a joint community project with the Quw’utsun’ (Cowichan) people.  Altogether  some forty totems are placed around the city, on land acknowledged as traditional Quw’utsun’ lands.

In another city Sooke,  is an artfully painted fiberglass bear “Kody”.

Kody was part of a  public art initiative and was created by local Sooke artists Gene Sebelius and Bonnie Spencer.  He captures the Kitasoo legend where Raven, who created all living things after the great ice age, went among the bears and turned every tenth bear white as a reminder of the time when the world was pure and clean and covered with ice.

As a point of fact, the Spirit bear does actually exist.

In modern science he is called the  Kermode bear and lives only in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. He is not related to the polar bear nor is he an albino. He is a Black Bear with a recessive gene that causes about 1 in 10 bears to be white. Families of these bears can consist of both black and white bears.

Interesting, yes?

A wonderful meet up  of myth and science, history and life, coming together in art.

Made only in Canada.

Duncan & Sooke. Vancouver Island, BC. 2017 

 

Walking Through the Pacific Rain Forest

The best way to experience nature is to take a walk.

While exploring Tofino we took a hike to Schooner Cove in the Pacific Rim National Park.  The web page said it was a short and relatively easy trail, leading through lush rainforests and over gentle meandering streams.

“How long is it?” I asked.

“It’s not far,” hubby said. “Less than ..” he mumbled into his shoulder as he turned away to get something from somewhere else.

So we walked.  It started out easy enough.

But after walking down and around for what seemed like forever, we came to this extended ramp.

Down and across …
… and across some more

At this point, with only the faint promise of  surf in the distance, we had too much vested in the walk to turn back.  We continued walking, going up and down several more ramps and valleys until we faced the final ascent.

On paper it is  only a two kilometre hike. However most of it is climbing up or down stairs. It could have been worse.  If there wasn’t a board walk for instance.  But then I probably wouldn’t be taking this hike.

How was Schooner’s Cove, the final destination?  It was good.

After the walk we went back to the hotel.

Thoughtfully displayed, for our post-walk reflection were these warning signs.

Cougars, Wolves and Bears. Oh dear.

Pacific Rim National Park in Tofino, Vancouver Island. BC. 2017

Quirky Coombs

On the way from Nanaimo to Ucluelet is a quirky little place called Coombs.

Coombs is a small community on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, situated on provincial highway 4A approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) west of Parksville. Coombs is home to approximately 1,327 people and is renowned for its Old Country Market (which features a family of goats living on the roof), Butterfly World (which includes a small indoor tropical rainforest ), and the Coombs Bluegrass Festival held every B.C. Day weekend.  

-Wikipedia. November 2017

We arrived looking for the ‘goats on the roof’ but couldn’t find them.  Instead we were diverted by this Seussian structure.

Captivated we wandered into a courtyard of humongous stone monuments.  Native American gods, Chinese and Hindu Buddhas, Disney-esque orangutans and the Lion King?

Welcome to Coombs Emporium.

Inside the store was the largest collection of wood carvings and hand carved items I have ever seen in one place.  Individually, I’ve seen them in night markets and souvenir shops all across South East Asia, but all together in one shop?  It felt like someone had gone to an Indonesian island and said “I’ll buy everything.”

The fellow in the cafe said that the display was the result of forty years of collection by his parents. The statues which had cost a couple hundred thousand to ship back twenty years ago were valued at half a million each today. I could believe it. If I had a 500K to spare I would buy a three storey high statue of Buddha.

We never did see the goats on the roof. Apparently they had been taken in for the winter.  If we had seen them, they would have looked something like this.

Goats (with woolly coats) on the Roof

Coombs, Vancouver Island. BC. 2017