Enjoy those Island daze

In her Williwaws column, Nancy Whelan tells the tale of a recent trip to a nearby island


NEWS Columnist


Drive a few miles north, flash a gold card or two, board a couple of small ferries and dwell for a few days in a world apart.

A small, basic, but adequate cabin became our base camp. Overlooking Lambert Channel with a hind-end-view of the Chrome Island Lightstation, it filled with warmth and nostalgia at the lighting of its cheery wood stove.

Groceries stored and city shoes shed, explorations began … and none too soon for Max, the accompanying Schnauzer. At a broad, windswept, low tide beach, one whiff of the inshore breeze set him into frenzied motion. Legs a-blur and ears a-flap he charged in ever-widening circles over the hard packed sand and the logs arranged just for his catapulting pleasure.

Island traffic was almost non existent this typical wet coast day, and our slow, stop-and-go progress hampered no one as sudden vistas or Island homesteads vied for our attention.

It was our good luck that Island waters were alive with the frenzy of the annual herring spawn. Unfortunate as it was for thousands of the lustful herring who fell victim to others’ appetites, the days fed our own delight in watching the harvesting methods of innumerable predators churning the islands’ passages.

Early morning calm was blanketed by solid masses of satiated, resting white gulls. These were shortly disrupted by the extended talons of bald eagles angling for their share of the spring bounty. From below erupted an even greater threat to the herring’s orgy, as packs of sea lions surfaced, gulped, and porpoised among the schools. This raw exhibition of nature, “red in tooth and claw,” captured hours of our awed attention.

Gifted with one sunlit day, we wandered back roads, newly surfaced from obvious logging endeavors and awaiting the inevitable human occupation. A still verdant section of forest bore a couple of poignant but encouraging signs posted high on roadside firs: “Faerie Grandmother Ella’s Enchanted Forest. Private — Managed — Patrolled. Absolutely No Trespassing.” A sanctuary in the midst of creeping destruction and occupation.

Between our lengthy pauses to marvel at the natural exhibitions all around us, we were constantly overtaken by the posted notices of idiosyncratic islanders. Read one: ‘Island Outhouse Comedy Review [seeks] performers to raise a laugh or two, juggle toilet rolls, sing a bawdy song, or dance a jig — every sort of humor encouraged to unroll, keeping in mind that this outhouse is for family use only.”

The ongoing battle to oppose the smart metres got right down to business with independent islanders when signs proclaimed, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE … 450 islanders have refused the smart metres” … and continued with steps to be taken in the event that the metres were creeping onto the island, even going so far as to ” … shadow the installers …” if such were sighted.

In a ferry terminal washroom, a list to protect the delicate flushing system included one penciled in between at least a dozen other no-no’s: “No toy cars or dinky toys.”

Both nature and human dwellers make smaller islands a world apart and one could do no better than to absorb some of their wisdom on a regular basis.

Back to the real world, a reminder to register for the ODETT seminar on dementia Sat. March 16, 10 – 3, at Knox, by e-mailing odett.is@gmail.com or calling 250 927 6170 (mornings only).

Nancy Whelan is a regular columnist