17 minutes to Crofton
The Vesuvius ferry from Salt Spring presented an oddity in its schedule by actually leaving on time. It putt-putted the short crossing of Stuart Channel, which separates Salt Spring and Vancouver Island, and does this many times daily. I sat in my car on what was just another ferry ride, just another lost in the pile of so many years of island living and the fact of life that this lifestyle comes with ferry travel. As routinely boring as this can be I am satisfied knowing it could be so much worse, imagining the Friday afternoon commute those poor unfortunates dwelling in cities have, week after exhaust-fuming, road-raging week. I turned the music up and began my usual morning journal scribbling to pass the time. Looking up only a few minutes into the journey between one world and the other, I saw the fog. It entwined my partly caffeinated mind into wandering away from the pages on my lap, and was an affirmation of why I live here.
The mists captured the hillsides and erased the lower half of the landscape so effectively that you got the impression of mountains in the sky rising up from the water and floating away. This would make my drive up-island somewhat more abstract. A recent dusting of snow filled in the open wide patches of fresh log-clearing on the slopes. A graying prairie of sea stretched out in both directions under the mist, held firmly flat by the increasing low pressure to a sweet and languid state. Not a ripple. No evidence of any movement at all and not a sound. That is if you manage to tune out the continuous rumbling of the engines.
Low black bowling pin profiles of Cormorants dotted the length of a floating log beneath the curtain of mill-fires blending smoke to low fog banks in a mixture of wet December air. They were just being birds. They rode aimlessly, drifting in the tide and enjoying the freedoms of such creatures. Accepting what we find so very hard to grasp and grapple our overly complicated brains around: the simple act of being. Living authentically to the push and pull of the currents of nature and of life.
Land pulled nearer, looming eerily there in the mist, incrementally growing more obvious. The shore rife with industry. Barges loaded with Cedar pulp and freighters overlooked one missing errant log and its occupants, swirling slowly northwards.
A paddler, nameless and unaware, leaves the dock at Crofton as my ferry lumbers steadily in. He turns and heads out into the channel and that long black sheet. He breaks the surface for the first time and leaves only temporary traces of ripples caused by the drippings of blades. He moves off to find his place in my scenery and his landscape. Paddling silently and slow with the natural currents and the Cormorants, headed out to the sky islands and mist.
A landscape that is not new to him, or to me for that matter, but forever seen with new eyes.