The weather outside is frightful and my kayak is upside-down on its rack in the backyard, and my paddle and gear stowed away as the winds blow around 35km and the rain is coming down in a happy sideways manner. The sights outside my window were much the same yesterday, however it was not raining other than the occasional drop from passing clouds. In fact, it was almost a sunny late winter day but not a good one for small craft. Our usually calm wind rippled waters were grey/green and white-capped rolling waves found an end on the beach at Yeo Point were I stood facing into the winds howling in from the strait, weaving in and out of islands. And I was not alone.
I had the day free, something lately that has become a problem both for the fact that I am bored and my bank account is making blurbling sounds. To stave off the stress and all of that I hiked rather than paddled. Leaving the car at the park gate I hiked in the sheltering woods of Ruckle Park. The trial begins adjacent to the Ruckle Farm house. The park is still partly a working farm belonging to one of the oldest island families, the Ruckles. I passed by vacant pastures and the sounds of wind melding with the baying of freshly born lamb was my soundtrack. I passed the pond now encroaching on the trail with rising waters due to the pair of beaver dams blocking the outflowing creek. I scared a few ducks that took flight their wings disturbing the pond’s drizzle dappled surface. It made me jump in the quiet. I walked on to the connecting trail, one of many and wandered towards the sea. Checking my watch I decided I had time to take the extra distance along the rocky shoreline to Yeo Point at the outer edge of the park. There my wife and I had place a geocache a few years ago and from time to time I like to check up on it, making sure it is intact, dry and well-hidden. I rounded the small cove highlighted by a crescent beach of pebbles to the bald point of rock with one bent stunted tree as its distinctive landmark.
As I stepped up the jumble of rocks I saw what at first looked to be someone in a brown sweater sitting under the Fir tree next to the Arbutus tree that had the hole in it. Then I realized my luck. It was not a person but instead an eagle. It is a rare thing to see them so close and so close to the ground. I snuck up to about 15 ft away and moved no further not wanting to press my luck more. I squatted down as low as I could and watched. His white head feathers being split and tossed in the high winds the bird didn’t look around for some time. Staring intently out at the water for signs of fish and a late lunch. Then it must have caught a sense of me and the head turned slowly. One beady eye sizing me up and then looked back out to sea once more. I snapped a few pictures with my point and shoot, all the while regretting leaving the house without the better camera and lens. I rose up took my shot and lowered several times before the huge bird decided it had had enough of the tourist with a camera and took flight. It banked into the gusts and stopped cold, flapping hard it went straight upwards and easily soared around the point to land safely high in an adjacent tree, with a better view of the water, and not so many tourists.
As tough as getting by on the island can be from time to time, there are moments of connection and purity that bring the balance to all of that. A chance encounter on a windy rocky shore reminds me yet again why I never want to leave Salt Spring Island.