Monday, November 5, 2012

SPITS - Suitcase Diaries

I've got spit on my mind...Tyee Spit, Rebecca Spit and Sidney Spit. It all started in August during my visit to Vancouver Island...

Rod and I spent many twilight nights down at Tyee Spit in Campbell River enchanted by the sight of clusters of small classic rowboats manned by 2 or 3 members, and aspiring members, of the Tyee Club as they fished for salmon. The boats must be rowed. One or two fishermen cast unbaited lines of a specified weight and wait for the tug on their line. If a salmon of over 30lbs is landed in the boat, the angler becomes a member of the Tyee Club.

The age old nature of the pursuit of the salmon transports me to ancient, mythical times. One night as I watch the fishermen/women, I imagine canoes paddling upstream.
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In 2010 Rebecca Spit was covered in jelly fish.

They lurked in its waters making it unfit for swimming, so I wasn't too eager to spend a sunny, warm, perfect for swimming, afternoon at this Quadra Island spit. Incredibly, crystal clear, cool waters greet us. I swim, drinking in soul's refreshment, while Rod and his sister Sue chat and read.

Families, kids and dogs are also enjoying this long-awaited glorious, summer day. It is perfection. I relax like a happy, wet dog (hopefully not as smelly) in the back seat of the car on our way home.
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A few days later, on the drive back to Maple Bay from the Genoa Bay Café, where I shared a delicious fish and chip dinner and a jug of sangria with my friends Irene and Garth, Garth tells me of a film he knows I'll enjoy - OVER BEAUTIFUL BRITISH COLUMBIA: AN AERIAL ADVENTURE. Irene knows that he's offering this evening of cinema, in hopes that it's magic will capture my heart and ensure my return to my spiritual home.

From our comfy chairs, we fly in a bird's eye view over cities, mountains, forests, rivers, waterways and shores. Of all of the scenes that we pass over, Sidney Spit captivates me. As luck would have it I leave for Sidney the next day (Tues) to spend a few days at my friend Marlene's.

At 10 a.m., on Thurs, for a meagre $20, I board the catamaran ferry from downtown Sidney, headed for Sidney Spit.  About 45 people, including a very energetic and enthusiastic public school class and 2 excited dogs enjoy the 30 minute sail. Though I plan to explore for only a few hours, 1 o'clock and 3p.m. sailings pass by.

In 1985 the Purple Martin population was down to
5 breeding pairs. Thanks to the success of the nest box
program, the number went up to 650 breeding pairs,
in the the Strait of Georgia, by 2007.
This is the sandy part of the spit. The upright logs
were placed to decrease the threat of erosion  by
the incoming tides and waves. This is what it looked
like when I arrived...
And this is what the same spot, viewed from the ferry
as we headed home at high tide.
Note: there is much more to the spit than this section; a lovely
forest and field comprises about 2/3rds of it.
I return on the last sailing at 4:30 landing me in downtown Sidney on the last market evening of the season. I count my blessings as pass by stalls filled with sensory delights, as I walk home to Marlene's, tanned from my outing and contentedly munching some doughy, fried delight.
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Sept 8th after witnessing the raising of Hosagami totem pole on the Lieutenant Governor's grounds I go over to see the newly completed carving of The Salmon People that graces the Government House Bandshell but am disappointed when I realize that I can't stay to see its unveiling. A small booklet honouring the event contains the story of THE LEGEND OF THE SALMON PEOPLE explaining why the salmon return annually to the Fraser River.  This carving symbolizes the respectful interrelationship between this beautiful land, its people and animals.

There are different versions of the Salmon people, but I'll tell you the tale from the booklet of a time when the salmon stopped swimming up the river. The animals, who depended on the salmon for food, devised a plan to steal the son of the Chief of the Salmon people who lived, as people, in a village on a beach by the ocean. The animals paddled up the Fraser River (this is the scene depicted in the carving) and Mouse chewed holes in all the canoes; the Salmon people had to transform themselves into fish in order to follow. The animals tossed clothing in each of the tributaries of the river to "entice the salmon up each stream". The salmon have returned every year since then...

And yes, like the Salmon and the Purple Martins, I'll be returning next summer too.

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