Sunday, November 24, 2013


It’s early morning here on Vancouver island. I’m staying with my aunt and uncle north of Courtenay. Their house looks out westward over green pasture, fruit trees, and some conifers to a spectacular view of Mount Albert-Edward and Mount Washington, already snowy and soon to be deeply snow-covered. Sunrises are limpid pale beginnings with all the moisture in the air, and sunsets a glorious burst of gold and then a lingering glow of light from behind the mountains, like a mirage. Each morning, six or seven of the trumpeter swans who over-winter in the Comox Valley fly overhead, beautiful big white birds, honking loudly, their wings moving in strong unhurried strokes.

Not far from here is the shoreline of the inland passage, and beyond it a view that always feels like a mirage to me. First is the expanse of calm and (at this time of year) blue-grey water with low humped islands. Beyond are the jagged snowy mountains of the coastal range on the mainland, blue-ish and mauve and gleaming white. They feel like a painted backdrop. It’s hard to believe that Mother Nature has laid on such a glorious spectacle.

The Comox River flows past the flat green fertile fields of the Comox Valley and out into the bay to merge with the salt water of the inland passage. This was a paradise for salmon, where huge trees grew, and the berry-picking was generous. CaptainVancouver passed this way in the 18th century, and then loggers and settlers arrived in the nineteenth century, pushing aside the native people who had fished and farmed in the region.

Went up to Elk Falls yesterday, up the Campbell River from the town of Campbell River… Despite many trips out here over the years I had never seen the falls, a lovely rush of water with glowing green moss lighting the rocky far bank and tall straight Douglas Firs making everything look upright. When I say tall, I mean around 200 feet tall, with lowest branches at 60 feet or so, and a diameter of over 6 feet on the largest of them. It’s all awe-inspiring and a reminder that there are still natural treasures in this world. We owe it to ourselves and our children and to those who came before to respect them and to try to do less damage….

And then I will get in my car and drive three hours to Victoria, rather than taking public transport, a bus or whatever And after that I’ll be in a plane back to Toronto. So what exactly am I doing to reduce my carbon footprint?

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