Saturday, September 14, 2013

A world apart, in only 12 short miles.

As the crow flies we are perhaps 12 miles from where we were 3 days ago, but in my mind it is a world apart.  Arriving yesterday to drop anchor in Plumper Cove, a place we last visited May, I was amazed at the number of boats here this time of year.  We even got to watch a few rounds of Anchor Wars – signaled by boats circling around in tighter circles, their ground tackle at the ready - often dangling ineffectually from the bow in anticipation.  Kind of reminded me of Dogs circling around –eyeing each other - before lying down, or perhaps before marking their spot.  And then one would do just that, mark their spot by releasing the anchor to the amazement of other circlers.   And there was the ‘race to the buoy’ (ever see a sail boat kick up roster tails?)  that ended with the victor all but losing its crewmate as she successfully claimed the buoy with her boat hook, but lacked the strengths to hold on as the boat’s momentum carried several tons of plastic / metal past.  Need either stronger crew, longer boat, or perhaps a different approach.

But in each case folks found their spot, few “words” were exchanged, and I sat watching this all kind of numb.

3 days ago.

Later today we will be in False Creek, completing our tour of the Sun Shine Coast for the summer.  I fully expect more of the same – boats, noise, lights, camera, action..   And THAT is what really is hitting me.

Just 12 miles away, in the Sechelt Inlet, things were different.  Things smelt different, looked different, sounded different.  Seals snuffing, sharp shadow lines casted on mountains at sunrise, Life and Deaths all intertwined at the Toonzie river delta,  the sky at night. . .   It is mostly the sky at night where I noticed the difference.  I grew up in the Suburbs of Portland, city lights and all.  At night we noted stars, thousands of them.  And sure, getting away those thousands became millions, of even ‘Billions upon Billions’ of stars.  But new to me while anchored at the headwaters of Narrows Inlet, or perhaps Green Bay, I notice not only the Billions upon Billions but something else:  the contrast, the darkness.  With the steep mountain sides becoming a black-as-coal frame against which the sky was painted.  And sparkles on the calm waters consisted either of reflected stars, or the bio-luminance of a disturbed creature.  At times a small fish would dash through creating a streak of light – a kind of meteor in the water.  And of course there was the billions upon billions of stars, lighting the whole moonless sky – the ‘heavens above’.  Where not just the individual stars became light, but the whole sky glowed.   Where the stark contrast between the black of the forest and the light of the sky became a dividing line, the delineation of worlds apart.  A contrast great enough to be disturbed by our own anchor light;  I would turn it off and then I too could feel a world apart.

In only 12 miles.

And that is what I am feeling so greatly now as we reenter the ‘developed’ world.  Where people circle like Dogs and give one-finger ‘victory’ waves.  Where the sky contains thousands of stars, but not Billions upon Billions.  Where the anchor light is not a bother, sparkles can only be seen in the head as it is flushed, and where the contrast between our world and the world around is not so great, so sharp, so crisp.

A world apart,



  1. I have loved all your posts with your Canadian Trip. This is really a special post worthy of some kind of medal/honor. Congratulations on such an articulate essay. As I was reading it I was wondering which of you wrote it. Al, you should write more about all the fluffy stuff. Thanks.

  2. Thank you Hira, ya - it was a fluffy moment for me, and I am looking forward to many more :-)

    And as I was writing it I too could see folks cringeling their brow wondering which of us wrote it, so just took the guess out..