It’s May, and the Pacific Rim is winding up in anticipation of the return of the humpback whales, and the rush of the tourist season that follows.
I’m surprised to find myself charged with energy. Maybe it’s the increased daylight; probably it’s the adrenaline surge of tackling a set of logistical problems we know we have the skills to solve. I’ve been waking up at 5 am a few times a week, and we’re usually talking business as we drink our first coffee.
Oddly, Kat & I both have been having incredibly vivid dreams – not always pleasant ones either. We’ve BOTH had dreams about eating money – how’s that for symbolism?
The dreams must stem from our sense of total upheaval. For a couple of weeks there, absolutely nothing in our life was certain. On top of launching our coffee roastery, we’ve had to find a new apartment.
The charming, cedar log loft we’ve been living in since moving to Ucluelet in November is not an apartment, it’s an off-season B & B. It’s the only accommodation we could find from Toronto. You don’t stand much chance of finding an apartment here unless you can read the postings on the Co-Op bulletin board. We figured it’d be easier to find a place once we were physically here.
The past two terrifying weeks, we didn’t know where we were going to live come June 1st, but thanks to some good vibes, our wonderful friends & neighbours and our landlord’s references, we’ll be moving right next door. We’re thrilled and incredibly relieved. Relieved just to know, for once, that one thing in our life right now is for certain. Thrilled because we don’t have to leave the neighbours we appreciate and enjoy – and I’m not just talking about the humans.
I am so in love with the sea lions’ serenade. They’re the frat boys of the harbour, and the epitome of our home life. Their funny, raucous barking has become our theme song. Instead of sirens, instead of traffic, instead of gunfire, I hear sea lions at night. Once we move next door, we’ll have front row seats to the sea lion show.
I’ve forgotten what it’s like to live in a place that feels like “ours”. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to settle into the new place and feel more of a sense of permanence.
I’d also forgotten what public transit is like. I heard a comment on a TV show about a city bus and how there will be another one coming along in ten minutes or so. I remember how amazed I was as a newbie in Toronto when a friend suggested we take the street car back to the Eaton Centre – I asked when the street car was due to come and she replied, blasé “Oh, there’s one every ten minutes or so.” I was floored – I felt like such a bumpkin.
In North Bay there would be a bus every hour or so, if you’re lucky – and frequently the bus arrived fifteen minutes early or fifteen minutes late. If you depended upon public transit to get to work, you’d be waiting for a half an hour in thirty-below weather, pacing back and forth over your tracks in the snow bank, trying to ignore the creeping feeling of the cold soaking through your clothing. In Toronto, you barely have to step outside in winter.
But in Ukee, there is one bus per DAY. It’ll take you to the next town over. You’d better have some place to stay when you get there, because the next bus doesn’t come for another 24 hours. This is why everyone in Ukee has cars, or if you can’t afford a car you try to hitch-hike. I’d completely forgotten about public transit, despite having lived a good 2 hours a day on the transit system in Hogtown.
I’d also forgotten what a luxury sedan looked like. When you see a luxury sedan in Ukee, like a BMW, a Mercedes or (a doctor’s favourite) a Jaguar, you know the owner’s a tourist. People in Ukee who can afford cars less than 10 years old buy massive pick-ups with tinted windows. Some such truck owners also enjoy wearing mirrored, wrap-around sunglasses, something I haven’t seen since the 90s. I’m waiting for the mirrored denim baseball caps to come screaming back into style!
Those who have children require a vehicle that can haul a lot of gear – there are a lot of minivans about town, packed to the sliding doors with boogie boards and duffel bags. SUV’s are a practical favourite too – perfect for all the dirt logging roads riddled with pot holes the size of kiddy pools.
For the environmentally-conscious singleton (or hippie), a two-door, economy hatch back is the right choice; excellent gas mileage and a roof rack for surf boards.
The luxury sedan, such a common sight in the congested streets of downtown Toronto, has been missing in action all winter long, but they’ve been popping up lately, like returning migratory birds. “Is that a beamer? Wow I haven’t seen one in months!” But soon they’re everywhere, as common as a robin in June.
There are background, every day things I’d forgotten about which are not a part of Ukee life. Static electricity, for instance. There’s no static electricity here – the moisture in the air and all the negative ions from the ocean keeps everything grounded.
There are no cockroaches. There are lots of spiders (and damn huge ones too) there are big, lazy flies and bigger, lazier banana slugs – but no roaches, at least none that live inside. No mosquitoes either – I usually have a few itchy bites by the end of May.
Then, there are things I’m getting used to – the deer and eagles are beautiful, but at some point I’ve stopped gasping before I say “Look!”
It’s funny what you get used to. I’m used to the once-harrowing drive through the mountain pass to Port Alberni. I’m used to waking up the lilting chatter of the eagles. I just hope I never take the spectacular things, the mountains, the ocean, the wildlife, for granted.
I don’t want to forget how lucky I am.