Monday, May 16, 2011

Island: A refuge for the soul

A recent paddling trip reminded us that although an urban center is often physically close by during adventures of these sorts, our hearts and minds can be set free and we can feel the wildness of the place. In this photo there is an oil refinery on the horizon and a tanker ship anchored in the bay. But also visible are wildflowers thriving on the island. In the water are sea birds feeding, seals poking their head above the surface for a better look at us, whales cruising, eagles nesting and life bursting out beneath the surface of the water. By sitting quietly in the grass we can begin to see hummingbirds, spiders, myriad plants (some edible and very tasty!), sparrows flitting between branches and Black Oystercatchers calling to one another.

An island is a special place, especially when visited by human power. Currents, wind and weather all conspire to make the trip an adventure (outcome unknown). There is always, at the edge of consciousness, the thought that we might not be able to leave the island, that conditions could require us to spend another night and miss work. Islands, like mountains, have the power to hold us in their grip and disrupt our well-designed lives.

And that is as it should be.