I have to say I am feeling extremely blah and uninspired right now! I am well into Week #11 at sea and it is taking its toll on me physically, emotionally, etc. I mean, I know the last thing the internet needs tacked onto it is more whining, but MAN, I am truly and utterly exhausted! I know I am stressed out when my Mystery Jaw Pain appears, it is like this weird stabbing sensation probably due to clenching my jaw and neck. Ok, Self, enough already! But needless to say, it is not a pleasant sensation, so out of total self-indulgence, I am going to describe myself away from this whole scenario, to a place which even in my imagination brings me total peace. I am actually shockingly close to it right now, but in a strange way because I am at sea. So are you really close to something when it is totally inaccessible to you? I mean if I tried to swim there, I would most certainly die of hypothermia first. But I am close. So where is this magical place? It is the Queen Charlotte Islands, also known as Haida Gwaii. I ended up there quite accidentally when I was 19 years old, after going through some pretty hellish times, I had a dream one night, that I should go north. (I mean this sounds really prophetic and profound and shit, but I think it has more to do with me reading a lot of Robert Service than with any kind of psychic ability). So basically, having no obligations, job, friends, or anything to keep me in Victoria, I took off with my backpack northward, the very next day. Various aligning chance meetings and meanderings and lack of fundage led me to the Queen Charlottes, where I arrived on a ferry and knew just by the smell of it that I was never going to want to leave. The whole experience of being there was incredible for me, it healed me, it changed me, I spent two years there, most of the time living in a little cabin in the woods. This cabin is instantly what I picture whenever I hear the words “paradise, solace, peace, quiet, home,” because it was all of those
things, for almost two years. It was a half-hour or so hike up into the old-growth spruce forest, and when I first started living there, it had tin cans to catch drips through the leaky roof, plastic sheeting instead of windows in places, no insulation, etc… but over the time I was there I slowly renovated it, putting on a new roof, cedar shingles for siding, re-doing some of the supports, painting, putting in proper windows, insulation, and walls…. I mean you might be thinking “Wow, how did you know how to do these things?” But trust me, the result was pretty crooked and skewed. But I enjoyed every minute! Anyways, I am going way off track here, because what I really wanted to talk about was my vision of peace, which I need to recollect for myself right now, but you are welcome to imagine right along with me! I am generic-ifying any one of hundreds of awesome mornings in that cabin, particularly summer mornings, although the winter there was equally beautiful and splendid in its own way. Ok, so summer morning…. I roll over and wake up to the sound of absolutely nothing. The sun is just rising over the trees and I stretch and roll over to look out the huge loft window that I installed myself, overlooking (or rather, being overlooked by) a forest of colossal spruce trees, with their fish-scale bark closed tight today because of the dry weather. I toss off my warm feather duvet, throw on some random clothes (I don’t care, at this point, whether they match or look terrible or even if I am wearing a bra, because I know there is no chance that anyone will “happen” to wander up there — it’s out of the way and hard to find, to say the least!) I climb down the ladder from the loft, which is made of sturdy tree branches, and with my bare feet feel the slight morning chill of the floor. I pause with some satisfaction looking at the bright, Mediterranean blue that I just painted it the day before. Since I am a caffiene-oholic, I go straight to the stove and open up the valve on the propane tank, striking a match and surprising myself with the loudness of the POP as the match comes to life, and the whhhhoooosh as the propane from the burner ignites. The cabin is tiny, and it takes me exactly four steps from the stove to the porch, where I tip over a bucket full of freshly collected rainwater and fill up my big steel kettle. Coming back to the stove, I plunk it down on the burner, and then space out for a moment or two, staring out at the beauty of the sunbeams starting to strike the mossy, grassy clearing, inhaling the smells of the crisp, summer-dry forest,
spruce pitch and earthy muskiness. A couple of ravens crawwwwwwwk as they fly by, and it is so still that you can hear the sound of their feathers raking the air. I will pretend for the sake of my peace of mind right now that it is the first day of my three days off (I was only working four days a week at the time, as a reporter for the small but mighty local newspaper) and I have no plans whatsoever, my only priority at this point is to find my coffee cone and put a filter in it and fill it up with coffee and then wait for the kettle to boil. The sound it makes is so distinctive, that popping, pinging noise of the metal expanding as it heats up, such a great sound because it means “coffee, soon.” I crack a new can of Pacific condensed milk (I have no fridge up here — and although it’s not hot most of the year, the past few days have been warm enough to curdle) and get my coffee all rigged up, and then go sit cross-legged on my porch and light a cigarette. Wait a second, you are saying — smoking? That’s gross and nasty. And I agree, wholeheartedly, but I also have to say that, in the circumstances, there is nothing better.
So anyways, I sit there, still in the shadow of morning, looking out over the dewy grass, drinking my super hot coffee and smoking. I stare at my garden, with its multitudes of infant vegetables. I stare at the trees. I stare at the moss. I breathe deeply, and relish the joy of thinking about my project of the day, without feeling stressed or anxious about it, but just enjoying the process, like, what shall I do today. But, generally, I will sit here for at least an hour, until the sun is on me fully, warming my skin, before I spring into action on my Project du Jour. I wish I had a picture of this place for you guys. It is so super cool. I miss it so much!
Gosh, I feel so much better just describing this! I could cry right now with relief! So thanks, all my non-readers, that felt great. My Mystery Jaw Pain is pretty much gone, for now.