Elsewhere Part II: Extremes of Beauty
Growing up in Canada, I took a lot of things for granted: peace, education, health, plenty, hope. Included in these Canadian benefits is easily-accessible natural beauty. There is plenty of it to be seen just by travelling in Canada, but my most memorable engagements with extreme beauty were in two of the extremes of the country: Vancouver Island and Newfoundland.
In August 1975, my parents, siblings, and I travelled by train to see relatives on the West Coast. There, of course, natural beauty is everywhere.
|1975 The Sunshine Coast|
Two of the weeks were spent on my grandmother's piece of land in Mud Bay, beside the Strait of Georgia near Courtenay, on Vancouver Island.
|1975 Mud Bay at low tide|
An aunt and uncle and four cousins lived on the same property as Grandma, and we had brought a Vancouver cousin with us, so 14 of made the trip. To get there, the cousins all piled into the back of Uncle Johnny’s pickup truck, and the adults distributed themselves among the truck cab, the small car, and Grandma’s little red Volkswagen beetle. Riding around Vancouver Island in the back of a pickup truck is one of my best childhood memories...and one that I would never let my own children do! I’m very glad I got to do it; I’m also very glad we all survived.
|Uncle Johnny's pickup; 1975. this is how we got from the ferry to the house.|
To get to Long Beach, we drove through an extremely beautiful place: Cathedral Grove with its gigantic ancient Douglas Firs.
I could see that “gigantic” characterized all the beauty of the west coast.
Driving back through the grove at night, we saw from the back of the pickup truck the trees towering above us, stars twinkling at their tips. Such extreme beauty makes for extreme memories.
Two years later, my parents, siblings and I were at the other end of the country visiting another set of relatives. There was plenty of natural ocean beauty to see on the ferry to get there, and St. John’s' natural beauty was accessible by walking.
My most memorable bus trip is the one that took us across Newfoundland to its west coast; a day-long trip full of a variety of rugged beauty.
Our bussing destination was Gros Morne National Park where one of my cousins worked as a naturalist. She took us on a hike into the glacier-carved freshwater fjord. This extreme beauty is jaw-dropping. I had never seen anything like it. If I never ever get to see fjords in Scandinavia, I’ll still be happy.