Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tillikum: Intimacy at high tide.

‘It is only through learning to love that we find identity....’ ‘Innocent Blood.’ P D James.

The evening sun falls toward the gap between the hills even as the tide rises high up the beaches of the bay. I am rowing Tillikum smoothly along the southern shore, concentrating on my stroke and the V of the canoe`s wake behind me. I am learning the ways of this creature I have built and I have a definite feeling that she too is stretching out and moving more naturally each day we practice together. Sooner than I think possible, we are nearing Isabella Point and I turn to cross the mouth of the bay, glancing over my left shoulder to gauge the progress of the Saltspring ferry approaching in the distance. “Come on Tillikum, we can surely beat the ferry!”

The rocky point and offshore islets of the northern Indian Reserve point are already close by when the ‘Skeena Queen’ finally crosses our track back in the middle of the bay. I slow down and glide in close to shore. All is painted now in the final golden light of the setting sun. I`ve timed my arrival for this moment when sunset unites with the brimming of the tide. My camera lies ready beside me. As I gently stroke closer still to the cliffs and overhanging trees I must watch out for the rocks below that were so exposed the other day at low tide and are now waving their weedy wrack just below Tillikum`s keel.

The sea laps rhythmically on the rocky shore and the sun too brings warm contrasts of light and shadow, reflecting flickers of wave prisms onto rock faces. Dark recesses, fringed with overhanging branches, echo the splash of the ferry waves that reach into their depths. I feel myself swept along; part of this flood of water and light pressing close to the land.


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