Friday, February 5, 2010

Building a life # 20. Swallows and Amazons forever.

                                         Waiting for the ferry wake.
A ferry crosses between my canoe and dark outline of Saltspring Island. Its bright lights destroy my night vision, but I know that in a few minutes it`s big wake will send me bouncing around for a while so I slip forward off the seat to kneel securely on the bottom of the canoe. With this cold ocean water I cannot afford to tip over, and besides, no one would see me if I did. I am returning home to start my week`s work as a park ranger and reluctantly leaving my little family to continue their summer camping holiday without me. I have stayed for supper and an evening by the campfire and am now paddling back by myself.

A week ago we and the Coombes family hauled all our camping gear across the channel and set up camp at Arbutus Point. It is a spectacular place and there is plenty for the children to do. As for the two mothers, well they were busy at home raising their children, so adding camping duties simply adds more work. But things are different here on holiday, watching all the boat traffic, the whales, the splendid sunsets and star filled nights. The girls take turns to go fishing in the evenings with Heather. There are no alarm clocks for the mornings, they are not needed with the crows cawing overhead in the arbutus trees at the crack of dawn. The kids love it!

These days we are reading a series of children`s adventure stories written by Arthur Ransome called ‘Swallows and Amazons’ and all the children are deep into acting out the characters. Fittingly, the children in the stories are sailors and adventurers which is what we hope our own children will become. When it is time to take our dory, Swallow, for water they row around to a nearby bay, lash the water barrel to an oar and march through the woods to the only well on the island. They are learning to sail as well and already can paddle the canoe. This is not a big leap for them, they are used to a self reliant kind of family life and take it for granted. It is not long since they lived in tents, and then a little shack in the big woods and even the log cabin that is their present home is pretty basic by normal city standards.

                                         Walking to the water pump.

The next night, on duty down at Ruckle Park, I stare hard across the channel and can just pick out the faint flicker of our campfire. Right now they will all be singing around the fire, drinking their hot chocolate and preparing to crawl into their tents to dream of another perfect tomorrow.

No comments: