Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter sunshine on Beaver Point

The point of land called Beaver Point is streaming with runoff water after weeks of rainfall. It oozes under the tall dead stalks of grasses, out of forest depths, across the bare rocks and tumbles into the sea. Home at last!

The clear light of rare winter sunlight races across the landscape between cloud shadows and lights up headlands, distant islands, ferries and the fresh-snow covered mainland mountains. I have a very limited time before the heavy overcast returns and so, camera in hand, I am out to walk the border of sea and land.

I am free and alone today, there is no need to make conversation or keep up with others. I can experience that unique sense of being within my creative mind and yet tuned in to the landscape. What does the land have to say? Where can I blend my creative perception with the reality of this mass of rock pointing out to sea? Because a photograph gives a rendition of 'reality' and yet the arts have traditionally thought of imagery as 'symbolic', I naturally look for aspects of the world that seem to represent the inner core of reality. - those subjects that pull me in.

The big reality is ocean, sky and rock and so that underlies much of what speaks to me today, but it is the living things that fight to find a hold in the thin soil and fissured rock that are closer to my own living self. I am drawn to their struggle, their persistence. I feel along with them the cold north wind when on exposed Beaver Point and later the sun's warmth along the more sheltered south facing shoreline that allows the stunted Garry oaks to form buds and fresh green leaves in mid December.

I worked here for many years as a Park Ranger so in thirty years or so I can see changes, in the vegetation - bigger trees, fallen trees, more or less grasses - , but the rocky shores and the glacial erratics that lie scattered upon it, are so much slower to change and my observation is not that acute. That stunted apple tree beside the shore though, was young and full of life when I first came here but now it lies stretched out beside its rotten stump. I feel for it but it is really myself I grieve for. The point itself is changing slowly and will slip beneath the waves over geological time, but it is the species that cling to life upon it - seedlings, saplings, vigorous forest and fern and moss; leading to decay, drooped branches, death - that I can notice and relate to. And while the growing landscape's individuals go through their life cycle the forest and it's associated flora and fauna survives, adapts and changes.

A millennium from now a forest of some sort will still cling to these thin soiled, glacier scraped, sandstone rocks. And you know, that is very affirming - we will live on.

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