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island life

A heavy grey morning, cold and wet. I am in Chris’s studio, working – well, right now, writing to you. He’s in his house, 20 paces away, at his computer. At noon we’ll go to the village for groceries and out for lunch, come back for another quiet afternoon, maybe a hot tub, then he’ll go to his puppy training class while I cook dinner. Darby and Joan, my parents would have called us – like an old married couple.

Yesterday’s excitement for me was going to the village for the first time, a ten minute drive from Chris’s. We met Patsy for lunch at a small café, where we sat next to two RCMP officers in full uniform with sidearms, having a tranquil burger with a female friend. One of them writes a funny column in the local newspaper about what the RCMP deal with on the island – one item, Patsy told us, was, “A rowboat has disappeared. Perhaps it ran away to join the navy.”

After lunch Patsy and I went to the grocery store, which turned out to be huge and full of everything anyone could need – I wasn’t sure how much would be available here, but it turns out just about everything. I bought my necessities, including, most importantly, peanut butter, cheese, and coffee; she took me to the liquor store, two of the local thrift stores, and the good deli, and on the way back, to the place that sells pies by the side of the road – you leave the money in a jar – and then to the egg man, ditto.

Chris gave us a tour of his studio outbuilding, a lovely space lined in pine where he can work on his dresses – nine fantastic creations that took him all last year to fashion, and now he has written a play around them that he hopes to get produced.

For someone with OCD, the studio is heaven – rows of shelves storing rows of bottles filled with the craft items he needs. And now, this is a warm silent place I can come when he’s working in the house, and vice versa.

He and I sat again in the hot tub, though without champagne this time; then he watched his favourite TV show Escape to the Country, a British program about urban people looking for country properties – wonder why he likes that one? – and cooked dinner. And finally, the pets slept, and so did we.

This morning he called me over to his worktable window, first to see two white-tailed deer in the woods just outside his fence, and then the large pileated woodpecker with the bright red topknot who dines at his feeder. He has set up bird feeders with suet right outside his office window so he can watch the birds all day – juncoes and towhees, thrushes, many sizes of woodpecker.

I feel the city falling away from my shoulders, chased away by the smell of woodsmoke and wet trees, the profound silence, the feeling of being far away from the pressure, speed, and terrifying madness of our current world. And yet everyone and everything is nearby, I FaceTimed with my daughter last night and again this morning, am still dealing with the conference, with students and editing clients, tenants, the house – but from a place of intense stillness in fir- and smoke-scented air.

For which I am very grateful.



5 Responses to “island life”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds absolutely marvellous. Heaven on earth! Say hi to Chris for me.

    Juliet (stuck in an office) in Paris

  2. beth says:

    Well Juliet, there've been a few times on dark days in the pouring rain, as perhaps you've been able to tell, when I didn't think I was in heaven. But today though it's crisp the sun is out – in and out – and yes, this is a rural paradise. I'll pass on your good wishes. And ours to you – Paris is not so shabby, as you know.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Paris is a beautiful city with a million things to see and do, but I've been here for over two decades now and am itching to move on. The air pollution here is very bad, not to mention noise pollution (those scooters drive me crazy.) I crave nature and quiet.

    Legal retirement age in France is 62. The day I retire, I will consider Portugal as a place to retire to. Everyone is flocking there, it's the IN place right now. I'll make a trip there sometime this year, I've never been.

    Happy Holiday, Happy Easter to you both!

    (I deleted that earlier comment because I didn't want my last name to appear. Could you delete it from your end, please. Thanks.)

  4. alandmillen says:

    Hi Beth. I really enjoyed your anecdotes from Gabriola, a place dear to the heart of this former Nanaimo Boy. Believe it or not, I once had to contact the RCMP detachment there! That's a story for another day. The ambience of the island as you describe it conjures up many associations. Thanks for this little side trip down memory lane.

  5. beth says:

    I'm off to Nanaimo this morning, Alan – so exciting, a trip to the big city. I am reminded of Brigadoon here – a sweet isolated paradise floating in the fog. With high speed wifi, artisanal cheese, invasive deer, and many, many lesbians.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.


Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.


I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.


Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


Juliet in Paris, Spain and Beyond
Juliet is a Canadian who’s lived for decades in Paris and writes about her travels and the many things that interest her.