September 2, 2012

Cruising Home

Maia diving in
Maia dove into the frigid BC waters for a swim. Okay—so not really frigid; the water was an incoming tide, sun-warmed, probably 21C, maybe more. It didn’t give my feet an ice cream headache until I waded in past my knees.
Maia wanted me to swim too, but I’m not ten. And I’ve been acclimatized to the warm, vibrant blue waters of more tropical places. It didn’t stop me from recalling the shock of the plunge though, and the near instant adjustment as the caress of the buoyant water takes over from its initial chilling grip.
Being back makes me savour all the little things that Maia only had faint memories of but that were staples of my childhood; wading through thorny brambles to pick blackberries, digging through sand for clams, munching on sea asparagus as we walk the beach, harvesting fruit from trees, eating smoked salmon as the sun dips behind the mountains, knowing to my very core that this is my home…
Living a nomadic life always has a push/pull hold on me. There is so much I love about encountering new people, places and ideas but there is so much I miss about being rooted to a place. I profoundly miss that deeper awareness that comes with simply knowing, without understanding how you know, the names of every plant and where to look for the juiciest berries. I miss the deep connection to a community that leaves you aware of your neighbours and noticing if they need you.
digging for clams
 Maia washed off the purple blackberry stains in the ocean and emerged with the faint blue lips I know signal the end of a swim. She started digging in the sand and came up with a clam, then a dozen more. She’s been fully immersed in more than just water this trip; she’s been rediscovering the rhythms of family as her grandparents take her by the hand and teach her about our life here.
Mini golf with Grandpa Donn and Linda--an island passion (there are dozens of courses)
 Her Grandpa Donn teaching her the lessons of love and perseverance as he passes along gifts from her late Grandma Ann and shares his new happiness. Her Grandma Marg teaching her reverence for the old things she received, showing her how to polish old silver and appreciate its beauty. Her Grandpa Frank teaching her stewardship as they head out to restore salmon streams and care for the gardens.
Salmon stream restoration with her grandpa
These are the things we can’t always find and feel by being nomadic. We move too quickly. We are too much on the edges of the lives we encounter. We are not immersed. For better and worse we are visitors. My fear was Maia would be a visitor here too. That by only coming back occasionally, by not following the seasons and watching the changes as they happen, she would never feel a deep connection to the island that’s been my family’s home for generations.
But as she pulled up the clams and marvelled at the fact that she knew they were there, without really knowing how, I decided that for now we’re okay.
 She dove in; fully and with her whole heart.


Anonymous said...

How wonderful for Maia. She has the amazing opportunity to explore diverse countries, cultures and peoples. She also has a "heart home" to give her the grounding of family and familiarity.


Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Thanks for this, Jac. I read it to maia--we both loved "heart home".