"Look Fred!" I said to Fred in my excitement. "Look!"
We were standing at the bookshelf at the Marina checking out the books. Fred mumbled, head down, kneeling down praying to the Book Gods there was something on the shelf he'd like to pick up.
"Look!" and I flapped the book I was leafing through under his nose. "Doesn't that look like me!"
Fred looked. "Ya it does" he acknowledged.
"We went to long beach when I was about that age. Back then the roads weren't paved & I'd never seen the ocean before & I think I can remember that pop top!" I babbled. "See!" I pointed again. "I wore my hair that way &…". I trailed off.
Fred didn't notice, intent again in finding and staking claim to a decent book not written by a woman with three names.
"And I think" I thought "I think I even remember that cute boy off to the side."
Fred's head jerked up.
I grew up in the Rocky Mountains bordering the Pacific Coast. InBeTween the rest of Canada and the West Coast wet coast. Driving through the mountain passes, glaciers conjuring and then disappearing from my vision, cars boiling over in the heat & the altitude, through the Big City of Vancouver and onto a Ferry (!) was probably one of the most exciting thing I'd ever done up to that point in my life. Standing on the Ferry at the bow watching waves & sea birds & feeling the motion; wandering through that massive ship with a gift shop & restaurant & cafeteria & huge windows everywhere like giant pictures on the wall displaying an alien life; the whole trip was carved into my brain. When my family & I went to long beach those many years ago there were no paved roads. I believe the area had been designated as a Provincial Park at that time but the road in was quite memorable. These days it's paved & I'm sure, although filled with awesome beauty, lacks some of the spills & thrills it provided then. As a child, as children will, I was unable to fully appreciate the mountain passes (seen them too many times ~ grew up in the middle of them) but the ocean filled me with wonder.
"Did you taste it the first time you saw it?" Gomer Grunt asked me.
"I went swimming!" I replied with an "Of course I tasted it!" tone in my voice "What a question to ask?" undertone.
After the Ferry crossing over to Vancouver Island, we left the water for awhile but the wildlife & flowers alongside the roads kept me from my comic books from time to time. Dogwood trees were new to me (not in the Interior) & Island deer were new (smaller than in the Interior). On a tramp, stretching our legs at lunch break I goggled at exotic mushrooms & fungus growing in a forest denser & greener & mushier than at home. "Look Mom! Look! It looks just like a beautiful lady's fan! What is it?!" But the waves crashing against the spectacular rock formations at Long Beach, forming them into medieval castles & home for hundreds, thousands, billions, jillions of sea birds, was what took my breath away; the crashing rhythm.
I can't swear the picture in The Pacific Coast is a picture of me. It looks like me then. I can remember a lady gathering us together for a lecture. I can remember seeing sea weed for the first time and watching seals & a killer whale off in the distance from the bow of the Ferry. I can remember jelly fish in the water & hearing a wolf howling in the night as we were crouched around our campfire. I can remember playing with two girls younger than I, building a huge sandcastle on the endless beach. I can remember the brother of one of the girls' rough housing on the outskirts of our construction, offering unasked for advice, threatening to topple our masterpiece and showing off doing cartwheels in my periphery vision.
I can remember the classroom on the sand. "Will there be a test?" I asked anxiously.
An at first sad then jolly smile & a negative nod of the head was the answer.
"Come on! Look at this!" I shouted to my friends.
The Pacific Coast(1): "Born in a crucible of subterranean fire, sculptured by creeping seas, gigantic mountain-building squeezes and a million years of ice, adored with a flora and fauna fashioned through millennia of natural selection and adaptation, [BC] is Canada's loveliest province, and its coast [some say] is its loveliest part."
Saskatchewan farm kids with babies in tow moving to BC after they've purchased an old broken down tug via a picture in a magazine and staying despite the trials and tribulations. Manitoba small-town boys hitting the coast with the band they're touring with and never leaving. French Quebec entrepenures riding their bicycle across Canada and spotting a life-style in the distance they want for themselves. USofA draft dodgers & BusinessMen & tourists visiting and somehow just never going home again. All these people and more are caught every year just like I was.
I don't know if "The Pacific Coast" is still in print but it's a wonderful book! I do know however, almost every inch of BC. Although I've an understandable prejudice in favour of BC I don't think my recommendation of the book nor the Province is unwarranted.
(1) The Illustrated Natural History of Canada The Pacific Coast Fred Bodsworth© N.S.L. Natural Science of Canada Limited 1970, 58 Northline Road, Toronto, OntarioScientific Consultants to the Series: Earth Science Consultant: Walter Tovell, Curator, Department of Geology, Royal Ontario Museum; Life Science Consultant: J. Murray Speirs, Department of Zoology, University of TorontoCanada Publisher: Jack McClelland; Editor-in-Chief: Peter Crabtree; Senior Editor: Michael Worek; Art Director: Peter Moulding; Visual Editor: Bill Brooks; Editorial Consultant: Pierre Berton; Artists: Viasta van Kampen/Gordon McLean/Huntley Brown/Jerry Kozoriz/Harry Aalto