i have a lot of favorite places in the area around Victoria. I have gone more times than I can count to Elk/Beaver Lake, Thetis Lake, Witty’s Lagoon, Swan Lake, Mystic Vale, and Island View Park, to name a few, but there’s one that is in a category all its own. it may sound macabre, but I have anointed Tod Inlet as the ’hold my memorial service and scatter my ashes here” favorite.
I have been getting up (without alarm) around 5 and working until 10 or 11 on my new novel, at which point I am worthless to do more for a while. For the last few weeks I have used that as the marker at which I go to the gym to swim and work out, or go for an amble along the shore or in the forest.
Today i finished the heavy duty revision and am down to tweaks and line edits This is such a huge marker point that I decided to go do a forest bath at Tod Inlet. Remembering a promise I make to myself but have always forgotten to this point, I took a picnic lunch. In the final stages of writing a book, the fridge is in pathetic shape, and what I had today was the rest of a precooked chicken, some snap peas from a farmer’s market a few days back, and the last little bit of a bag wine. Perfect! Off I went!
The path to Tod Inlet changes so much over the seasons. At this point, the rushing stream has become a trickle so the woods are silent except for the occasional bird. As I walked along, I thanked the forest for being there for me and realized that wasn’t right. I tried again and thanked the forest for reminding me that I was part of it, and part of everything.
I ate my lunch, and I swear that chicken was far more tender and the pea pods far less past their prime than they would have been at my kitchen table. The solitary wasp that showed up though it was pretty good too.
A dragonfly hovered, and as happens so often, I thought of a poem. ‘As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame,” I thought to myself and had a good laugh imagining how a book editor would react to that line. “That repetitive K F K F/ D F D F alliteration is annoying—can you rephrase?” Ah, the difference between poetry and prose!
The ground had that look and smell I remember from campgrounds in my childhood—dry dirt and small stones, a little parched yellow grass at the edges. Memories hovered at the edges of my mind but never quite broke through.
The bushes were rife with climbing wild sweet peas. Once when I was in France I saw sweet peas at a florist and was shocked that they cost more than roses. When I asked why, the clerk told me it was because they were “tres raffines.” Very refined? The seeds even a child can grow? I thought of that today as they flourished in the wild. I suppose everything in nature is refined if what we mean is perfectly suited to its place, which is definitely not in a florist shop. You can see them along the bank here
Today was a funny mix of juxtapositions of meaning and being, but it makes sense. Finishing a book is like surfacing, and I suppose it should come as no surprise that today dragonflies have editors and sweet peas have judges. Soon I will experience again the mix of gain and loss that accompanies a project as big as a book It changes me, and I will have to find my way back. Or more appropriately, find my way forward. With places like Tod inlet to go to, that shouldn’t be hard.