We pushed off from Tofino in the early morning;
the skies were cloudy.
The gentlest rain recalled the last few days,
but also closed a curtain behind us.
Innocent strokes propelled the kayaks that first day,
advancing to the first beach almost magically,
faster than our thoughts.

The rituals took over:
packing, stuffing, strapping, unstrapping,
unstuffing, unpacking, assembling our eco-tents,
converging on the food.

The food! The food of gods!
whose emissaries, Natasha, Robson,
thought of everything delicious: oysters, brie, feast of salad, pita,
creamy peanut butter and jam, punctuated with that nectar
whose delicious aroma haunts us still - the coffee.

With that coffee we could fly
across the highest swell,
out muscle any tidal pull,
pull the crafts up sandy beaches, past the logs, into the trees.

With that coffee we could brave the freezing creeks,
bathe in icy pools,
splashing and laughing like children.

With that coffee...
never mind, let some of the mystery remain untold,
let future generations learn our secrets
through the whispers of the full white moon.

We soon lost touch with the uncivilized world of work and news;
only Robson, our guru guide,
tuned into warnings on a hidden marine radio.

Robson - unrelenting tireless chief, whose face
grown gaunt from years of battling the elements,
from the harsh climes of Canmore
to the jungles of Bolivia -
greeted us each morning with an ironic smile
which said, "we're moving out".

Once, when with our last remaining ounce of strength
we reached out over the waves for reassurance,
he turned and uttered the magical phrase
" just around the next point".
Of course, around the next point
was just that - the next point, the next point.

Who were we to argue?

Wayne, a New York native, each day in court, in a uniform?
A happy face at happy hour? He would paint (he swore)
each jumping salmon, dolphin or whale, whether he saw it or not!

The Kertesz sisters? Pregnant Susan,
who never complained, just leaned over and recycled,
or her sister Martha, peeking through her 12 cameras,
setting her time lapses and, in a halo of flashes,
discovering bliss.

Or Allan and Joan, who flew from Toronto
just to defend our legal right of passage? Allan,
like a frisky teenager, hopping along the beach at dawn,
to bring his Joan her breakfast in bed.

Or the newlyweds Lewis and Jennifer? who appeared to us once
or twice, in a dream,
reporting on remote spots we should see, there-
just around the point. Unlike the rest,
they ignored the official list and brought instead,
chilled wine and rum.

Or the Karen-Karens? and Christine, their leader,
driving away from the buzz of California,
taking turns with Robson, our guide.

Or the other trusty guide, Natasha, whose name
belied her physical strength, who single-handed
carried water tanks, kayak and the gorp -
and still managed to smile.

Or Marlene and Tom? who raced to be last
on the beach, last
in the water, first
to the coffee, first to the joke.

Each day the sun beats down more hot than before,
the moon glows brighter in the clear, clean sky;
our sense of beauty is challenged by this god of nature and holiday
persistently and with good cause.

See where light and colours shine! on sea, on hazy mountain-
how can my imagination not be pulled there,
white capped waves announcing its heartbeat,
white wings of eagles spreading, breaking sky,
white bands of gulls cry loud in joy of a watery feast-
and just as time threatens to finally loosen its claws,
to set me free forever, I see
the white Nimbus waving in greeting, I long to understand
its gesture as welcome, come, and.. become,
when I hear the striking of wood against sand, and it's sad.

August 4, 1993