I was lucky to be born and raised in Vancouver, the only member of my massive, massive extended family with that privilege.
The city outgrew me, and trying to decide where I could live that wouldn’t leave me brokenhearted about where I’d left, well, that was a challenge at first, until I realized Victoria could fit my budget and deliver on all the lifestyle promises that Vancouver no longer could.
I live in a little part of Victoria called James Bay. It’s the oldest neighbourhood in Western Canada, and has had the longest serving police detachment. Its character homes date as far back as 1860 and there’s at least one on every street.
It’s a mix of old people hauling oxygen tanks and young folks looking for a lifestyle that offers the adventures of the rugged West Coast and proximity to downtown life.
This is my new home, and I find it to be quickly feeling like “home.”
If I can’t find a better life balance here, then I’m a lost cause. This place makes my soul feel a little lighter, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like through all the different seasons. Summer will blow my mind.
Well. Since I’ve moved, I’ve shot 2,000 photos, and I’ve barely sorted through a couple hundred of them. I’d like to now share with you a few images of the new place I lay my hat. Most of these beach shots are within 3 kilometres (less than 2 miles) from my new home, and there is so very much more coastline to see — even more than in Vancouver.
I am a coastal girl through and through. (Despite wanting to travel to all the world’s great deserts.) You will never, ever find me living inland again. When I lived in the Yukon for a year, seven months into my stay, I visited the Alaskan fjiords and saw Skagway, smelling salt water for the first time in half a year, and had to fight back tears.
My heart is on the shore. Always will be.
So, maybe you can see why wandering has held more allure for me of late than sitting indoors and writing.
Some recent photos:
This is where you come when the winds are gusting 95km an hour, like they were on this day -- just shy of true hurricane force. My lens cap blew away about 5 minutes before this shot. This is Holland Point, Victoria.
Ogden Breakwater, seen here, protects Victoria's Inner Harbour from the brutal storms Island Life brings. It's a 1/2-mile walk to the end of the breakwater, and never stops being beautiful.
Another shot of Victoria's Ogden Point Breakwater, the end, where you can enjoy one of three benches, watch passing ships, and rest for the 1/2-mile walk back.
Victorians do not take their beaches for granted. You won't find any desolate stretches, but with so many great beaches to choose from, you also likely won't find huge crowds.
Another shot of that great stormy 95km-winds day. I'll never get tired of those, I suspect.
I like how there's so many points overhead to watch people on the beaches below, unlike in Vancouver. It's intriguing from a photog's point of view.
My first day living in Victoria, and I find these steps. Love, love, love these steps. Holland Beach.
I really hope we get some good windy days in the summer months, too, because I love how it looks on a sunny day.
I’m not an environmentalist, I never have been. I’ve never donated to Greenpeace, probably never will. I’ve never protested on your behalf.
But it doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
I’ve not been religious since my childhood, but I have no doubt there’s something bigger than me — all I need do is find myself under a towering West Coast evergreen or sitting by the ever-flowing river, pulling a Siddhartha on the shores.
And that thing bigger than me is you, Mother Earth.
You’re everything. You shape my every day.
In recent months, I’ve had to further reevaluate my actions in life.
I’ve always been aware of the peril you teetered on the brink of, Mother, since the rainforests began coming down in Brazil in the ’80s, but seeing how close you are now to the precipice of no environmental return breaks my heart and makes me wish I’d been more vocal earlier.
There’s not a lot I can do for you.
I’m but one small voice in the fray.
Yet I can educate the others, and hope they join me in the small actions I know can build into a giant movement, but only if we all act together.
As I write, an island of garbage is growing in the Pacific. Halfway between San Francisco and Hawaii lies a manmade island of floating garbage now considerably larger than the entire state of Texas. Diapers, plastic, toothbrushes, and garbage of all kinds have floated into formation and now sit there, clogging the Pacific, as an homage to the incredible crassness of man.
And deep down in the Gulf of Mexico, Deepwater Horizon keeps spewing oil at a rate no one can agree upon, decimating the fastest-disappearing environment on the planet, the wetlands of Louisiana’s Gulf.
Anger has built around the world, with words of rage being flung at British Petroleum and the lagging actions of the Obama Administration, but were it not for the demand we’ve caused, the insatiable hunger we’ve shown for all things plastic and cars that go vroom, we would not be in this position.
We have the mentality, Mother, that if we didn’t put that piece of plastic in the Pacific with our own two hands, or if we didn’t perform the negligence that caused Deepwater Horizon to blow and kill 11 men before decimating shores and industry, that we’re just innocent bystanders in the eye of an environmental storm.
But we’re wrong, Mother.
It’s our fault.
We drop the garbage that eventually slips down storm drains and flows into the ocean.
We buy the senseless “bottled water” and purchased drinks that are made from aluminum and plastic — materials that can’t be made without petroleum.
We drive the three-minute trip to the store instead of walking for 10 minutes.
We do it.
It’s our fault.
I’m trying to do my part, though, Mother. I look at the bottom of plastics and glass before I buy products to ensure they’re recyclable in my area.* If not, I try to choose better or live without, if I can.
I’m trying to use my words, my ability to communicate, to inspire others to care, to help others see the horrible direction we’re headed in, and to teach others that you, Mom, deserve our very best.
And you haven’t been getting it.
It’s our fault, Mother.
We know not what we do to you, but you do. You know, and now you’re starting to show us. Oh, are you showing us.
It’s not too late.
But soon it will be.
We have the opportunity to learn, to change, and to take this planet in a new direction. We’re more creative, connected, motivated, educated, and empowered than we’ve ever been as a society, and if we’ve ever had the opportunity to undo all the harm we’ve done, that time is now.
I, for one, know I can continue to improve.
I can do better, waste less, think more.
I will do better. I will waste less. I will think, do, and say, more.
It’s not too late at all, Mother.
But soon it will be.
With hopefully undying love,
Your Daughter, Steff
*My home trash collecting will allow for recycled products in class 1 & 2. There are 7 grades of plastic, and just because it shows “recyclable” doesn’t mean it actually *IS* recycled in your part of the world. Here’s a quick reference of how to recycle and what works: Click here. In short? Really only classes 1 & 2 can be recycled; everything ELSE you should reconsider purchasing.
WANT TO FIGHT THE GARBAGE PATCH? Join here and see what you can do. Stay engaged via following PlasticPollutes on Twitter. WANT TO WEIGH IN ON THE OIL SPILL? Probably the best way to stay involved is via the TED Oilspill expedition’s work right now: http://tedxoilspill.com/ Look into opportunities to do shore “clean-ups” in your area — every piece you pick up is one less that can harm the ocean and its inhabitants. I’ve just organized one in my city for July 18th, at a more “neglected” and less-visited beach. You can organize one, too — or just go as a family or with friends. It’s not ‘weird’ to help save the planet. Not anymore.