Christmas at Home

When I first met Dag he was horrified to learn that, six months after arriving on Vancouver Island, I still hadn’t visited its wild west coast. The first sunny weekend that followed, he put that to rights. In my beat up old car, we drove to Tofino. I’ll always remember the first time I walked down a forest path, first just hearing the surf, then emerging onto a miles-long pristine beach. Waves that had travelled thousands of miles rolled in endlessly, spray pluming off their crests as they broke. The beach was deserted, save for jumbles of huge driftwood logs and curls of enormous bull kelp. It felt like a place washed clean by nature, constantly renewed; it felt like the end of the world, and also the beginning. We spent two days walking the beaches, and Dag opened my eyes to the many levels of their beauty – the tide pools, the shifting patterns made by sand and water, the shore birds, the razor clams and ghost crabs – it was an endless discovery. We slept in the back of my car, lived off bread and cheese, sat on the beach at night and watched lines of bioluminescence in the wave breaks. I could not have imagined then that all these years later Vancouver Island would still be my home, that I would have paddled around it in a kayak, and that its west coast – and particularly Tofino – would still be so compelling, always drawing us back. When we decided to spend this Christmas in Canada– the first time for 9 years – Tofino was the obvious place to be. Our accommodation was rather more salubrious than that first visit, the meals more elaborate. But our joy in those beaches and the ocean is as fresh as ever.

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