Hunkering Down

The internet has returned. After scaling trees, swapping transmitters, and bushwhacking a new trail through a jungle that would do the Jurassic period proud, we have returned to the 21st century. It was something simple, it always seems to be with technological nightmares like these. So now we won’t have to trouble with 15 minute boat rides through three foot swells, praying that the weather holds long enough for Brittney to do her homework. After weeks of frustration, cursing, and gnashing of teeth, Paul announced the breakthrough much too casually, opening our door and quietly saying, “we have a connection,” before walking away as quickly as he came. Though now with the internet working I don’t know what we’ll talk about, brainstorming possible solutions has dominated our conversations for the last month. Our wood pile is full, the gas tanks are filled, and the stress of making it to Cracroft Point every day is gone. Perhaps now we can finally start to answer the question we’ve been trying to answer for a year, “what are you going to do all winter.”

The humpbacks continue to commute back and forth in front of the lab, and will for at least a couple more weeks so they’ll continue to keep us busy and entertained. We’ve come to know many of them well in the past two months; Ridge, Guardian, Inunkshunk, Ripple, Conger, and KC. The ocean will seem empty when they’re gone. The rest of the animal kingdom seems mostly unaffected by the oncoming winter months. Massive flocks of gulls continue to dive bomb innocent schools of herring, sometimes in numbers so thick the surface of the ocean becomes a white blur, their squawks and yells drowning out even the sea lions. The sea lions and seals will still trace the shoreline poking into and out of the coves, a constant hunt for the chum salmon that continue to resolutely run through Blackney Pass and into Johnstone Strait.

Besides snooping into the business of pinnipeds and gulls, I plan on spending a lot of time trying to stay warm by any means necessary. Tea, fire, Bailey’s and coffee, I’m sure we’ll try all of them before the winter is up. Besides that I’ll continue to write, try to read the while Alert Bay library, and follow the various Minnesota sports teams as they all finish in last place, again. It’s surreal to think about the fact that for the first time since I was five, I’m faced with a winter with no real obligations. No school, no job, nothing. There’ll be work around here of course, chopping wood, keeping the electronics going, praying to God the internet doesn’t explode again. But it’s hard to think of these as work when they’re tied to your survival.

Yet this is what we set out to do. To immerse ourselves in the challenge, the joy, and the beauty that surrounds us. Even when the fog clings to the islands until they disappear and the rain falls with no end in sight, this place still glows. It’s hard to imagine living in a city after a couple months here. Perhaps by the time the humpbacks return and the orcas call again I’ll have the novel written I’ve always wanted to complete. Maybe I’ll have mastered a yoga pose besides child’s pose. Perhaps I’ll manage not to drive Brittney completely crazy. Whatever happens, I want to come out changed and I hope it’s for the better.

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