You can’t find a wolf carcass every week, the boat engine can’t betray you every crossing. There are days, most days actually, when Hanson Island moves slow. Nothing is ever hurried around here unless we make it. The Harlequin Ducks do not scramble from cove to cove, trying to maintain their schedule. The Sea Lion does not quicken his pace just because the sun is setting.
“What’s the rush?” Asks the Cedar, “I’ve been here a thousand years.”
“Why hurry?” The tide says, “the boat will float when it floats. Sit on the log, breath deep feel the bark beneath your palms, the rain on your face.”
I lay on the log and close my eyes. The sun moves out from behind a rain cloud.
Mid-February, but it feels warm. The rain relents. From somewhere in the forest a raven calls, adding its voice to the melody. It’s a deep throated cluck, like water dripping from a faucet. The brain’s of the forest, the trickster. The genius. What secrets they must hold.
Brittney brings the boat into the back of the cove. My little student driver. Her jaw is set, her eyes don’t blink but stare at the log we tie the boat off to. The boat swerves under her direction. Too far left, than too far right. But each time she corrects a little better, until the boat glides on a straight line, bow pointed straight for the cleat.
“Cut the engine and bring’er up.”
Something brown and white emerges from the wood shed, tail vertical, curving at the end like a furry question mark. He opens his mouth in greeting and a series of rapid fire meows reach our ears.
“Hi Porter,” Brittney coos out the window.
We tie three lines to the boat, one off the bow, two on each side of the stern, and pull them tight. Despite the rain that has begun to drizzle, Porter follows patiently. The slightest drop used to send him barreling for cover. Now? There are days he comes in soaking wet.
But the rain doesn’t seem to have the work ethic to soak the ground today. It peters out as we tighten the lines, and the three of us sit on the logs again, not ready to go inside.
The tide drops slowly. The kale grows infinitesimally. The whales have been gone for weeks. Everything on its own time, its own schedule. Maybe that’s why we don’t spend as much time outside anymore. From our phones, our computers, the world is at our fingertips. Anything we can ever want or need is just a wi-fi connection away. Why go into the woods where everything is on its own schedule? We want control, crave it, lack patience. I have no room to criticize. I pull the ear bud out, the sound of my music fades away, replaced by the soundtrack of Orca Lab. Water lapping, ravens clucking, eagles disagreeing, Porter chittering.
Valentines Day. No Hallmark cards, no box of chocolates, no chalky candy hearts. Just us, an ebbing tide, and a bit of sunshine. How to celebrate? It’s been two months since a 50-knot wind teamed up with a 17.2 high tide. The waves pulverized the top of the rocks in the cove, sending the bathtub off its rock stands and threatening to leave us forever. We dragged it five feet higher and it’s sat there ever since, diligently collecting rain water. Until today. Today we’ll drag it back into place, fill it with water, light a fire, and bask in the most luxurious bath tub in the world. Bath’s are an all day affair. Even on days where the temperature crawls above 10 (Celsius), water has little desire to raise its temperature. That’s ok. We’ll sit on the rocks, sip coffee, and feed the fire with driftwood. Maybe the Harlequins will join us, or an eagle or two. Perhaps a raven will serenade us with the medley of song that only they can sing. The trickster. The imitator who cannot be imitated. Today I’ll try to really listen. To soak it all in, revel in the silence of mankind’s busy hands and enjoy nature’s patient ones. Relax, breathe deep, the water will get warm when it gets warm. What’s your hurry? The cedar’s have been here a thousand years.