From June 12 to the 19th, I was a passenger on a 90-foot wooden ship which was built in 1904. The Maple Leaf took us to wondrous spots amid the islands of Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands). We were an hour-and-a-half north of Vancouver by plane.
There is much to say, so why don’t I start at the end?
The last evening on board, Captain Greg invited us into the wheelhouse for a slide show of our trip. That’s why he and First Mate Ashley were taking all those photos! We cozied up and watched our moments together .. so many smiles and cheers!
As the last slide showed its face, Greg asked us to think of our favourite ten minutes on board or on shore. Someone next to me started. I wasn’t a good human being right then. Instead of listening, I prepared my oration. I would talk about a time when we were in our Zodiac inflatable boat and Greg took us into a cave opening. It was sublimely green and quiet. And so were we (the quiet part, I mean). Okay, I’m ready.
“Why don’t we go in this direction. Bruce?”
Inside, the voice said “No”. No to the cave. Yes to … the log. I protested to myself a bit. “Nobody wants to hear that.” > “The log.”
And so I began. “My favourite ten minutes was a time when I was terrified. We were walking through the forest. I was last in line.” As we rounded a luxuriant corner, there sat a log across a creek. It was a big log, with a one foot flat part shaved off the top for walking. I gulped inconspicuously. I’m afraid of heights. Whether the drop is six feet or six hundred, my brain puts me in trouble.
“It’s okay, Bruce. Just walk assertively.” The journey was maybe thirty feet. I was about ten feet on when our mother-daughter duo (Jenny and Miranda), made a joyful decision to sit down amidships for a photo op. Trudy, our naturalist, was ready on the far shore with a camera. The three of them were all giggly. Such happiness in the face of disaster.
There I was, nowhere to go. My muscles tightened. I froze. I couldn’t bring myself to turn around and walk off the way I came. “Say something, Bruce. You need help.” > “But what will they think of me?” > “Speak.”
“Trudy, I have big balance issues.”
In a shot, Trudy put down the camera and splashed across the creek.
In a shot, Miranda leapt up from the log and was walking towards me.
Miranda reached out for my right hand. Trudy reached out for the left. We held tight. And there was the union I long for in life. Timeless. The three of us walked back to the safety of the trail. And then we crossed the creek on a few stones.
Caves? Eagles? Humpback whales? All marvelous. But none of them was the best.