August 31, 2020
Life this summer has been full of contrasts. We have divided our time between our house in Victoria and our off-grid cabin on Valdes Island. We won’t remember this summer for the time spent in our garden, or for the adventures and projects that filled our days at the cabin. Instead, 2020 will always be remembered for the global pandemic that arrived and put the world as we know it on pause and rudely delivered a new and unwanted reality. After reading Bruce Grierson’s recent article in the Globe & Mail, I keep returning to the idea of shadow time and how it relates to my world of contrasts.
According to the Bureau of Linguistical Reality,
Shadow time is:
A parallel timescale that follows one around throughout day to day experience of regular time. Shadowtime manifests as a feeling of living in two distinctly different temporal scales simultaneously, or acute consciousness of the possibility that the near future will be drastically different than the present.
I have been sitting on my deck watching a kingfisher chatter and then dive for its breakfast. I’m not quite close enough to see whether or not it has the rust coloured belt indicating it is a female. Sitting here quietly I watch August drain away with the tides and I am pulled towards September and the opening up of schools. Looking at the ripples on the water I wonder about my future place in this experiment.
Two days ago Gord and I jumped into our double kayak and paddled in pursuit of a closer look at some humpback whales fishing off shore. With the Vancouver skyline just barely visible in the distance, this wild stretch of the Georgia Strait bucks any attempt to be tamed by it’s close proximity to the big city. Even on a calm day, the waters boil with seals scampering off the rocks as we pass the safety of Canoe Islet. Heading out into the Strait, we pause to listen and look for the blows of the whales. We make it to within about 300 meters of them before I lose my nerve about venturing any further off shore. The breeze is materializing and out in the Strait things can change quickly. When we turn back towards Valdes, the humpbacks just continue with their fishing and we slip away undetected.
Valdes is always a place for shadow time, even in years without Covid. We live in a place that is simultaneously a world away from everything and only 40 kms from downtown Vancouver.
I hope that shadow time is not a one way street and that I can conjure up this beautiful life on Valdes as I mask up for teaching.