Guest post by Debora Lucyk (@digitaldebbi)
It’s all calm and quiet after hours of the sound of rain. A raven is squawking, and the trees are glistening with the sun shining on them, making them appear to be covered in sparkles; fresh and glittery, full of light. Somehow you can see they are happy, that they are somehow spirited with an inner life. I’m completely myself here, also full of life, and I get a huge grin on my face as I unconsciously connect with their peaceful resolve, joy and strength. I’m on my own but left with a sense that I am not alone.
When I first came to this place, boat access, off the grid, I originally thought I’d open an Airbnb or unofficial hostel style place for people to come to know what it’s like off grid; without electricity running through every wall and space of ground and air. I wanted to share, for them to feel the energies of nature, as I do when I am here. The feeling which comes at the relaxing of the cells of our bodies and our brains. The calm our bodies become. This is the space in which we can heal and digest our thoughts and feelings. Where we are by ourselves but never alone. I thought I wanted to share this en masse.
In the first few months of being here I realized that bringing in too many people could ruin all that. I was torn if I should even post on social media about it. It’s a tad of a catch to bring tourists who simply want to come to party without an understanding of the connectedness. Some may believe that the altered state of consciousness from drugs or alcohol can potentially open the mind to the connectedness of nature, but I believe that can really only leave trash behind instead. It really depends, I guess.
So, three years later I’m still torn…
We have all seen what happens to natural places when big human development moves in. The connectedness with nature gets lost.
Loss and connectedness
In just the short time I’ve been here I’ve seen at least one property be bought and fully clear cut for the new owner to build on. Not one tree left. It broke my heart, and I didn’t walk down that way for months.
Now I’m sawing up the leftover wood from their lot so every bit will be used and respected and honoured – at least in the fire of the woodstove. The trees provided food, shelter and oxygen for the forest creatures, now with their final act of giving they provide heat and hot water for my home and fuel for my stove. All in one swoop without having to further disrupt the forest for my wood. I’m even cutting up the smaller bits which most would leave as waste, simply because I didn’t want to see it burned in a slash pile with no regard to the lives of the trees. When I look for the positives, it is good the new owners are building their new cabin with the wood from the trees they fell. After all, that is how my own home came to be so many years ago. Although in the new neighbours case, they cut more than they needed and the extra got barged away to town. In my heart, I secretly wish the extra had been left standing.
I realize most people don’t think this way.
This feeling of connection happens out on the water also. In the bits and bobs of wood; the stories carried in the mountain waters to the Pacific. All flowing in from the tiniest of streams to the mightiest of rivers, coming from the forested mountains that surrounds us. Sometimes I wonder if the gratitude of the trees and plants and gratitude of the soil itself washes along and enters the ocean? Maybe it is gratitude for the rains which have just watered them.
I am ignited to wonder what the waters from systems in the big cities are carrying into the mix. Probably a little less gratitude and a bit more stress? Then I realize the ocean sees it all. Mixes it up in the waves and currents. At that moment I am so grateful to be where the massive water feels happy as it lingers in the Sechelt Inlet before the Skookumchuck rapids, waiting for its moment to get through the narrow passage full of energy and whirlpools, to join in with the rest.
My heart breaks at that moment when I think of the soon to be forestry practices here in BC to spray or heli-drop buckets of herbicide pellets on the mountain up and behind me in preparation to log the trees. What gratitude is that for the exchange of taking the trees?
It feels like insult to injury.
Killing off the food sources of wild animals who in reality bring nutrients to those plants and trees in those forests. I can’t think too much about this or I crumble into tears.
I sign and pass along petitions online asking for this practice to be halted forever. Hoping the people in the city will care enough to add their names. There are not enough people who are here to have the numbers it takes. We need the city people to still care what is happening outside of their man-made world. Also pointing out that what most see as a forest is not natural at all but rather limited species tree farms. So sometimes I find myself begging or resorting to word screaming in my pleas for attention to this.
But when I feel I can’t take it anymore all I have to do is look outside my window. And see the trees and nature here. Feel their life force, which is so much bigger than me, and know that somehow balance will be maintained. That just telling the forest and the ocean and the animals and birds here that I love them and appreciate them will somehow add to that balance. That somehow it will all be ok.
Having these realizations that the water takes all with it as it flows further confirms to me why it is so important to use only natural products here. When I wash things, when I shower, or even when I brush my teeth!
It is all going back to this place, to this land, some of it sticking around for a while, the rest making it back to that ocean.
The work is hard but good
People seem flabbergasted that I maintain my household water line myself. They have the illusion that it is a lot of work, and in a sense it is. But I know my water and where it comes from. I can feel the contents of its energies when it spills all over me in my shower. It is warmed from the sunlight in the summer or my wood stove in the winter. It has not been disrupted and shocked with electrical currents of a typical hot water tank or put through crazy pipes and chemical systems. It is simply filtered and still alive and pure.
I thank it for letting me use it on its way to the ocean, and for including me the world of the forest.
In the end, I’m left wondering how many hours I would have to work at a job in the city to pay for provided water? Instead, I have the amount of time I spend going for a hike up the hill in the beautiful forest to clean the water intake, or occasionally fix a bear bite in the line to the house (seriously). I don’t think it is even comparable. I think it is less, and it is a hike in nature after all, instead of hours at a job and even more hours commuting, taking me further away from that which I love.
What I perceived as difficult when a city worker was doing it for me, seems almost irrelevant now.
The road to my house was built by the previous owner. So, as it gets used and the inevitable ruts start to form, I drag gravel up the hill and fill it back in before the next rainy season. Again, it sounds like work. But, also again, when I think of all the hours that I’d spend working to pay taxes so that a crew of road workers would come and do it for me, it doesn’t even compare. It’s my time. My exercise for a few days. City/town people work their jobs to pay for a gym membership. I skip the middleman and combine them into one. The sense of accomplishment fills my spirit. I am small and slight, and I am strong and powerful.
I am more and more connected to the earth around me than ever before, even moving dirt.
I have to be honest that it would be less stressful if I was a carpenter or plumber and able to easily fix things or add my own ideas. Things move slower here, and I’ve come to not only accept that as my own human system chills out but to actually appreciate it as well.
If I get stuck in “gotta get everything done” head spinning, all it takes is a walk in the forest to take the time to express thanks to the place I am in. Sometimes I may even come back to the house with wild mushrooms to cook up. The longer my life here goes on, eating the wonderful wild food, like the oysters, clams, and fish provided by my surroundings, the more I feel connected. We become more and more as one. Not only physically but emotionally and spiritually too.
When I bring food here I want it to be organic and grown in this mindset. It keeps compiling upon itself.
I respect the neighbours (they respect me too)
When there are too many rodents an Owl comes by the house. Owl pest control. It seems somehow perfect. Even the top of one of the big trees near my house formed itself into the shape of a bear, as if the tree itself became a totem and wanted to announce to all that bears live here.
When I am feeling distressed or overwhelmed by the worldly destruction and poisoning of our earth, I get on my paddleboard with a coffee and go for some meditative time on the water. Usually, my pinniped friend CeSeal or one of her family is there and I talk or sing to my seal friends. This switches my emotions from despair, to unexplainable peace and inner joy.
I had connected this past summer with a baby seal that I call CeSealita, and she/he even got up on her own onto my board with me. I made sure not to touch her or interfere too much other than watching and making sure she/he would survive. I think the baby sensed that I was becoming more and more like them.
Maybe it’s as simple as the change in what the waters of the rains then wash to the Ocean. We are all drinking the same water after all.
Please sign the petition to stop the aerial spraying of glyphosate on the forests near Debora’s wonderful off-grid home.