Return to the Rainforest – Forest Healing Part II
I slowly awake to the sound of light rain on the roof of the van. Not unexpected rain, though; we are prepared. It is the rainforest in BC in late March, after all. It rains. My son is up before me, having slept in his own vehicle and is already tending to camp. Simple chores, simple pleasure.
I’ve been in BC for almost a month, most of which has been in the city taking care of personal business. I’m not complaining, Metro Vancouver is a wonderful place for those who love nature, and I think most people who have been here would agree. The Metro Vancouver area comprises several smaller cities and now has about 2.6 million residents, about three times the number when I was a kid. Despite the population boom, it retains its natural beauty and unique charm.
Flying into the Vancouver area on a sunny day is spectacular. Snow-capped local mountains flank a picturesque city. Green boulevards lead to lush parks and sandy beaches beside a sparkling ocean. It has its share of typical big-city problems; the pace is fast and can be cutthroat. Commuters wage anonymous life-and-death battles in their cars, vying for pole position at the next red light. There is crime, and there is poverty.
But for all its challenges, Vancouver has a beautiful, not-so-well-kept secret; there are a sprinkling of islands off the coast that provide endless recreational opportunities and a perfect refuge for those who want to escape the rat race.
These islands are where I belong. They are where I feel most at home and where I can decompress from the stress of urban life and regenerate my soul. I am on the biggest of them right now, camping in a rainforest beside a beautiful freestone river near a quaint little town called Duncan, BC.
At 31,000 Km2, Vancouver island is huge (it is larger than Belgium), and has the varied terrain one might expect in an area this large. Snow-capped mountains, vast forests, lakes of all sizes, raging whitewater rivers, saltwater estuaries, remote beaches, and pristine seas provide all manner of outdoor sports and adventure. Vancouver Island is an outdoors person’s paradise. It is where my son and I visited the summer that I wrote the blog post titled Forest Bathing, Forest Healing.
You can get to any activity level, but my days of extreme outdoor sports are behind me. No more fast downhills on a bike or whitewater boogie boarding; I did them in my younger years because I knew I wanted to be with friends in nature, but I was not yet in touch with the part of me that loves quiet natural places. Over the years, I gradually realized that it was not the thrill of running class IV whitewater that drew me to the river. Nor was it the noise and speed of a fast boat that drew me to the ocean. It was the moments in between. It was the quiet moments that really made an impact on my soul.
It was all the times spent sitting quietly on a river bank eating my lunch, observing insects hatching on the water or water ouzels (American Dippers) chasing the same insects through the shallows. It was all the evenings by a campfire, sometimes laughing and sometimes having deep conversations with people I love. It was waking up at dawn and just laying in my sleeping bag, listening to the birds begin their songs and watching the light change as it filters through the tent.
I love this place and all the peace and serenity it brings. Even more, I love sharing it with like-minded people who may not have ever had the opportunity to experience it. My son is one of these people. He is on his own quest now, but I know a part of him needs this. He is still healing, and maybe he always will be. Maybe we all always will be. The city intensifies feelings of hopelessness; forest healing allows him to escape to a place where all the fear, stress and pressure melt away. Forest healing is easy; it just takes some time and a will to do it.
I love my son deeply, of course, and I am extremely grateful that he is on his journey. I am also very grateful that he recognizes the benefits of this place. Selfishly, I am grateful for his willingness to spend time with me here in this place during this time in his life.
These forests are where my heart truly is, and yet, like everything else in the world, the forest, too, is threatened by the greed of mankind in the form of global heating. I cannot in good conscience pretend that everything will be OK. To say that would be dishonest at best. While I believe humanity will survive, I also think we are probably in for some pain before we get there. I believe we humans are starting to wake up and make the changes we need to make, but we are already feeling the effects of decades of inaction, and all indications are there will be more.
Places like my beloved coastal temperate rainforest are in danger, and there’s not much I can do to help it directly. All I can do is try to help people understand and value nature. I can help them understand that there is a reason for hope and to take action themselves.
Happy Eco News was intended to encourage people to do this same thing. Get out in nature and find peace and calm. I know that not everyone can visit a place like this and maybe that’s better anyway. It is the solitude and pristine nature that make it so nice. They may not be able to get as deep into nature as this, but if you look around, there is usually some way to find a place to spend time and heal in the forest.
Take action. Know Action.